It is observed that children start learning language from the day they are born. As they grow, their speech and language skills start developing. They learn to understand and use language to express their needs, ideas, thoughts and feelings. During early speech and language development, children learn skills that are important to the development of literacy like reading and writing. This phase, known as emergent literacy, begins at birth and continues through the preschool years.
Children combine what they know about speaking and listening with what they see in books, videos and drawings and eventually they become ready to read and write. The experiences they gain through talking and listening during the preschool period prepare children to read and write in their early elementary school years. This means that children who enter school with weaker verbal abilities are much more likely to experience difficulties learning literacy skills than those who do not.
To help bridge the gap, United Way of Lake County started Early Reading Success: Kindergarten (ERSK), a program under Reading Success that exposes kindergarten students to the basics of reading. For ERSK, trained volunteers share their love of reading with small groups of children and engage them in a short activity related to what they have just read.
“Children come to kindergarten with varying levels of development, so small group instruction and support is very helpful to their learning. These programs engage the children and also help them use what they are learning in the classroom in a new way with a different teacher.” added Jean Dames, Early Reading Success volunteer.
For the 2019-2020 school year, Early Reading Success: Kindergarten will be in four schools in Waukegan. The volunteers and teachers work hand-in-hand to make this program worthwhile.
“Students are beginning to take ownership of their part in learning to read. Many students are beginning to blossom in their understanding of how we learn to read and how we can enjoy it,” Diane Plunkett, Kindergarten teacher at Glenwood Elementary School, shares.
“This initiative is a critical platform for early school success,” said Kristi Long, President and CEO of United Way of Lake County. “We applaud and appreciate each volunteer involved. Their magnitude of commitment and tenacity to contribute to our literacy programs demonstrate that the momentum for this initiative will continue to grow.”