Head Start Meets Rotary

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A visit to San Juan for Rotary District 7000’s Foundation Seminar highlighted beautiful people doing remarkable things for children in Puerto Rico! There was a reveiw of literacy projects based on the Souns program involving Rotary Districts 7000, 6990, and 6900. This included one Matching Grant recently completed, the beginning of a second Matching Grant, and a plan for a Global Grant. Totally inspiring!

Visiting Head Start sites in the project demonstrated the power of the young preschool mind when given tools of print through engaging hands-on activities that build letter-sound knowledge. So far, the Rotary literacy project has provided Souns materials to 135 classrooms in San Juan and, through a second grant, will extend materials to ALL the Head Start classrooms in the San Juan Municipality program within the year. With site visits several times each year, we are able to see the progress, hear about the progress, and move forward with teacher training.

This August visit, just a few days into the school year, confirmed children came back to school with retention of letter-sound knowledge (and that new children were quick to pick up the information). Given the gift of a Souns writing mat, the group of learners were able to hear a word and build that word by listening to the sounds in the word. This is only possible if the child is confident with letter-sound knowledge. What a positive environment and developmentally appropriate materials can do for early literacy! Working as a team, the children built four words. The last word, feo, presented a surprise, as a new child was quietly persistent as she kept pointing to the second letter – e (eh) – when the others were pondering the sound. It was a very special moment for everyone…particularly that little girl who knew she knew!.

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