Center on the Family receives Early Reading First award

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Oct 6, 2009

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Center on the Family has received a $3.8 million Early Reading First award from the U.S. Department of Education.  The Hui A`o Mua project will be led by the University in partnership with the Honolulu Community Action Program Head Start and the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Education.  

The purpose of Early Reading First is to ensure that all children enter kindergarten with the necessary language, cognitive, and early literacy skills for continued success in school. Project staff will work closely with Head Start classrooms to implement state-of-the-art early education practices based on current research. Areas of focus will include curriculum, classroom quality, family involvement, and meeting each child’s unique needs.  Professional development activities for Head Start teachers will involve college courses and workshops as well as weekly in-class coaching by experienced mentors.

According to Dr. Barbara DeBaryshe, the project’s principal investigator, “We are privileged to be able to work with the same set of teachers for three consecutive years.   With this level of intense support, teachers make large gains in their knowledge of early literacy development and their skills in working with children and families.” 

This is the Center on the Family’s second Early Reading First project.  In the first project, “Classrooms met high standards for teaching quality and families became more involved in their children’s learning at home. This showed in the progress that children made over the course of each school year.  It was rewarding to see the children’s excitement about learning as well as parents’ and teachers’ increased appreciation for their children’s capabilities.”

 A total of 29 grants were awarded nation-wide in 2009.  Project classrooms will serve as models for other preschool centers in Hawaiʻi and beyond.  "This award recognizes the excellent work of Dr. DeBaryshe and the Early Reading First team," said Dr. Sylvia Yuen, Director of the Center on the Family.  "As we learn more about what families and preschool teachers can do to effectively develop children’s early literacy skills, all children will benefit as will the K-12 school system."