By Molly Flinchum
Kindergarten is a melting pot of young children. Even within the same district, children are emerging with different backgrounds, different sets of skills, different learning styles and different foundations.
Some children have the fortunate opportunity to attend a preschool and learn the basics of color, shape, and language skills. Other children cannot go to a daycare or preschool for various reasons, including cost or lack of transportation.
Since this past March, The Speech Bus travels into neighborhoods in order to ensure that all children, regardless of where they begin their academic careers, are able to learn the basics it takes to succeed in their first years of schooling. They focus on children ages 2-5, teaching them language and speech skills through activities and free books.
Chanel James, one of the co-founders of The Speech Bus, said that each time they stop and interact with the kids, they have a theme. They start off with music and introductions. Next, they will read a book with the children, focusing on building vocabulary, and interacting through taking and asking questions. To reinforce the lessons taught that day, there is a craft for the children to do based off of the book they just read. Participants return to their parents with a free book and a snack.
“Our organization hopes to lessen the educational gap for these kids, but we can also improve school performance,” said James. “Early exposure to language and literacy can reduce long term learning difficulties, and ultimately result in higher graduation rates, producing young adults who are better prepared for higher education, as well as better employment opportunities.”
The non-profit also provides parents with information about language skills and literacy development, according to James. If a parent has specific concerns regarding their child’s development in one of these areas, The Speech Bus will provide free screenings or connect them with agencies who can provide the services that the child needs.
The Speech Bus operates on donations alone, and those donations go directly to support the circles where children are being taught valuable language skills. They are currently in search of a minibus or passenger van, and are in need of financial support and donations to keep providing their services to the community.
“There is so much work to be done, and we need your help,” said James. “In order for The Speech Bus to be as successful as possible, we need donations, grants, and volunteers. The support of youth groups, church groups, service organizations at schools, and local businesses are key to our success. This is our community, and we sincerely appreciate your support.”