Companion Care Prenatal and Perinatal Mothers Support Program

Screen shot 2018-05-26 at 4.23.14 PMThe trajectory of children’s lives can be changed if parents understand the primacy of language and know how to deliver “Language Nutrition.”

Research funded by United Way has revealed that many children lack access to quality health care, housing, nutrition, early care, learning services and support. Far too many children also experience the trauma of stress and violence in their homes and neighborhoods, inhibiting their ability to learn and grow.

We also determined that efforts to change long-term literacy outcomes and consequences must begin early—long before children enter kindergarten.

We looked at some of the root causes for why a child might not be reading. This exploration encompassed early brain development and the power of verbal interactions with infants and toddlers, attendance in preschool and grade school, summer learning loss, and the influence of health on all aspects of early learning and development.

In an effort to change literacy and health outcomes for children, Empowered Education launched a prenatal and perinatal companion support program that delivers a virtual “owners manual” for new moms and babies. The new mothers are enrolled in the program when they leave the hospital, at their OBGYN’s offices, and at pediatricians’ offices.

Delivered on both mobile phones and Empowered Education’s tablet devices, the HIPAA compliant platform offers helpful content about health and “Language Nutrition.”

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Why Yoga and Kids Go Together

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What Exactly is Yoga?

Yoga has been around for thousands of years. Yoga is a practice that started in India, and is now very popular in the United States and around the world. It has gained a lot of attention lately — maybe because it is a fun and easy way for both adults and kids to feel healthy and happy.

The word “yoga” means “union” in Sanskrit, the ancient language of India. Quite simply, yoga is the “union” or coming together of mind (thoughts and feelings) and physical body. Many people feel an overall sense of well-being when they practice yoga.

There are many aspects to yoga. In short, yoga is a system of physical exercises or postures (called asanas). These asanas build strength, flexibility and confidence. Yoga is also about breathing (called pranayama), which helps calm and refresh the body and mind. 

Yoga for Kids

Yoga is about exploring and learning in a fun, safe and playful way. Yoga and kids are a perfect match. Here is what children (and adults!) can learn from yoga:

  • Yoga teaches us about our bodies.
    When children practice the physical postures or exercises (called asanas), they learn how to move more freely and with greater ease and awareness. These postures help their bodies become strong and flexible.
  • Yoga teaches us how to breathe better.
    When children breathe deeply and fully (called pranayama) and become more aware, they can bring peacefulness or energy to their bodies.
  • Yoga teaches us how to use our energy more effectively.
    Yoga helps teach kids how to use the life force energy in their bodies to feel more relaxed, focused, or motivated.
  • Yoga teaches us how to quiet the mind.
    Yoga teaches kids how to be still. This helps them to listen with attention and make good decisions.
  • Yoga teaches us about balance.
    Children learn to be more aware about the need for balance in their lives. This could mean equal stretching on the left and right sides of the body or making sure they balance busy time with equal quiet time and relaxation.
  • Yoga teaches us about taking care of ourselves.
    Yoga is a great way to move your body and feel healthy. And teaching children how to take care of themselves is one way to show love. As with all forms of exercise, a good yoga practice can mean a good night’s sleep!

The beauty of yoga is that children can practice alone, with a friend or with a group. Many schools are now teaching yoga to young children, and there are many choices of after-school or weekend classes for kids and their families. Everyone can enjoy yoga – from tots to great-grandparents.

Professional organizations that focus on children also support the idea behind yoga. For example, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and The National Association of the Education for Young Children (NAEYC) recommend that children should participate in activities that support the development of the whole child. This is exactly what yoga is about.

Pre-K Readiness by the Numbers

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Just as there is an achievement gap in school performance, there is a school readiness gap that separates disadvantaged children from their more affluent peers. As early as 18 months, low-income children begin to fall behind in vocabulary development and other skills critical for school success. Parents play an enormous role in closing this gap, as do daycare providers, pediatricians, preschools programs, and the broader community.

Research shows that learning begins long before a child enters kindergarten. Children, even infants soak up words, rhymes, songs, and images. Vocabulary development is particularly important. A child’s health, and the timely recognition of developmental delays, is another critical aspect of school readiness. Doctors, care providers, and preschool teachers play a key role.

61 PERCENT

61 percent of low-income children have no children’s books at home.

30 MILLION

Poor children hear as many as 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers.

AGE 2

By age 2, poor children are already behind their peers in listening, counting, and other skills essential to literacy.

AGE 3

A child’s vocabulary as early as age 3 can predict third grade reading achievement.

22 LETTERS

By age 5, a typical middle-class child recognizes 22 letters of the alphabet, compared to 9 for a child from a low-income family.

Study Links 3rd Grade Reading, Poverty and High School Graduation

graduation-caps-thrown-in-air-e1489703137922-1A national study released last week shows that students who do not read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave high school without a diploma than proficient readers.                                                    

Poverty compounds the problem: Students who have lived in poverty are three times more likely to drop out or fail to graduate on time than their more affluent peers.

The study, “Double Jeopardy: How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation,” found:

  1. One in six children who are not reading proficiently in third grade do not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than that for proficient readers.
  2. The rates are highest for the low, below-basic readers: 23 percent of these children drop out or fail to finish high school on time, compared to 9 percent of children with basic reading skills and 4 percent of proficient readers.
  3. The below-basic readers account for a third of the sample but three-fifths of the students who do not graduate.
  4. Overall, 22 percent of children who have lived in poverty do not graduate from high school, compared to 6 percent of those who have never been poor. This rises to 32 percent for students spending more than half of the survey time in poverty.
  5. For children who were poor for at least a year and were not reading proficiently in third grade, the proportion of those who don’t finish school rose to 26 percent.  The rate was highest for poor black and Hispanic students, at 31 and 33 percent respectively. Even so the majority of students who fail to graduate are white.
  6. Even among poor children who were proficient readers in third grade, 11 percent still didn’t finish high school. That compares to 9 percent of subpar third graders who were never poor.
  7. Among children who never lived in poverty, all but 2 percent of the best third-grade readers graduated from high school on time.

The longitudinal study was conducted by Donald J. Hernandez, a professor of sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, and a senior advisor to the Foundation for Child Development. It was commissioned by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The study confirms the link between third grade scores and high school graduation and, for the first time, breaks down the likelihood of graduation by different reading skill levels and poverty experiences.

“These findings suggest we need to work in three arenas: improving the schools where these children are learning to read, helping the families weighed down by poverty and encouraging better federal, state and local policy to improve the lot of both schools and families,” said Hernandez.

The report recommends aligning quality early education programs with the curriculum and standards in the primary grades; paying better attention to health and developmental needs of young children; and providing work training and other programs that will help lift families out of poverty.