Literacy begins at Birth’ initiative launched at TCI Hospital(Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – Thursday, June 15, 2017): Learn and Lead Educational Centre has partnered with Interhealth Canada - TCI Hospital to launch an initiative called ‘Literacy begins at Birth’, which seeks to encourage parents and caregivers to incorporate language and literacy development into their child's daily routine from birth.
The initiative was officially announced in a Press Conference held at Cheshire Hall Medical Centre on June, 14th 2017. Every baby delivered at the Providenciales health care facility, and later Cockburn Town Medical Centre on Grand Turk, will receive literacy and language tips along with an early childhood board book, which parents are encouraged to read to their little ones.
Learn and Lead Educational Center believes that it is important for persons to take a more proactive approach to language and literacy development in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Research worldwide clearly outlines the need for quality early childhood home learning environments in order to help build stronger literacy foundations for children between birth and five years of age.
Babies learn phonemic awareness (the ability to perceive individual sounds in the stream of speech) at an early age. They learn from hearing a flood of words from their parents through positive conversations and a daily variety of read-clouds.
According to the Centre on the Developing Child at Harvard University, the science of early brain development can inform investments in early childhood. These basic concepts, established over decades of neuroscience and behavioral research, help illustrate why child development—particularly from birth to five years—is a foundation for a prosperous and sustainable society.
In the first few years of life, more than 1 million new neural connections are formed every second. After this period of rapid proliferation, connections are reduced through a process called pruning, so that brain circuits become more efficient. Sensory pathways like those for basic vision and hearing are the first to develop, followed by early language skills and higher cognitive functions.
Children in the Turks and Caicos Islands typically commence formal education at the age of three. The greatest amount of brain growth occurs between birth and age five. In fact, by age 3, roughly 85% of the brain’s core structure is formed. Problems associated with literacy later in life are traced back to the earlier years of life in many cases.
Founder of Learn and Lead Educational Centre, Yolande Robinson, says parents and caregivers should be more intentional and targeted in their literacy and language intervention during this critical period. Children acquire the tools for language and literacy before learning how to speak, read and write. There is a higher likelihood of language improvement if a child is exposed to more vocabulary and utterances, which will improve both their receptive and expressive language over time.
Commenting on the partnership, TCI Hospital Chief of Medical Services, Dr. Denise Braithwaite-Tennant said:
“A literate country is an empowered country. Even Math problems start with a problem statement and one must clearly understand and comprehend the statement prior to attempting the numeric calculation. The majority of births delivered at our health care facility are recorded at Cheshire Hall Medical Centre. We have an immense opportunity to engage mothers in our care and provide these basic tools for literacy and language development. Today’s world is so heavily dependent on electronics and the missing component is the human touch and the bi-directional conversation. Mothers of all nationalities will be empowered by this book provided by Learn and Lead Educational Centre, which encourages children from birth to have an interest in reading, which today seems to be a lost art.”
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