The Basics

About The Basics Southwest Alabama

The United Way of Southwest Alabama funded The Basics Southwest Alabama initiative to help new mothers, parents, caregivers, families, and children during the first three years of life, when 80% of brain growth occurs. During this period, skill gaps between socio-economic, racial, and ethnic groups become clearly apparent. Simple interactions can help. In fact, everyday interactions between children, their parents, and other caregivers provide abundant opportunities to give every child a more equal start in life.

The Basics are five evidence-based parenting and caregiving principles that can benefit children from all backgrounds. The Basics Southwest Alabama campaign will work with broad range of community organizations and early childhood programs s to ensure that every parent and caregiver has full support to use The Basics practices as well.

The Basics Southwest Alabama campaign was launched by Coastal Conversations, a platform for increased civic awareness and engagement across our region. Costal Conversation’s goal is to make our region the best place to live, work and play.

The Basics Southwest Alabama was inspired by the Boston Basics organization, a public-private partnership that grew out of work by the Achievement Gap Initiative (AGI) at Harvard University. AGI is a university-wide effort based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Harvard Kennedy School, supporting governmental, civic, and private sector mechanisms to close skill gaps between racial, ethnic, and income group, and to raise achievement levels for all children.

The Basics Caregiver Poem

The Basics Southwest Alabama

Our Partners

AT&T Alabama

AT&T Alabama

Coastal Conversations

Coastal Conversations

JL Bedsole Foundation

The JL Bedsole Foundation

Mobile United

Mobile United

The Crampton Trust

The Crampton Trust

University of South Alabama

The 5 Principles of The Basics are FUN, FREE, SIMPLE, and POWERFUL ways to give every child a great start

The Basics are five evidence-based nurturing practices that encompass much of what experts find is important for children ages 0-3 to experience. During these early years, a child’s brain is growing at a rapid speed. Because 80% of brain growth happens in the first three years of a child’s life, learning actually begins at birth. Building a strong foundation for learning early on ensures that children can reach their full potential as they grow! Anyone who interacts with children can do The Basics; parents, caregivers, neighbors, and even organizations who serve families with young children can provide brain boosting experiences by doing The Basics. Every child from every background can benefit from routinely experiencing the five Basics.

The 5 Basics Principles

Heart within a heart


Take Care Of Yourself.

When life gets stressful, it’s important to take care of yourself so you can be there for your Try sharing tasks with friends or family members, taking walks, doing a hobby you enjoy, or practicing deep breathing. Try different strategies and see what works best for you. Be sure to ask for help when you need it, and talk to your doctor if you often feel sad or stressed. All parents and caregivers need help.

Two thought bubbles


Use Any Language.

Speak in whatever language you are most comfortable. All languages help children’s development. It’s great if your child grows up speaking more than one language!

Number blocks


Math Is Everywhere.

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

Toddler pushing a car


Play Is Essential.

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

Book with a moon on the cover


Reading And Discussing Stories Are Vital To Language And Literacy.

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

For more information about The Basics, contact Dr. Deborah Curry at or 251.433.3624


With your help, our growing organization will work with more community centers, healthcare providers, child care and early learning centers, libraries and community centers, and families in Southwest Alabama and beyond to prepare all children to learn and succeed. We are grateful for donations of any size–every dollar will be put directly to work on behalf of children ages 0-3 and their families.

Please join us to make a difference in the lives of Southwest Alabama’s children and families. Support The Basics today.

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The Five Principles Videos

Principle 1: Maximize Love, Manage Stress

(4:28) Key concepts are showing love and responding to children’s signals, the importance of routines, and strategies for coping with stress. Use this video as a springboard for discussions with parents and caregivers or in professional development

Principle 2: Talk, Sing, and Point

(3:21) Key concepts are expressing affection, eye contact, the importance of back-and-forth interactions and conversations, and the roles of singing and pointing in the development of communication skills. Use the video as a springboard for discussions with parents and caregivers or in professional development

Principle 3: Count, Group, and Compare

(4:12) Key concepts are young children’s capacity for learning early math ideas, counting sets, and finding everyday opportunities to engage children in math talk and problem solving. Use the video as a springboard for discussions with parents and caregivers or in professional development.

Principle 4: Explore through Movement and Play

(4:10) Key concepts are ways babies and toddlers play and explore their surroundings, supporting physical development, and ways to build on children’s natural curiosity. Use the video as a springboard for discussions with parents and caregivers or in professional development.

Principle 5: Read and Discuss Stories

(4:14) Key concepts are how to read with an infant, strategies for making book time interactive, and tips for engaging children in back-and-forth conversations during reading. Use the video as a springboard for discussions with parents and caregivers or in professional development

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