Help us fight for literacy for every child in Gloucester County
The connection between education and a successful future is pretty clear. But did you know that the age at which a child learns to read can impact both their future success and overall well-being?
A quality education begins with reading. Education not only increases a child’s chance for success in work and life; it’s also been shown to be a core determinant of health. And an early start matters.
We Can Do Better For Kids
According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, kids who read proficiently by third grade are more likely to graduate high school. However, national statistics show the ways our school systems and communities serve students of color and from under-resourced neighborhoods differently.
- 82% of students eligible for free or reduced lunches are not reading at or above proficient levels by fourth grade.
- Only 36% of fourth-grade students in the United States are proficient in reading.
- The gaps are even more significant by race and income, often caused by systemic racism and classism.
- According to National Kids Count, up to 80% of children of color in the fourth grade scored below proficient reading levels in 2019.
COVID-19 Broadens the Learning Gap
While the pandemic and remote learning have caused learning setbacks for students throughout the US, the impact has been greatest for students of color:
- A recent study indicates that Black and Hispanic students are less likely to have access to devices, the internet, and live contact with teachers–all essential to remote learning.
- While the learning loss in reading for all students doesn’t seem to be as pronounced as that in subjects like math, today’s educational challenges underscore the importance of timely literacy support, especially for students from low-income families, who are minorities or have learning disabilities.
United Way of Gloucester County Fights for Literacy for All
United Way believes that every child and young person in every community should have the knowledge, skills and experiences to succeed in school, work and life. That’s why we support programs and initiatives that provide equal opportunity for all children to develop the early reading skills that can be the foundation for a hopeful future.
One of these inclusive inclusive initiatives is Read Across America Day, an annual event created by the National Education Association to promote and celebrate reading.
UWGC also supports literacy for our community through our virtual Operation Read Along, where local residents, students and professionals read their favorite children’s book available free and online through our YouTube page so there is always someone to read with.
Literacy Doesn’t Have to Be By the Book
With the pandemic and social distancing, literacy programs and events like Read Across America Day have had to switch to remote and virtual formats to continue to bring reading to communities. This has left many families to take on an even greater role in supporting reading development, especially for children in pre-school and elementary school.
But for many parents who are working from home and also managing their children’s remote learning, the standard advice of reading with a child 20 minutes a day may not be feasible. During these challenging times for families, United Way is adapting our literacy programs to meet social distancing needs and working to help families understand that encouraging reading doesn’t always have to mean a formal sit-down reading session. There are many everyday opportunities to help children to develop and practice vital reading skills:
- Cook with them using written recipes
- Have them help read street signs when you’re driving
- Share product labels while they help put groceries away
- Even discussing stories read together in the past can help children build a stronger vocabulary, imagine more richly, and develop critical thinking skills
You Can Help Build Opportunities for Bright Futures
When you volunteer with United Way of Gloucester County you are supporting programs that help bring literacy for all in our community. And a great place to start is by joining us for Read Across America Day on March 2, when we launch our virtual Operation Read Along, where local residents, students and professionals read their favorite children’s book available free and online through our YouTube page so there is always someone to read with.
Literacy has the power to change lives. And you have the power to help every child in Gloucester County have the chance for a brighter future.