Pre-K Resources for Early Childhood Literacy
I have two daughters and come from a family where reading was experienced at a very early age. I was a fourth grade teacher when I had my first daughter and remember wondering what I could do for her to best prepare her for kindergarten. My students came in reading and I had actually never taught a child to read from the beginning.
I had many teacher friends to confer with and one friend was a kindergarten teacher. I remember she told me that if every one of her incoming students knew the alphabet and letter sounds attached to each letter, she could do so much more with the students. That was my mission. While reading every day to my daughter we took the time to read the books that highlighted letters and sounds and she was prepared for kindergarten.
Your Community is a Resource
Make no mistake, I do realize that everyone has a different life experience and may not be able to provide this for their child. This is the very reason that organizations such as Jumpstart are so essential to the very fabric of our society. This early learning gives EVERY child the jumpstart they deserve on these foundational skills.
I not only applaud Jumpstart for their vision, but even more important is the training of volunteers that goes along with doing this critically important work for our future generations. We can’t just put kids in a room with adults and expect them to excel. If the adults are informed and use a high quality curriculum, then we get the biggest ‘bang for our buck’. Our nation as a ‘community’ will be better off in the future with the invaluable resources available through Jumpstart!
Here’s a closer look, from Jumpstart Deputy Director: Atalaya Sergi
Jumpstart is a national early education organization that recruits and trains college students and community volunteers (55+) to work with preschool children in low-income neighborhoods. Through a proven curriculum, these children develop the language and literacy skills they need to be ready for school, setting them on a path to close the achievement gap before it is too late.
Our mission is to work towards the day when every child in America enters kindergarten prepared to succeed. We believe that every child deserves a high quality early education regardless of their zip code, family income, or their parent’s level of education.
Jumpstart works towards its mission by placing trained adults in preschool classrooms to work with children 3-5 years of age. Volunteers are organized in teams of 5-7 members and assigned a classroom and small groups of children to support for the academic year. Our research based curriculum consist of 40 sessions where volunteers read high quality, developmentally appropriate, books with children and engage them in a host of fun activities that reinforce skill development in vocabulary, comprehension, rhyme awareness, phonemic awareness, alphabet knowledge, and meaning and use of print. We evaluate children’s outcomes before they begin with Jumpstart and at the end of the academic year.
Children who participate in Jumpstart finish the year ahead of their peers who did not participate in Jumpstart. The difference in their skill development and social-emotional growth is statically significant.
There are several ways to get involved. You can give of your time and talents. We recruit volunteers for our signature program described above on college campuses and adults from the community that are 55+ years of age. However, if you are unable to dedicate the time necessary for the signature program we would love to have you volunteer in other ways. We are always looking for professionals to volunteer their skills and knowledge with all types of projects such as creating flyers, organizing events, conducting community assessments, etc. We also have one-time volunteer opportunities such as family festivals where we host reading gardens and material creation parties where we create materials our volunteers use in the classroom. These opportunities are open to individuals and groups. If you’re interested in volunteering please email us at Jumpstart.SouthernCalifornia@jstart.org.
How It Works
We provide volunteers with 45-60 hours of training over the course of the school year in which they volunteer. We start with an initial set of trainings that support volunteers in understanding child development, effective adult-child interactions with children 3-5 years of age, implementing Jumpstart’s curriculum in a way that supports children’s skill development, collaborating with teachers, engaging parents, and working as a team. Once volunteers are in the classroom implementing the curriculum we provide ongoing training and observation and feedback to help them build their skills and support their children’s continual progress.
You can also invest financially in helping us continue to support children from low income communities be prepared for kindergarten. With as little as $50 you can provide a child with the support of Jumpstart. $50 provides a session for one child, $100 for two children, and $1000 can support an entire classroom. Every $1 invested in high quality early education programs yield an estimated $11 return to society. Children who complete quality programs do better in school academically and are less likely to dropout, be arrested, repeat grades, or require special education. You can feel confident that your investment will make a real and tangible impact. Visit www.jstart.org/donate to make a gift.
Another way you can get involved is join us this fall for our annual campaign. Jumpstart’s premiere national campaign, Read for the Record, mobilizes millions of children and adults to celebrate literacy by participating in the largest shared reading experience. On October 21, 2014, people across the country will unite to read the children’s book Bunny Cakes, a comical story of sibling bonding and birthday shenanigans, by bestselling author and illustrator Rosemary Wells, in support of Jumpstart’s mission: to work toward the day every child in America enters kindergarten prepared to succeed. We invite individuals, families, schools, libraries, corporations, and community organizations to join us in promoting early education and the importance of literacy. You’ll find more information at www.jstart.org/campaigns/read-record.
Our core belief in early access to learning compels us to be an active and engaged member of the Children’s Literacy Coalition and to serve on the steering committee, alongside other passionate literacy partners like Alison Sansone, here at Be There Bedtime Stories. We understand the importance of working in collaboration with other community organizations and institutions to bring awareness to the value of a literate society for the benefit of us all.
For more information about Jumpstart go to www.jstart.org!