Archive for Reading Pal

Early Learning Coalition Needs Volunteer Readers for Clay County Reading Pals Program

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Early Learning Coalition Needs Volunteer Readers for Clay County Reading Pals Program

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida volunteer reader Karen Cercy dressed up as a clown for Halloween with her class at Backpack University in Orange Park, Fla.

ORANGE PARK, Fla., November 20, 2018-  The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) is seeking new volunteer reading pals to continue growth for their Reading Pals program.

Volunteer Reading Pals are matched up with local preschool centers where they read once a week or bi-weekly to groups of children.  The ELC has a specific need currently for more volunteers in Clay County.

Reading Pals volunteers will learn the following skills: how to choose age-appropriate books; child development, including the attention span of preschoolers; presenting books to preschoolers and promoting early literacy through phonetically reading.  

“It makes my day when I walk into the classroom and the children cheer ‘It’s the book lady,’” volunteer Reading Pal, Ellen Prest said.

Studies show that the best opportunity to influence our children’s lifetime learning is before kindergarten when their most rapid period of brain growth occurs. Instilling an early love for reading is crucial to children’s future success in school.

The ELC has a well-stocked lending library with books and literacy materials for the volunteers to check out and use.  Readers are also able to create relationships with the children through their consistent appearances. Volunteers can read solo or they can share their assignment with a partner.  The ELC has several husband and wife teams as well. Civic organizations have also adopted a classroom and members take turns reading.

For more information about becoming a reading volunteer contact Joan Whitson, Early Literacy Outreach Manager at 904-342-2267 x 202 or email jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org

The Early Learning Coalition is the leading voice in six counties for child care. ELC works with many other local agencies to ensure that all families have access to quality, affordable child care. Their mission is achieved by leading projects that increase the quality and availability of child care professionals, and advocate child care policies that positively impact the lives of children and families. To learn more about the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida and how assist in ensuring quality child care for all families, visit us at www.elcnorthflorida.org.

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[PRESS RELEASE] Local Coalition’s Book Bag Project Seeks Volunteers

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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., December 8, 2016 – Every fall and spring season, the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) host a book-bag distribution for both three and four-year-old children in Putnam, St. Johns, Clay, Bradford, Baker and Nassau counties.

In 2016, more than 1000 book bags were distributed to local child care and preschool classrooms. Each bag consisted of 10 age-appropriate books as well as information for parents about the importance of reading to children.

The bags were delivered to the children by ELC volunteers, ELC Early Outreach Manager Joan Whitson and various children’s book characters. This year’s characters included Eric Litwin’s Pete the Cat and Curious George.

“At ELC, we want to provide books for every child, especially those from families with lower incomes so they all can have the same advantages that reading brings,” Joan Whitson, Early Literacy Outreach Manager said.

Studies show children who are read to at an early age is the single biggest factor in improved school readiness scores and vocabulary in young children. ELC funds this program through grants, book donations and donations from local civic groups.

ELC welcomes groups to conduct book drives for them. The books need to be pre-school age appropriate. To help support this program contact Joan Whitson at 904-342-2267 or jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org.

 

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Curious George and ELC of North Florida volunteers deliver book bags to children at God’s Little Creations Learning Center in Palatka.

Curious George and ELC of North Florida volunteers deliver book bags to children at God’s Little Creations Learning Center in Palatka.

Pete the Cat and Joan Whitson, ELC of North Florida Early Literacy Outreach Manager, read books from the book bag project to hildren at Seaside School in St. Augustine.

Pete the Cat and Joan Whitson, ELC of North Florida Early Literacy Outreach Manager, read books from the book bag project to hildren at Seaside School in St. Augustine.

Special guest Pete the Cat and Joan Whitson, ELC of North Florida Outreach Manager, read books from the book bag project to the children at Miss Kate’s Preschool in Fernandina Beach.

Special guest Pete the Cat and Joan Whitson, ELC of North Florida Outreach Manager, read books from the book bag project to the children at Miss Kate’s Preschool in Fernandina Beach.

ELC reading volunteer Sara Pines and special guest Curious George read books from the book bag project to children at Green Gables Learning Center in Palatka.

