No Child Left Behinds Early Reading First grant program supports preschools and early childhood education providers, especially those who serve children from low-income families, so that the children they serve will arrive at kindergarten with the foundational skills necessary to become successful readers. The following is an excerpt from a recent article in the Sun Current (Richfield, MN) highlighting how children are benefiting from an Early Reading First grant:
"Preschool-age children in Richfield have been attending a camp inside a school building. A spiders web, a stuffed squirrel and other touches help provide the illusion of a woodsy getaway for young children participating in the Early Reading First Project. The project is intended to provide early education to children from low-income families or with a limited background in English. The initiative is run by the Bloomington/Richfield Family Center through a three-year, $3 million federal grant related to the No Child Left Behind Act.
"The project is designed to get children to recognize words and the names of common objects through a variety of interactive experiences. The camp setting was preceded by an occupational focus in which the young participants played the roles of secretaries, doctors and other job positions. In doing so, they learned words related to those professions, said Kay Miller, coordinator of the Richfield/Bloomington Family Center and director of the project.
"The kids will pick up those words like sponges, she said. Theyre doing fun, meaningful activities, that are instructional as well. Several stations around a classroom focus on various, everyday events and activities. Teachers try to interest the preschoolers in the stations and elicit questions about what they see, Miller said.
"By hearing and seeing words, the children quickly come to associate the words with their objects, something that is especially important for children learning English, she said. A printing center focuses on the letters and written words themselves and encourages children to spell words on a wall. Everything is focused on reading or literacy Miller said. Books are everywhere. There are labels on all the items.
"Sixty Bloomington and 30 Richfield 4-year-olds attend sessions at two classrooms in Richfield and four in Bloomington weekdays for 6 1/2 hours per day. The endeavor began in January and will continue into August in its first year in Richfield and Bloomington. The children will begin kindergarten in the fall. In the second and third years of the program, both 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds will participate with many of those children participating for two years.
"The No Child Left Behind Act provided a grant for the project, one of 30 nationwide funded this year, in order to determine whether an intense and high-quality educational opportunity would help close achievement gaps among some disadvantaged segments of students, Miller said."
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