Building Blocks 2018

Early Learning Center

Building Blocks magazine aims to help families harness power of talk, interaction to build young brains

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Stack of Building Blocks Magazines spread out on a table

The Studer Community Institute is using “Building Blocks” to help continue its mission of improving the quality life and the goal to build brains, build lives and build a community.

Building Blocks is the Institute’s inaugural parent magazine, filled with important and useful information to help their babies, toddlers, and children reach and exceed developmental milestones. The 52-page publication provides valuable tips, useful guides, and innovative ideas to engage and involve parents in their young children’s lives. And it’s not just for parents.

“We hope grandparents, families, and caregivers find in it some tips and tools for how talking to your child can help develop your child’s brain,” said Shannon Nickinson, editor, contributing writer and SCI project manager. “Our passion is to make our community the best place to live and raise a family. To us, that means giving parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles a deeper understanding of how important the first three years of life are to a child’s intellectual and emotional development.”

Building Blocks and early childhood education will go hand in hand. Block building has always been an integral part of educating young children by integrating the concepts of playing and learning. From infancy, children enjoy blocks. Babies like touching, gripping and banging blocks together. Then, toddlers attempt to build structures and begin imaginative play. Toddlers and preschoolers love playing with blocks. In addition to developing motor skills and hand-eye coordination, block play can also help foster creativity, enhance problem-solving ability and build other cognitive, emotional and social skills. Now, Building Blocks can benefits parents and adults, too.

With articles ranging from “Building a Reader” and “Early Learning to LENA Start and “Play Smart”, the magazine covers an array of interesting, entertaining and educational topics designed to help parents and caregivers navigate the sometimes treacherous waters of raising a child. The magazine, in a two-page spread, highlights the Pensacola Metro Dashboard, which lays out objective benchmarks that measure and gauge progress and identify key areas that need improvement. There’s an informative display of ASQ’s (Ages & Stages Questionnaire used by health care professionals, child providers, and developmental experts to track a child’s growth over his or her first three years. Using information provided by Florida State University’s First Words Project, Building Blocks includes “A Glimpse of our 16 Gestures by 16 Months.”

Research shows the development of gestures predicts language skills two years later. Children should be using at least two gestures each month from 9 to 16 months old. By 16 months, a child should have at least 16 gestures. Building Blocksdidn’t overlook its most important reader: the child. Included in the magazine is an easy-to-use kindergarten readiness guide that children can use to determine if they have the skills needed to start kindergarten. The two-page chart has for children to perform early learning tasks such as printing their name, copying letters, writing numbers and naming color, shapes, and sizes.

Shannon Nickinson, the magazine’s editor, said in the Welcome Letter, that children are our lifeblood, the future of our families and the future of our community. “We want our community to become a place that supports early brain development, parent engagement and school readiness for all our children — an early learning city,” Nickinson wrote. “ We hope this magazine is part of the roadmap to becoming the kind of community our children will be proud to inherit.

“Because when you build a brain, you build a life — and you build a community.”

Early Learning Initiatives

An Early Learning City is community that give parents the tools, advice and support they need to help their children be ready for kindergarten. From healthcare to business, everyone has a part to play.