The department of communication sciences and disorders at Saint Louis University has partnered with the St. Louis Catholic Academy's Excellence Early program to help students achieve full development of language and early literacy skills
|SLU partners with St. Louis Catholic Academy|
Strong language skills are essential for children's success in school and life, and one of the best predictors of educational and life-skills competency is the level to which a child progresses in reading and writing.
Given that language and literacy develops during a child's first five years, early childhood educators need to make a conscious effort to intentionally plan activities and experiences that optimize conditions for children to acquire positive attitudes, skills, and knowledge about language and literacy.
Father Jeff Vomund, pastor of St. Elizabeth- Mother of John the Baptist Catholic Church and the administrator for St. Louis Catholic Academy, points to SLU's contributions in launching a program to support parents of at-risk children ages 0-5 so that they can raise them to be the most successful students possible
"Dr. Travis Threats and his colleagues have been instrumental in the planning and implementation of our school's Excellence Early program," Vomund said.
"Without Dr. Threats and his colleagues -- both their expertise and their willingness to roll up their sleeves and help -- we would never have gotten this program off the ground."
Threats, chair of the department, said the University's participation brings together SLU's commitment not only to education but to serving others.
"We have faculty members who are nationally known for their work with 3-5 year old children and their language development as well as those who have researched and worked with those in at-risk situations," Threats said.
"It is also part of SLU's Jesuit, Catholic mission to reach out into our community and make a difference in the lives of those around us and this project provides a perfect opportunity to serve families."
Threats said some key areas where SLU will assist include:
- Classroom observation to evaluate teachers' current use of literacy-enhancing behaviors.
- Curriculum development through the use of experiential based instruction that will optimize exposure to the child's natural environment as well as new learning experiences.
- Present a morning workshop at the school for parents about neurological developments necessary for advanced language skills and literacy and how systematic exposure to literacy activities can influence development and performance in young children.
- A second workshop will be held for parents that will focus on practical suggestions for working with their children at home on language and literacy skills development.
- Provide speech/language screenings for pre-K and kindergarten classes to identify children with possible language delays and, when needed, arrange a comprehensive communication evaluation at the department's Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic.
A portion of St. Louis Catholic Academy's funding for the project is provided through a grant from the Incarnate Word Foundation.
St. Louis Catholic Academy opened in June 2003 in the former St. Engelbert School building at 4720 Carter Avenue in North St. Louis. St. Louis Catholic Academy strives to provide a quality Catholic Christian education for students in the North City area and surrounding communities and serves pre-K through 8th grade students.
For additional information, contact the department of communication sciences and disorders at (314) 977-2940.