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Crissy believes wholeheartedly that parents are a child’s first and most important teacher. Brain development research makes it clear that a child’s early exposure to language at home sets a foundation for a lifetime of learning. In fact, the more words parents use when speaking to a child, the greater the size of that child’s vocabulary. Sadly, children living in poverty hear as many as 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers before the age of 4. Crissy has set a goal to help spread the message that giving children positive early learning experiences at home will have the greatest impact on their future, as well as the future of our state.
Crissy believes that it’s our job as parents and communities to ensure that we are sending our children to Kindergarten with the basic skills and preparation to succeed. A parent’s role as a child’s first teacher begins at birth, and Crissy hopes to encourage parents as they do their part at home to prepare their children for the classroom.
To promote her Parents as First Teachers initiative, Crissy helped launch the First Ladies for Healthy Babies Network as a tool to connect women in the faith-based community with young parents for mentoring and disseminating important information regarding child development and healthy parenting practices.
In fall 2010, the FLHB Network was launched by the Neighborhood Christian Centers, Inc. ("NCC"), located in Memphis as a tool to connect women in the Memphis church community with young parents. As part of the initiative launch in Memphis, NCC co-hosted an event with Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam to bring together more than 175 first ladies and leading ladies of churches in the Memphis area to learn about the goals of the initiative and commit to its growth.
The progress of FLHB Memphis, in coordination with other entities, has led to development of a network of similar groups of women from faith-based communities throughout the state. Today, the FLHB Network is a Chapter affiliation of women leaders in the faith-based community whom are committed to creating awareness for healthy early child development and parent practices, as well as mentorship opportunities for young parents. Each Chapter affiliation is charged with serving needs specific to each local community. To learn more email Crissy.Haslam@tn.gov.