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Ronald Ferguson is calling for families to get back to basics.
Ferguson, adjunct lecturer in public policy at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), and faculty director of the Achievement Gap Initiative (AGI) at Harvard, launched the "Boston Basics" campaign on Jan. 1. The campaign centers on five evidence-based parenting and caregiving principles to help parents engage with their young children and reduce the skill gaps that become apparent between children from different socioeconomic backgrounds by age 3.
The five core principles of the campaign are: maximize love, manage stress; talk, sing and point; count, group, and compare; explore through movement and play; and read and discuss stories.
“Since 80 percent of brain development happens during a child’s first three years, the Boston Basics principles focus on key activities that encompass much of what experts say is important for young children,” says Ferguson. “By giving parents guidance and mobilizing support from the whole community, we hope to effect real change in the outcomes for kids who might otherwise fall behind their peers.”
AGI has created six videos (produced in conjunction with WGBH Public Broadcasting), as well as printed materials, which can be used by parents and community groups, health and childcare centers, hospitals and schools. Ferguson and his colleagues hope to inspire parents, older siblings, grandparents and other caregivers to use the “basics” to engage with children in ways that help them develop their cognitive skills from a young age.
The campaign is a collaboration with the Boston Mayor's Office, the Black Philanthropy Fund, the Pediatrics Department at Boston Medical Center, and WGBH.
Ronald Ferguson, adjunct lecturer in public policy
"By giving parents guidance and mobilizing support from the whole community," Ferguson says, "we hope to effect real change in the outcomes for kids who might otherwise fall behind their peers."