AWE Stations Get Kids Ready for School
As brain science advances, studies continue to confirm the fact that young children need learning opportunities in their first five years if they are to be successful when they begin school. Research also shows that children who enter school without the basic motor and cognitive skills for kindergarten may never catch up.
According to Kidsdata.org, statistics from 2013 indicate that more than 40% of Solano County children ages 3 to 5 were not enrolled in preschool or kindergarten, and more than 55% of third-graders were not proficient in reading. If children do not read at gradelevel by the end of the third grade, they are at risk of falling behind academically. Many will drop out of school without graduating, and their economic prospects are poor.
The Library's new AWE stations are designed to help young learners practice early math, reading, and digital literacy skills by playing games on a special computer for kids. They are available in all eight branches of Solano County Library and were made possible with a $25,000 grant to the Solano County Library Foundation from the Solano Community Foundation. Each station is loaded with over 70 games and includes a touch screen, color-coded keyboard, headphones and a child-sized mouse. "The AWE Stations are like magnets for kids. They love the colorful computer and the fanciful characters. They love that the computer is unmistakably just for them. AWE Stations are kind of like Sesame Street, learning doesn't feel like learning, they're fun," said Mark Fink who coordinated the grant and is the Library's deputy director for public services.
In addition to practicing their emerging math and literacy abilities, kids expand the motor skills they need to operate a computer. "Getting that mouse and keyboard practice before going to school is especially important for children who don't have computers at home," Fink added.
Buck Foundation Assists Library Foundation's Literacy Efforts
As the Frank H. and Eva B. Buck Foundation prepares to cease operations, it has made a donation of $50,000 to support the reading and literacy programs of the Solano County Library Foundation.
Offering terminal grants to organizations it has supported in the past, the Buck Foundation announced its grant to library supporters this week.
"The generous grant from the Buck Foundation will help us continue our mission of providing literacy programs and supporting the lifelong learning needs of the community from cradle to adulthood," said Beth Shedden, chair of the Board of Directors of the non-profit, all-volunteer Solano County Library Foundation.
"The Buck family's support of us means we can continue to pursue our goal to stamp out illiteracy in Solano County through funding programs provided by our county library system," Shedden explained.
The Buck Foundation, founded in 1990 to support education, will close this spring.
"Our two foundations share a commitment to education and an understanding that education should start at a very young age," Shedden added. "That makes us excellent partners. Together we can make a difference."
Funding will be used to sustain four keynote programs:
Reach Out & Read - A pediatric reading program that provides free books to children age 5 and under during well-baby visits to their family doctors.
Solano Kids Read - Books chosen by library staff are distributed to students in grades 4-8 in all local schools. Talks by the books' authors are part of this motivational reading program.
Adult Literacy - Local residents learn how to look for jobs, format a resume, succeed in interviews and research scholarships and careers. Also available are entrance examinations for many job disciplines.
Tutor.com - Live website's online help with homework. Tutors include Ph.Ds. Ivy Leaguers, teachers, doctors, professors, pilots and scores of other professionals. Genentech and the Buck Foundation are partners in this free service for any child with a library card.