Headsprout Thanks-A-Million Program to donate phonics-based reading lessons to elementary school aged children for the holidays

December 17, 2005 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
Phonics reading leader announces Thanks-A-Million Holiday Program. Company to donate one reading lesson for each viewer of its multi-media online holiday card.

Seattle, WA, December 17th, 2005 – Headsprout, producers of Headsprout Early Reading, the highly acclaimed research-based online reading program for 4-to 7-year-olds, today announced
that for every viewer of its online holiday card, the company will donate an online reading lesson to elementary school-aged children across the United States. The holiday card and links for the complimentary lessons can be seen at http://www.headsprout.com/cards/dec2005.cfm

Headsprout’s Thanks-A-Million Holiday Program has two distinct components, one for elementary schools, and one for individual parents:

Elementary schools not yet using Headsprout can register to experience the Headsprout Early Reading Program for up to five students at http://www.headsprout.com/school/experience/

With over 70,000 public and private elementary schools in the US this represents a potential benefit base of well over 250,000 school children.

Parents and homeschoolers can register for three free lessons of Headsprout Reading Basics, Headsprout's home-based reading program, at http://www.headsprout.com/home/trial.cfm

There are over 15 Million 4-7 year olds in the US who can potentially benefit from this reading giveaway.

The engaging holiday card is a 30-second animated greeting that is entertaining to kids and parents alike, and includes a link to tell friend. For each viewing, Headsprout will donate an early reading lesson to a child.

“Our mission is to be a major force in helping eliminate illiteracy in young children in this country in this decade” said Greg Stikeleather, President & CEO of Headsprout. “Ours is the only research-based phonics reading program that is No Child Left Behind compliant and guaranteed to have young readers reading at or above grade level upon completion of their lessons. Our free phonics-based lessons can improve the reading and the lives of hundreds of thousands of children, and be a dramatic demonstration that people and companies who care can make a difference to this country’s literacy problem — one simple email referral at a time.”

The Headsprout program is research-based and proven effective (see http://www.headsprout.com/school/research_publications.cfm ) for details). It consists of 80 interactive web-based lessons and numerous printed stories. Fun cartoon interactions at the surface are supported by a foundation of serious, research-based reading instruction. The program instructs students on all five components of early reading cited as critical by No Child Left Behind – phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and text comprehension. Headsprout has an impressive following nationwide with school districts, teachers, students, and parents (see http://www.headsprout.com/home/testimonials.cfm ) Most importantly, the Headsprout program is fun, motivating, and measurable. The highly interactive, animated lessons keep kids engaged and excited about reading, while child-friendly progress maps help students keep track of their own reading development.

Reading in America - the Writing on the Wall - Problem Background

We have a national reading crisis that cuts across all ethnic and socioeconomic groups. As a result, we’re becoming a nation of two societies: one that reads, and one that doesn’t. The National Institute of Health considers the long-term implications of this reading failure a national public health problem:

Nearly 40% of Fourth Graders have not mastered basic reading skills. It’s been nearly 60% in California, and almost half of these children lived with college-educated parents. — Council for Basic Education

If a child is a poor reader at the end of First Grade there is a nearly 90% probability that the child will remain a poor reader at the end of Fourth Grade. — The Public Library Association

Experts say about 5% of the nation’s children learn to read with ease, almost intuitively. An additional 20% to 30% learn to read with relative ease once they enter school and begin formal instruction. However, the bulk of children (about 60%) have difficulty. — Council for Basic Education

As a nation, we also suffer from reading “myths” that impede our ability to make progress:

MYTH: Kids learn to read by having books read to them.
FACT: Reading to young children will help develop their interest in reading. Many children learn bits and pieces this way; however, “being read to” does not equal “learning to read.” And only 5% of children actually learn to read by being immersed in reading. Learning to read is not like learning to speak, where children literally “soak up” a spoken language. Children must learn the skills necessary for reading, and for all but a few, this requires explicit instruction.

MYTH: Reading is a natural process that will happen on its own when a child is ready.
FACT: There must be a certain level of reading readiness, and most two-year-olds, for example, are not ready to read. At one time, reading was thought to develop naturally, when a child was “mature” enough, but this is no longer the belief. Research now indicates that the 4- to 6-year-old range is the sweet spot for teaching reading. Beyond the age of 6 or 7, teaching a child to read is simply a game of catch up. Most children do not learn to read “on their own” - and if a child is struggling to read at age nine, the Council for Basic Education maintains there’s a 75% chance he or she will have difficulties with reading throughout high school.

MYTH: All kids will learn to read in school.
FACT: Not necessarily. The range of entering skills among young children - regardless of their background - varies widely, and is extremely challenging to manage even for our best teachers. Providing individual attention and interaction based on each child’s unique capabilities, and managing an entire class at the same time, is a daunting challenge. Yet reading experts say that children need lots of practice with reading fundamentals (phonics, sounding out, blending, etc.). Given the “facts of life” in a classroom - overall student/teacher ratios and general work overload - most teachers do the best job they can. However, too many children are being left behind.

“One thing is clear: Too many of our children cannot read or have difficulty reading. And, if they don’t read fluently, the chances for a fulfilling life - in terms of job skills, financial stability, or academic achievement - are greatly diminished.” said Greg Stikeleather, Headsprout President & CEO. “With our Thanks-A-Million program we hope to do two things — give back to the community that has made Headsprout Early Reading such a success, and accelerate our word-of-mouth momentum in order to achieve our national literacy goals even faster.”

Resources Mentioned:

Holiday card viewing: http://www.headsprout.com/cards/dec2005.cfm

Schools can register to experience Headsprout Early Reading at: http://www.headsprout.com/school/experience/

Parents can register to receive free lessons: http://www.headsprout.com/home/trial.cfm

Headsprout phonics program research: http://www.headsprout.com/school/research_publications.cfm

Headsprout success references: http://www.headsprout.com/home/testimonials.cfm

About Headsprout

Founded in 1999, Headsprout (www.headsprout.com) is a provider of computer-based learning programs for reliably teaching fundamental academic skills. Headsprout's early reading program offers a scientifically developed online reading program that effectively and reliably teaches 4- to 7-year-olds how to read. Headsprout guarantees grade-level reading success by transforming the learning experience for early readers and aiding parents and teachers in the process of child literacy. Children navigate through fun, interactive animated lessons, averaging 20 minutes in length, and Headsprout's patented instructional technology adapts to the unique capabilities of each child. Headsprout’s mission is to be a major force in helping eliminate illiteracy in young children in this country in this decade.

Contact Headsprout:

Debra Lee
206-329-3660 x1099

Contact 20/80 Ideas:

Ken Dickens