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It’s early evening, time for the children to begin getting ready for bed. Papá is in charge of the older ones, while Mamá takes the baby and cuddles him, singing softly of the joys of the bath. She talks to him of all he’s done that day—the trip to the grocery store, visiting Abuelita, watching her make dinner for everyone. She gently dries him off and blows tenderly on his belly. He giggles and waves his arms. She puts his pajamas on, and everyone joins her on the couch to read a bedtime story.
Every single one of these moments, and thousands more, provide children with the spark they need to make connections in their brains—the connections that provide the basis for all future learning.
Words for the Future—Creando el futuro was developed to provide Latino families with strategies and skills to help their young children learn. As the child’s first teachers, parents have the unique opportunity to shape their child’s future by providing him with meaningful interactions. The underlying premise of Words for the Future is that during every moment a child is learning. Parents who talk, sing, read, explain and explore with their children, even during their first days of life, are giving their children a gift that will last a lifetime.
The importance of providing children with opportunities to learn from their earliest days has been underscored with the release of startling new information on early brain development.
Contrary to popular belief, a child’s brain continues to develop after birth, and in fact, the connections between the neurons are “fired” with each interaction and experience of the child’s life. These systems provide the foundation for the brain’s organization and how it functions throughout life.
Words for the Future—Creando el futuro uses culturally appropriate materials and strategies to gently guide parents through the process of learning how to best provide their children with the experiences they need.
Using research findings on how children learn and on multiple language acquisition, and recommendations from the community, the following messages were developed for Words for the Future
The early years are critical years in a child's development.
The parents are the child's first and most important teachers.
Everything a child experiences teaches him something.
Learning happens everywhere.
Children learn better when they feel secure and connected. The family is the anchor in their life. Communication among family members is crucial.
Use family culture and celebrations for learning traditions.
Everyone has a role to play in children's development, including extended family and the community.
The best time to learn languages is when you are young. Learning two languages is an asset.
Words are so powerful that they can be the key to understanding the world, but they can also destroy.
Listen to and watch your baby. Your baby will tell you what she needs and wants.
Children who listen to adults reading will grow up to become readers themselves.
You can find words in lots of places, including songs, poetry and stories.
Latino children need to see themselves in books and stories.
The health and well-being of children can enhance or crush their capacity to learn.