ELC reading volunteer Sara Pines and special guest Curious George read books from the book bag project to children at Green Gables Learning Center in Palatka.

[WJCT NEWS] Wanted: Reading Pals to Make Books Come Alive

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Reading Pals WJCT

by Allie George [WJCT]

 

With a new school year just weeks away, North Florida’s Reading Pals are seeking volunteers to help introduce the area’s youngest students to reading. Read more: WJCT Wanted: Reading Pals

ELC and RSVP Seeks Volunteer Readers for Reading Pals Program

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Karen Brown LaPetite Academy

Karen Brown LaPetite Academy

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., August 25, 2016- The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) are seeking new volunteer reading pals to continue growth for their Reading Pals program.

ELC volunteer Reading Pals are matched up with local preschool centers and the RSVP program places readers in Head Start and VPK classrooms where they read once a week to children. Recently the Head Start program added six (6) new classrooms where volunteers are urgently needed.

Reading Pals volunteers will learn the following skills: how to choose age-appropriate books; child development, including the attention span of preschoolers; presenting books to preschoolers and promoting early literacy through phonetically reading.

Training for the Reading Pals program will be held on Thursday, September 8, 2016 from 10:00-12:00 a.m. at the St. Augustine Record Building located 1 News Place, St. Augustine, FL 32086.

“It is so exciting, when you see the children learn, that letters make words and words turn into stories.  I love to make books fun. If you can make children laugh, you can get them interested in learning.  Pull out a puppet, wear a silly nose, speak in different voices, you have nothing to lose, (but your dignity), so have a good time READING,” said volunteer Reading Pal Karen Brown.

Studies show that the best opportunity to influence our children’s lifetime learning is before kindergarten when their most rapid period of brain growth occurs. Instilling an early love for reading is crucial to children’s future success in school.

To register or for more information about this training, contact Joan Whitson, Early Literacy Coordinator at 904-342- 2267 or email jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org or Cheryl Freeman, Director RSVP of St. Johns County at Cheryl.Freeman@stjohns.k12.fl.us

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Early Learning Coalition of North Florida

[PRESS RELEASE] Volunteer “Reading Pals” Program Brings Lasting Benefits to Local Children

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Volunteer “Reading Pals” Program Brings Lasting Benefits to Local Children

The advantages to reading to children from ages birth through five years is substantial. This is why the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) continues to expand its Reading Pals program in all six counties it serves (Baker, Bradford, Clay, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns). Reading Pals are trained by ELC and then connected with local preschool child care centers and VPK classrooms to simply read on a weekly basis to small groups of children.

Of the advantages of reading to this formative age group, one major benefit of reading to children is building vocabulary. Studies show that the best opportunity to influence our children’s lifetime of learning is before kindergarten when their most rapid period of brain growth occurs. Instilling an early love for reading is crucial to children’s future success in school.

Children also learn how to better communicate with others through reading.  The interaction between characters in the book teaches valuable lessons of which the children can relate. Discussions afterward between children and their Reading Pal also builds their communication skills and memory retention.

Finally, it provides preschoolers with a longer attention span. It fosters an environment where the children are sitting still and listening for a period of time and then asking related questions. As a result, children are better prepared for their elementary school years, which will carry on into adulthood.

For the safety of the children, all Reading Pal applicants will sign an affidavit of good moral character and will also go through a background screening. Once the volunteers have successfully completed the requirements, ELC assists the volunteers through a classroom training to ensure future success with the children.

Not only do children benefit through the Reading Pals program, but so do the volunteers in many ways.

Through the training, Reading Pals learn the following skills: how to choose age-appropriate books; child development, including the attention span of preschoolers; presenting books to preschoolers and promoting early literacy through phonetically reading.

Volunteers become role models who directly impact the children through the program. Children are constantly monitoring the actions of adults, so volunteers will be able to see this first-hand when children begin to read from left-to-right and turn pages of books just like their Reading Pal.

Reading Pals who volunteer their time may ultimately feel they have more time of their own as well. Wharton professor Cassie Mogilner recently reported to the Harvard Business Review that her research showed those who volunteer their time feel they actually have more of it; similar to those who donate their wealth feel to have more wealth of their own.

