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Palmetto Basics encourages parents to help their kids grow up healthy

The Palmetto Basics is a simple concept that can reap enormous benefits. It’s for every child and every caregiver – five actions that can bring learning into focus and lead to a brighter future for South Carolina’s youngest residents.

Marian Vischer, communications director for Pickens County First Steps, said the awareness campaign is designed to show practical, easy ways that parents and caregivers can help their little ones grow to their full potential.

“The Basics gives us a common language – a simple way to talk about the power of early experiences,” Vischer said. “Eighty percent of brain development occurs in the first three years of life. The more we can build early capacity, the better equipped they are for the rest of their lives. It’s never too late, but you get so much more return on investment the earlier you start.”

The Basics Multi-City Network started in Boston. The concept is so simple and effective that affiliates now exist, including Palmetto Basics, which covers South Carolina. It is powered by Pickens County, Greenville County and Spartanburg County First Steps programs, with support from organizations including Greenville County Library System and Greenville Literacy Association and USC Upstate.

The Palmetto Basics is designed to spread the word about early learning everywhere and anywhere parents and caregivers might see it.

“It’s a community-wide messaging campaign,” Vischer said. “It’s not to replace any of the things wonderful organizations are doing, but it’s to enhance and amplify that message. It’s not just words. We have resources, but we don’t exist to replace anything anyone else is doing.”

The messages are designed for children before birth to age 5, with an emphasis on birth – 3.

“We want to equip parents and caregivers of any sort with the basics and the tools,” Vischer said. “It’s knowing how you can turn everyday moments into learning opportunities. Everyday life is full of everyday brain-building opportunities. It’s so simple. We try to keep it very simple and encouraging.”

Over the next five months, Upstate Parent will detail each one of The Palmetto Basics and include tips on easy, practical ways to bring them to life in your home. Learn more at

The Palmetto Basics

1. Maximize love, manage stress. “It lays the foundation for all of the other basics,” Vischer said. “This is simply expressing love, responding to their needs, teaching them that you can be counted on as a caregiver.”

2. Talk, sing and point. “Parents need to be talking to their babies from day one,” Vischer said. “Their brains are in such a powerful state of development. They are making connections from the first day.”

3. Count, group and compare. “Babies come into the world pre-wired for math and problem solving,” Vischer said. “Basic math concepts can be talked about and be part of everyday life.”

4. Explore through movement and play. “There are certain connections in the brain that simply don’t happen if children aren’t moving,” Vischer said. “There’s a reason they are born so active and want to play. Their brains need that.”

5. Read and discuss stories. “You can read for your baby from the time they are born,” Vischer said. “Start reading at the beginning. It’s not about children understanding the story. It’s about them having a positive experience with a book.”