School Readiness

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A child’s readiness for school when he/she enters kindergarten is an important contributor to reading proficiency by the end of third grade. Readiness is often defined as a child’s attainment of the emotional, behavioral, social, physical and cognitive skills needed to learn, work and function successfully in school and later in life.

Cedar Valley Readers highlights two important actions for parents to take to prepare children for school:

1. Engaging in nurturing and
affirming “back and forth” interactions

Why it Matters
•  By age 2, children from low-income families are already behind their more affluent peers in listening, counting and other skills essential to literacy.

•  Children with lags in social-emotional development often show distress and disruptive behavior that interfere with learning.

•  Rates of behavior difficulties range from 9 to 14 percent among all young children, compared with nearly 30 percent among children from low-income families.

One great resource for parents is a the free downloadable app Daily Vroom.

Vroom makes the brain science accessible to parents, building awareness that the first five years are when children develop the foundation for all future learning — and that parents are their children’s most powerful brain builders. The free Daily Vroom app offers parents daily tips to turn shared moments into brain-building moments.

2. Enriching your child’s vocabulary
and promoting a love for reading

Why it Matters
•   As early as 18 months, low-income children begin to fall behind in vocabulary development and other skills critical for school success.

•  By age 3, on average, children from low-income families have heard as many as 30 million fewer words than their peers from more affluent families. The greater the number of words children heard before age 3, the greater IQs and success in school.

•  A child’s vocabulary as early as age 2 can predict a child’s third-grade reading achievement and future educational and social opportunities.

•  By age 5, a child from a typical middle-class family recognizes 22 letters of the alphabet, compared with a child from a low-income family who recognizes nine letters.

•  61 percent of children from low-income families have no children’s books at home.

•  In low-income neighborhoods, the ratio of books to children is one book for every 300 children, far below the ratio of 13 books per each child in middle- and upper-income neighborhoods.

•  A child from a low-income family enters kindergarten with a listening vocabulary (i.e., the words they need to know to understand what they hear) of 3,000 words, compared with 20,000 for their middle-income peers.

When parents talk and sing to their children — in any language — they help ensure that their children are building the vocabulary they need to start kindergarten ready to succeed. Having a strong vocabulary is a key predictor of school readiness. Similarly, when parents read to their children, have books or print material in the home and take their children to the local library, they help develop early literacy skills and promote a love for reading!

ror%20logoReach Out and Read is a nonprofit organization of medical providers who use an evidence-based model to promote early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms by integrating children’s books and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud into well-child visits, including by using video tools. Reach Out and Read serves more than 4 million children and distributes over 6 million books through nearly 5,000 program sites nationwide.

Three clinics here in the Cedar Valley are participating in Reach Out and Read. When children visit doctors at Covenant Medical Center, Unity Point Prairie Parkway, or Peoples Community Health Clinic for Well Child check-ups, their physicians incorporate books into their exams, and encourage their little patients choose a book to bring home.

For more resources relating to reading, check out Cedar Valley Readers’ other initiatives. Cedar Valley Readers offers a variety of events and learning opportunities for parents. Read more →