By Erin Tomlinson
Early Learning Coordinator
Southeast Early Learning Regional Coalition
“Love. Talk. Play.” is a message that supports ALL parents as their children’s first and most important teacher. We want parents to have the knowledge, confidence and skills to give their kids a great start in school and in life. But parents are busy and focused on daily tasks; how can we ensure that our “Love. Talk. Play.” messages rise above the noise and “stick” with parents?
We think part of the answer is working with partners to find multiple ways to reach the families.
At the Southeast Washington Early Learning Regional Coalition, we have partnered with the Benton County Health Department and Tri-Cities Community Health to integrate “Love. Talk. Play.” education and materials into their First Steps, Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition, and home visiting programs.
Through this extensive partnership, the “Love. Talk. Play.” message is going into the homes of more than 1,000 families as families are visited by home visiting nurses, attending monthly parenting classes, and/or visiting clinics routinely for services.
By providing the programs’ nurses with the training to share the messaging and materials with the families they serve, we can have a direct and lasting connection to families.
If we want the “Love. Talk. Play.” message to echo in parents’ daily interactions, we need them to hear AND see the message more than once. The Benton County Health Department has created special wall banners that are prominently displayed in their entrance lobby, giving parents a supportive reminder about their role in their children’s growth and development.