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Kindergarten Literacy Initiative Project

Casey Marshall

"Several previous psychological research studies have explored the relationship between kindergarteners' reading skills and the home literacy environment (Boudreau, 2005; Dodici et al., 2003; Foy & Mann, 2003; Stephen- son et al., 2008; Storch & Whitehurst, 2001; Umek et al., 2005). Results indicate that the amount of reading and number of books in the home have an impact on the literacy level of children entering preschool and kindergarten programs. Family socioeconomic status is also significantly related to reading outcomes in children. There is currently a large gap between low and high SES households in terms of children's literacy skills (e.g., Aikens & Barbarin, 2008; Dearing et al., 2006). By reading to children and engaging in other family literacy activities, parents can have a significant impact on their children's reading skills."
-Casey Marshall, William Smith '09
Psychology Major Double Minor in Child Advocacy and Education

What are your goals for the project? What do you hope to accomplish?

  • The goal of this project is to obtain a baseline literacy level for incoming kindergarteners in the city of Geneva.
  • We will also gather information from parents about the home literacy environment, family socioeconomic status, at the beginning of kindergarten.
  • Results of this project will be used to track the progress of The Geneva Reads program and understand the best ways to help children and families in Geneva (e.g., providing books and other forms of literacy assistance).
  • Portions of this project will be presented in the Success for Geneva‚Äôs Children data book that will be published during the spring of 2009.

What have you personally learned so far? How has this project affected you?

"I have gained so much more respect for teachers and principals for what they do. They do so much that people don't realize, and yet they still made time to help me however they can with this project." After spending some quality time with the elementary school teachers about the project, Marshall realized just how much work that they do in preparing for their classes and their students. Marshall also remarked upon the parents of the this year's kindergarten classes at North Street and West Street Elementary, "...we got 115 parents that cared enough [about their children] to fill out the surveys. Even if they don't always have the time or opportunity to read with their kids, this shows that they do care."

This experience has also reaffirmed Marshall's chosen career path. After graduating from Hobart & William Smith Colleges in the Spring of '09, she hopes to attend graduate school with the intention of getting into the profession of school psychology.