Bright Beginnings launches its Young Professional Advisory Board

Join as an Inaugural Member!
Bright Beginnings’ Young Professional Advisory Board is kicking off an exciting year with fun and informative events, lunch-and-learn member call-ins, and more!

Membership and Benefits

  • $75 membership fee if you sign up before or at the kickoff event on April 10th ($150 for new members thereafter)
  • Complimentary access to Bright Beginnings’ Young Professional Advisory Board events
  • Complimentary access to “How are the Children?” bi-monthly conference calls
  • Complimentary access to “Professional Development” quarterly conference calls
  • Discounts and perks at other Bright Beginnings events
  • Individual and/or company name listed as a member on Bright Beginnings website and other printed material

Mark your calendars!

Downtown Denver Happy Hour with Senator Mike Johnston
April 10, 2014 | 5:00–6:30PM
Non-members: $25 | Members: No charge
Charcoal Restaurant | 43 W. 9th Ave., Denver CO 80204

Grab a drink, enjoy some appetizers and get the political scoop from one of Colorado’s youngest state senators. Come learn how Mike got into politics and hear his humorous stories of being a dad of 5-year-old twins and a toddler.

Dog Days of Summer Happy Hour
Non-members: $25 | Members: No charge
Date, Time, Location, Speaker TBD

Beat the summer heat with a cool beverage, learn more about early childhood development from an engaging speaker and network with your fellow Young Professionals.

Members Only Conference Calls

“How are the Children?” call-ins from your office on Wednesdays every other month. Learn the latest news in early childhood education from Bright Beginnings stakeholders and thought leaders.

Senator Mike Johnston
May 21, 2014 | noon – 1PM
Get update on the latest legislation and how it impacts kids.

Young Professional Development Calls
Quarterly call-ins with Colorado business leaders who will share tips and lessons about the successes and setbacks that have shaped their careers.

Next Steps

To join our Young Professional Advisory Board, click “Sign Up” below:

Sign Up

Feel free to forward this information to your colleagues and friends. If you have questions, email Hannah Longmore at

We look forward to seeing you at our first networking event in April!

Brady Alshouse and Patrick Pugh
Co-Chairs, Young Professional Advisory Board

Celebrate Dr. Seuss: Read with the Children in Your Life

This week, early childhood development and literacy advocates across the country are celebrating the life and work of Theodor Seuss Geisel. The author, also known as Dr. Seuss, was born on March 2, 1904. In honor of his birthday, why not commit to reading more with the children in your life? We here at Bright Beginnings invite you to explore a new book and experience the power of reading together.

drseuss06Check out one of Dr. Seuss’s colorful stories and enter the richly imaginative, fantastical worlds brought to life through his words and illustrations. From The Cat in the Hat, to Green Eggs and Ham, to The Lorax and many more, there is no shortage of fun to be had, all while stimulating children’s natural curiosity and promoting language development.

Remember, the foundation for early literacy is laid in the first several years of life. While children do not actually read before 3, they do learn that reading is fun and interesting. They develop print awareness, noticing that other people use reading and writing in daily life and enjoy it, and that letters and words are all around them. They also build phonemic awareness, recognizing sounds and patterns in the language they hear and speak. This interest in language is critical for later success when children begin to read on their own. And, the more words children hear early on, the greater their vocabulary when they enter kindergarten.

So, be sure to engage the children in your life by reading, talking, listening and singing together every day! Here are a few tips to guide you:

  • Let children help choose the books you read together.
  • Find a comfortable and quiet place to sit closely together while you read.
  • Read with fun in your voice; make the story come to life with humor and expressions.
  • Use the pictures and objects in the book to engage children as you read. Imitate animal sounds, point to objects and say their names. Ask children to name objects, practice saying words with them and praise their efforts to verbalize.
  • When children are a bit older (24-36 months), talk about the story you’ve just read. Ask questions about what happened at the beginning, middle and end of the story.
  • Take children to the library regularly and explore different kinds of books.
  • Know when to stop. Put the book away for a while if children lose interest.

