Jumpstart program provides reading readiness skills

By Sharman Poplava

Learning to read begins in early childhood and research indicates that the ability to read is critical to a child’s success in school. Third grade is a transition period when children should be making the shift from learning to read to reading to learn. Studies show that third grade reading level indicates a child’s chances of graduating high school. If children start behind they tend to stay behind.

Early literacy experiences are critical to a child’s development.

Darlington County Head Start offers a language and reading curriculum through the Jumpstart, Children First program for children 3-5 years old at the Butler site in Hartsville. The program is in partnership with Coker College, the Darlington County School District, and the TEACH Foundation. In 2015, the TEACH Foundation selected Jumpstart as one of the PULSE education initiatives to help address early childhood literacy. The TEACH Foundation a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization funded through the Sonoco Foundation.

Jumpstart is a national early education organization that recruits and trains college students to help close the kindergarten readiness gap. The program provides a curriculum to increase reading and vocabulary skills and alphabet comprehension targeting preschool-age children.

Jumpstart’s college corps program began in 1993 in Connecticut and has since trained more than 45,000 college students and community volunteers, preparing nearly 100,000 children for kindergarten success. Jumpstart’s program is replicated across the country in 14 states and the District of Columbia.

The Jumpstart college corps program offers students a chance to receive high-quality training in early childhood development and education, and gain invaluable hands-on experience in the classroom, all the while giving back to the local community. Jumpstart is a great opportunity for students who are interested in education, looking for a work-study opportunity, or simply love spending time with children.

“The children I work with are amazing. They love Jumpstart and what we do in the classroom. It’s like a game to them but at the same time they’re really learning,” says Kyle Chrzanowski, Coker College student and Jumpstart corps member.

The curriculum, based on language and literacy skills provides children with a consistent routine, low adult-to-child ratios, and positive, meaningful interactions with adults. The curriculum also provides a balance of child-initiated and adult-guided learning opportunities. All of these factors contribute to the progress a child makes towards lifelong success in school and beyond.

By participating in Jumpstart’s program, children can develop the language and literacy skills they need to be ready for school, setting them on a path for lifelong success.

Reading skills must be developed early and over time and reinforced once children enter kindergarten. Taking time to read to a child is one of the most important steps to prepare your child for kindergarten. Here are some additional tips and resources to help start your child on the path to lifelong learning:

• Tumblebook Library for free e-books through the Darlington County Library System

• Paws to Read with dogs at the Darlington Library branch

• MotherRead/FatherRead program through Darlington County First Steps

• Parents As Teachers (PAT) through Darlington County First Steps

• Reach Out to Read program through local doctors’ offices

Every child holds great potential and Jumpstart is one path forward to unlock it.

To learn more about the TEACH Foundation and the Jumpstart, Children First program, visit the Foundation website at www.teachfoundation.org/jumpstart

Sharman Poplava is the Executive Director of the TEACH Foundation.