For Miriam Everette, a long time educator in the Baldwin Park area, using physical activities to support literacy came about as a natural extension of decades of observation of both kids and adults.
The educator developed a program called “Move to Read" that evolved as a result of her observation of adults struggling with learning both kinesthetic movement and a literacy skill in the classes she used to give at
“I was hearing about ‘Reading by 9’, ‘Read Across America’, etc. and started to wonder....what happened, why are kids having such a tough time learning to read now,” said Everette, “what's changed? I began to realize that Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd grade language arts standards are simply ‘learning how to learn’ and that we all learn differently.”
The training program of Everette is based upon research that states the capacity to learn can be increased by participating in a variety of physical activities at a young age, expanding wiring connections to the brain.
“Kids of today are missing the movement/balance/coordination piece due to the big part technology plays in their lives... altering a crucial piece of childhood development, compounded with obesity,” explains Everette, who added words acquire meaning through sensory experience.
So she put together a DVD which contains six activities performed by kids along with Everette and Reada McMutt, a mascot dressed as a dog.
Everett has been involved in education for more than 25 years, working in most ethnic, age, and ability levels as a community educator.
She has worked for for 19 years and holds a Bachelor's degree in sociology, a Master of Arts in Gerontology/environmental Design and a Master of Science in Educational Leadership.
She currently teaches a parenting the preschooler class for parents and their three and four year olds and a “How to Help Your Child Succeed” class at , teaching parents English and teaching both parent and child how to complete homework assignments.
Although “Move to Read” is aligned to the language arts standards for Kindergarten through second grade, Everette said she piloted it with her senior citizen classes. Suzanne Gero, now retired from the health care field and education, worked part-time in Glendale with Everette and worked at an adult education program for seniors. She said she watched the Move to Read program evolve over time.
Gero said the key to the specialized curriculum is repetition. “There are different activities for different letters. The whole thing grew organically out of things they memorized when they were kids like words or songs. In the case of kids, they are all different ages, and some are more coordinated, but they were all doing it as a group.”
Gero said watching participants in the program is sort of like watching a sentence come to life. “I really liked that, it was just so innovative.”
“I think the biggest obstacle of learning is the fear of not being able to learn. That is one reason why Move to Read is so successful, because kids, parents, teachers, don't realize that they're learning when that music comes on and they just start moving and having fun,” Everett said. “The kids don't really need to know, but after we've done the activity, I can explain to the adult what standard we've just reinforced.”
“Reading is fundamental because it provides another essential tool for communication and understanding. But again, it's not the only tool used for learning,” Everett said, “We all learn differently and our brains are wired differently. You can see from working with kids, some crack the letters code more easily....and for others it's the numbers code.”
More information on the Move to Read program including the DVD and curriculum CD can be found at www.movetoread.com