by Lindsay W. Brown
May 25, 2010
Summer’s almost here! Are you wondering how you’re going to keep your children busy this summer? Recently released data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation tells us that 65 percent of children living in rural Indiana are reaching fourth grade without learning to read proficiently. While DeKalb County’s numbers are not as bleak, there are still too many children lacking proficient reading and writing skills at a time it’s most critical. Before third grade, children learn to read. After third grade, children read to learn. At a minimum, children must be ready to succeed when they get to school before they can learn there. They must be ready not only with knowledge and awareness, but the social, physical and emotional skills appropriate for their ages.
DeKalb County Learning Link, a learning initiative of the DeKalb County Community Foundation, connects community leaders with people who provide educational programs for children and adults of all ages. Three teams, based on life stages, are aligning valuable educational programs that are already in place. Learning Link’s early childhood action team has set a five-year vision of “all children entering school ready to learn” because they believe that reading and writing proficiently before leaving third grade is so essential to success in school and in life. Is this all that’s essential? Of course not, but it’s basic to a strong start for every child and toward achieving the county’s shared vision – working together through continuous learning to improve the quality of life for all in DeKalb County.
Unfortunately, not all of DeKalb County’s children arrive at school ready to learn. That’s why Learning Link’s early childhood team is encouraging community members countywide to slow down the pace this summer and explore some of the low and no-cost community resources available to help you help your young learner be ready to learn when school starts.
DeKalb County has four outstanding libraries where families are welcome to attend programs, use the materials, or just relax in the “cozy corner” and read a good story.
It’s been proven that young children whose parents read to them, tell stories, or sing songs tend to develop larger vocabularies, an important component of early reading success.
A library card is needed only when a family wishes to check out materials to take home. Each library offers a summer reading program and offers much more than books. “Literacy kits” are available to use at the library or check out. Each kit may contain a book, video, and parent guide as well as hands-on materials that are fun to use while developing many different skills. Some examples of the kits include a Bakery/Deli with cash register and money, hands-on science, numbers and math, colors and shapes and camping by the sea shore. Ask to see the list at any library, located in Auburn, Butler, Garrett, and Waterloo. Is your child interested in science, camping? Find one that fits your child’s interests . . . he or she will be more motivated to learn!
Every child needs high quality learning opportunities, beginning at birth and continuing in school and during out-of-school time, including summers, to maintain learning gains and not lose ground. While these conditions are not met for millions of children in America, DeKalb County offers many summertime high quality learning opportunities. Parents, grandparents and other caregivers may call Brenda at Auburn Parks and Pool, 260-925-2997, Garrett Parks and Pool, 260-357-3400, or Jeanette at the YMCA of DeKalb County, 260-925-9622, for summer programs and schedules. Watch the newspapers, your mail, signs on community bulletin boards and ask your friends.
To continue this series, Learning Link’s early childhood team, comprised of DeKalb County kindergarten teachers, children’s librarians, educational program providers, parents and grandparents, will be sharing some of the most basic skills, along with how a parent or other caregiver can work with a child to impart that skill.
Please join us in helping make a difference in preparing children for learning and for life. For more information about Learning Link and a four-page booklet of DeKalb County low- and no-cost learning resources, go to www.dekalblearninglink.org and click on ‘Community and Parent Resources’, then ‘Early Childhood’, or call Judy Sorg at the DeKalb County Community Foundation, 260-925-0311.