08/15/14 — Community meets to discuss 'baby talk'

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Community meets to discuss 'baby talk'

By Kirsten Ballard
Published in News on August 15, 2014 1:46 PM

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Catherane Munroe, 10, listens to a story being read to a group of children at the Teaching Babies to Talk forum at the Paramount Theater Thursday night.

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Wanda Becton, dressed as Mrs. McGillicuddy, reads "Llama Llama Misses Mamma" to a group of children at the Teaching Babies to Talk forum at the Paramount Theatre on Thursday night. Emma Jean Wilson, 10, acts out the story while holding a stuffed llama.

Brains are built, not born.

That was the message Person County kindergarten teacher Deborah Rickman delivered to those who attended the Teaching Babies to Talk forum Thursday night at the Paramount Theater -- an event that saw parents, teachers and community members converge on downtown Goldsboro to learn how to lay the foundation for early childhood communication.

The forum, hosted by Sen. Louis Pate and Dr. David Tayloe of Goldsboro Pediatrics, aimed to explain why two-thirds of the fourth-graders in the U.S. are not reading proficiently.

"Some of these children are starting on the third base and other children are still in the batter's box through no fault of their own," said Dr. Richard Thompson, interim executive director of the North Carolina Center for Advancement of Teaching.

Ms. Rickman offered a solution.

She explained that there are roughly 2,000 days between birth and school -- that during those critical years, the number of words spoken to a child has a direct impact on his or her brain development.

Ali Swanson practices what Thompson calls "the silver bullet" -- allowing her daughter to pick out three books every night before bed.

"She just loves it," Ms. Swanson said. "She always asks for more."

Beyond reading with your child, Ms. Rickman said there are learning opportunities throughout the typical day.

Even trips to the grocery store should be treated like a field trip, she said -- and used to review shapes, numbers and colors with a young child.

"It's a wonderful contribution we can make, just by talking," said educator Nola Claiborne.

Tayloe cited technology as a perfect storm for pulling parents away from children.

So he urged those in attendance to turn off the TV and engage with their little ones.

"It's going to take the whole community," he said.

Programs like Reach Out and Read have had some success in the area, but "we need to do more," he added.

Brian Glodt from the 4th Fighter Wing Medical Group agreed.

He attended the forum out of a desire to do more -- and said he was interested in helping start the Reach Out and Read program on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

"You need to set expectations," Thompson said. "If you expect nothing, you'll get it."