Early Childhood Summer Program Pilot
The Early Childhood Summer Program is a new program to the WITS portfolio and was piloted from June to July 2012 targeting students entering kindergarten and 1st grade this upcoming school year. The goal of this exciting four-week program was to build early literacy skills to prepare students for success in school and to foster a love of reading.
Nineteen excited and eager students aged 4 to 6 from Ruggles Elementary School, located in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood on Chicago's south side, participated in the program. Each day, twice a week, the students traveled through four centers each with a focus on book and print awareness, story comprehension, sequencing, and phonics. Eight trained and committed volunteers guided the students through the centers ensuring a safe and positive learning environment for all students.
In addition to providing programming, WITS strives to have the parents of our students engaged and interested in being an active participant in their child's learning. At the beginning of the program, parents were invited to an orientation to learn more about the activities and strategies we used to continue to build their child's literacy skills. In addition, parents received weekly letters that described the activities that took place throughout the week and provided resources and literature about the benefits of reading to their child. At the end of the program, all family members were invited to a special last class celebration that showcased the students' work and accomplishments.
In order to measure our impact, WITS implemented a pre and post student assessment, parents' survey, and volunteer survey. From this evaluation, we are able to understand gains and improvements in literacy, behavior, and attitudes that will assist in the students being ready to succeed in school this fall.
Book and Print Awareness tasks assess the kindergartener's emergent concepts about books and written language. Twenty book and print concepts are assessed; these concepts are necessary skills that facilitate learning to become independent readers and writers. The Early Childhood Summer Pilot, which included six sessions of emergent literacy instruction, yeilded the following results:
The Elementary Reading Attitude Survey (ERAS) provides a quick indication of student attitudes towards reading, with ten questions that focus on recreational reading. Pre and post tests of students in the Early Childhood Summer Pilot revealed that there was a 5% improvement in aggregate ERAS recreational reading scores between session 1 and session 6. The average student improvement for each of the ten attitude dimensions is illustrated below: