Impacting Families through Reading
May 21, 2018 – Educating families about positive parenting practices and healthy family functioning is essential to improving overall child and family health and well-being. Helping the child learn to read and write are positive parenting practices and essential skills that lead to a child’s success in school and later life. According to many experts, the single most important activity parents can do to help their children acquire essential literacy skills is to read aloud to them on a frequent basis. Children who are reading proficiently at an early age are more likely to perform better in school, and as a result, graduate from high school and pursue post-secondary education.
The Cooperative Extension Program in Bell County, Texas provided a literacy program entitled Families Reading Every Day for Central Texas 4C Head Start families in Harker Heights and Killeen, Texas this past Spring. FRED, which stands for Fathers/Families Reading Every Day, was designed by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service to increase parental involvement in children’s early literacy development, with a specific focus on fathers. The program in Bell County also targeted fathers but opened participation to mothers as well. Parents read to their children a minimum of 15 minutes a day for the first two weeks and a minimum of 30 minutes a day for the last two weeks. Over the course of four weeks, parents document the amount of time spent reading to their children and number of books read. The program begins with a kick-off event and ends with a celebration party.
Several participants stated FRED got them reading to their child daily, helped them get to know their child better, and improved the quality of time spent with their child. FRED also increased their satisfaction level as a parent and led to improvement in their child’s vocabulary. Further, the reading program led to improvements in their child’s ability to count and overall helped parents become more involved in their child’s education. One hundred and forty-three hours were spent reading, and 285 books were read in four weeks.
A special thanks is extended to Altrusa International of Temple, Texas Inc. who sponsored $125 towards books and literacy games to give away to parents at the celebration events. Central Texas 4C Head Start also provided food and free books and Give More Hugs donated an estimated $150 in free books.
Submitted by Sheryl Austin
FCH Extension Agent, Bell County