Children and families are facing a terrible time. In 2020 alone, we have faced the Covid-19 pandemic, the cessation of schooling combined with a lockdown, raising anxiety among young people about climate change, and new and shocking examples of racial inequality and injustice.
In the last decades, there have been enormous jumps in our understanding of how children grow and develop. There is a mass of new research and a huge discussion among a huge community of researchers all over the world. But not enough of this penetrates into real life, helping those who are actually involved in helping children’s growth and development. At a time when pressures on children and families are getting greater and greater all over the world, and when the media is full of personal subjective opinions about how to raise children, we need to inject new energy into communicating our knowledge to those who can best use it.
We need to reach vastly more people with the science. We need to transform the appreciation of science – ‘science to live by’. When we understand the mechanisms and principles of child development, we make better choices in how we care for children.
We have responded to these unprecedented challenges with a new initiative to share our knowledge on child development with parents, caregivers and all those who have responsibility for supporting children’s growth and development. We will communicate in lay terms the key principles of child development, which can form the basis for good decisions regarding children’s growth and development.
We have launched The Scientists’ Alliance for Communicating Child Development Knowledge.
If you are such a scientist, or know others who are passionate about communicating knowledge, please contact us now!
The Alliance is co-chaired by Professors Roberta Golinkoff and Michael Lamb and will be administered by the small and entrepreneurial Child & Family Blog team.
The first members are:
Angeline S. Lillard
Annemarie H. Hindman
Barbara L. Wolfe
Barry M. Lester
Brenda Jones Harden
Caitlin McPherran Lombardi
Camelia E. Hostinar
Candice L. Odgers
Carolyn Pape Cowan
Deborah Lowe Vandell
Douglas H. Clements
Douglas M. Teti
George P. Knight
George W. Holden
Irwin N. Sandler
Jaipaul L. Roopnarine
Jennifer E. Lansford
Jeremy I. M. Carpendale
Kate C. Prickett
Kenneth A Dodge
Laura Di Giunta
Lisa A. Gennetian
Lisa M. Gatzke-Kopp
Marcia J. Carlson
Marije L. Verhage Ph.D.
Marinus H. van IJzendoorn
Natasha J. Cabrera
Phil A. Cowan
Richard A. Warshak
Robert J. Duncan
Ross A. Thompson
Ross D. Parke
Sharlene A. Wolchik
Shawna J. Lee
Suniya S. Luthar
Wendy S. Grolnick
Alliance members are not making financial contributions, nor giving a lot of time. They are providing ideas about how to get our work into the world.
- They share ideas about potential communication partnerships and about how to secure resources for the work.
- They attend occasional on-line webinars to brainstorm ideas for communicating our research to families, practitioners, teachers and policy makers.
- They Suggest projects and serve on a project advisory group and/or contribute directly.
Every two months, we will choose a topic of child development to focus on. We will invite other communicators of child development science to work together on this, so that as many organisations across the world as possible are communicating the same knowledge at the same time, so creating a valuable cumulative effect.
If a story breaks in the media that can act as a hook for child development knowledge, we will mobilise quickly around it and reschedule our future content timetable. We will invite other organisations to do the same and act together.
Around each topic, we will seek as many channels of communication as possible, for example:
- Invite Alliance members to produce content for the Child & Family Blog on the topic.
- Invite major parenting channels to partner with us to communicate messages to their communities.
- Invite international organisations, such as UNICEF and WHO, to run webinars for practitioners and policy makers globally.
- Run social media activity linking to organisations and networks with particular interest in the topic in question. All the participating organisations can promote each other in this way.
Building a Google resource
In the background, on the home page of the Child & Family Blog, we will build a new resource.
Each month, 29,000 people across the world search for the terms “child development” and “early childhood development” on Google. These people are policy makers, practitioners, writers and enquiring parents. When they do, we want them to find, in the top 10 results, the following:
Child development: the influence of families
How families can support healthy child development | Child & Family Blog
We want this to be the best exposition of this topic on-line anywhere in the world. We will build this during 2020 on Child & Family Blog. Members of the Scientist Alliance are advising on how this resource will be configured.
If you are a child development scientist and interested to participate, please contact us now!