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Loyola Clinical Centers launches innovative interdisciplinary reading readiness program for children

| By Nick Alexopulos
Ready Set Read Loyola Clinical Centers
Tara McGarvey, a graduate student in Loyola University Maryland's reading specialist master's program, leads a literacy exercise for children enrolled in Ready, Set, Read! at the Loyola Clinical Centers.

The Loyola Clinical Centers (LCC) has launched an interdisciplinary reading readiness program for children ages 4-6 to address the skills children need to be successful in literacy and language development.

Ready, Set, Read! is a summer intensive program that runs for an hour and a half four days per week during the month of July. Children are placed in small groups and engage in play-based learning activities led by two Loyola graduate students, one from the School of Education’s literacy program and one from the speech-language pathology/audiology program. The collaboration between disciplines is what makes Ready, Set, Read! so valuable.

“It is essential for language and literacy to be paired together to help children develop the skills we know are necessary to be academically successful,” said Kara Tignor, division director of speech-language pathology and audiology at LCC. “This is an innovative program. Reading readiness services rarely offer language and literacy components together.”

Ready, Set, Read! is not a remediation program for children with reading disorders; instead, the interactive learning environment serves children with a range of needs. Some parents and caregivers have enrolled children who show signs of struggling with early language and literacy tasks, while other parents and caregivers enrolled their children to reinforce skills learned in preschool over the previous year in an effort to counteract regression that commonly takes place during the summer.

Tignor created Ready, Set, Read! with Dana Reinhardt, division director of LCC’s literacy clinic. They team with Ashley Rice, visiting clinical instructor of speech-language pathology and audiology, to supervise the graduate students working in the program to provide the ongoing support and guidance.

Tignor and Reinhardt designed the activities children experience in Ready, Set, Read! using existing research and evidence-based practice. From the literacy discipline, the program emphasizes emergent literacy skills such as alphabetic knowledge, print awareness, and phonemic awareness. Language elements focus on narrative development, vocabulary skills, and phonological awareness skills such as rhyming, segmentation, and blending. Ready, Set, Read! combines the skills in fun activities that include arts and crafts, storytelling, playtime, rhyme time, learning songs, and letter games, all catering to young children.

Ready Set Read Loyola Clinical Centers“We’re confident this is a best practice to deliver effective instruction to this population, and we have already seen growth in both the children and the graduate students,” said Reinhardt.

Part of LCC’s core mission is to provide opportunities for interdisciplinary work. This program both furthers that mission and gives graduate students experience that will be valued highly by future employers, most notably K-12 schools.

Ready, Set, Read! kicked off on July 1 with 22 students enrolled in sessions at LCC’s headquarters in Belvedere Square in north Baltimore. LCC hopes to expand the program next year to serve more students.

For more information about Ready, Set, Read!, including cost and LCC’s sliding scale fee structure, please contact Kara Tignor or Dana Reinhardt or call 410-617-1200.

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