What professors Casey Lew-Williams and Lauren Emberson are starting (“Baby Steps for a Baby Lab,” Life of the Mind, Jan. 7) continues a much-needed understanding of infant brains. I am working in the real world using the results of these studies.
Last year I started 5 Steps to Five, a privately funded demonstration program in Port Chester, N.Y., where the population is 54 percent Hispanic. One elementary school is 90 percent Hispanic. The main focus of our program is to coach the moms to be their babies’ first and most capable teachers. We are starting our second year. We have the exit interviews from last year’s programs. The responses are important in how we have changed the lives of these families. Many had never had books in their homes. We also know, and show the moms, how a baby looks at the source of its mom’s voice as soon as it can focus its eyes. There is much talk of evidence-based evaluation, which is quantitative. Our program must be qualitatively based for the first few years.
The problem we are now working on is how to deliver the program to poor, stressed, and tired moms. When can they find the time to regularly spend even two hours a week in our program? We served about 35 families reasonably successfully in the first year. Now we know more about how to do it. We will continue to deliver the information from many studies to these families in a way that they can improve their babies’ chances of success in school and life.