When parents spend time talking, reading, and singing with their children, they are “building” their child’s brain and nurturing social emotional skills through trusted relationship experiences.
Grounded in this belief, Talking is Teaching, in partnership with the Willmar Public Schools, is launching a literacy program focused on supporting healthy relationships between parents and children. The goal of the program is twofold – to increase awareness about the importance of early brain and language development, and to motivate action among parents and communities.
The three key components of the Talking is Teaching campaign are 1) trusted messengers, such as the medical community, faith communities, and public libraries, who will share the message with parents; 2) environmental prompts in everyday places and spaces – grocery stores, parks, laundromats, public transportation; and 3) family toolkits to facilitate change distributed to parents of newborns.
The target audience for the campaign is children ages 0-5 and their families in Willmar and the surrounding community, in an effort to address the achievement/opportunity gap that exists throughout the region. For example, third grade reading proficiency scores ranged between 45-57% across the region, according to 2015-2016 data. When comparing third grade reading test proficiency rates, Minnesota overall scored 57.6% while the Willmar district scored 41.5% for 2017. This campaign aims to enhance literacy skills for all children by putting books in the hands of children and families at a very young age.
Talking is Teaching will be rolled out at various community events this summer, including Cinco de Mayo on May 19th, Books and Baseball on May 31st and the grand opening of the splash pad park in June.