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Springfield Family Child Care Language and Literacy Project

Springfield (MA) City Library
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Problem Statement

28% of Springfield children scored "proficient" or better (state average = 53%) on their fourth grade reading assessment. About 1,000 Springfield children are enrolled in licensed Family Child Care, and most attend full‐time year-round. Graduation rate is 53%. Language‐rich child care environments benefit young children who are exposed to limited conversation and vocabulary at home. Vocabulary at school entry strongly predicts a child's reading comprehension in tenth grade. The training and referral agency Preschool Enrichment Team (PET) identified Family Child Care (FCC) providers as lacking knowledge of and access to training in how to provide early literacy experiences for children.


The Library partnered with PET and the Family Child Care Project to hire instructors, translate materials to Spanish, recruit 40 Springfield educators and develop a curriculum customized for FCC providers and using research‐based strategies to support young children's language and literacy development. Librarians delivered 25% of the classes. Central to the curriculum are books that instill a love of reading while also teaching underlying literacy concepts. Librarians selected 25 age- and language-appropriate books for each provider to expand the quality of their readalouds and fill weekend book bags; and created Activity Cards for each book with early literacy skills to learn from the book and suggestions of fun, simple, free activities to reinforce them.


The six-week, Saturday morning classes were attended by one group of 20 (in Spanish) and another of 16 (in English). Providers unanimously praised the course and reported changing their curricula to include more reading and language activities. Other evaluation comments: “I have re-evaluated my entire Curriculum more around language and literacy.” “I think that literacy has become my primary objective in every facet of our curriculum and art and pretend play. It can permeate all of our activities.” “We now seize every opportunity to rhyme and recognize letter sounds, during free play, direct play, and constantly throughout the day.” All Spanish class participants registered for library cards, most for the first time ever, and use of the Library’s Early Childhood Resource Center has increased. A Latino Educators support group has begun meeting in the Library.