Enrichment Activities Program
Planning continues on Success
by 6 program
TUSCALOOSA | Educators involved with HeadStart and county and city schools met this week to plan spring and summer lessons for their Success by 6 pre-kindergarten classes.
Success by 6 is a national program touted by first lady Laura Bush as an effective early education program. The program focuses on expressive language through activities that encourage interactive listening, print awareness, beginning sound-symbol association and prewriting fine motor skill development.
About 65 teachers attended sessions on Tuesday to learn more about the spring curriculum. The first training session was in the summer under the tutelage of Nell Carvell, the educator from Southern Methodist University who developed the curriculum. Carvell also was on hand Tuesday for guidance.
United Way of West Alabama, through its Alexis de Tocqueville Society, committed $750,000 over a three-year period for at-risk children under 6.
Lessons often focus on hands-on activities. To learn about the weather, children spend time outside the classroom.
"Everyone’s doing something a little different," outgoing volunteer coordinator Virginia Joiner said. "There’s nothing prescribed."
New program director Ruth Gaddis said that by making lessons fun, teachers are more able to keep the children’s attention.
Oakdale preschool teacher Vicki Reece said the program is making a difference in her students’ language ability.
"They’re talking in more complete sentences," she said. "They’re naming more objects."
Two Success by 6 classes will be held at Holt Elementary this summer for 5-year-olds about to enter kindergarten. Mostly because of a lack of money, the county does not offer pre-kindergarten classes.
Students at four pilot classes at HeadStart and MLK Elementary are the control group for the program. They were given a pre-test before entering the classes and will take another test in the spring.
"We’ll see if it made a significant difference in their academic program," Joiner said.
Star Bloom, a member of the local Success by 6 executive committee, said helping students succeed starts at birth, meaning the struggle goes beyond the schools.
Representative from the Child Development Resources and Services at the University of Alabama are visiting new mothers and offering them books to read to their growing child. Bloom said she hopes to see more activities like this from community groups in the future.
"I’m very excited that we’ve come together as a community to work to solve a problem," Bloom said.
Gaddis said she expects Success by 6 to continue beyond the three-year commitment.
"We feel very good about the things that have gone on and expect it to be a constant in Tuscaloosa," she said.
Reach Johnny Kampis at johnny.kampis@tuscaloosanewscom or 345-0505, Ext. 277.
© 2004, Language Enrichment Activities Program