"This work, our work, is a nice thing to do, but it is much more than that. Indeed, helping children to succeed in school and in life is work that speaks to the very future of community and country. It is a practical imperative as well as moral."
-Dave Lawrence, The Children's Movement of Florida
Dave Lawrence was a keynote speaker at this month's Starting Strong conference (story below); and as always he was an engaging opener. I first heard Dave speak about 10 years ago to a national pediatric meeting, and every time I hear him I feel re-energized that the work we are doing is on the right path. I often struggle when people ask me "what I do." It seems impossible to convey either the content or the import of what we do easily. And occasionally people will say something like "Well, isn't that nice that you do that." Somehow talking about little children and books "sounds nice" but doesn't convey the very real sense of urgency and import that drives the work that we do at Reach Out and Read each day. We know that fundamentally changing what we do for young children and families in this country is absolutely vital to our nation's future. This is, in fact, very serious business.
So as we think about what Dave had to say, we also recognize that fall is a time of transition, especially for children who are starting school for the first time. Children who will enter kindergarten "ready for school" may be filled with nervous excitement this week. Their transitions ahead will not all be easy, but they will gradually learn what school is about, and continue to be excited about all they will learn and do. Children who are less prepared may be scared, or may have no expectations at all about what will happen when they enter the elementary school door. Unfortunately, that means there is a good chance they will discover that other children seem to know more than they do. They will see peers who are comfortable interacting with other children and the teacher; who are able to sit quietly for short periods of time when the teacher expects them to; who know how to hold a pencil and a book; and who might even be able to write their name. A child who is unfamiliar with many of these things may quickly feel intimidated, out of place, and unsure they belong. And if this happens, there's a good chance the kindergarten year will not be the exciting adventure it can and should be. It is likely that those who start out behind will not catch up with their classmates, and later in 3rd grade they will be much less likely to read proficiently. If they enter 4th grade without this skill, the remaining primary years will be much harder because they will be expected to shift from "learning to read" to "reading to learn." Kids who struggle at this transition often keep struggling. Far too many will get discouraged, and many will ultimately fail to graduate from high school.
So is all lost then by age 5? Of course not, but it is less expensive and easier on everyone--children, families, teachers, schools, communities--if children arrive at kindergarten ready. Research clearly demonstrates how important learning is in the first years of life. If we support children and families so that children arrive at kindergarten ready, child outcomes will be much better; in education, health and life. Opportunities to put kids on a healthy trajectory start in infancy--not at age 5 or age 3. Differences are measurable in children's cognitive skills as early as 9 months of age! The answers lie in supporting parents, so they can better support their kids' development. Teachers know from research and experience that the engagement of parents in their child's education is a huge predictor of how well a child will do. So if we know that education starts way before kindergarten, before preschool, before child care--that it starts with babies at home with their families--it follows that parent engagement in education must start then too! And that is what Reach Out and Read is all about: doctors partnering with families from the moment they welcome babies into their lives, providing advice, support, books and encouragement to read at home. It's simple, and it works. It works to change lives, and to create opportunities for all kids to be on track toward the joy of lifelong learning. It helps instill confidence for both parent and child that the transition to kindergarten, when it arrives, will be a welcome, exciting adventure.
Please read on to learn more about our activities, and the many ways you can get involved:
- On TV, with King5 and New Day Northwest
- Through P-3 partnerships, like we presented at
- By partnering with us in South Seattle/King County
- By getting involved in ways that work for you:
Support, Encourage, Advocate
As Dave Lawrence so eloquently put it, this work speaks to the very future of community and country. Please join us as we roll up our sleeves to improve outcomes for children.
Jill Sells, MD and the Reach Out and Read Washington team
REACH OUT AND READ ON KING 5 TV
Join us on King 5's New Day Northwest to raise awareness about the importance of early literacy and garner support for Reach Out and Read. Over four weeks viewers will learn how this evidence-based program in doctors' offices across the state supports parents as their child's first teacher and gives young children new books to take home. Each week Executive Director Dr. Jill Sells will be accompanied by a Reach Out and Read medical provider in a conversation with host Margaret Larson. We will post links to each segment afterward, so we can continue to raise awareness about the importance of supporting parents, Reach Out and Read, and early learning.
Tuesday, September 11:
Introduction to Reach Out and Read in Washington State
Mary Ann Woodruff MD, Reach Out and Read Washington State Medical Director and Pediatrician at Pediatrics Northwest, PS, Tacoma
Monday September 17:
Reach Out and Read in Seattle/King County
Ben Danielson MD, Pediatrician at Odessa Brown Children's Clinic, Seattle
Monday September 24:
Supporting Children with Disabilities and their Families
Jodie Zaricor ARNP, Mary Bridge Children's Hospital and Health Center, Tacoma
Tuesday October 2:
Supporting Children and Families who are English Language Learners
Diana Lindner MD, Pediatrician and Reach Out and Read Leyendo Juntos leader
Throughout the month this campaign will be featured at www.reachoutandreadwa.org. We would love to have early learning advocates and friends join us in the studio audience.
RSVP by the Wednesday prior to each show you are interested
We thank our campaign sponsors:
Foundation for Early Learning
For sponsorship information, please contact us.
