by Laurie Goodman
Literacy Lab Family Night
Did You Know: Half of all low-income fourth-graders score below basic level on a national literacy assessment. Additionally, children living in poverty who can’t read at grade level by the end of third grade are 13 times less likely to graduate from high school on time.
These statistics tell us that without our help, the futures of many children in poverty are determined before they leave elementary school. At fourth grade, students “read to Learn”, so if they can’t read by then, they are unlikely to catch up.
Girls Inc. is working to give girls the chance to change these odds. The Literacy Lab program was created to ensure that girls are at grade level reading by the fourth grade. The program is offered to 120 girls in kindergarten through fourth grade. Girls are placed in groups of 3-4 to read and play literacy games. Games like Hula Hoop words (similar to musical chairs) teach girls skills that align with Core Standards at each grade. Games and activities boost girls’ confidence.
One of the highlights of Literacy Lab is “Family Literacy Night”. At each of the three participating schools, Girls Inc. hosts family nights three times per school year. In 2016, over 600 girls and their family members attended. Families have dinner together, play literacy games, and learn about how to help their daughters become strong readers. Often, families are treated to books to take home. Each family night is themed. In November, the theme was “Read-A-Sauras-Rex”. Girls and their families raced to identify vowel sounds during the “Tricera-toss” activity; chose noun, adverb, and verb lava rocks to escape the lava from the erupting “Volca-Oh NO!”; became paleontologists as they dug for missing letters at “Excavation Alphabet”; and read together to cap off the night. Families were even treated to photo sessions in front of the Jurassic Park Jeep. In November, over 200 attended.
In addition to the 10-week program and family nights, Literacy Lab offers Literacy Adventure Fields Trips. The last field trip included five stops – TeWinkle Park, Heroes Hall, Bella Terra, the Cerritos Library, and Bruster’s Ice Cream. Girls read a book at each stop, totaling six books in a day.
Whether girls are learning about dinosaurs, history, veterans, or any other subject, they are gaining reading skills and the confidence that will affect the rest of their lives.
A Girls Inc. graduate, Staphany said, “By the time I had reached the fourth grade, I had already surpassed my parent’s ability to help me with my homework and education. I knew I had to pay attention in class because it was up to me and only me to learn and understand what was being taught.”
See the program in action: https://vimeo.com/221481134