As the director of the Centre for Child Studies, Dr. O’Neill has the ongoing opportunity to observe the language abilities of children. Part of her research focuses on the ways in which children communicate, and how this communication develops. “What has really surprised me is just how incredibly rapid the growth of children’s language is,” says Dr. O’Neill. “They go from two-word speech at age 2 to complex sentences by age 3 that deal with a huge range of topics.”

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The Urban Child Institute is excited to announce Brain Awareness Night, our annual public symposium on issues affecting early childhood development.

Brain Awareness Night is hosted by the UCI in partnership with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center's Neuroscience Institute. As always, the event is free and open to the public.

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The fundamentals of reading are learned before children reach school. Even immediately after birth, the areas of the brain that store language skills are already in place. So it’s clear that experiences during the first few years of life play an important role in how children learn language and reading skills.

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Our annual Brain Awareness Night will take place at The Urban Child Institute. This year’s invited speakers are nationally known experts who will spotlight the importance of early literacy and language development in our children’s first years. Helen Perkins, Ed.D., from the University of Memphis and Daniela O’Neill, Ph.D., from the University of Waterloo (Canada) will be joining us for this special evening.

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At The Urban Child Institute we place great value on data, because it can shape our local agenda, inform strategies, inspire advocacy, and drive action. Ultimately, that is the purpose of this year’s compendium of data and information about the lives of the children of Memphis and Shelby County: Off To A Good Start: Social and Emotional Development of Memphis’ Children.

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