Fort Worth, Texas (September 8, 2021) – A new pilot partnership between Red Oak Foundation of Fort Worth and Camp Fire First Texas School Readiness Program (CFSRP) seeks to establish a positive link between the developmental progress of young children and family-teacher engagement through reading.
“There is no doubt that reading has a positive impact on a child’s development. Imagine all that is happening in the brain during these precious moments spent in the arms of a caring adult feeling loved and learning! This pilot will examine actions and practices teachers can implement to support an increase in time and frequency of at-home reading,” explained Sharlene Abraham, Director of Camp Fire School Readiness. “Teachers have a long-standing practice of encouraging parents to read with their children, but this statement as a stand-alone recommendation isn’t consistently applied in homes across all income levels and age groups.”
This pilot has the potential to reach more than 300 preschool children and families in the first year. If a positive correlation is determined, pilot outcomes will support the practice of supplementing family-teacher conferences with book selection to enhance the reading opportunity and excitement from families and children.
It is well-established that most children feeding into Fort Worth ISD elementary schools are not school ready, with lower-income students lagging behind their peers. The CFSRP prepares children for success in their entry into Pre-K and Kindergarten in low-income Fort Worth ISD elementary schools. Key objectives of the CFSRP include early literacy and social emotional development.
The CFSRP demonstrated the profound impact of one-on-one reading time on child outcomes.
“In reviewing outcomes of 2020 data, the CFSRP saw literacy outcomes exceed targets. It tracked back to ratios in classrooms being lower because of pandemic class size adjustments. The smaller class sizes allowed teachers more time to do things like sit with a child and read a book. As the world, and classrooms, return to pre-pandemic sizes and ratios, the dedicated reading time at home is even more critical,” said Abraham.
Twice each year, family-teacher conferences are held in the CFSRP supported child care center classrooms. The family-teacher conference is a time to engage the family and teacher together to support each child’s development.
“This project adds a concrete, action-oriented layer to the family-teacher conference. We know families are stretched for time and we hope that it shows a respect of time to pair the process of selecting a brand new book with the conference. There is nothing more exciting for children or their families than cracking open a new book. The benefits not only include the smile on the child and family’s faces, but also the increased school and life success preparation that comes from more time reading together,” explained Abraham. “This pilot takes advantage of that enthusiasm and joy to support parental bonding and increase early literacy skills through at-home reading.”
The CFSRP will be measuring outcomes beginning in the 2021-2022 school year using three assessments directly related to this pilot: Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), Circle Phonological Awareness, Language and Literacy Screener Plus Math (CPALLS+) and the Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA). Initial results of the efficacy of this pilot will be available in late 2022 but the evaluation of the student’s success in this pilot won’t end there.
Camp Fire has a long-term memorandum of understanding with Fort Worth ISD that allows the program to follow children’s entry preparedness and progress scores through 3rd grade, extending the potential reach and assessment of this pilot. Fort Worth ISD has a goal that by 2030, 100% of children will be school ready when then they enter elementary school and at grade-reading level by 3rd grade.
“Our CFSRP has studied and implemented a number of best practices over the years that have resulted in children being better prepared and equipped to be school-ready when they enter FWISD. Thanks to this partnership and support from the Red Oak Foundation, we have high hopes this will be another layer that will contribute to long-term success for children and families in our communities,” concluded Abraham.
Read the latest data from Camp Fire School Readiness Program (CFSRP) 2019-2020 report available at CampFireFW.org/SchoolReadiness.
About Red Oak Foundation
In 1991, Rebecca Brumley and her husband established the Red Oak Foundation in Fort Worth where she serves as its Executive Director with Nan Matson as Director of Red Oak Books. The foundation encourages reading to young children through programs in non-profit agencies, Pre-K classrooms in Fort Worth ISD, and pediatric clinics. It also provides scholarships to prospective teachers. Red Oak Books has given over 730,000 new, hardcover books to disadvantaged families in 21 years.
About Camp Fire First Texas
Camp Fire First Texas is one of the largest Camp Fire councils in the country and invests in North Texas communities by providing out-of-school time and outdoor learning programs for children and youth while also offering workforce development programs for the educators who care for them.
Camp Fire programs stand out from others as they are uniquely focused on the two periods of greatest brain growth and development: early childhood and early adolescence; they leverage the impact of the outdoor environment on the brain to educate and connect children to each other and the world around them; and maintain a continuous improvement loop to maximize community impact.
We envision a community in which every child has equitable access to quality learning opportunities that cultivate the skills they need to succeed and thrive in a rapidly changing world.