March 13, 2017

National Reading Program Reaches Kauai’s Shores

News

Pediatricians at Kauai Medical Clinic (KMC) are prescribing books as a remedy for below-average reading rates of keiki entering kindergarten on the island. 

“Across Kauai, about one-third of children reach kindergarten without the skills necessary to learn in the classroom. However, in some areas of the island, half of children have below-grade-level reading skills when they enter school. This is important because students who are behind in kindergarten are much more likely to drop out of school later in life,” explains Dr. Carl Yu, a pediatrician at KMC. 

Yu and fellow KMC Pediatrician Dr. Brigitte Carreau recently helped bring the nationwide program Reach Out and Read to the Garden Isle. 

“There are program sites in all 50 states, and we are proud that Kauai Medical Clinic has become the first site on Kauai to offer this program,” says Yu. 

The program is simple. Pediatricians provide free books at a child’s well-child visit starting at 6 months to 5 years of age. During these exams, doctors also discuss with parents the importance of reading, demonstrate how to read with keiki at different ages, and give families a new book to take home and read together. 

In these first six years of life, it is estimated that about 95 percent of a child’s brain is formed. By encouraging healthy, language-rich interactions, we help foster brain development."

“By helping put books into our patients’ lives and homes, we are helping parents help their children grow up with increased language, increased stimulation, an enhanced home environment, and a better chance for success in school, in addition to increasing literacy rates,” Carreau says. 

The reason for Reach Out and Read’s success, according to Carreau and Yu, is that while families have different interests and activities, one thing they all have in common is that they visit their pediatrician for regular checkups. 

“From birth through the time they enter school, keiki will have had about 13 checkups with their pediatrician, giving families and their pediatrician time to establish a good relationship,” Yu says. 

KMC pediatricians (pictured is Eva LaBarge (right), Community Benefits manager)Keiki benefit not only through increased literacy rates, but also show improvement in receptive language (words the child understands) and expressive language (words the child says). 

Additionally, research shows that parents are two-and-a-half times more likely to read to their children, and families are two-and-a-half times more likely to enjoy reading together and have additional books in the home when they have contact with a Reach Out and Read program. 

“In these first six years of life, the years before school, it is estimated that about 95 percent of a child’s brain is formed. Therefore, by encouraging healthy, language-rich interactions, we help foster brain development,” Yu says. 

Reach Out and Read is open to all families who bring their keiki to Kauai Medical Clinic for care – no additional steps, sign-ups, registration or cost is required. 

“I am excited that this program will strengthen language skills, literacy development and parent-child relationships, therefore, ultimately helping prepare children to succeed in school,” Carreau says. 

“I personally am most excited to see the smiles on the faces of keiki when they find out they get to keep their book from their visit with us!” Yu shares. 

“For as long as I can remember, the library was my playground filled with what seemed to be endless books to adventure into,” Carreau adds. “This giddy feeling is what I hope to bring to other children along with helping with early literacy development through the Reach Out and Read program.”

To schedule an appointment with a KMC pediatrician near you, call 245-1561 or click here.