Reframing newsletter

New Podcast Offers Framed Take on Early Childhood Development

February 6, 2020

As readers know, we’re always excited to see examples of reframing in action. So we were thrilled to learn about a new podcast series, The Brain Architects, from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. The Center, among other organizations, has long supported the FrameWorks Institute’s research on communications strategies for early childhood development.

The first podcast episode, “Brain Architecture: Laying the Foundation,” includes Dr. Jack Shonkoff, director of the Center, and other leading child development experts leaning into tested framing to take a complicated issue and distill it for the public and policymakers. This resource offers good examples of how child and youth development advocates can refine their messaging. In addition to explaining the science of brain architecture, the podcast covers the significance of ages 0-3 for brain development, how brain connections are made, and the implications of strong or weak brain foundations for development.

Key framed highlights include:

  • “[B]rains are built over time”
  • “[A]ny building begins with a strong foundation”
  • “If the foundation is strong, the building will last a long time, and if the foundation has a crack in it, or it’s weak, the building may not fall apart, but you won’t be able to build on it very much over time without having to deal with some of the weaknesses.”
  • The genetic component is like a blueprint and how skills and circuits are built are affected by experiences and relationships, particularly the interaction between children and their caregivers
  • Weak foundations mean more remediation is needed
  • Mirrors reflect who children are and windows offer views of other kinds of people

As you can see, the early child development framed messages are consistent with the human services Building Well-Being Narrative. For example, the building language aligns well with the explanatory metaphor of constructing well-being.

The episode includes why it’s important for policymakers to understand brain architecture, examples of programs that support parents in building their children’s brains, caregiving under stress, and how communities are essential to children’s development. It also talks about concrete examples of how to prepare children for school and reasonable expectations for children to grasp concepts.

Additionally, the podcast webpage has links to resources such as “Key Concepts: Brain Architecture” and a video, “Experiences Build Brain Architecture.” Listen to the podcast or read the transcript. Learn more about FrameWorks’ research and recommendations around early childhood development.

SPOTLIGHT: FrameWorks Podcast Also Explores Child Development

As readers may recall from previous newsletters, the FrameWorks Institute launched a limited-edition 20th anniversary podcast, Frame[s] of Mind. They recently released “Episode 4: How does understanding brain development lead to policy change?” that discusses framing early childhood development. Among other topics, the podcast explores how to use science in communications to move people away from unproductive cultural models, how to redirect people’s thinking with brain architecture, how the brain story prompts policy discussions, and how the concept of toxic stress helps people understand the importance of relationships and supportive programs. Listen to all of the episodes on iTunes, SoundCloud and Spotify.