EdWatch: Friends of the Family help preschoolers learn to read

By Amy Cherry 3:13pm, September 25, 2013
WDEL's Amy Cherry talks with FRIENDS program creator and Warner preschool teacher Dawn Alexander.
Friends of the Family program helps Red Clay preschoolers learn to read.

WDEL's Amy Cherry profiles the program in this week's WDEL Delaware EducationWatch.

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Warner Elementary School's FRIENDS program focuses on engaging children in literacy and language at the preschool level.

"We make sure that we actively involve parents in our program. We have them come in as mystery readers," says preschool teacher Dawn Alexander, who created the program three years ago.

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The mystery readers are a total surprise to students. Alexander says they work hard to ensure every student has a family member that comes in to read.

"We really, really need their involvement, and in order for us to be successful, we have to have them on our side, and we're grateful to say that our parents believe in us, and they're actively involved," she says.

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Technological advances have led to a component for home learning with the FRIENDS program as well.

"We make videos of ourselves, teaching and we post those on our classroom websites so parents have the opportunity to watch them at home, so they can really reinforce what we are doing during the day, they can do at home," Alexander explains.

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Standardized assessments and students' reactions help gauge the program's success.

"We even hear children say to us when we're doing assessments things such as, 'I work on that with my mommy, or my mommy's working on Rodney with me at home,' or 'My aunt read that story to me,'" she says.

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Students from five classrooms at four schools in Red Clay participate in the program.

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