Early Literacy Matters

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Developing early literacy helps children start strong

Children introduced to reading early on tend to read earlier and excel in school compared to children who are not exposed to language and books at a young age (American Academy of Pediatrics).

More than 40 percent of Florida’s third-grade students do not read at grade level

There are more than 170,000 four-year-olds preparing to enter kindergarten this year. More than 87,000 of them are already behind and will struggle to read at grade level and graduate high school. That's 87,000 children a year we are leaving behind.

Want to help your child with early literacy? Here are a few free services you can explore:

Sign up for ReadingPals

Join or sign your child up for this statewide effort to mentor students from Pre-K through 3rd grade who may need extra help. We offer programs in 28 counties via 17 local United Ways.

Early Intervention and Support

Early Steps offers services to eligible infants and toddlers, age birth to 36 months, who have or are at-risk for developmental disabilities or delays.

Call Help Me Grow for a Screening

Help Me Grow can be accessed by dialing 211 in 32 of Florida's 67 counties. The service provides early identification of developmental and/or behavioral concerns, and links families to community support.

Sign Up for Free Pre-K

Florida’s Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program or VPK is a free educational program that prepares 4-year-olds for kindergarten and beyond

The Facts

How You Can Help

  • Mentor a reader. Help children learn to read with the ReadingPals program.
  • Sign up for our weekly early childhood newsletter to stay up to date on the latest news and research.
  • Bring The Movement to your community event: Please reach out to our Outreach team to learn how we can work together to spread the word about the early years.
  • Donate. Your contribution will allow us to keep working to bring awareness to these issues and chase real change in Tallahassee.

Read More

  1. Proven Benefits of Early Childhood Interventions – Rand Corporation. Discusses the impacts that early intervention has on multiple areas of young children’s lives as well as the positive financial effects that early intervention has for society.
  2. The Impact of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): What Does the Research Tell Us? – Kaiser Family Foundation. Discusses CHIP, the role it plays, and its importance.
  3. Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! – US Department of Education. A resource from the US DoE that helps parents understand important developmental mile stones for their child and offers guidance about early screening.
  4. The Importance of Screening – American Academy of Pediatrics. This guide talks about the various types of screenings available to children and their families as well as why these are all important.
  5. Promoting Optimal Development: Screening for Behavioral and Emotional Problems – American Academy of Pediatrics. This report from the AAP talks about the importance of screening for emotional and behavioral problems and why they are important.
  6. The Lifecycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program – The Heckman Equation. Research summary that discusses the social, economic, health, and educational benefits of Early Childhood Programs.
  7. The State of Preschool 2017 – Florida’s State Preschool Yearbook – National Institute for Early Education Research. Gives a brief overview about the current state of Florida’s VPK program along with its strengths and weaknesses.
  8. The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects – Brookings Institution. A study that discusses the current state of Early Childhood programs across the county and the importance of high quality programs.
  9. Florida’s Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program: An Overview of the Largest State Pre-School Program in the Nation – University of Virginia EdPolicyWorks. Discusses the history of the Florida’s VPK program along with some
  10. Graduates of Early Childhood Program Show Greater Educational Gains as Adults – National Institutes of Health. This news release from the NIH talks about how the benefits of an Early Childhood program go beyond giving a child a head start in their elementary school years.

Disclaimer: These links to third-party websites are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They do not constitute an endorsement or approval by The Children’s Movement of Florida or its affiliate organizations and partners.