May 4, 2005
Eight-month-old Keanu Kistler gets to pick out his baby food at the grocery store. Of course he can’t read the labels. But it’s part of the running dialogue that Keanu and mom Miranda Nye have as they shop, not unlike their chats in the car to and from her job at Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa.
Although Keanu’s only word so far is dada, these simple, daily interactions are helping his brain cells make important connections, cementing the bond with his mother and building his confidence to make him ready to learn when he starts kindergarten.
A new $40 million ad campaign launched Tuesday by the same people who brought you Smokey the Bear gives parents practical ways to make the most of everyday moments with their kids.
Today’s harried parents don’t think they have enough time to make a difference in their children’s lives, even though they understand that learning begins well before kids start school, according to a survey done on behalf of United Way of America.
Through the "Born Learning" media campaign, the United Way, the Advertising Council and the nonprofit Civitas will promote teachable moments in the grocery store, on the bus, in the laundromat or wherever parents happen to be with their children.
"This is focused on what parents can do," said Mesa United Way executive director Carol McCormack. "We’ve become so task-oriented . . . (but) there are lots of times when you have the opportunity to interact with your child."
A series of TV ads, unveiled during a nationwide simulcast from the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., shows parents and caregivers using everyday moments to teach children about their world.
In one 30-second spot, a mom is folding clothes at a coin operated laundry.
"Pants, pants, pants. I am folding the pants," she singsongs, as the camera pans to another woman giving her a wary look.
"Do they go on my head? Do they? Do the pants go on my head?" the mom asks, pulling the trousers over her head.
In the final shot, the camera pans to a baby on the laundry folding table, looking up at mommy and squealing with delight.
The campaign comes on the heels of widespread research showing that the experiences and relationships children have in the first few years of life lay the foundation for learning in later years and set them up for success or failure.
"We know more now than we’ve ever known in human history about how important early learning is," said Dr. Craig Ramey, director of Georgetown University’s Center for Health and Education and a leading child development expert.
Local outreach efforts will include a partnership between the United Way and the Mesa Fire Department, with someone trained in health care and child development going into the city’s lowincome neighborhoods to spread information about child safety and early childhood development.
Contact information: For information and tips, visit www.bornlearning.org or call the Mesa United Way at (480) 834-2122.