Champions for Children: Talk, Read and Sing to school readiness

Unborn babies, as well as the tiniest of tots, can learn from hearing you talk. Even if they don't understand everything they're hearing, words matter. The same is true for reading aloud and singing (offkey is fine). All three are crucial for brain development.

That's what prompted Champions for Children to launch a Talk Read Sing Tampa Bay initiative to spread the word that adults can mold young minds with the simplest of actions.

“Talk Read Sing is so common sense, yet so effective,” says Community Initiatives Associate Jenna Pullara. “It’s free to engage with our children in this way, and it builds bonds of attachment at the same time.”

Pullara works with Champions for Children, which focuses on child abuse prevention and family programs in the Tampa Bay Area. The nonprofit organization recently launched the Talk Read Sing Tampa Bay initiative; Tampa is now the 27th #TalkingisTeaching community nationwide.

“Champions for Children has been implementing Talk Read Sing within the work we’ve been doing,” she says, “and we’re excited to build community partnerships to further the message that it’s vitally important to communicate with our children.”

Their very brains depend upon it. According to The 30 Million Word Gap Study, a child raised in a high-income family encounters 30 million more words by age 4 than a child living in a low-income situation. This disparity can translate into school readiness gaps. Talking, reading, and singing to children also strengthens bonds of attachment between caregiver and child.    

Relationships with the YMCA, local libraries, and preschools means that throughout the Bay Area, more parents are likely to get the message. It’s so unbelievably simple, says Pullara, but so absolutely important. Below are a few of her tips to implement Talk Read Sing.  

TALK: Instead of pushing the stroller in silence, narrate. Describe your surroundings. Talk to your children while cooking a meal. Tell a toddler all about the gorgeous outfit he’s wearing that day: Look at these bright yellow socks! 

READ: Break out Dr. Seuss, board books, or whatever you have on hand or can get from a library. Pullara recommends Spanish speakers read in their native language; young children have been shown to learn languages easier than older ones. Need a book? Visit Champions for Children, which keeps a bookshelf stocked at all times.

SING: Cue family-friendly favorites and familiar tunes. Ask Alexa to sing Disney songs, and join in the chorus. Many songs rhyme and rhyme is a great way to internalize language and meaning, Pullara says.

For more tips how to talk, read, and sing to children and bond in the process, visit Too Small to Fail online. The organization started the Talk Read Sing campaign that is spreading nationwide. 

“Every city delivers the message differently, and we have so many ideas that are being implemented here in Tampa Bay,” says Pullara. “We’re excited about the possibilities!”

How to help? Consider donating a new book or books to Champions for Children. Shipping address: 3108 W Azeele St, Tampa, FL 33609  

Additional resources include:
Spotify Playlists
Talk Read Sing Tampa Bay on Facebook
Champions for Children
The 30 Million Word Gap study
Talking is Teaching

Read more articles by Amy Hammond.

Amy Hammond is a freelance writer and author of children’s books that encourage the next generation to attend college. When not indoctrinating youth about the necessity of higher education, she enjoys exploring the paradise that is her St. Petersburg home. She holds a degree in Public Relations from the University of Florida and a Masters in Secondary English Education from the University of South Florida. Her work has appeared in such venues as the Tampa Bay Times. Children’s Book Titles by Amy Hammond include: When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Gator; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a ‘Nole; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Bull; When I Grow Up, I’m Bama Bound; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Tiger.
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