Since 2002, KUED has conducted more than 500 workshops for parents of Utah children to help them become more involved in their child's early literacy education. The Ready to Learn (RTL)initiative uses PBS research-based children's programs as a springboard to bolster children's reading and writing skills, strengthen families, increase library usage, and encourage parental involvement in children's education. As part of the initiative, KUED has distributed almost 25,000 free books to Utah families.
Parents and caregivers alike who attend the workshops - conducted in English and Spanish -- share stories of how they've become more proactive with their children's learning. "I want to help my five-year-old learn to read," said one parent, explaining why she came to a workshop. "She wants to learn and I need to learn how to teach her how to read. Thank you."
"It's a rewarding experience to provide parents with easy and practical tips for those everyday learning moments," says Britni Bigelow, one of three workshop trainers employed by KUED. "You see parents get excited when they realize that teaching their children can be fun and not intimidating."
Most workshops are targeted at at-risk children and families in Salt Lake County through Salt Lake City School District Title I schools and the Salt Lake Community Action Program Head Start, as well as childcare centers. RTL has become so recognized as an important resource in those communities that KUED receives more requests for workshops than funding allows the station to fill.
"With more funding, KUED could reach out to at-risk populations in Ogden, Davis and Weber Counties," says KUED Community Outreach Coordinator Jacqui Voland. "We have shown that RTL increases literacy levels and promotes success in school - and in life - for Utah's children and families, so that children enter school ready to learn."
Areas covered in the workshops include media literacy, child development, parenting skills, building self-esteem, health and nutrition. Workshops are free to anyone who wants to attend. To register or to learn more, contact Jacqui Voland, KUED Community Outreach Coordinator, at 585-3523.
RTL has become a cornerstone of KUED's educational outreach initiatives and an important component of the station's long-standing commitment to educational outreach to young viewers.
"Although we've been working with Ready to Learn since 2002, we now are incorporating all of our educational and literacy activities under our Ready to Learn initiative," says Voland.
KUED's annual Reading Marathon, Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators Contest, Dia de los Ninos - Dia de los Libros, Utah PTA Golden Apple Awards and the Your Education Connection Guides are all part of Ready to Learn.
"Essentially, we're providing a full-circle experience," says Voland. "Parents are involved in Ready to Learn; parents and children read together during the Reading Marathon; kids are then awarded for reading at our Reading Marathon Super Reader Party; then we encourage children to tell their own stories during the Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators contest, providing several opportunities to establish a love of reading and learning at an early age. It all ties back into the KUED trusted brand of PBS children's programming."
More than 3,600 Utah children participated in KUED's Reading Marathon last November. The Super Reader Party awarding children for participation held in January at the Utah State Fair Grounds brought together more than 1,800 Super Readers and their families. The numbers continue to grow each year.
For many participants, Ready to Learn activities mark the first time they've owned their own books or learned about free resources and activities for kids and parents. More than 10,000 families attended last spring's Dia de los Ninos event at The City Library sponsored by Reforma de Utah, The City Library and KUED. Many had never been in a library before and were amazed that they could go home with a free book. One mother wrote on her evaluation form, "We were just at the library before coming here. Alyah (age 5) got her first library card and got on a computer to check out the first book on her card."
For more information on all of KUED's Ready to Learn activities, visit kued.org.
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