Reading Can Be Your Pal

Did you know that the biggest turning point in a child’s education is the fourth grade? If a child isn’t reading proficiently by then, there is only a 22 percent chance that child will ever catch up to the appropriate reading level. This is just one of the frightening statistics that shed the truth on illiteracy in the United States.

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At Boston’s Bridge to Excellence (BBTE), we understand that it’s essential to have strong reading skills. Along with the above statistic, experts have revealed that 85 percent of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate. Sixteen- to 19-year-old girls at or under the poverty level with below average reading skills are also six times more likely to have out-of-wedlock children than their reading counterparts.

Get Creative

To avoid the dangers of students lacking strong reading skills, there are a couple easy ways to get kids excited to read!

Soliciting anticipation and enthusiasm for reading starts with creativity. Children love being creative so setting up an arts and crafts activity prior to reading time is a no brainer.

Creativity also gives children the confidence to use their imagination. They begin to feel more eager and willing to share their thoughts after reading time.

Read To A PAL

Another way of drawing excitement for reading is by getting the community involved for group readings.

Last summer, BBTE’s Program Administrator Sophia Bishop-Rice facilitated a partnership with The Boston Police Athletic League (PAL). It was then that PAL Executive Director William Stoddard and Police Commissioner William Evans brought a pilot reading program called Read to a PAL to BBTE’s summer students.

Once a week for four weeks, students gathered at the South End Library in Roxbury to listen to read-a-louds conducted by high-ranking police officials. Commissioner Evans was the kick-off reader last summer, where he read Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss.

Goals for the students involved in the pilot reading program were to develop social-emotional skills and reverse summer learning loss by preparing children for their return to school in the fall with new vocabulary and better knowledge of their overall health and wellness.

Our partnership with PAL exceeded our intended goals and Commissioner Evans will be returning on February 22, 2017, to engage in another read-a-loud during BBTE’s February vacation week program. The Read to a PAL program will take place at the Maurice J. Tobin K-8 School in Roxbury from 11:30am – 12:30pm. 

Fun Tips for Raising Ready Readers

You don’t need to wait until your child is in school to begin fostering literacy. It’s proven that early learning can have a major impact on skills later in life, including comprehension, speaking, spelling and more.  

Like almost everything, literacy becomes habitual. Children won’t understand the importance of daily reading unless parents instill it in their everyday schedule. There are many ways for parents to encourage this daily without making it seem like a daunting task or chore to their children.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Children often repeat words and actions they hear and see from adults in their daily life. If your kids see how excited you are about reading, learning or talking about books, they’re more likely to follow suit. We all know how important it is to shield certain things from the eyes and ears of children, so if the opposite takes place – it can have a positive outcome.

Feed Their Imagination

Another way to encourage literacy is to engage a child’s imagination. This can be as easy as asking your child to tell you a story about their day during meal times, or joining them for playtime. Imagination is an important part of a child’s cognitive development. This which can help form problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

Make it a Habit

Lastly, an important step to strengthening skills in young children is instilling learning every day. Storytime can become a daily ritual – just like snack time and hopefully nap time! Reading to your child every night at bedtime is a great example of habitual learning. Eventually they’ll look forward to this time of day and you can too!

For more information on Boston’s Bridge to Excellence and how our after school services can help raise ready readers, please visit our website and check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Gather Together With Thankful Hearts

As the season of giving approaches, Boston’s Bridge to Excellence (BBTE), a non-profit that provides career mentoring and academic enrichment programs for children in lower income communities, will be hosting their annual Thanksgiving Potluck and Community Event on Thursday, November 18th from 6:30-8:30pm at KIPP Academy Boston.

 This wonderful event is free to families, up to four, enrolled in BBTE. For families not enrolled in the program the cost to attend is $20 per family of four.

 BBTE’s Thanksgiving Potluck and Community Event will be similar to the Harvest Family Night that was held in late October, which brought out nearly 100 people. The kids and their families enjoyed delicious food, bounce houses, games, an airbrush artist, and more! 

Bring your favorite dish, your family and friends and join us for a fun evening for all. Don’t forget to register!

 For more information on BBTE please visit our website or check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.