Give Great Books to Kids on Your Holiday List

The holiday season is gift-giving time for many families with young children. While we often spend a lot of effort deciding which toy a special child might enjoy, books are also a wonderful gift for that child! Here are some ideas for you about matching books with children’s ages and a fabulous list of suggestionsLearn More »

Talk is Cheap – and Priceless.

People say talk is cheap, but for babies, talk is priceless. Talking with babies has been shown to have an amazing impact on the growth of their brains and development of language, key to their future success in school and in life. And, unlike products that are advertised to parents as critical to making theirLearn More »

Good News & Bad

There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that the Legislature has passed an operating budget that includes funding for early childhood — $320,000 for Best Beginnings, $500,000 for Parents as Teachers, and $2 million for PreK grants. A big Thank You! to all those concerned Alaskans who met with, called, and emailed legislators, encouraging them to provide these resources. And the bad news….Read More

Old and New Favorite Picture Books

See how engaged this little boy is in one of Mo Willems’ books? He’s on his way to becoming a good reader! I love children’s books, too, especially picture books.
Some favorites of my crowd of 6-and-under grandchildren these days are books that delight and engage adult readers as well:
Any of the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems, but especially I Really Like Slop Read More

Science, Babies, and Families – a Winning Combination

You’ve probably heard people say babies are like blank slates, just waiting to be filled up with knowledge. I thought that, too, until our first baby was born. It became pretty obvious quite soon that this tiny creature was already making a big impact on her world. We were at her beck and call –Learn More »

The connection between early literacy and incarceration

The rumor was false but the connection was real. In our guest blog, educator Stan Lujan tackles the connection between Alaskans in prison and literacy. As Stan notes in his testimony to the House Finance Committee, prison planners do not look to reading scores to predict how many prison beds they’ll need. But the connectionLearn More »

Where we are

As many Alaskans know, Best Beginnings took a major body blow with a 66 percent reduction in state funding for the fiscal year that began July 1. For the current year, Best Beginnings is receiving $320,000 from the state, down more than $600,000 from previous years. Best Beginnings is tackling the challenge in several ways,Learn More »

Pediatricians’ Rx for new parents: Read to your baby.

It was great news recently, when the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced it is asking its 62,000 members to urge parents to read to their children as soon as they’re born. For the first time, the AAP will promote early literacy—beginning from an infant’s very first days—as an “essential” component of primary care visits.Learn More »

It’s everywhere…and in more ways than one

I’ve been watching our four 3-year-old grandchildren demonstrate STEM skills. They turned over rocks to look for worms and found “creatures” hiding in puddles at Kincaid Beach. They planned and built Lego spaceships and tall towers and knocked them apart to see how the pieces would fall. They passed along my iPad when the timerLearn More »

We must change it!

Recently I learned this heartbreaking 2012 statistic: 47% of Alaska children with substantiated reports of harm were under the age of 6. These are our youngest and most vulnerable precious children. More than a million children in America experience child maltreatment each year – Alaska has among the highest per capita rates of child abuseLearn More »

Hectic lives

“Hectic” is how many young parents I know describe their everyday lives. Yet they really want to spend time with their young children and help those brains grow. Over the years, as a parent and now a grandparent, I’ve learned a few tricks. Busy times often present wonderful opportunities for your child to explore theLearn More »

Why the 30 million word gap is so important

Our words count. In more ways than many of us ever realized. It’s been 18 years since Betty Hart and Todd Risley published their landmark study on the giant gap – 30 million – in words heard by young children depending on their socio-economic status. In the last six months, we’ve seen an explosion ofLearn More »

Attendance matters, even in child care

If somebody asks whether showing up for work every day makes a difference in how well someone does his job, you’d probably think, “Of course it does.” We have the same response about students’ attendance at school. To mark September as the first-ever Attendance Awareness Month, Debi Baldwin (a Best Beginnings board member and directorLearn More »

Our role in Imagination Library: Something quite different

You might be surprised to learn that Best Beginnings doesn’t enroll a single child in Imagination Library. Yet through Best Beginnings and our generous supporters, 20,772 children – 38.5% of all Alaska children under 5 – are now receiving a book every month through their local Imagination library. So what exactly do we do? WeLearn More »

New statistic raises important questions

All Alaska children begin school ready to succeed – that’s Best Beginnings’ vision. But how do we know if they are “ready to succeed”? Here’s a startling new statistic. Fewer than 20 percent of children entering kindergarten in Alaska are prepared in all the ways experts say is important for success in school. That’s accordingLearn More »

Our Voices Count

Talk about a frenetic time. When the House Finance Subcommittee on Education unexpectedly reduced funding for Best Beginnings and Parents as Teachers, people who believe in what we’re doing came out of the woodwork to share their stories. We won’t have a final answer on funding for early learning until the operating budget is approved.Learn More »

New Year’s Resolutions

Who can resist New Year’s resolutions? I certainly can’t. So here are a few of mine: Give a “pat on the back” through a friendly nod or smile when I see parents interacting with their young children in positive ways. Encourage my own grown children (parents themselves) and other young parents I know to keepLearn More »

Welcome new board members

Building a strong organization capable of catalyzing support for early childhood takes committed leadership. It’s my pleasure to let you know the following people were recently elected to the Best Beginnings Board of Directors: Gara Bridwell, a professor of early childhood education at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Lorie Morris, chief executive officer at AlaskaLearn More »

Baby brains and ping-pong

How many times have you heard a baby described as a thirsty sponge or a blank slate? The problem with these analogies is that they downplay the active role parents and other adults have in helping a baby develop into the happiest, healthiest, smartest person she can be. Babies are born with billions of neurons.Learn More »

Early childhood priorities fare well in state budget

I’m very pleased to report that Alaska’s governor and legislators took great steps toward promoting school readiness by appropriating more funds this year to support young children and their families. Their growing awareness of the importance of these investments is due in large part to the efforts of many individuals, early childhood experts, and organizationsLearn More »