With assistance from the Cemala Foundation, North Carolina A&T State University is focused on literacy for young children in Guilford County. Project LLIFE aims to increase skills and performance in language and literacy for children between the ages of 1-4.
LLIFE stands for Language and Literacy Impacting Families and Educators.
“Our program is focused on children in culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in southeast Greensboro, and our overall goal is to try to close the gap for children of color around language and literacy when they enter kindergarten,” said Dr. Valerie Jarvis McMillan, associate professor of child development early education and family studies at N.C. A&T State University.
She is the principal investigator (PI), working with co-PIs N.C. A&T professors Dr. Deana Lacy McQuitty, associate professor in speech language pathology, Dr. Jeff Drayton Wolfgang, assistant professor in counseling, and Dr. Sharita Williams-Crossen, adjunct faculty in speech language pathology and Project LLIFE Coordinator.
The project encompasses three disciplines: child development, speech language pathology, and counseling. Researchers in each of those areas, along with graduate and undergraduate students from N.C. A&T, have worked to collect data from child care centers, educators, and families from southeast Greensboro.
The goals and objectives include:
- Enhancing language and literacy development of children from diverse populations in southeast Greensboro
- Supporting culturally responsive practices of educators and families in promoting literacy development
- Training students to become facilitators for language and literacy development and learning in children with diverse backgrounds
Working with Ready Ready
Ready for School, Ready for Life (Ready Ready) has partnered with Project LLIFE in active reading training sessions in late 2020. Due to the pandemic, these training sessions switched from in-person to online, as did much of Project LLIFE’s work.
“Working with Ready Ready, we had two very intense active reading training sessions virtually,” Dr. McMillan said. “Our students practiced the active reading approach, and it allowed them to develop labels and terminology for these strategies. They will use this training with the families during collaborative learning sessions with families in February and March.”
“Working with Project LLIFE and N.C. A&T students was so rewarding,” said Heather Adams, Ready Ready’s director of engagement and literacy initiatives. “We’re excited for them to take these strategies into the community.”
During the collaborative learning sessions, student instructional facilitators will enter into a coaching relationship with families and children who are part of Project LLIFE. The active reading strategies will help parents and children discuss what they’re reading by asking open-ended questions, for example.
“It’s about using a daily routine with children centered around reading books,” Dr. McMillan explained. “We want to engage children in conversations around a book they’re reading, getting them to discuss content and characters in the book, and ask questions to gather their understanding of content and how it may relate to activities or experiences in their life.”