Press Release (ePRNews.com) - LONG BEACH, Calif. - Feb 24, 2017 - The U.S. Reading Team Foundation is launching a program to build national awareness and begin the critical changes now possible both to improve early human cognitive development and to help end inter-generational American poverty.
Recent research has discovered that human intelligence is not fixed at birth, but can be dramatically strengthened. We now know it’s actually possible to program a smarter, more cognitively functional generation of children, what we call post-Homo Sapiens.
“Just as with CRISPR we can now change and fix our own DNA like no animal before us,” explains USRT Foundation President Dr. Hank Schwarz. “We can also strongly improve our cognitive wiring in the 12-36 month period of our developing brains. No need to mess with our DNA, or actually create GMO humans – although that, too, is probably coming – just wire our speech development to a much higher level of complexity while the wiring is easy.”
The opportunity was first recognized as an inversion of focus on the results of a major longitudinal study by educational researchers Hart and Risley [The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3, In: American Educator, Spring, 2003].
The researchers found that many parents – challenged by socio-economic factors – simply don’t actively speak and converse with their children enough in the critical developmental window between 12 and 36 months to build their vocabulary and parallel speech complexity. And that gap permanently limited the toddlers’ related thinking power, which by the age 9-10 restricted both language skills and reading comprehension.
More recently, additional research studies by Kimberly G. Noble [In: Scientific American, March 2017] have shown that poverty in America is now rapidly creating a brain-affected national underclass that is more likely to drop out of high school, and become permanently impoverished and underemployed as adults.
While the Hart Risley study focus was on cognitive underdevelopment among impoverished children, Dr. Schwarz explained, the inversion or larger possibility revealed by the same research was the opportunity to optimize cognitive development – by lifting early cognitive wiring to the highest level – for all children.
But how might such powerful wiring be developed?
It might seem counterintuitive but it was soon recognized that the best, most versatile scaffold to support this new high-development cognitive objective – with the in-home parent spending more time talking to the baby and the toddler listening and seeing and learning – was the classic on-paper, page-turning book.
In 2011 a unique language-based learning program for toddlers was developed using standard, non-electronic on-paper books, with which parents could teach toddlers both to speak and to read at the same time.
The program was offered to parents for free on the original web-based Kids’ Book Network (KBN) and was called Teach Your Child To Read At Two. But the beta-program delivered through the internet proved simply too difficult for easy family adoption.
Now, for 2017, the same Read At Two program is provided in a more familiar, convenient format – a single pre-published package of 11 books. The program doesn’t contain any videos or flashcards or other commercial or electronic distractions which have recently confused many parents, and that might actually be harmful to toddler development. Just the opposite. And unlike conventional books for children, the 10 core Read At Two books are uniquely designed to teach visual words in direct parallel to the way – with close parent-child interaction and affirmation – a child develops the earliest oral words, language organization and the power of speech. In addition, a complete 40-page Parent Handbook makes it all easy to understand and implement at home.
And does the program work?
“Yes, it works,” explains Dr. Schwarz, “because it adheres to the extremely basic referent-development protocol a baby requires. First, it gives parents the framework to provide their children the critical interactive parent-child talking and language experience that all the research has shown they need. Then, reading development – building a parallel whole-word visual vocabulary – is almost a side benefit to the increase in oral vocabulary development and affirmation experience that comes with parents holding their babies on their laps and learning to talk. I taught my own child to read at two using the same language-based method and when he entered kindergarten, tests confirmed he was already reading at a 6th grade level.
“Finally, compared to any other program that might be developed, Read At Two promises to be relatively inexpensive. Our objective now is to put the program into the hands of as many parents we can find who will help us in a larger research project to confirm what works and what might work better for every child. Parents can now purchase the program for their own children or make a tax-deductible contribution to the U.S. Reading Team Foundation to help us put the program in the hands of others.
“Until March 30 we are offering the Read At Two program preview exclusively on the stage of Kickstarter. The early Kickstarter project may be viewed at:
“Or, to find it and learn more, a parent who might wish to participate can simply google – search Read At Two Kickstarter.
“After that we expect to begin working in partnership with child daycare centers nationwide, looking for those centers who want to participate in an important moment for all children everywhere. And parents will be able to buy the Read At Two program from those centers, who will be implementing it – along with parent participation – in their own programs.
“We would welcome as well the opportunity to partner in this project with the many excellent early learning organizations that are already at work on this complex national problem – which has brought us to the point of a real, crushing social disequity we have to fix.
“Everyone has to participate,” emphasized Dr. Schwarz,” and everyone has a part. The U.S. Reading Team Foundation and KBN together welcome the cooperation and united participation of all professional educators, educational researchers, early child care centers, all parents and children – everyone.
“It’s a unique moment of opportunity both in science and human history.”
The U.S. Reading Team Foundation mission is to promote national literacy and learning success through youth-centered projects and special events which celebrate, honor and encourage young readers, and which create a new appreciation among youth in the community about the exciting experience of discovery, enjoyment, satisfaction and personal power that can only be won through active reading
KBN is a project of Prototype Concepts, an independent West Coast-based developer of creative entertainment for conventional and virtual media, innovative brands, and new media concepts. On September 1, 2009, Prototype launched KBN, the Kids’ Book Network.
Dr. Hank Schwarz is an evolutionary linguistics and cognitive investigator, literary scholar and expert in pragmatic message reception. He has studied the linguistic evolution of human philosophy at Harvard and multiple languages at UCLA. A longtime advocate of early literacy development, Dr. Hank taught his own first child to read before the age of two and was one of the first to see the lifetime thinking and learning benefits. Co-founding Director and President of the U.S. Reading Team Foundation, Dr. Hank holds an AB in Classics from Harvard, along with an MA in Latin-American Studies and a Ph.D. in Hispanic Languages and Literatures from the University of California at Los Angeles.
The U.S. Reading Team Foundation