Do you have another tip for making reading fun and engaging? Perhaps you already have a favorite Dr. Seuss book, or you’ve recently discovered a new one? Share it with us!

Toxic Stress and the First Thousand Days

Denver had the pleasure of hosting two excellent conferences on early childhood development recently: “The Ann M. Logan Lecture on Early Childhood Development” and “Early Childhood Summit 2014: Understanding & Mitigating Toxic Stress”. Both of these events included Dr. Dipesh Navsaria sharing his remarkable “Toxic Stress and the First Thousand Days” presentation. Dr. Navsaria is so informative, entertaining and engaging we highly recommend all our partners and friends invest the hour to better understand why we are working so hard to promote healthy social-emotional development in 0-3 children.

The Civic Canopy shares the presentation decks for Early Childhood Summit 2014: Understanding & Mitigating Toxic Stress, including Dr. Sarah Watamura keynote address “Toxic Stress in the First Three Years: Understanding and Mitigating the Lifelong Impact”, Dr. Navasaria’s presentation and more. Additionally, they share an excellent toolkit including many great links to research, reports, policy papers and more information related early childhood initiatives. Kudos to Jodi Hardin and the event committee for an excellent production!

Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD is a public health-trained pediatrician and a children’s librarian and as such has a wonderful and unique perspective on the importance of early childhood literacy and toxic stress. Dr. Navsaria is an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and practices general pediatrics at Access Community Health Center. Dr. Navsaria is the director of advocacy training for the University’s pediatric residency program and teaches trainees in a variety of settings. He recently received national recognition for his accomplishments in pediatric advocacy as an awardee from the Institute on Medicine as a Profession. Dr. Navsaria is the founder and director of the Pediatric Early Literacy Projects at the University of Wisconsin and is also the founding medical director of Reach Out and Read Wisconsin. Over the last two years, he has served on a small, select working group of the American Academy of Pediatrics promoting a new strategic priority on Early Brain and Child Development. He has lectured to rave reviews throughout the country on the detrimental effects of toxic stress during early childhood and on the importance of early literacy promotion in medical practices.

– Denver Health:

Closing The ‘Word Gap’ Between Rich And Poor

NPR reports on “Closing The ‘Word Gap’ Between Rich And Poor“:

Research since then has revealed that the “word gap” factors into a compounding achievement gap between the poor and the better-off in school and life. The “word gap” remains as wide today, and new research from Stanford University found an intellectual processing gap appearing as early as 18 months.

We are singing the same tune! Read more about the research that inspired the Bright Beginnings program.

Pediatricians Set Limits on Screen Time

Andrea Petersen at The Wall Street Journal reports that The American Academy of Pediatrics’ New Guidelines on Children’s Use of Internet, TV, Cellphones, Videogames.


“Excessive media use is associated with obesity, poor school performance, aggression and lack of sleep,” said Marjorie Hogan, co-author of the new policy and a pediatrician.

Families should have a no-device rule during meals and after bedtime, the guidelines say. Parents should also set family rules covering the use of the Internet and social media and cellphones and texting, including, perhaps, which sites can be visited, who can be called and giving parental access to Facebook accounts. The policy also reiterated the AAP’s existing recommendations: Kids should limit the amount of screen time for entertainment to less than two hours per day; children younger than 2 shouldn’t have any TV or Internet exposure. Also, televisions and Internet-accessible devices should be kept out of kids’ bedrooms.

Doctors say parents need to abide by the family rules, too, to model healthy behavior. That, some say, may be the toughest part.

Perhaps the more important point is that it is important for parents and caregivers to be aware that for children under three need interaction with familiar adults more than they need instruction. In the first three years, children need adults to help develop their communication skills: listen to speech patterns, hear words and pauses, take turns making sounds or speaking. These are the things that prepare their brains to learn and share effectively when they embark on early childhood education.

