Tonya Hameister on early speech, literacy and the pandemic

Next Door Foundation Director of Education Services Tonya Hameister describes the group's efforts to address how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted communication gaps and literacy among young children.

By Zac Schultz | Here & Now

November 30, 2023

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Tonya Hameister:
During COVID, we were directly impacted. The masking did make a significant difference. As we are now seeing also the trends in children's understanding of literacy later on, we're also seeing that not having it early on is making an impact. Those communication gaps are pretty significant, so we are seeing it. So nationwide, you're hearing terms like COVID babies. So we know that we are seeing an increase in social emotional challenges nationwide. We are seeing nationwide an increase in literacy issues, and actually literacy dropping. That's why we came in really solidly, and said we're not gonna let that happen. We're gonna come in strong, and we're gonna come in with every way we can to support and intervene prior to that happening so that our children have everything they need to succeed. And being in Early Head Start and Head Start, we know that we also have situations of economic disadvantage. Our families have situations that, you know, can impact our children. And absolutely, that makes it, I think, even more critical that we take this very seriously and do everything we can to make sure our children go into kindergarten, first grade, ready to go.

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