Thanks to the graciousness of WXYZ-TV Channel 7 News in Detroit, The Scripps Howard Foundation, and Scholastic, Matrix Human Services received a donation of 9,000 brand new, diverse and age-appropriate children’s books on National Reading Day, January 23rd. 6,000 of those books were distributed to our 17 Head Start Centers, which comes to 4 books per child, and another 3,000 are for Matrix Head Start parents to take home, because parents are every child’s primary teacher.
The day started out with excitement at our Infinity I Head Start Center. Channel 7 News anchor Carolyn Clifford paid a visit to highlight some of our kids on the news while explaining why they chose to donate to Matrix and the importance of reading during early childhood development. Click Here or click on the image below to watch the live broadcast shared on WXYZ Channel 7’s website.
As the day continued at Infinity I, the children were also treated to a surprise – a visit from Clifford the Big Red Dog! After Carolyn Clifford (no relation 🙂 ) read a Clifford the Big Red Dog story to the kids, Clifford made an appearance himself, which was featured on the WXYZ Channel 7 News Facebook page.
However, it wasn’t just our Infinity I Center having all the fun on National Reading Day. Matrix made a point of celebrating at all of our centers by also making it “Bring a Book To Life” day. Each center chose a popular children’s book to read and to get the kids even more excited, decorations were made throughout the week and costumes were used at some of the centers as well, including “Cat in the Hat”, “Pete the Cat”, “Andy the Caterpillar” and more.
Some locations also had a guest speaker read as well. At our Plymouth Head Start, Andy Gutman, President of Farbman Group in Southfield and children’s book writer himself, came to read “Be Kind” featuring Charlie the Caterpillar. Read more about Andy Gutman here and why he also enjoys writing Children’s books.
Throughout the day, news stories continued to feature Matrix Human Services for National Reading Day. One clip featured our Director of Head Start, Cristal Claussen as well as our Head Start teacher, Latricia Williams.
From the article, “Latricia Wiliams is a mother of four boys, three of whom are teens. Her 19-year-old is headed to the Marines and she has a little girl on the way. Most of her time is spent here at Matrix Human Services in Detroit. It’s a free federally funded head start program where she’s a teacher and the progress she sees in these young kids is amazing.”
“You see their reading levels go up,” said Cristal Claussen, director of Matrix Human Services. “They’re more engaged socially with friends, you even see their communication. Why is literacy so important, especially when you think about a head start program? The biggest impact that literacy has for our children is actually on brain development.”
“The illiteracy rate in Detroit is more than 50 percent and a lack of early education is part of the problem. Each of Williams’ kids have gone through head start at Matrix.”
“I see them engaging in education, wanting to learn and for me it made it easier for a mom, and a working mom, to be able to teach them more because they were already engaged and willing to learn,” Williams said.
“Her 5-year-old was born with a speech delay, but they never gave up on him and Williams says early head start was a blessing.”
“We kept reading and (doing) speech therapy things like that so now he’s able to connect things he’s reading at a first-grade level and he’s only in kindergarten,” Williams said.
Channel 7 also had a great feature about 7 early warning signs your child may be struggling with reading again featuring our director of Head Start Cristal Claussen, as well as Matrix Head Start parent Valeria Goldsmith. Those warnings signs include:
1. A child cannot remember letter sounds, for example: A is for Apple
2. A child may confuse letters that look alike, consider the example – B and D, or even P
3. A child may also confuse like sounding letters like F and V
From the article, “A 2019 Michigan student test of educational progress shows only 15.7 percent of third graders in Detroit were reading at grade level. That’s why 7 Action News and the Scripps Howard Foundation’s Give A Child a Book campaign is putting thousands of books into schools and homes to help bridge the reading gap… Statewide, just over 44 percent of third-graders were proficient in reading in 2019.”
“For the 4 and 3-year-old, it’s helping with their word development and they love to read already because of head start,” Goldsmith said.
“Why are so many kids in Detroit and cities like Detroit so behind,” said Cristal Claussen, director of Matrix Human Services Head Start. “There’s not much focus on preschool in the city.”