Finally, as Reading Pals, volunteers have the opportunity to make their time near and dear to their own hearts and have fun.

For example, Clay county Reading Pal Ellen Prest has been learning how to play the cello. Prest is a seasoned Reading Pal and knew this elegant instrument would win over the hearts of the children so she brought it in to perform for them. Prest also gave every child a turn to play the instrument.

“It’s so much fun to walk into the classroom and hear the children cheer, ‘It’s the book lady!’ on a weekly basis,” Ellen Prest said.

If desired, ELC also encourages volunteers to dress up as characters from the specific book they are reading as well as use props and other creative ways to enhance the story.

For example, volunteers quite often share personal photos with the children of their pets or of a recent vacation.  These teachable moments enlarge the scope of a child’s world, bringing in new and interesting experiences they may not have had yet in their young lives.

“We encourage Reading Pals to add their own personal experiences,” ELC’s Early Literacy Coordinator Joan Whitson said.  “Just last week, Crescent City volunteers, Gerry and Kathy Miller read a book about worms and brought in fake worms, and real worms for the daring, so the children could get a visual aid.”

Teachers are supportive of Reading Pals in their classrooms because it increases the children’s love for books.

“I so appreciate your weekly reading pal volunteer,” said Director of Elkton Academy Erin Kochanski.  “She lights up the room when she arrives and the kids so look forward to her coming each week. Every day they ask, is this the day Miss Julia will be coming?  I have really seen the kids love for books increase since Miss Julia has been coming.”

Applications for Reading Pals can be found under the “Volunteer” tab of ELC’s website: www.elcnorthflorida.org. Contact Joan Whitson for more information at jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org or 904-342-2267. ELC coordinates services in North Florida for children birth to five years of age. Visit www.elcnorthflorida.org to learn more.

 

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida

[PRESS RELEASE] ELC Seeks Volunteer Readers for Reading Pals Program

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Volunteer reading pal Mary Ellen Large reads the book "Mixed up Chameleon" to her preschool class at Sea Side School in St. Augustine.

Volunteer reading pal Mary Ellen Large reads the book “Mixed up Chameleon” to her preschool class at Sea Side School in St. Augustine.

 

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., August 13, 2015- The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) are seeking new volunteer reading pals to continue growth for their Reading Pals program.

Volunteer Reading Pals are matched up with local preschool centers where they read once a week to children.

Reading Pals volunteers will learn the following skills: how to choose age-appropriate books; child development, including the attention span of preschoolers; presenting books to preschoolers and promoting early literacy through phonetically reading.

Training for the Reading Pals program will be held on Wednesday, August 26, 2015 from 9:30-11:30 a.m. at the St. Augustine Record Building located 1 News Place, St. Augustine, FL 32086.

“It makes my day when I walk into the classroom and the children cheer ‘It’s the book lady,’” volunteer Reading Pal, Ellen Prest said.

Studies show that the best opportunity to influence our children’s lifetime learning is before kindergarten when their most rapid period of brain growth occurs. Instilling an early love for reading is crucial to children’s future success in school.

To register or for more information about this training, contact Joan Whitson, Early Literacy Coordinator at 904-342-2267 or email jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org or Cheryl Freeman at Cheryl.Freeman@stjohns.k12.fl.us.

 

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Sponsorship by the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida and the state of Florida, Office of Early Learning.

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida

[PRESS RELEASE] ELC Summer Reading Conference Seeks Volunteers

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St. Johns County Volunteer reading pals Erika Bauserman, Molly Grossholz and Barbara Brenner pose after presenting a reading work shop during the Summer Reading Conference hosted by the ELC of North Florida and the RSVP program of St. Johns County.

St. Johns County Volunteer reading pals Erika Bauserman, Molly Grossholz and Barbara Brenner pose after presenting a reading work shop during the Summer Reading Conference hosted by the ELC of North Florida and the RSVP program of St. Johns County

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., August 5, 2015- The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) held its first summer reading conference with the help of the Retired Senior Program (RSVP) of St. Johns County.  The conference was held at St. Augustine High School for early educators and volunteers who read and mentor local young children.

The conference included two keynote speakers: Dr. Gi Gi David, a professor at University of North Florida and George Freeman, a behavior specialist with the St. Johns County School District.

