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Why it matters



in Early Years

Why it Matters 

Brain Development

From birth to age three, a child’s brain undergoes rapid development, producing more than 1 million neural connections per second. By age three, the brain has achieved 80% of its adult size.

Missed Opportunities

Many parents and caregivers have never had opportunities to learn the science behind the Basics and how important they are to their children’s brain development and wellbeing. A number of the greatest misunderstandings pertain to the first year of life, when doing the Basics already makes a big difference.

Skill gaps clear by age 2

Nationally representative data show clear skill gaps by the second birthday. One recent study found that by the age of two, less advantaged children were six months behind more advantaged peers in language processing skills.

Lifelong Consequences

Brain development during the first three years builds critical foundations for cognitive skills associated with academic learning, but that’s not all. It also supports confer lifelong benefits.

Supporting your child’s optimal development.

Learn about the 5 basics.

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what are they?

The basics are five clusters of parenting and caregiving behaviors, distilled from research by the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University in collaboration with a national expert advisory committee. They encompass most of what experts find is important for boosting cognitive and social-emotional development of children from birth to the age three. The Basics are free and don’t require fancy toys or extra hours in the day – they can be incorporated into families’ everyday routines.


Maximize Love, Manage Stress

Babies and toddlers thrive when their world feels loving, safe, and predictable. Respond with smiles, words, and touch to help them see, hear, and feel your love. You will help them develop a sense of security and self-control.

Talk, Sing, & Point

Babies learn language from the moment they are born. Be responsive to their sounds, and later, their words. Connect with eye contact and a loving tone of voice, while pointing to help them know what you are talking about.

Count, Group, & Compare

Every child's brain is wired for math. Make talking about numbers, shapes, patterns, and comparisons a focus of your time together and watch your child learn to love math.

Explore through movement and play

Babies are like scientists who love making discoveries. Watch to see what interests your child, then encourage their curiosity and help them learn when they play and explore.

Read and Discuss stories

Reading turns kids into confident thinkers. Make books a regular part of your relationship from the very beginning. With infants, point at the pictures and speak with excitement. With toddlers, just make it fun.

Operation First Five

Operation First Five is a Coalition of individuals and organizations united to support families with young children and connect them with the resources they need to get a successful start in life. Because the first five years of a child’s life can profoundly shape the rest of their life, we focus on families with children from zero to five. Our goal is for individuals and organizations to come alongside these families, working together to build a stable, self-sufficient & healthy community for all of our citizens.


The mission of Operation First Five is to help children succeed through a comprehensive & collaborative early childhood system, which supports families and service providers.


Our vision is that all children in Potter County grow up healthy, experience nurturing relationships, live & grow in stimulating early learning environments, and enter school ready to succeed.

Mayor’s Summit

Hear from Dr. Ferguson and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price

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Shared Service alliance

The Amarillo Shared Services Alliance is a partnership of childcare providers working together to share costs and deliver services in a streamlined and efficient way. It came into being as a strategic solution to a complex problem to raise quality of childcare settings our community and just one example of systems change work Operation First Five is leading.