If a child’s struggling to read by first grade, research shows there’s nearly a ninety percent chance that they will remain that way. Literally, billions of brain cells are being formed each time you talk, read and sing to a child as neurological formations and connections create eighty percent of a child’s brain by age three. Sadly, children who are not talked, read and sang to from the moment they’re born come to kindergarten unprepared.
Unfortunately, sharing these facts doesn’t motivate everyone to take action, so Fraser Communications found an emotional way to inspire and empower parents and caregivers.
José Moreno Hernández, a former NASA astronaut, was featured in the first of an upcoming series of “How I Really Got Here” television commercials for First 5 California. Hernández comes from a family of migrant farmers who annually followed the harvest up north from Mexico through San Diego, Palm Springs and Salinas to pick crops. In fact, Hernández himself picked crops as a child.
Hernández’s mother and family knew the value of talking, reading and singing to him even at an early age and he attributes his success and happiness to their early engagement with him. Fraser uses this story of migrant farmer to NASA astronaut to empower other parents and show the impact they too can have in their children achieving their dreams.
Through focus groups, Fraser shared Hernández’s story with parents possessing a second or third grade education level. Fraser saw first-hand the value and effectiveness of bringing forth a relatable story that gave them hope and the feeling that helping their children achieve success is within the realm of possibility. They suddenly realized the impact they can have on their children’s futures. Parents who felt their language skills weren’t good enough to speak to their children or read them a book became empowered.
That’s why Fraser used the line, “Talk. Read. Sing.®, It changes everything℠,” to empower us to positively impact every child’s future. To say that parents and caregivers really can change everything, including the trajectory of their children’s lives, through simple and easy tasks like:
- Reading packages of food when out shopping together
- Counting cars on the road
- Walking and describing trees and houses
- Talking about the colors of buildings while driving
- Singing songs to your child as an infant
- Reading every chance you get
By finding relevant and relatable stories, we are able to inspire the confidence that anyone can do this. Psychologically, it’s very important that the message is encouraging, rewarding and empowering. And, through research, we were able to understand the challenges parents and caregivers face along with their personal hesitations.
Previously, scientists and teachers believed in a “late bloomer” or developmental lag theory that suggested learning gaps would disappear as the brain matured and that intervention wasn’t necessary. However, in light of new research this theory has been put to rest.
Today, scientists and teachers believe in the skill deficit theory that states waiting doesn’t work and that early on, children need to be taught reading and writing skills directly and intensively. In fact, waiting can actually be detrimental as the child falls further behind.
Other data correlates poor reading skills early on with negative outcomes further on in life:
- A student not reading at his or her grade level by the end of the third grade is four times less likely to graduate high school on time
- A student who can’t read at grade level by third grade is four times less likely to graduate by age nineteen than a child who does read proficiently by that time
- High school dropouts are sixty-three times more likely to be incarcerated than college graduates
Despite these statistics, this empowerment strategy taps into people’s confidence and their own self perceptions as opposed to using guilt or shame to motivate them. This strategy has helped guide our other social campaigns such as Water: The Healthiest Choice, Healthy Eating Out, and Choose Health LA Moms for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health as well as Profiles of Hope for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.