A host of break-out sessions were offered with topics which related to early literacy with the purpose to further educate and inspire the more than 50 attendees from Clay, St. Johns and Putnam counties.

“We wanted to provide something special for our volunteer Reading Pals to equip them with even more skills they can use throughout the year when reading with their students,” Cheryl Freeman, director of the RSVP program said.

ELC and RSVP are fortunate to have many experienced volunteers working with our programs. Several of the volunteers, including Barbara Brenner, Erika Bauserman and Molly Grossholz are retired teachers and even children’s authors.

The aforementioned trio teamed up to share reading tips and activity ideas to use with different books. They also created a special break out session called “What Books should I Pick?”  During the session, they discussed age appropriate books and shared many examples of creative extension activities to do along with reading the book.

ELC and the RSVP are looking for new volunteer Reading Pals to read once a week for about an hour to children in local child care centers, Head Start and preschool classrooms.  They will be hosting a new reader orientation on Wednesday, August 26, 2015 between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. in the conference room of the St. Augustine Record building.

To sign up for the Reading Pals orientation or for more information call Joan Whitson at 904-342-2267 or Cheryl Freeman at 904-547-3952.

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Sponsorship by the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida and the state of Florida, Office of Early Learning.

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida

[PRESS RELEASE] Landon Homes Provides Book Donations to Promote Early Literacy

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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., April 29, 2015- At a luncheon held on April 27, 2015, home-builder Landon Homes presented the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) with more than 150 children’s books to help promote early literacy.

The luncheon was hosted by Landon Homes, which is locally owned and operated, in order to promote “Landon Homes March for Literacy.”

The goal of the project is to help ELC promote and provide early literacy through book donations to all children in the St. Augustine area.

The donation will help ELC with many of their scheduled literacy programs, including their annual “Three-Year-Old Book Bag Project” program, which gave away more than 1500 books to the children they serve in their six-county region.

“For the children, I think owning their own brand-new book could help foster a new love for reading, which is a great start to improve future statistics,” said Marjorie Taylor of Landon Holmes.

According to the National Coalition for Literacy (NCL), roughly 93 million adults in the U.S. have basic and below-basic literacy skills.

“This generous donation of books is going to make such an impact to the lives of the families we serve,” said ELC’s Early Literacy Coordinator Joan Whitson.

For more information about early literacy or book donations, please email Joan Whitson at jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org or visit www.elcnorthflorida.org.

 

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Sponsorship by the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida and the state of Florida, Office of Early Learning.

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida

[PRESS RELEASE] Successful Reading Program Seeks Volunteers in Clay County

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Volunteer Reading Pal Erika Bauserman reads a Dora the Explorer book to her weekly group of preschoolers at Brandts Child Care in St. Augustine.

Volunteer Reading Pal Erika Bauserman reads a Dora the Explorer book to her weekly group of preschoolers at Brandts Child Care in St. Augustine.

ORANGE PARK, Fla., August 18, 2014 – The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) is expanding its volunteer reading program into Clay County and is currently seeking volunteer Reading Pals.

Reading Pals go into local child-care centers and VPK classrooms on a weekly basis for an hour to read to small groups of children. This program is currently running in St. Johns and Putnam Counties with 45 volunteers reading in 30 different centers.

Studies have shown that the best opportunity to influence our children’s lifetime learning is before kindergarten when their most rapid period of brain growth occurs. Reading one-on-one to children sets the groundwork for their future ability to read and learn. Through the volunteer Reading Pals program, many students are now receiving the personal attention they need.

“I am very excited that this program is now expanding into Clay County,” said Joan Whitson, Early Literacy Coordinator of ELC. “We have 15 centers that are just waiting to receive volunteers who a passion and love for reading to young children.”
The ELC is holding a mandatory information/training class on Wednesday, September 10, 2014 between 10:00 a.m. and Noon at the Career Source office building, located at 1845 Town Center Blvd. suite 150 in Orange Park. Free background screenings will also be provided.

To register for this session or to find out more information about this program, contact Joan Whitson, Early Literacy Coordinator at 904-342-2267 or jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org.

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