Everyone is familiar with the "three Rs": Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. This phrase has long been used to describe the essential components of education – the three skill areas that all subsequent learning is built upon. But there is another phrase that we wish were just as familiar: Touch, Talk, Read, Play, or TTRP. These represent the most important activities that parents share with their babies and toddlers, and when it comes to learning, they are just as important as the three Rs.

Talking Children Up

Children who hear calm voices and a variety of words have a much greater chance of academic achievement, physical health, and well-being. Babies who are not stimulated by calm conversation are more likely to struggle to learn and less likely to make positive contributions to our community as adults. A child's brain development irrevocably changes, based on the words that she hears in the first three years of life.

"The decision to breast feed is not a lifestyle choice but rather a basic and critical health decision regarding infant welfare." The AAP will publish the policy statement, “Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk” in the March 2012 Pediatrics. The policy is a revision of the Academy’s 2005 policy statement on the same topic.

Only 4% of Memphis City Schools seniors are ready for college, based on scoring at least 19 on the ACT, the college entrance exam taken by district seniors. In other words, of 6,774 seniors, only 271 are college ready. It’s a disturbing statistic that speaks to why closing the achievement gap should be a priority for Memphis and Shelby County.

With the recent decision to consolidate our schools, as well as an influx of money from the Gates Foundation and the federal government's Race to the Top, this should be a pivotal moment for our community. However, the Urban Child Institute recently published the 2011 Data Book: The State of Children in Memphis and Shelby County, which offers frightening evidence of the growing number of children in Memphis and Shelby County who are not ready to enter kindergarten.


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