Passport to Kindergarten is an exciting local project managed by ReadySet Soar and funded in part by the Grow Up Great Foundation of PNC Bank. Now in its fifth year, Passport to Kindergarten is aimed at improving the language and literacy skills of preschool children. In collaboration with the Dayton Art Institute and The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, The Dayton Metro Library plays a key role by providing its Early Literacy Specialist to deliver year long training and support to teachers and parents to change how they read aloud to their children. “How we read aloud to children is just as important as doing the reading itself,” said Moore.
A key component of Passport to Kindergarten is engaging parents to read aloud at home and talk about the stories and ideas their children have. Teachers receive a large collection of high quality children’s literature for families to borrow. These are books that children want to hear over and over again. Teachers often use them in their dialogic reading sessions, whetting the appetite of the children to have their caregivers at home reread them. Families also receive books to keep in their home collections. Parents are taught and encouraged to use AWEsome Moments when reading aloud to a child: The reader Asks questions, Waits for a response, and then Expands on what the child says. Listening to what children say and thoughtfully replying with new vocabulary words or concepts builds the skills essential for school success.
A cohort of teachers studies Dialogic Reading for a year, and implement the practice in their classrooms. Dialogic reading provides the techniques teachers of young children need to ensure that the children are learning to communicate their thoughts, explain their reasoning and use their own experiences to comprehend text. Teachers are required to plan and ask questions that require children to use inference, create their own solutions, and express their opinions. The discussions that ensue encourage the children to “go deeper than just skimming the surface”. Children participate in retelling the stories they hear and increase their sense of themselves as successful readers and learners.
Another component of the Passport project is family events at the different community agencies. The whole family is invited to attend special events at the Art Institute, the Boonshoft and the Dayton Metro Library. Methods for talking with children to build their language skills are modeled and everyone has a good time. These experience contribute to the “background knowledge” children need to be successful comprehending what they read.
Teaching quality is assessed in the fall and spring using Teachstone’s Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS). Passport to Kindergarten used this evaluation tool for the first time last year and the results indicated that the teachers improved their practices significantly over one year.