March is National Reading Month
March is National Reading Month.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 34 percent of children entering kindergarten lack the basic language skills needed to learn how to read. Many children fall behind almost immediately because they are not read to or given the tools necessary for learning.
Fortunately, though, there are programs available to help children get a proper start or help them catch up.
RiverView Health offers several of those types of programs.
Reach Out to Read
In 2012, RiverView Clinics and the Crookston Early Childhood Initiative (ECI) joined forces to start the Reach Out to Read (ROR) program that continues today. The national program promotes early literacy and school readiness for children six-months old through age five by providing developmentally appropriate books for the children to keep when they visit their provider at well-child visits.
Before RiverView could become a participant in the ROR program, RiverView providers received training to participate in the program and give parents advice about the importance of reading aloud to and with their children.
This non-profit program, with over 350 sites in 45 states, relies on funding from businesses and private foundations. RiverView was able to implement the program through a grant from the Crookston ECI. Since that time, books have been purchased annually through grants from the RiverView Auxiliary and RiverView Foundation.
In June of 2015, RiverView’s Occupational and Speech Departments started using the Fast ForWord Language Series to help pediatric patients build foundational elementary school reading and language skills. The program emphasizes the link between spoken and written language to guide young students to become proficient grade level readers.
Fast ForWord is a series of computer-delivered brain fitness exercises designed to produce dramatic language and reading improvements in a variety of student populations by improving visual memory, attention, sequencing, phonological skills, handwriting, and auditory processing skills. The Fast ForWord products support existing curriculum—they don't replace it.
“When students process more efficiently, every other instructional strategy works better in their daily routines,’’ said RiverView’s Occupational Therapy Coordinator Tina Safranski. “Post-test results here at RiverView have indicated increased reading level gains ranging from 1 year, 2 months to 5 years, 1 month.’’
Safranski said that parents have reported that because of the success their children are now having in reading, those children are choosing reading over playing on electronics and homework has gotten a lot easier.
But even more exciting are the comments coming from the children using Fast ForWord, Safranski stated. One patient reported: “I now can read faster and understand what I am reading.’’ Another patient shared: “I’m almost finished reading a chapter book and I just started reading it three days ago.”
Safranski said RiverView is also sharing the Fast ForWord licenses with surrounding school districts to allow the students carry over into the school setting for optimal results.
For more information on RiverView’s Fast ForWord program, call Rehab Services at 281-9463.