First Five literacy program conducted in Mono County

A collaboration between First 5 Mono County and Altrusa, an organization of professional women interested in promoting literacy, is helping local preschools continue to provide quality instruction.

Preschools in Mammoth Lakes, Coleville, Bridgeport and Lee Vining received a creative literacy curriculum and accompanying materials to help them meet state guidelines for instruction. These resources, part of a partnership program called Readers Theatre, will help preschoolers strengthen their learning ability through activities and lessons that foster early literacy skills and language development.

"Strong early literacy skills are crucial for young children to enter kindergarten ready to learn," said Kathy Peterson, executive director of First 5 Mono County. "At a time when many educational resources are being cut, we're helping to give kids a strong foundation to help them succeed in school and in life."

Children not currently enrolled in participating preschools are also invited to visit the Mammoth Lakes Library Children's area to take a look at this years Dinosaur theme and to join First 5 and Altrusa with a special story time offered at the Mammoth Lakes Library 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. For more information on these events and other local resources for building your child's literacy skills, contact First 5 Mono County, 760-924-7626.

"We're excited about this program because it teaches children important skills and implements research-based learning guides," said Shanna White, First 5 Mono County School Readiness Coordinator. "We're happy to provide preschoolers with a fun way to develop skills they'll use throughout their education."

The early literacy materials meet Preschool Learning Foundations released by the California Department of Education. These guidelines set consistent goals for early instruction and are geared toward helping all children enter kindergarten at the same level of learning ability. First 5 Mono County and Altrusa's efforts help to ensure local children's access to quality learning opportunities.

In addition to programs like Readers Theatre, parents can foster their children's language development at home through various activities. First 5 Mono County offers the following tips to help boost a child's literacy skills:

• Start reading to your child early. Begin reading to your child when he or she is an infant. Start by reading a few pages at a time or just until your baby loses interest. As your child gets older, you can gradually increase the amount of time and the complexity of the books you read.

• Read to your child regularly. Reading aloud helps your child to learn new concepts and become a better listener - and regular reading allows your child many opportunities to practice and develop these skills.

• Pick books together. Encourage your child's interest in books by talking about stories that he or she likes and providing books your child will enjoy. By introducing your child to fun books, you're helping to foster a love of learning.

• Focus on new words. Toddlers love to hear their favorite stories again and again - and repetition actually helps them learn. Hearing sounds repeatedly allows children to connect words with ideas and to build their vocabularies.

• Promote critical thinking. Asking your child about what he or she likes about stories helps him or her learn to think through situations. These conversations can teach your child to analyze and form opinions.

• Encourage creativity. Reading to your child may lead him or her to other activities like drawing, singing or acting out stories. All of these help your child build creative thinking skills important for learning and healthy development.

• Visit the Library. Visiting the local library in the early years of life develops life long habits of literacy.

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