Simple Routines For Long-Term SuccessRay Robinson and Jeremy Simpson / June 25, 2020
With summer nearly upon us, we are all eager to experience the opportunities that make our community such a special place. As fathers of young children, we are particularly ready for our kids to be able to play with their friends, take them to the city’s great parks and playgrounds, attend church and all the other activities we had always taken for granted. However, we know it will be a long and slow process to return to these and other normal routines.
As we continue to stay home to help slow the spread of COVID-19, we have a unique opportunity to create new routines that will ensure the long-term success of our community. With the closure of Guilford County Schools and many preschools and childcare facilities, some 37,000 children under the age of 5 in Guilford County have fewer opportunities for the engagement and interaction that is critical to their development.
While we may not think of this as a significant problem, studies have shown that 80 percent of brain growth happens before the age of 3. Infants and young children benefit tremendously from basic interactions with adults. Activities such as pointing, counting, singing, and playing are not just fun things to do with young children – they spur brain activity and development.
We are proud that Guilford County has embraced a national movement known as The Basics. Launched in Boston by a team of Harvard University researchers led by Ron Ferguson, The Basics promote five, fun, free ways to spur development with easy things all adults can do as they interact with children in their everyday lives. The Basics are:
- Maximize Love, Manage Stress
- Talk, Sing and Point
- Count, Group and Compare
- Explore Through Movement and Play
- Read and Discuss Stories
There is an urgent need for our community to understand why these and other efforts focused on infants and young children are so critical. In the 2018-19 academic year, only 40 percent of children entering Kindergarten in Guilford County were proficient or above proficient in language and literacy development as measured by reading and comprehension assessments.
Research shows that when children enter elementary school on track, their chances of succeeding in school and in life increase dramatically. They are more likely to read on grade level by the end of third grade, graduate from high school, have higher paying jobs and contribute more in taxes, as well as live longer, healthier lives.
The Basics is part of a comprehensive effort across Guilford County to tackle the fundamental issues limiting the potential of our children and our community. More than a hundred local organizations and nonprofits began working together in 2014 under the banner Ready for School, Ready for Life. Together, partners are creating an innovative system of care that connects families and the youngest children in our community with a wide range of support services.
As fathers, we want to do everything we can to ensure our children feel safe. That has been incredibly difficult to achieve with the chaos of the past few months and we will continue to experience challenges that make the world unpredictable. There are so many things we cannot control, so we choose to focus on the things that we can: responding to our babies’ sounds with eye contact and loving voices, comparing objects as we walk along trails, and pointing at pictures and asking questions as we read stories to our children.
Even these small daily routines and actions will have amazing long-term outcomes.
To learn more, please visit getreadyguilford.org and guilfordbasics.org. These websites provide detailed information, short videos, and tips on how to make a meaningful difference in the lives of all children in our community. Our goal is to ensure Success in Life, and we all have a role to play.