Meagan Robles was stuck in line with her 2-year-old in the grocery store the other day, worried about keeping her daughter distracted, when she remembered a helpful tip she received in a text message.
“What do you see that’s orange?” she asked her daughter, Hayden. “Is there a triangle, is there a circle?”
Hayden picked up quickly, pointing out shapes and colors that she noticed in line. She was practicing a skill designed to help her learn about her surroundings.
The tip was from Read Charlotte’s new text-message initiative, Ready4K, that sends suggestions to parents of children up to 5 to help them build their child’s language and literacy skills. Meagan, who lives in University City, signed up for the initiative after seeing an ad on Facebook.
“A lot of the tips they give are very effective, and you don’t need anything,” she said. “You just look around and there are your colors and your shapes.”
Ready4K was developed by researchers at Stanford University. It is currently being implemented by Read Charlotte as part of its goal to double the reading proficiency of third-graders in the community from 39 percent in 2015 to 80 percent by 2025.
The school-readiness program sends three weekly learning tips, customized to the age of the child, to parents who sign up. It’s free for families in Mecklenburg County and is available in English and Spanish.
“It’s all geared toward whatever it is your child needs to work on at that particular age,” said Munro Richardson, executive director of Read Charlotte.
The tips focus on early language and literacy development. Robles said some of the first texts she received were about identifying shapes in her daughter’s clothes, and that soon Hayden began identifying shapes on her own.
“She was ready for it and I didn’t even know she was ready for it,” she said.
Richardson said the style of the program fits the lifestyle of busy families – which Robles could appreciate.
For her, the service has provided simple, common sense suggestions, but things she might not have thought to do before. She said she believes it will help Hayden get prepared for preschool and for learning to read at a proficient level.
“You’re not doing anything but gaining ways to help your child,” Robles said.
Caroline Metzler: 704-231-5316, @crmetzler
How to sign up
Sign up for Ready4K by texting READCLT to 70138.