"Trenton Makes Words" Initiative Promotes Early Education
As part of our Grow up Great series, Beth J. Cooper, Curator of Education at the New Jersey State Museum, talks about the Trenton Makes-Words! initiative in partnership with The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey and the Trenton Community Music School. The initiative is a free vocabulary program to get Trenton children ages 0-5 ready for kindergarten.
"We're please to be joined by Beth Cooper, Curator of Education at the New Jersey State Museum. How you doing Beth? Great. We had a conversation with some of your colleagues about early childhood and we talked about the word gap. Vocabulary challenges that children have, particularly from economically disadvantaged homes in the state of New Jersey. There's an initiative in Trenton that you're connected with called Trenton Makes Words. What is it? It is a partnership to build vocabulary funded by PNC Growing Up Great and we work with the Trenton community music school which has been active in the community for many many years and we work with Children's Home Society which has been around much much longer. Children's Home Society of New Jersey and so the three of us have worked on programming for caregivers of children, most often parents, sometimes other caregivers in their lives to build vocabulary everyday. Because of the word gap and the fact that parents are their child's first teachers, so having them really understand that and the power they have in influencing their child's education and making them school ready. So, we collaborate with the families and do a 90 minute session of music and storytelling and games and just have fun and then we do parent tips every week. Parent tips? We give them tips on how to talk to their child. For example? A big thing that we stress is reading, talking, playing, and singing. So, as you go through your day, narrating what you're doing. Narrating what you're doing? Today, this is what we're going to do today. "We're getting into the car to go to the grocery store," or at the grocery store, "look at these apples. What color are they? These look like apples but they're a different kind of fruit." So, kind of just always talking as you're going through, and then making up silly songs and building vocabulary by singing either to the radio or songs, you know, or making up your own songs. How does that help the child with his or her vocabulary? The more words a child hears, the more they understand and can learn. Repetition helps, so that's why music is great, but also reading. And then, words that parents know and then maybe some words that are new to everybody. So that's why reading is so important. So you have every day words that you use, but you also every night read a book before bed so that you are reading stories that contain words that are different or not..."