Prime Time promotes literacy in schools

Shearer Elementary School students and their parents will have the opportunity to bond over books because of an award-winning family literacy program coming to Winchester March 5.

Kentucky Humanities, a nonprofit corporation affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities, awarded a grant to Shearer to offer the Prime Time Family Reading Time program.

Prime Time Family Reading Time will meet Mondays from March 5 to April 16 at Shearer Elementary School. The program is free and includes meals, door prizes and educational childcare for younger siblings.

Kathleen Pool, associate director at Kentucky Humanities, said Prime Time is a six-week family literacy program that focuses on children ages 6 to 10. She said the program tries to take all of the obstacles away such as transportation, meals or childcare for younger siblings.

Kentucky Humanities Executive Director Bill Goodman said he Prime Time focuses on bonding families around reading.

“Prime Time is an important program of Kentucky Humanities,” Goodman said in a statement. “The reading program bonds families around the act of reading and seeks to transform them into life-long readers and regular visitors to Kentucky’s libraries. We’ve been sponsoring Prime Time since 2004 and have hosted 204 Prime Time programs in 83 Kentucky counties in 14 years.”

So far, there are 33 programs scheduled for 2018.

“What this program does is bring the parents and child together,” Pool said. “We model for the parents on how to read aloud to their kids, showing them that reading aloud together is a great bonding force, and when you get done reading the book, the scholar models how to ask a question.”

Pool said the program used to be mainly held in libraries, but thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the program has expanded into schools.

“We had twice the many applications as we had funding for,” Pool said.

Pool said the program usually averages about 15 – 20 families.

Shearer Elementary School Principal Mark Rose said this year is the first time Clark County has ever hosted this program.

“Every Central Kentucky county except Clark has had it,” Rose said.

Shearer is also partnering with Central Bank and the Clark County Public Library to provide meals and door prizes during the events. Rose said Shearer was eligible because of the number of students who qualify for free and reduced lunch as well as their rising Hispanic population. Carolina Fernandez, the storyteller for Prime Time, is bilingual, Rose said. Fernandez will be available to translate stories as needed. Gywnn Henderson, an anthropology professor at the University of Kentucky, will be the Prime Time scholar and will lead discussions after story time.

“We have a need for literacy,” Rose said. “Our primary focus is on reading and how to get more parents involved. This is a great way to do both.”

Pool said the books are all chosen because they have good themes and lend themselves to a good open discussion.

“It’s not about the book,” she said. “It’s about the discussion.”

For example, one book they have used in the program is Judith Viorst’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

“It’s not about the details,” Pool said. “The discussion is about when we wake up; sometimes we know it’s going to be a bad day. We talk about how do we know that, and what can we do about it. We ask did you ever have a bad day. What makes it a bad day, and we go into how do we recognize it.”

Children participating in family literacy programs made gains at least three times greater than would have been expected based on their pre-enrollment rate of development, according to the National Center for Family Literacy. Children also showed an 80 percent increase in reading books and made twice as many trips to the library.

Prime Time found 74 percent of parents reported the program enhanced discussion with reading, fostering more reading and led to better interactions with their children.

“Hopefully, it instills a lifelong love of reading,” Rose said. “It will give parents some tools on how to help their children with reading, and it will expose them to great literature which I hope will stay with them the rest of their life.”

About Lashana Harney

Lashana Harney is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. Her beats include schools and education, business and commerce, Winchester Municipal Utilities and other news. To contact her, email lashana.harney@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0015.

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