“The word gap is often associated with the achievement gap we see at third and fourth grade,” O’Leary said. “Often times we are starting (intervention) too late.”
The hope is that Tulsa’s program will become a national model.
Melving Ming, CEO of Sesame Workshop, said the popular children’s TV show “Sesame Street” plans to get its muppets involved to tell parents it’s important to talk and read daily with their children.
“We’re hearing (from parents), ‘I don’t have the time to do it,’” Ming said. But “you can read or say to them in the store this is the letter ‘a.’ We want it to become commonplace, and not work.”
Rondalyn Abode, family and community coordinator at Tulsa Educare, said many parents living in poverty feel they don’t have anything to teach their children.
Parents don’t have to talk about unfamiliar or uncomfortable topics, she said. Instead, they can read, sing or explain daily chores or activities to stimulate their child’s developing brain.
Lyles said he continues to talk with his children about their schoolwork or daily activities outside the classroom. His children often use those interactions to show off what they’ve learned or get involved in what he’s doing.
“They have become very independent,” Lyles said. “They want to help with everything. They just want to learn more and more.”
Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit organization that produces in-depth and investigative journalism on public-policy issues in the state. For more content, go to oklahomwatch.org.
Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.