For many children, kindergarten is the start of formal classroom education. Even for children who have been in preschool or a childcare setting– the transition can still be overwhelming. You may even wonder if your child is ready.   

An overwhelming amount of evidence shows children who enter kindergarten behind are likely to remain behind throughout their educational careers and beyond. Preparing a child for kindergarten requires a focus on areas of development that begin at birth and are often influenced by quality early experiences: physical well-being, motor development, social and emotional development, cognitive skills, and many more.  

At Educate Midland, we believe that ensuring our children have the skills to prepare them for even the earliest schooling is an essential step in guaranteeing early literacy success and continued development. Introducing the POWER Initiative, we want to encourage our community to read, speak, and interact with children as frequently as possible.  

Brain Development and the Importance of Early Reading 

The most significant amount of brain growth occurs between birth and age 5. Education Partnership of the Permian Basin informs us that roughly 85% of the brain’s core structure is formed by the age of 3. One of the greatest activities to stimulate your child’s language and cognitive skills is through reading; this allows them to build their motivation, curiosity, and memory.  

Kindergarten Readiness 

The academic success of children in later years depends heavily on their kindergarten readiness. The first few years of education and preparedness in a child’s life are the most important in establishing a solid foundation from which children can adapt to school systems and learn successfully. However, up to 65% of incoming ECISD students and 63% of MISD students are not Kindergarten-ready when they start school, putting them behind at the beginning of their education.  

As the years go by, it will continue to grow harder for these students to catch up to their peers. Researchers have found the vocabulary of a three-year-old predicts the vocabulary knowledge of that same child at the age of nine or ten. Research has also shown a significant word gap in words spoken, and the types of messages conveyed between children born into poverty and children born into working-class or professional families. At Educate Midland, we want to see lasting change in our community when it comes to a focus on kindergarten readiness. We hope this initiative will help Midland’s children be more successful in life by supporting their education as early as possible.  

The POWER Initiative 

Power of Words and Early Reading (POWER) is a community-based initiative that focuses on promoting language development and early literacy in the Permian Basin. Our goal is to encourage a common understanding of our community’s educational issues and challenges, from cradle to career, and to work collaboratively to help solve these issues. 

The purpose of POWER is to encourage our community to read, speak, and interact with children, as frequently as possible, beginning at birth. Our mission is to provide our community with tools and resources to promote language development and early literacy in children, beginning at birth. And our vision is that all children in the Permian Basin enter school kindergarten ready.  

POWER Roadmap 

To fulfill our purpose, mission, and vision, the POWER Initiative seeks to coordinate and connect community resources, which serve as a touchpoint and through-line for all children in the Permian Basin from birth to kindergarten. These touchpoints include hospitals, pediatricians, social service agencies, local school districts, and early childcare centers. Through collaborating with these organizations, parents, grandparents, and guardians will receive the resources they need to promote brain development and early literacy in our children, ensuring each child in the Permian Basin enters school kindergarten ready  

The POWER Bag  

For 2021, the expansion of the POWER Bag Initiative is set to include three hospitals in our region, Medical Center Hospital, Odessa Regional Medical Center Hospital, and Midland Memorial Hospital, which will be participating in this early literacy effort. POWER Bags will contain information about the importance of speaking, interacting, and reading to your newborn, information regarding our community’s POWER Initiative, as well as several baby books to get each baby started on the path of early literacy. 

POWER Bags will also provide parents and guardians with a Developmental Milestones Booklet to track their child’s development milestones from age 2 months old to 5 years old. Milestones are behavioral or physical checkpoints seen in a child’s development as they grow. Rolling over, crawling, walking, and talking are all considered milestones and are different for each age range. The booklet allows parents to look at their child’s overall behavior and gauge their progress.  

For more information or for our tools and resources to help promote language development and early literacy in your baby, please visit our website www.POWERBAG.org.