Education

P is for Pelican author helps Brain Bags’ message grow

The Brain Bags’ impact is spreading.

The Brain Bags — early literacy gift bags given to every new mom who gives birth in Escambia County — include a copy of “P is for Pelican The ABCs of Pensacola.”

It uses landmarks and location in our community to teach the alphabet, and hopefully show that the chance to learn is all around us every day.

The author, Anna Theriault, did a reading May 4 at Montclair Elementary for the VPK classes. She and her husband, Shayn, also donated a copy to each Pre-K student at the school. Barnes & Noble Booksellers on Airport Boulevard, also donated a portion of the proceeds of her last book signing to the school library.

Montclair received a $400 gift card that they will use to purchase books.

The Brain Bag project also gives parents a lesson in early brain development before they leave the hospital. The teaching points are meant to help new parents learn a bit about the critical role of language and talk in the way a child’s brain develops, especially in the first three years of life.

Research shows that children who hear more words and have strong, positive interactions with their parents and caregivers in those first years of life are likely to have a stronger base for vocabulary and early learning skills.

That stronger foundation, in turn can help increase the chances that that child will be ready for kindergarten when he or she begins school.

Children who are kindergarten ready are more likely to read on grade level in early elementary school, a key indicator of how they will progress through school.

The Brain Bags were launched in 2017 through an IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area grant awarded to the Studer Community Institute.

The bag includes P is for Pelican, a baby book designed by SCI staff to help new parents track their baby’s brain development, a toy, and a binder that highlights community resources and more practical advice on how parents can use positive interaction to build a child’s readiness for kindergarten long before the first day of school.

On June 22 the Studer Institute will host the Light Up Learning fundraiser at Sanders Beach-Corinne Jones Community Center.

The event will support the institute’s continuing efforts with the Brain Bags, the University of Chicago’s Thirty Million Words Initiative, parent outreach and early learning in the environment and public spaces.

All of those efforts are geared toward building Pensacola into an Early Learning City. An Early Learning City is a place that enlists the whole community in building a culture of lifelong learning, including in its public spaces. It supports early brain development, parent engagement and school readiness for all of our children, especially those ages birth to 5.