An early indicator of educational success is kindergarten readiness: a system of measurement that tracks social-emotional, physical, language, cognitive, literacy and math skills in children. Children who show readiness in four or more domains are more likely to be successful in kindergarten.
In the 2017-2018 year, only 62 percent of kindergartners in Spokane County showed readiness, a drop of 16 percent since 2013-2014. Only 50 percent of low-income or homeless children were kindergarten ready this past year. There is substantial research showing that early learning and other opportunities that prepare children for school are unequal due to race, ethnicity, and social class.
However, Washington State is lucky to have programs such as Humanities Washington that aid children in thinking more cognitively and improving their home life. Their program Prime Time serves families who have elementary-school-aged children who could benefit from participating in a reading program with their families.
Prime Time’s objective is to intervene and reverse the persistent statewide pattern of inter generational illiteracy by transforming the family into a learning environment bonded around the act of reading together.
This program meets six times weekly at local public libraries. 20-25 families meet, share a meal, and then experience story-telling and discussion modeled by a skilled scholar-storyteller team. Participating families learn how to discuss ethical and cultural themes and connect literature to their own lives.
According to Humanities Washington, Prime Time “empowers families to read and discuss together, improving literacy and critical thinking skills. The program is also available in a Spanish-English format, and has been successfully conducted in communities “where over eight different home languages were spoken by participating families.”
Since the program launched in Washington State in 2014, over 1,300 families have participated statewide in over 60 communities.
One Prime Time participant stated, “Honestly, reading was a chore before. It was something I dreaded because it was one more thing after a long day. After this program, I’ve learned how little it takes to get [my daughter] engaged and it’s becoming a really enjoyable time.”
Since 2014, participating families have increased the amount of time they read together, have experienced a positive change in their attitudes toward reading, and are demonstrating improved critical thinking skills. Participating children are likely to improve their kindergarten readiness through this program.
To read more about Prime Time and Humanities Washington, please visit: https://www.humanities.org/