At just 4-months-old, Malachi is already drawn to books.
“He flips the pages and gabbers while he is looking at them,” Malichi’s mom, Skyler, said about her son babbling along as he follows the pictures and stories in books. “He would rather play with the books I give him than watch a cartoon, which I really like. I let him sit and read books and play with them.”
With the help of early-learning specialist Kennedy, the teen mom is trying to make every moment a teachable one for Malachi. Kennedy conducts family home visits as part of Save the Children’s Early Steps to School Success program, a rare family resource in Malachi and Skyler’s rural east Kentucky town, which struggles with poverty, drug addiction and unemployment.
Through such visits, parents like Skyler are equipped with the skills to successfully support their children’s development. And as a child grows, the program offers book exchanges and parent-child groups, laying a foundation of language and literacy skills for the child, and opportunities to develop socially and emotionally with their peers.
Day by day, Skyler is incorporating a number of brain building activities into Malachi’s routine – like when the 4-month-old starts to babble, the new mom mimics the sounds back to him, and then they go back and forth, mirroring a conversation. Such activities – which turn the daily, shared moments between parents and children into early learning ones – are an initiative of the Bezos Family Foundation called Vroom, one of the newest innovations being used in the Early Steps program.
“Every time I see Skyler and Malachi, they are always doing a Vroom tip, or a brain building activity,” said Kennedy. “Vroom has helped them engage.”
“Before Vroom, I interacted with Malachi, but now it has a purpose,” added Skyler.
The new mom also said Kennedy has become like family.
“She is the best! I honestly feel like I’ve gained a life-long friend that I can go to anytime I have a need or a question,” Skyler said.
It took such a friend to help Skyler realize she already had what it takes to give Malichi the early learning essentials he needs.