Language-Gap Study Bolsters a Push for Pre-K

Motoko Rich at The New Times writes of yet another study supporting how important early communication is to school readiness and achievement:

Nearly two decades ago, a landmark study [Hart & Risley’s Early Catastrophe, a key research guide in the development of Bright Beginnings programs] found that by age 3, the children of wealthier professionals have heard words millions more times than those of less educated parents, giving them a distinct advantage in school and suggesting the need for increased investment in prekindergarten programs. [This is known in Early Childhood Development circles as the “30-Million Word Gap”.]

The new research by Anne Fernald, a psychologist at Stanford University, which was published in Developmental Science this year, showed that at 18 months children from wealthier homes could identify pictures of simple words they knew — “dog” or “ball” — much faster than children from low-income families. By age 2, the study found, affluent children had learned 30 percent more words in the intervening months than the children from low-income homes.

The research keeps piling on the concept that early learning, school readiness and lifetime achievement often hinges on the interactive communication between adults and children in the first years of life. Bright Beginnings has been spreading this message for over 20 years to the parents and caregivers in Colorado. Contrary to the article’s conclusions, however, we believe the implications are most profound to the parents of children aged 0-3 — before they get to prekindergarten programs.

The key to smarter kids: talking to them the right way

After a piece that explores debate on child academic performance, Annie Murphy Paul concludes in the Sept 30 issue of The Brilliant Report:

“What [parents] need to do with their children is much simpler: talk.”

But not just any talk. Although well-known research by psychologists Betty Hart and Todd Risley has shown that professional parents talk more to their children than less-affluent parents—a lot more, resulting in a 30 million “word gap” by the time children reach age three—more recent research is refining our sense of exactly what kinds of talk at home foster children’s success at school. For example, a study conducted by researchers at the UCLA School of Public Health and published in the journalPediatrics found that two-way adult-child conversations were six times as potent in promoting language development as interludes in which the adult did all the talking.

Engaging in this reciprocal back-and-forth gives children a chance to try out language for themselves, and also gives them the sense that their thoughts and opinions matter.

This reciprocal back-and-forth, or “dialogic communication”, is at the core of the Bright Beginnings programs.

Early Education in the Doctor’s Office

EdNews Colorado wrote about Bright Beginnings and other early childhood programs in colorado that have seen success in delivering their programs in health care settings

As advocates pay more attention to the power of early exposure to language, many of the most well-known programs are far from meeting demand. In Colorado, only a small fraction of young children are served by programs like Early Head Start, Head Start or intensive home-visiting programs.

Programs like Reach Out and Read and Bright Beginnings step into that void with a unique offer: to reduce early literacy deficits at a much lower cost and on a greater scale. Plus, by connecting with so many families at clinics or other medical establishments, both programs capitalize on the fact that during the early years of their children’s lives, many parents have their only contact with trusted professionals in health care settings.

Poverty as a Childhood Disease

Dr. Perry Klass in the NY Times Health and Science Section:

…Dr. Benard P. Dreyer, professor of pediatrics at New York University and a past president of the Academic Pediatric Association, called on pediatricians to take on poverty as a serious underlying threat to children’s health. He was prompted, he told me later, by the widening disparities between rich and poor, and the gathering weight of evidence about the importance of early childhood, and the ways that deprivation and stress in the early years of life can reduce the chances of educational and life success.

“After the first three, four, five years of life, if you have neglected that child’s brain development, you can’t go back,” he said. In the middle of the 20th century, our society made a decision to take care of the elderly, once the poorest demographic group in the United States. Now, with Medicare and Social Security, only 9 percent of older people live in poverty. Children are now our poorest group, with almost 25 percent of children under 5 living below the federal poverty level.

Early Childhood Education is the Best Return on Investment

Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) in The Hill:

We know that learning starts at birth, and the preparation for learning starts before birth. Eighty percent of a child’s brain develops between birth and the age of 3, with much of the child’s intellect, personality and skills developed before he or she begins kindergarten. A solid initial investment in young children will save us billions in future spending on remedial education, criminal justice, health and welfare programs.

Harkin is chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies.