By State Rep. Vincent Pedone
Early childhood is the most important time during a person’s life, and as parents we have a responsibility to provide our children with the best possible education during these formative years.
Language skills, in particular, are developed at a very young age. It is proven that children who begin school with strong language skills will be better students. Unfortunately, 34 percent of American children today enter kindergarten lacking the basic language skills they need to learn to read. It is crucial, then, that we improve our home learning environment to ensure that our children are ready to learn when they enter school.
Reach Out and Read is a non-profit, Massachusetts-founded organization that addresses this necessity and helps prepare our children to succeed in school. Started by pediatricians and early childhood educators, this highly successful public-private program encourages parents to read aloud to children and make a difference in their developmental skills.
15 Worcester hospitals, clinics and doctor offices participate in Reach Out and Read, and our community has witnessed the benefits. Through these programs, doctors and nurses go beyond standard medical care procedures and advise parents on how to read to children at each developmental stage. Pediatricians give patients a book to take home every time they visit to encourage parents to make reading aloud a routine activity at home.
The impact is significant, and the cost is minimal. Children served by Reach Out and Read score significantly higher on vocabulary tests and enjoy a six-month developmental gain in their preschool years. It also encourages parents to take an active role in their child’s education. And since doctors and nurses volunteer their time with Reach Out and Read, the only primary expense is the cost of the children’s books. Continue reading Please support the Reach Out and Read program