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by Joan Brasher | Nov. 29, 2012, 9:24 AM
This line from a classic Dr. Seuss book proclaims what education researchers and advocates have proven true: Reading is not only essential to learning, but also helps forge the path to a better life.
Read to Succeed, a United Way of Metropolitan Nashville early literacy initiative being offered at child care centers in eight low-income Nashville neighborhoods, has demonstrated just that. In 2011, 99 percent of children participating in Read to Succeed gained the necessary skills to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.
Gifts can be made to Read to Succeed and other agencies through Dec. 31, 2012.
“Many of these children are not being read to at home, and in many cases their families think it’s the teacher’s job,” said Kendra Andersen, a literary coach at St. Luke’s Community House in Nashville. “The parents don’t understand that they are their child’s first and best teacher. Children need to know at least 10 upper case letters and be able to write their name by the time they go to kindergarten. When they leave our program, they can do that and more.”
Phonological awareness, letter sounds and alphabet knowledge, all taught in the Read to Succeed curriculum, are powerful tools that children need to be exposed to before starting school, Andersen said.
Readiness for kindergarten is more essential than previously believed. Recent studies show that when prepared for kindergarten, a child is more likely to be reading at or above grade level by the third grade, a critical academic milestone. Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are much more likely to fall behind by third or fourth grade and be unable to catch up.
The Read to Succeed program currently reaches 1,200 children a year, but it can’t function without donations. It is estimated that every $1 invested returns $17 into the community over the long term, thanks to the resulting reduced criminal justice costs, reduced health care costs and more taxes paid.
The ability to read is the essential foundation for comprehension, learning and the successful education of a child. When equipped with these skills, a child’s future is much more likely to be a bright one.
United Way of Metropolitan Nashville works to bring people and organizations together to create a community where individuals, families and neighborhoods thrive. It advances the common good by focusing on what it considers the building blocks for a good life: a quality education that leads to a stable job, enough income to support a family through retirement, good health and safe living conditions.
Community giving is tax-deductible and continues through Dec. 31. Payroll deduction makes it easy to spread a gift out over 12 months, and deductions begin in January 2013. Visit the Vanderbilt Gives: Building a Community With Hope website for more information about giving options and to make your gift today.
Joan Brasher, (615) 322-NEWS
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