ANNAPOLIS – Fifteen minutes of focused attention from a parent every day can make a significant difference in the learning rate of young children, studies have found.
The Maryland State Board of Education is trying to call attention to that connection with a new family literacy program that encourages parents to build in a quarter-hour of quality time — whether during dinner or while on a trip to the mall — for their kids.
Parents of young students gathered at Harford Heights Elementary School on North Broadway in Baltimore Thursday to hear about the new program. State School Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, and Carmen V. Russo, the chief executive officer of Baltimore Public Schools, spoke at the event for the “Take 15 for the Family” program.
“Take 15 for the Family – it is an endeavor to build a lifetime of learning between the parents and a child. (There is) awareness among parents that involvement is critical,” said Grasmick. “There are resources that make this both easy and fun.”
Everyone wants to see the next generation do better than the previous generation, Russo said.
“Yes, we have talented teachers and educators, but there is something special about the relationship between the parent and child,” Grasmick said.
The interactive parental program encourages activities ranging from playing games to grocery shopping to reading with and to children, said Linda Bazerjian, Education Department spokeswoman.
“There is research that shows that 15 to 20 minutes of reading has some benefit,” Bazerjian said.
The program starts Nov. 1 with National Family Literacy Day, but some pieces of the program will occur before that, Bazerjian said.
There will be a Family Day at Prime Outlets in Perryville on Halloween. The event will be free for parents with trick or treating for the children. There will also be a storyteller, and a magician that incorporates reading into his act.
“All the research shows the more you arm a parent to reinforce education, there is a direct impact on the student’s learning. Child education is a part of human literacy,” said Bazerjian said. “You are reinforcing things that are needed for literacy.”