Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson has set audacious goals for our community’s public education system, beginning with this year’s second graders. He wants 80 percent of them to graduate high school “college and career-ready,” 90 percent overall to graduate, and 100 percent of those ready for college and careers to pursue higher education.

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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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On March 12, The Urban Child Institute will host our annual Brain Awareness Night. This year the topic will be literacy and language development in the early years, and we are pleased to welcome Dr. J. Helen Perkins as one of our two speakers. For Dr. Perkins, a professor at the University of Memphis, interest in literacy began at an early age.

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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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