The Basics

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The Basics are five evidence-based parenting and caregiving principles that encompass much of what experts find is important for children from birth to age three. Every child from every background can benefit from routinely experiencing the Basics learning experiences. Therefore, the Basics Campaign is working through a broad range of institutions and partners to ensure that every parent and caregiver is fully supported by family and friends to use the Basics practices in everyday life. 


The Basics, Inc. grew out of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University in partnership with the Black Philanthropy Fund in Boston. The Basics' mission is to bolster brain development for social, emotional, and cognitive skill building among children from birth to age 3 as a sturdy foundation for school readiness across whole communities. The Basics operates under the auspices of Third Sector New England (TSNE) MissionWorks. 

80% of brain growth happens in the first three years of life. During this period, skill gaps between socio-economic, racial, and ethnic groups become clearly apparent. This does not need to be! Everyday interactions between children, their parents, and other caregivers provide abundant opportunities to give children from every background a more equal start in life.

The Basics Principles

Maximizing love and managing stress helps caregivers stay emotionally present with their children. Consistent, nurturing relationships and freedom from excessive stress promote children’s development and emotional wellbeing.

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Talking, singing, and pointing accelerate language development, which in turn accelerates children’s early learning and engagement with the surrounding world.

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Counting, grouping, and comparing lay the foundations for mathematical thinking, helping children make sense of the numbers and categories they encounter in the world.

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Exploring through movement and play encourages curiosity, exploration, and discovery, and supports the development of motor skills and a healthy body.

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Reading and discussing stories engages children in thinking and builds their knowledge, reasoning, and early literacy skills. 

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For more information about The Basics please contact:

Lauralen Avery Staff Picture

Lauralen Avery

First Steps Community Coordinator