Parents as First Teachers

First Lady and Parents

Crissy believes wholeheartedly that parents are a child’s first and most important teacher. Brain development research makes it clear that a child’s early exposure to language at home sets a foundation for a lifetime of learning. In fact, the more words parents use when speaking to a child, the greater the size of that child’s vocabulary. Sadly, children living in poverty hear as many as 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers before the age of 4. Crissy has set a goal to help spread the message that giving children positive early learning experiences at home will have the greatest impact on their future, as well as the future of our state.

Crissy believes that it’s our job as parents and communities to ensure that we are sending our children to Kindergarten with the basic skills and preparation to succeed. A parent’s role as a child’s first teacher begins at birth, and Crissy hopes to encourage parents as they do their part at home to prepare their children for the classroom.

First Ladies for Healthy Babies Network (FLHB Network)

To promote her Parents as First Teachers initiative, Crissy helped launch the First Ladies for Healthy Babies Network as a tool to connect women in the faith-based community with young parents for mentoring and disseminating important information regarding child development and healthy parenting practices.

In fall 2010, the FLHB Network was launched by the Neighborhood Christian Centers, Inc. ("NCC"), located in Memphis as a tool to connect women in the Memphis church community with young parents. As part of the initiative launch in Memphis, NCC co-hosted an event with Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam to bring together more than 175 first ladies and leading ladies of churches in the Memphis area to learn about the goals of the initiative and commit to its growth.

The progress of FLHB Memphis, in coordination with other entities, has led to development of a network of similar groups of women from faith-based communities throughout the state. Today, the FLHB Network is a Chapter affiliation of women leaders in the faith-based community whom are committed to creating awareness for healthy early child development and parent practices, as well as mentorship opportunities for young parents. Each Chapter affiliation is charged with serving needs specific to each local community. To learn more email

The First Lady's Update Newsletter

The First Lady's Update Newsletter shares information related to healthy parenting with our network of First Ladies and leading women and men throughout the state, so that these messages can be promoted with Tennessee’s young parents and caregivers. The newsletter can be forwarded to contacts, posted on an information board, shared at a meeting with young parents, or printed in a church bulletin.

If you do not already receive the First Lady's Update and you wish to do so, please click here to subscribe to this bi-monthly newsletter. Together we can make a difference!

You can also catch up on previous editions of both our First Lady's Update Newsletter as well as our Read20 Family Book Club Newsletter in our Newsletter Archives.

Brain Hero - This video shows how a child’s early experiences set a foundation for brain development and future learning.
Birth to Kindergarten (Knoxville) - Birth to Kindergarten is a free, home-based parent education and family support program designed to provide information, activities, and encouragement to families throughout pregnancy until their child enters kindergarten.
Operation Smart Child @ Neighborhood Christian Center (Memphis) - Operation Smart Child is a free parenting program designed to impact the mental, social, economic, and spiritual lives of children through early brain development strategies and interventions.
Start Smart (Knoxville) - Start Smart is an interactive program for expectant parents with children up to age 1.
Urban Child Institute (Memphis) - The Urban Child is non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being and health of children from conception to three years old in Memphis and Shelby County.
Watch, Know, Learn - is a collection of FREE educational videos for kids, teachers, and families.
Martha O' Bryan Center
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