The Steve Nash Foundation has teamed up with the TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health (formerly the Thirty Millions Words Initiative) at University of Chicago Medicine on two exciting platforms: The Starting Five andÂ Let’s Talk Dads.
Created as an NBA Player Development initiative, the Starting FiveÂ is aimed at developing understanding of the science of child development.Â The program empowers NBA players to harness the power of their words and actions to build childrenâ€™s brains, providing hands-on guidance and learning opportunities to leverage that training and influence how dads worldwide foster brain development in their kids.
Bringing that science to dads in the community,Â Let’s Talk Dads provides weekly, small group classes in infant and toddler neurodevelopment.Â Together, dads learn about brain science, as well as how to be what Steve describes as â€śour childrenâ€™s personal neuro-developer,â€ť with practical, easy tools for best practices when they’re with their kids.
Letâ€™s Talk DadsÂ is a four-session, facilitator-led program implemented with cohorts of dads – some first-timers, some experienced – to focus on the critical role that talk and interaction play in a childâ€™s foundational brain development and use the 3Ts (Tune In, Talk More, and Take Turns) to help parents create enriching language environments.
With an emerging research component, Let’s Talk Dads began on Chicago’s South Side in 2019, expanding to Phoenix in early 2020, and hitting our milestone “13”th cohort in the summer of 2021.Â Virtual cohorts are currently meeting; throughout our COVID response, all dads have enjoyed additional weekly one-on-one coaching via Zoom with their facilitators.Â New cities are on the horizon – stay tuned!
Dads play an important role in their children’s development, right from the start: studies have found that, even at two months old, babies whose dads played bigger roles in changing, bathing, feeding, and other day-to-day activities related to their children’s care, were more socially responsive than babies whose dads didn’t participate as much.Â And at six months old, higher levels of involvement with dads correlated to higher developmental scores.Â By two years old, these babies also showed more resiliency when confronted by stressors.Â Premature babies have also been shown to benefit greatly from their dads’ involvement, with positive effects on weight gain and other risk factors.
And the best part?Â It’s easy.Â Dr. Dana Suskind, Co-Founder and Director of the TMW Center, calls her method for stimulating neurodevelopment by enhancing a child’s home language environment “the 3Ts:“ your tools for building your child’s brain.
Weâ€™re excited at the enormous potential to change the way children experience their first years of life and learning through the enhanced level of dads fostered by these new, innovative platforms.Â And, while weâ€™re starting with dads, the Let’s Talk Dads and Starting Five curriculums will be applied to other realms.Â Follow along with us as we grow, and look for opportunities to connect with us in your community: taking time to put the 3Ts in action in your own life will make a world of difference!
Learn more about the 3Ts by reading Dr. Dana Suskind’s award-winning book, Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain.