Laying the foundation for school success

About 10,000 Alaska children are entering school this fall, for the first time, as kindergartners. We wish them the very best start to a successful school career! It’s positive interactions between babies and caring adults that help set the foundation for the first day of school. Yes, it starts with babies. In addition to readingLearn More »

Book Party in the Park 2017

FREE Books and Family Fun Join Best Beginnings for an event that celebrates the importance of literacy and language! We invite you to thread’s 11th Annual Book Party in the Park on August 10th from 4-7 pm. Children of all ages will have access to FREE books, live music, snacks, crafts, multilingual story-time, and otherLearn More »

Words Count!

Read. Talk. Sing. Play. WORDS COUNT when it comes to a young child’s rapidly developing brain. The quantity of words is important. Equally important is the quality of those words! Read on for some good ideas to make your WORDS COUNT every day.

Words Count

Discover creative ways to talk, sing, read, and play with your children every day. Learn more about Words Count, watch the video, and get and share great ideas on our Facebook page!

Best Beginnings Report to Alaskans

Our newest publication – Success in life. It starts here. – is now available online.  We’re especially proud of this report because it shows and tells, with strong graphics and clear language, what Best Beginnings is doing, why it matters, and how it is succeeding. Take a look!

Quality early care and learning

Over the next few months, a series of gatherings for parents, early childhood professionals, and others will get under way as work resumes to establish a Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) in Alaska. The long term result: clear standards, better consumer information, and incentives for providers to improve. Here’s more about this statewide effort.

“Dialogic Reading” – a give-and-take technique

How frequently you read to a child is important. But just as important is how you read. Try a twist with your reading by prompting your child with questions and encouraging discussion. “No one can learn to play the piano just by listening to someone else play. Likewise, no one can learn to read justLearn More »

The wonder of wordless books

Books without words encourage parents and children to use their imaginations in telling a story around the pictures. Since there’s no temptation to stick to the script, parent and child can change the story, make up words, and personalize it. Check out these hints and recommendations.

Language gap starts in infancy, study finds

The quality and quantity of verbal interactions between parent and baby show up even earlier than previously thought, according to a new Stanford study. Low-income children show achievement gaps in language development as early as 18 months. Learn more »

Imagination Library linked to school performance

Scientific studies are beginning to confirm what we have always suspected about Imagination Library: Participating children perform better on kindergarten assessments, and the earlier they’re enrolled – the longer they’ve received books – the better. Read more »

Sane voices on a hot topic: digital media and early learning

Television is still a huge part of children’s daily lives. And now digital media poses all sorts of new questions and challenges. How to make sense of it all? A science roundtable organized by the New America Foundation offers great advice on managing digital media for young children. Answers here.

New kindergarten page

There is so much research, data, and advice specifically on the subject of kindergarten readiness that we have organized a new page for easy use. Some of the information is pertinent to parents and families, some relates more to policy and data. We hope you find it helpful.

Build baby brain at grocery store

Dreading a trip to the grocery store with a small child? It’s actually a great opportunity to build a baby brain. 7 Ways to Build Your Baby’s Brain at the Grocery Store | The Urban Child Institute. Check out our Babies on Track for a video – and really cute companion baby books – forLearn More »

Oasis of calm

The Parents’ Pit Stop was a huge success at last month’s Tanana Valley State Fair in Fairbanks, serving nearly 2,000 people. Parents with infants and toddlers could relax, recharge, and receive local information on family resources and health. Parents’ Pit Stop was organized by the Fairbanks Breastfeeding Coalition in collaboration with Fairbanks Families.

We have wonderful friends

Several businesses and organizations recently donated to our work, helping Alaska’s children become Ready for School. We hope you’ll thank them, too: Northrim Bank, Alaska State Literacy Association, and, for the creation of StoryTRACKS: Anchorage Park Foundation, Blaines Art, Eagle Enterprises, REI, Stake Shop, and Barnes & Noble.

Is your family ready for kindergarten?

We’ve focused a lot on a child’s abilities and skills for kindergarten. What about the family? A kindergarten-ready family has routines to insure good attendance. They have set ground rules explaining the differences between acceptable home behavior and acceptable public behavior. Is your family kindergarten-ready?

Check out StoryTRACKS for your event

Individuals and groups can check out a StoryTRACKS set for events, block parties, park activities, etc. Borrowing them is free but there are requirements. Find out more about these “picture books on parade.” It’s a great way for families to combine reading together, physical activity, and Alaska’s beautiful outdoors.

Looking ahead to kindergarten

If your child is entering school this fall and you’re wondering, will he be ready? Are there ways we can prepare her for success? Check out this lively brochure, “I am ready!,” from the Alaska Dept. of Education & Early Development or find more ideas on our website.  

Tempering Temper Tantrums

Are temper tantrums inevitable? Not necessarily. Toddlers with more developed language skills are better able to manage frustration and less likely to express anger by the time they’re in preschool. Researchers at Penn State University found a connection between children’s early language skills and their ability to manage anger and frustration.

Safe Sleeping for Alaska’s Babies

When the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission instituted new safety standards for cribs in child care, many of Alaska’s centers faced the cost of purchasing new, safer cribs. To the rescue came thread, with both free cribs and training in safe sleeping practices.