Community Urged to Support "Read 20" Initiative

May 21, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Read with a Child
Read with a Child Each Day

Have you read with a child today?

It's the most important twenty minutes of your day.

Just 20 minutes a day reading aloud with young children strengthens relationships, encourages listening and language skills, promotes attention and curiosity, and establishes a strong reading foundation. These skills are essential for success in school and in life.

The DeKalb County School System seeks to heighten awareness of the importance of reading with a young child over the summer break so they will be better prepared for the start of school in the fall.

"Every year 40% of children walk into kindergarten one to three years behind. But there is something you can do about it," said Gina Arnold, Special Education Supervisor. "We do honor parents as a child's most influential and most loved teacher so for this reason we want to call your awareness to some statistics about early literacy. Students who are not prepared for school usually struggle for years to catch up and many never do. In fact, 50% eventually drop out. However, the single most important activity for building knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children. This is especially so during the pre-school years. How young boys and girls spend their time at home predicts success in school. Not your income or your family's background. Effective parents talk and read with their children. They spend time daily sharing learning activities and they limit television and computer games," said Arnold.

It's also a good idea to communicate with the child about what you're reading. "As you read with your child, talk about the characters and what they are doing," said Dr. Danielle Collins, Federal Programs Supervisor. "Nudge comprehension skills by asking simple who, what, when, where, why, and how questions. Emphasize the meaning of a story. This is a good age to use books about numbers, colors, geometric shapes, and classifications. Your child will comprehend these concepts more easily when encountering them again," said Collins.

Vocabulary matters too.

"Five year olds typically understand about five thousand words. Yet some children know only a thousand words when they start school," said Arnold. "Vocabulary is an essential pre-reading skill because it links directly with a child's comprehension. Reading many short stories and talking about them helps young children build strong vocabularies," she said.

"Make books a part of your daily routine. The more that books are woven into the children's everyday lives, the more likely they will be to see reading as a pleasure and a gift. This can be incorporated at meal times, in a car, at the child care drop off, at the doctor's office, at a grocery store, at nap time, at the day's end, at bath time, and at bed time," Collins said.

"Read with your child. It's the most important twenty minutes of your day," said Arnold. "Studies show that children must hear and share in hundreds of stories before they are ready to learn to read in school. It is also important for them to talk about what they see every day and to say the sounds of letters that they are learning. For read aloud tips, visit www.readingfoundation.org\parents. Also we will have a link on our www.deKalbschools.net website for summer activities that you can share with your child for reading improvement," Arnold continued.

"Parents you do make the difference. Imagine a kid who practices batting and pitching a ball for an hour every day all summer from the time the child is three until he is eight. Imagine a second child. No practice. No training. He or she has never slipped his or her hand in a baseball glove. Has never ran the bases. Has never swung a bat. Has almost never seen a full game played. Imagine that they turn out the same day for Little League tryouts. The skill level between these two young ball players is like the skill level in reading readiness for our incoming kindergarteners," said Dr. Collins.

Parents are asked to involve your children in summer reading programs at local libraries. Local businesses are also urged to help spread the Read 20 message on their signs and marquees. "As parents are caregivers, you want your children to be happy and successful in school," said Arnold. "Northside Elementary and Smithville Elementary will have open libraries this summer. During the weeks that school is first dismissed, May 29 through June 18, there will be morning and afternoon hours at both libraries. Also we encourage students and pre-schoolers to join the summer reading program at the local library. They have a science focus this year. It's called "Fizz, Boom, Read". They are signing up on May 30 and we encourage all kids to get involved in this fun activity. We ask the community to help us with this investment of Read 20. We ask the community to consider on your marquee for your business or your news letter, please encourage parents and remind volunteers to Read 20. When you see Read 20 throughout our community, that is going to remind you how important it is for young children to talk and to read books and to spend time with an adult. We ask that you would consider to read 20 minutes to your child on your business memo. Perhaps on the memo section of your billing. Anything that you can do to help us raise awareness. If you would like to have a yard sign for Read 20 or a chart to hang in your business, please contact the DeKalb Board of Education. Remember, Stop, Drop, and Read to a Child," Arnold concluded.

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