STARTING STRONG INSTITUTE HELPS LAUNCH
Attendees express excitement about bringing Reach Out and Read to their communities. We thank Dr. Nicole Castonguay from the Vancouver Clinic and MaryJo Christensen from the Anacortes School District for presenting with Dr. Sells earlier this month. There was great interest from participants across the state in growing Reach Out and Read as a community-wide strategy within early learning initiatives. Having doctors support parents from the earliest months around language and literacy aligns perfectly with what happens in high quality childcare, preschool, and early elementary school.
We look forward to continued conversations with early learning leaders in communities across the state, and welcome the opportunity to brainstorm with you. You can view our presentation and handouts: Reach Out and Read Overview, Research Summary, and Community Partnerships . Please share these in your communities, and contact us for more information. We'd love to build partnerships to support children and families where you live and work!
REACH OUT AND READ IN SOUTH SEATTLE
AND SOUTH KING COUNTY
Focusing resources in alignment with the Road Map Project offers
potential to improve outcomes community-wide. Thanks to the generosity of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Reach Out and Read is excited to launch our community-based strategy in South Seattle and South King County, an area of significant need. Through this project Reach Out and Read will help address the urgent community issue of school readiness. The Road Map Project is a community-wide effort aimed at improving education to drive dramatic improvement in student achievement from cradle to college and career in South King County and South Seattle. In the South King County school districts of Auburn, Federal Way, Highline, Kent, Renton, (South) Seattle, and Tukwila only 49%-68% of 3rd graders are reading at grade level. The project builds off of the belief that collective effort is necessary to make large-scale change and has created a common goal and shared vision in order to facilitate coordinated action, both inside and outside schools.
Reach Out and Read has long recognized the needs in these communities. Since 2007, we have grown from 8 to 22 programs in the region, and 8 of the new programs are in community health centers. Our programs are serving an estimated 15,400 young children and their parents, most of whom are low-income, two-thirds are children of color, and about one third have a primary language other than English. Reach Out and Read is the largest early learning program in South King County, and we are reaching many families who are receiving no other formal services before kindergarten.
This new project will
- Strengthen our capacity to support the quality and sustainability of current Reach Out and Read services in the Road Map Region
- Facilitate significant expansion of programs
- Develop the awareness and partnerships in the Region that will establish Reach Out and Read as a core element of the early learning system
- Embed Reach Out and Read in the continuum of early literacy supports for children and families in this region
This project is also an important part of our goal of growing a network of Reach Out and Read programs aligned with community and state educational strategies. We are actively recruiting new programs and building partnerships in the region, and throughout the state.
Please contact us
if you want to help!
SUPPORT, ENCOURAGE, ADVOCATE
Help Reach Out and Read make a difference for children and families. People often ask how they can help us achieve our mission. There are many ways you can get involved! With your help doctors across the state will have more impact more quickly than we will be able to do without you. Read on for steps you might take, and contact us to share ideas or learn more.
Support: Parents as their child's first teacher through Reach Out
- Donate funds to support Reach Out and Read programs.
- Encourage business support for Reach Out and Read, such as through local businesses and United Ways.
- Connect with service clubs like Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, Jaycees, and Junior League on behalf of Reach Out and Read.
- Share grant and funding ideas with local programs and/or Reach Out and Read staff.
- Encourage funding for Reach Out and Read within larger early learning initiatives.
- Be creative! Sometimes a few hundred or thousand dollars is all that is needed to get a clinic started.
Encourage: Doctors and medical practices to participate in this evidence-based program that families love.
- Identify medical practices. Who sees a lot of children in your community? Who cares for kids in your Head Start, ECEAP and Child Care programs? What doctors are leaders in your community?
- Share ideas for doctors/clinics with Reach Out and Read staff. We can help recruit them.
- Refer doctors to Reach Out and Read. We will help them through the whole process.
- Tell them why. Let them know how important this is, and that you want them to do it!
Advocate: For Reach Out and Read to be a core element of state and local early learning systems
- Speak up for Parents: Make sure support for parents is part of every early learning conversation!
- Bring Reach Out and Read to early learning and education conversations. Doctors can rarely be there, and Reach Out and Read staff is few. You are the most effective voice, and we will provide support to you.
- Advocate for Reach Out and Read as a strategy in your community early learning plans. Reach Out and Read complements and aligns with state and local strategies. This will help with partnerships and funding.
- Advocate at the state level: Help increase policy and funding support so Reach Out and Read can sustain a network of high quality programs in your community, and across Washington State.
REACH OUT AND READ WASHINGTON STATE ON FACEBOOK
Reach Out and Read Washington State is on Facebook. Please LIKE us. If you could also suggest our Facebook page to your friends, that would go a long way in helping us spread our message about early literacy. Thanks!
ABOUT REACH OUT AND READ WASHINGTON STATE
Reach Out and Read helps prepare children to succeed in school
by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together. Our evidence-based, proven program leverages the volunteer time of doctors to make literacy a standard part of well-child visits. Reach Out and Read supports parents as their child's first teacher. Through 134 programs in 29 counties, almost 900 medical providers serve an estimated 83,000 children and families.
Founded by pediatricians in 2007, Reach Out and Read Washington State supports programs across the state. We are part of the national, evidence-based Reach Out and Read Program, founded
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone - 206-524-3579
Fax - 206-524-4768
Address - 155 NE 100th Street - Suite 301, Seattle WA 98125