When it comes to messaging early learning, the best thing you can do is stick to big ideas and core values. Most people are doing to engage with the issue at a very basic level, so stick to simple, universally understood messages.
Below you’ll find key messages that you can use when talking about early learning. Don’t overload someone with all of these messages! Think about who they are and what they believe. For example, if you’re talking to a business leader, message 4 is likely to resonate with them because it shows that early learning is a smart bottom line investment and will make the state economy healthier.
For more information and the full communications toolkit, click here (LINK TO TOOLKIT).
Message 1—Learning begins at birth.
The first years of a child’s life are incredibly important. Babies and toddlers aren’t just cute—they are growing and developing at an astonishing rate. About 85 percent of the human brain develops in the first three years of life. That means that young children are forming the “wiring” needed to think, communicate, move and form attachments with those around them. Children who have nurturing, healthy and supportive experiences in their early years are much better prepared to succeed in school and life.
Message 2—Parents are their children’s first and most important teachers.
Parenting isn’t always easy. We need to support parents in healthy child development. That means offering easily accessible information and resources so parents can help their children thrive.
Message 3—There are about 2,000 days from when a child is born to when she starts kindergarten. Every day matters.
Kids gather the building blocks for school readiness long before they enter the kindergarten classroom. From birth, they need to be read and talked to, cuddled and hugged. They need access to healthy food and medical care. They need places to run, jump and use their imaginations.
Today’s reality is that many parents work outside the home. About half of children younger than age 6 in Washington spend some time with caregivers outside their family home each week (WA State Dept. of Early Learning Parent Needs Assessment, 2008). We need to ensure that no matter where a child is and who is caring for him, that he has the kind of high-quality early learning opportunities that will help him thrive in school and life.
Message 4—Early learning is a smart investment.
Not only is investing in early learning the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. Research shows that for every dollar invested in high-quality preschool programs, we can see at least $7 saved in future costs related to social services, remedial education, public safety and juvenile justice. Pay now, or pay more later.
Message 5—School readiness is a shared responsibility.
Every year, about 70,000 children in Washington start kindergarten, and they need the best start possible. It’s not just up to those 5-year-olds to be ready for school. Schools, communities and systems need to be ready to support children, too! That means families, elementary school teachers, and all of the people working with and taking care of young children need to work together to ensure they know children’s strengths and needs, and offer supportive and culturally relevant education experiences.