Kalamazoo Great Start Collaborative Launches Talking Is Teaching Campaign
The Kalamazoo Great Start Collaborative (GSC), a program of Kalamazoo RESA, has joined forces with Talking Is Teaching, a national campaign to boost the early learning and brain development of children from birth through early elementary. The Great Start Collaborative is partnering with the Kalamazoo Public Library, the Kalamazoo Literacy Council, KCReady4s, KRESA Literacy Coaches and home visiting services, local school districts, as well as area pediatric offices, to saturate the community with positive literacy messages. These community partners will distribute language-rich Talking is Teaching materials—including books, calendars and clothing with prompts that encourage parents to talk, read, and sing with their children—directly to families.
Kalamazoo County Talking Is Teaching aims to give parents and caregivers the tools to talk, read and sing more with their young children from birth, increasing meaningful interactions that are critical to healthy brain development. According to 2019 Kids Count data, almost 55% of third graders in Kalamazoo County are not reading at proficiency levels. Children are starting kindergarten unprepared, lagging behind in critical language, math, and social-emotional skills. Research shows that during the first years of life a child’s brain forms one million new neural connections every second and absorbs information like a sponge. This is why simple, everyday interactions with young children—like describing objects seen during a walk, singing songs, or asking questions—can better prepare them for school and lay a strong foundation for their social-emotional development, health, and lifelong learning.
The “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” campaign is part of a national organization, Too Small to Fail. With local support and funding from the Stryker Johnston Foundation and Michigan Department of Education, the Kalamazoo County initiative is excited to launch a number of activities, including rotating monthly themes, virtual playgroups and parent skill-building sessions. Talking is Teaching also aims to train local organizations and businesses as “trusted messengers,” partners in communicating the vital message of the campaign to help change the trajectory of early literacy development for children in Kalamazoo County.