Title

If You Give a Preschooler a Muffin: Building Literacy Skills in Urban Poverty Communities

Location

Harborside Center East and West

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Strand #2

Family & Community

Relevance

The program described in this proposal connects families and community partners with university students who teach emergent literacy skills to young children living in an underachieving diverse urban community (racially, culturally, ethnically, and lin¬guistically-diverse). The parents participate in workshops which help them to understand how to support their child’s academic skills for school readiness and school success.

Brief Program Description

A program partnering with the University of Central Florida, the City of Orlando and the Early Learning Coalition of Orange County called Milk and Muffins. It is a Saturday morning program in downtown Orlando for preschool children and their families living in urban poverty. Children engage with university early childhood majors in early language and literacy activities; parents learn strategies to support school readiness skills.

Summary

The “Milk & Muffins” project is a collaboration between the University of Central Florida, the City of Orlando, the Early Learning Coalition of Orange County, and Orange County Public Schools. The children and families participating in this project are from the poorest section of Orlando, many living in the historic, African-American neighborhood of Parramore where residents face a myriad of social and economic challenges. The program’s purpose is to match Early Childhood Development and Education majors with 3-6 year olds from urban poverty, diverse neighborhoods, with the intent to close the opportunity gap often faced by this population. For this project, a required early childhood major course, “Early Reading, Writing and Language Arts” is taught off-campus on Saturday mornings in downtown Orlando. This course teaches pre-service teachers and professionals the fundamentals of emergent literacy content along with developmentally appropriate assessment and curriculum strategies. The Milk and Muffins is a eight-weeks and it consists of literacy activities with preschoolers; this program is infused in the early childhood course. Its intent is two-fold: 1.) Provide young children and families with a proactive approach to supporting school readiness skills 2.) Provide pre-professionals with (facilitated) hands-on learning experiences in diverse settings While the preschoolers are interacting with the students, the parents attend workshops that include information and strategies to use to support their child's school success. Each week, the parents learn how to support their child’s emergent literacy skills, view samples of quality children's literature and are given a free children's book to add to their home library. For the final two weeks, parents choose two books for their children to add to their home library. Many parents select authentically culturally-diverse children's literature. In order to support an interest in reading, it is crucial for books to reflect each child’s life in order for the child to connect to the book and the value of reading. At the end of each session, everyone comes together for a closing circle time consisting of songs, finger plays, and parent-child rituals. This session will include a step by step explanation for implementing this program model.

Evidence

Data collected include the following: Data on children’s academic gains are collected using the following valid assessment tools: Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT)-pre and post test Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening-tracking progress throughout program (English and Spanish versions) Data on undergraduate students’ perceptions of urban poverty teaching: Pre and post surveys with control and experimental groups Data on parents’ learning: Pre and post surveys

Format

Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Presenter 1-Dr. Judith Levin:

Dr. Levin has an Ed.D in Child, Youth, and Family Studies. She is on the faculty at the University of Central Florida in the College of Education and Human Performance. Dr. Levin teaches in the Early Childhood Development and Education Program.

Dr. Levin is the program coordinator for the Early Childhood Development and Education Program. She partners with the City of Orlando Parramore Kidz Zone and the Early Learning Coalition of Orange County in a variety of projects focused on children and families in urban disadvantaged neighborhoods. In addition, Dr. Levin spent a semester in Harlem, New York working at a Head Start site and is continuing this connection through a longitudinal study on the impact of a quality preschool experience for children living in poverty and their social and emotional development from Kindergarten through high school graduation. Her areas of interest are social and emotional development of young children and urban poverty communities.

Presenter 2-Mrs. Nancy Brasel:

Mrs. Brasel has an M.Ed in Early Childhood/Elementary Education. She is on the faculty at the University of Central Florida in the College of Education and Human Performance and teaches in both the Early Childhood Development and Education & Elementary Education programs. She previously taught kindergarten in the public school system for ten years.

Mrs. Brasel’s academic interests include reading & emergent literacy with a specialized focus on working with children and families in urban poverty communities. She is also interested in preservice professionals’ perceptions of working with children and families from financially disadvantaged neighborhoods. Mrs. Brasel teaches an undergraduate emergent literacy course off-campus in a neighborhood center located in an urban disadvantaged neighborhood. The course incorporates weekly tutoring of preschoolers from the neighborhood in a program named “Milk and Muffins”.

Keyword Descriptors

emergent literacy, achievement gaps, school readiness, parent training

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-3-2015 4:00 PM

End Date

3-3-2015 5:30 PM

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If You Give a Preschooler a Muffin: Building Literacy Skills in Urban Poverty Communities

Harborside Center East and West

A program partnering with the University of Central Florida, the City of Orlando and the Early Learning Coalition of Orange County called Milk and Muffins. It is a Saturday morning program in downtown Orlando for preschool children and their families living in urban poverty. Children engage with university early childhood majors in early language and literacy activities; parents learn strategies to support school readiness skills.