- Associated Press - Monday, March 24, 2014

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Former first lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped launch a campaign Monday aimed at improving early childhood education.

Clinton was joined at a preschool on Tulsa’s north side by community leaders, including billionaire philanthropist George Kaiser, to kick off the “Talking is Teaching” campaign, which emphasizes how parents and caregivers can use simple actions to significantly improve a baby’s ability to learn new words and concepts.

The program - which aims to include media, businesses, churches and other community leaders to promote it in the coming months - suggests describing objects seen during a walk or a bus ride, singing songs, or telling stories for five minutes, three times a day. Tulsa was chosen as a launch city for the campaign because of its commitment to early childhood learning, Clinton said.

“What we learned is pretty simple but profound: When you talk to that little infant from the moment you meet him or her, when you read, when you sing, you are building brain capacity,” Clinton said in brief remarks after meeting privately with community leaders about the campaign for about an hour. “You are creating the opportunity for that child to live up to his or her God-given potential.”

Clinton did not take any questions from reporters after making her remarks.

Before the private meeting about the program, Clinton read and sang along with a group of small children using the book, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Kaiser, seated next to Clinton, joined along.

Clinton also engaged the children, holding up the book.

“And what is this one with the long neck?” she asked them, pointing at the book.

“A giraffe,” some of the kids chimed in.

“Are they all having a good time at the ballgame?”

“Yeeesss,” a few answered.

Clinton said the campaign is a realization of goals she had since she was in law school to improve early childhood learning programs.

“Truly, parents and grandparents are our child’s first teachers. And that talking is teaching, and that’s what this campaign is all about,” she said.

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