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We Need Everyone To Understand The Impact of The First Weeks and First Months Of Life For Each Child

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March 14, 2017

The attached Huffington Post piece that just ran explains the epigenetic reasons why the first three months of life are so important for every child born in America.

We have new and important information about the huge impact of the first weeks and first months of life for every child — and now that we have that information and that knowledge — we need to share it in every way in order to change the lives of all children.

The Huffington piece was written to get that information out to the people who think about public policy issues for education, child development, and health status for children in our country, and to make it available to families who can use that information to change the future life trajectories for their children.

The new Institute for InterGroup Understanding website — Three Key Years — is also intended to share that information directly in easily accessible ways with the families of children being born today in America.

The First Five Commission for Children and Families website is also sharing key information about the development opportunities for children in the first years of life.

We need to have all parents of babies and infants to know that they can exercise the brain of their child in the first months and years of life to build and strengthen their child’s brain. We also need parents to know what the basic and easy-to-do things are that they can do with their child to accomplish those goals.

We need all parents to know that they can have a powerful impact on the neuron connection levels for their child by simply talking directly to their child in those time frames — and that they can make major differences in both emotional security and learning abilities by reading to their child and both counting with and playing with their child in those early months and years.

The book, Three Key Years, explains the importance of that information and those behaviors to parents, families, educators, caregivers, and community leaders from all groups.

The website, Three Key Years, turns the information from that book into information that is easily accessible for parents, families, and for the people who care for each child.

A Spanish language version of the website is being built in the very immediate future.

The Talk, Read, Sing campaign for the First Five Commission for children and families is being endorsed and distributed by the people who lead the California Medicaid program — and it is being used by the people who run the WIC program in Los Angeles County and a couple of other California counties.

That information is also being used by the people who run the parental leave program for the State of California.

governor brown of California

The State of California legislature passed one of the best parental leave bills in the country last year with clear understanding that the epigenetic processes involved immediately after birth for each child make parental leave a huge benefit for children at levels that we did not understand clearly until the new science taught us those processes and those realities.

The enrollment form used by the state to enroll parents in parental leave has a link in it to the First Five website for parents who want to learn more about having a healthier, happier, and a more learning ready child.

The Superintendent of Schools for the State of California — Tom Torlekson — has endorsed the Talk, Read, Sing campaign and he helped kick it off as a state agenda because he understands that the clear goal of that process is to have more students be learning ready when they get to school.

Leaders in the Catholic Church of California and leaders of the California sites for the National Action Movement are also supporting that Talk/Read/Sing agenda.

Overall — we are beginning to make a small amount of very important progress relative to this set of issues. The Women’s Caucus for the California Legislature has been directly supportive of these efforts; as has the Speaker of the California legislature.

We have huge learning gaps in California schools — and we have an increasing number of people who understand that it is almost impossible to have measurable impact on those gaps when the children are 15 years old and we can make huge and almost magical progress for children when the children are 15 months old.

We know that to close those learning gaps for America — and to cut the number of minority Americans who go to jail — we need to give this work our highest priority. This chapter from the book, The Art of InterGroup Peace, about who we send to prison, explains why that is true.

The time to do this work is now. More than half of the births in America this year will be into Medicaid homes. More than half of those homes do not have a single book today — but when we teach this information and make books available, we see a massive increase in the number of children who benefit from these very direct interactions.

All parents love their children — but we have done a very poor job of teaching this information to parents about the early opportunities that exist to help every child.

Now that we know this science, we need to have every parent in America know what the opportunities are and how we can change lives for children by using the science for every child.

The Harvard Center for the Developing Child is doing great work in this area.


Stanford, Berkeley, Columbia, UCLA, the University of Washington, and a number of other great academic settings are creating brilliant new research into these issues to point us down the path to healthier, happier, and more learning ready children. We need to convey that lovely new science to all families and communities in America so it can be used to change the lives of children.

That is the goal of this Huffington piece and it is the goal of this new website. Enjoy both and share them with everyone you know who should know that these opportunities exist.