The Basics Website Launches to Promote the Education of Our Region’s Youngest Learners

  • Public awareness campaign designed to help all children aged 0-3 in the Richmond region grow to be happy and smart
  • During COVID-19, The Basics provides tips and tools for families and caregivers to engage their youngest children

Did you know that 80 percent of a child’s brain develops by the age of three? Did you know that the types of lived experiences in the first three years influences brain development and learning and last a lifetime? And did you also know that many of our region’s children fall behind in these early years, and many of them never catch up to their peers?

That’s why Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond and its network partners are rolling out an initiative across the region known as “The Basics,” and today the network is celebrating the launch of The Basics’ new website,

The Basics and its new website promote the five simple things families and caregivers can do to engage their children and help them grow up ready for school and ready for life. And in today’s COVID-19 environment, having those resources for families are more important than ever before.

“The Basics helps families and caregivers understand just how critical the first three years of life are in a child’s development,” said Rich Schultz, Executive Director for Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond.  “During this period the brain is developing rapidly as children truly are sponges as they absorb everything in their surroundings and interactions. The Basics provides the framework and easy-to-use tools to help families educate their children in fun and interactive ways.”

The website supports the broader the public awareness messages of The Basics and the principles of “social-ecological saturation,” as this important message is promoted throughout the region by early childhood partners engaging families. The “basic” principals are to saturate the community with The Basics, make life the program, and help families experience positive reinforcements from every direction as they use The Basics.

The Basics teaches parents and caregivers about five fun, simple and powerful ways they can give their child a strong and healthy start in life:

Maximize love, manage stress. Babies thrive when the world feels loving, safe, and predictable. Caregiving that is affectionate and responsive develops a sense of security and self-control.

Talk, sing and point, beginning at birth. Babies learn language from the moment they are born. They learn through loving interactions with their caregivers, not TV or phones.  Eye contact, pointing, and real words teach the most about communication.

Count, group and compare.  Children are born wired to learn numbers, patterns, sizes, shapes, and comparisons. What they learn about math in the first few years makes a difference when they get to school.

Explore through movement and play. Children are born curious about the world. They are like scientists. Pay attention to your infant or toddler’s interests. Help them learn through play and exploration.

Read and discuss stories. The more we read with young children, the more prepared they become to enjoy reading and do well in school. Even infants enjoy the shapes and colors in books. Let them hold the book, turn the pages. Point to the pictures and talk about what you see.

The Children’s Museum, one of the local partners leading the implementation of The Basics, recently renovated “Little Farm” – the museum’s exhibit for its youngest visitors – to focus exclusively on The Basics and its five messages. “The Basics has the potential to transform the learning experiences for our youngest learners and their caregivers,” said Danielle Ripperton, CEO of the Children’s Museum. “We have been proud to support the rollout of this initiative as we work with early childhood partners across the region who are coming together to utilize and promote this important common language for our region’s families.”

In 2018, Chesterfield County Public Schools was instrumental in bringing The Basics to Richmond from Boston where it originated. A steering committee was formed with representatives from Chesterfield County, Children’s Museum, Virginia Public Media, Family Lifeline, NDP Agency, Reach Out and Read VA, VCU Health and Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond and Smart Beginnings Southeast to bring together expertise and leverage resources to expand the program and create opportunities for engagement across the Greater Richmond region.

For more information, contact Amanda Abate Murphy at 804-874-6192 or by email at

About Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond

Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond (SBGR) is a partnership among public and private agencies, businesses, and individuals serving the cities of Richmond, Colonial Heights, as well as Chesterfield, Charles City, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent and Powhatan counties. The partnership of over 100 public and private partners works to enhance the quality of early childhood care and learning for young children, so they will be ready to succeed in school, work and life.

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