Parent programs enhance early literacy in children

  • March 27, 2018
  • /   Reggie Dogan
  • /   early-learning

Parents can do so many things to support their children’s early literacy skills. 

Talking with them, reading to them, singing, playing games, saying nursery rhymes, playing word games are just a few things that will support their literacy.

We know that most parents have the ability to talk, interact and engage with their children in daily encounters and activities. This simple but crucial task is at the heart of Studer Community Institute’s Parent Outreach Programs. We started using and building on those important principles in our programs in Area Housing campuses with the parents to use at home with their children.

Since the summer, SCI staff has offered parents tips, strategies and lessons on early learning initiatives to use with their young children under 4 years old.

The primary purpose is to provide parents with the skills to help build their babies’ brains and prepare them for kindergarten.

The parent programs has expanded to offer opportunities for parents in Oakwood Terrace to take part in the brain-building exercises and activities.

Each week at Oakwood Terrace (formerly Truman Arms off W Street), mothers, fathers and even some grandparents attend the sessions that involve activities, videos, handouts, role-playing and table exercises centered on enhancing parenting skills.

Our primary objective is to offer parents support and positive reinforcement as they strive to become their child’s first and most important teacher.

Building parent involvement is the single most important thing that parent groups do. Often, it’s the most difficult, too. And that’s too bad because there are many compelling reasons why parents—all parents—should get involved in their children’s education.

Early education plays a critical role during the important developmental years of a child. Kindergarten readiness, in fact, is one of the 16 key metrics the Studer Institute uses to measure the economic, educational and social well being in the Pensacola metro area.

Research shows that the more words children hear in the first three years of life builds the brain structure that will be needed later to support reading and thinking skills. Those early language skills can also lead to continued academic success later in life.

There is little debate over the fact that all children deserve the chance to reach their fullest potential.

While traditional thought has said this begins on the first day of school, science tells us something different.

It says that if we want our children to be all they can be, intellectually, productively, creatively, we must begin to recognize that the ultimate achievement begins on the first day of life and that parents must be recognized as the critical link.

Closing the word gap is an important step in early literacy programs.

By the time poor children are 3 years old, researchers believe they have heard on average about 30 million fewer words than children the same age from better-off families, setting back their vocabulary, cognitive development and future reading skills before the first day of school.

Those children who experience this drop in heard words are put at a disadvantage before they ever step in a classroom.

Engaging parents to involve their children through talking and reading is among the easiest ways to increase brain development babies and enhance literacy in children.

Researchers recommend engaging in 30 minutes a day of literacy activities with your child.

Children from underserved communities, unfortunately, know fewer words and have been read to less often than those in middle-income neighborhoods. 

Some parents never finished school, others have several jobs and no time to talk to their children or read to them at least 15 minutes every day. This affects the brain development necessary to prepare for success later in life, without which even early education is too late.

During these times, support and assistance from others are critical. That’s why SCI is working to offer parents support to help develop the tools and skills to improve their children’s lives and get them ready for school and life.

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