By Greg Stapleton
Reading to children under the age of five can be the greatest predictor of future educational success. According to one study, reading to a child before the age of five, introduces that child to more than 1,000,000 words.
So, in families where this reading isn’t taking place, that’s 1,000,000 less words they’ll hear. And, this increased vocabulary allows a kindergartner to excel once they enter the classroom – and that success carries through their entire academic career. Many experts believe that reading to a child very early in life is the single greatest predictor of future educational and life success.
But, helping children learn to read isn’t as simple as just giving family more books. For this reason, Trinity Alliance of the Capital Region focuses on supporting the whole family, not just the young child.
The Race to 10,000 Words program works with parents of children under the age of three. This hybrid program can accommodate up to 15 families and helps parents instill the love of reading to their children.
“The main goal of Race to 10,000 Words is to instill a love of learning in the whole family,” Nancy Lonczak, Trinity’s Director of Early Childhood and Family Services. “A trained educator meets with the parents twice a week, working with them on the books they are given, which combined with real-life experiences, help language and vocabulary to flourish.”
Race to 10,000 Words is made possible through two private donations to Trinity. It costs about $10,000 per session, with most of that going to pay for the books that families receive.
“We work with families that usually can’t afford to have books in their homes,” Lonczak said. “This is a great way to ensure that the next generation gets access to words they need before they get to kindergarten.”
Trinity also provides support to children with developmental disabilities. Through a special agreement with the New York State Office of People with Developmental Disabilities, Trinity offers developmental screenings for families that believe their children may qualify for support and assistance.
“We’re always looking for more parents to take part in this program,” Lonczak said. “Many families don’t know that we offer this service, but it’s a great chance for families in the South End to get a jump on the system before their children get to school. Once they are in school, that system handles the details of IEPs and such. This program is great for those children who aren’t in school, but may need the same type of support an IEP normally provides.”
In addition, some of these same families may qualify to receive reimbursement from the state for goods and services that support their children with developmental disabilities.
“Once again, families in the South End may not even know this money is offered by OPWDD,” Lonczak said. “It’s up to us to let them know and let them know what can be reimbursed and what can’t.”
In the end, Trinity’s focus on the family and children is rooted in their mission to improve the community one family at a time.
“When we help each of these families and children, we are actually improving the quality of life for the whole family,” Lonczak said. “This improvement then expands to the whole neighborhood and leads to economic development within the city of Albany. Without this support, many children will enter kindergarten without the educational foundation and support needed for academic success. And, we know academic success gives children the greatest chance to break the generational poverty cycle.”
If you live in the Capital Region and would like to get registered for any of Trinity’s programs, please email Nancy Lonczak at [email protected]. If you are interested in making a donation to help Trinity fulfill its mission by making a donation or volunteering, please contact Addy Waldie at [email protected].