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Today's objective: Gather the tools to introduce your young child to reading

After 18 years as a parent involvement specialist for the Glynn County School System, Marihelen Newman has one statement to make: "As a parent, you are your child's first and most important teacher." From the very beginning, being involved in your child's education is perhaps one of the most important actions a parent can take.

Unless you're a certified or trained teacher, that isn't always easy, especially for parents of younger children, Newman admits.

"It's a challenge, there are so many things in competition for parents' time and energy that they sometimes need reminders of the old-fashioned 'help your child learn to read at home,'" she said. "For parents of young children who may not have a local support system - like grandparents, aunts or uncles - giving those reminders or helping out, and especially parents dealing with a child's diagnosis like autism or ADHD, reading is still important."

But when it comes to reading, there are endless resources right here in Glynn County that can help. There's always the local library, Baby Steps Early Literacy Initiative and the local school system, but there will also be a special event held this weekend that parents of younger kids, particularly children age 3 through second grade, can learn to become their child's first reading mentor.

From 10 a.m. to noon at the Risley Annex, 2900 Albany St., the Glynn County School System, Georgia Reading Association and College of Coastal Georgia will host "1, 2, 3, Read With Me." It's an opportunity for parents, guardians, care givers and grandparents to participate in a family literacy forum.

The event will be family friendly and include a phonics puppet show, a make and take book event, a feature called "Who, What, When, Where, Why and How to Read," special informational sessions for parents as well as a parenting fair featuring organizations and family resources.

"There are several choices of activities for kids and parents," Newman said.

Newman said there would be an informational session about helping your child read with autism, ADHD and ADD led by Dr. Paulette Harris, director of the Georgia Regents University Literacy Center, as well as helpful things for parents who speak Spanish only. There will be a chance to read aloud with your child as well, one of the most important things in enhancing your child's reading abilities, says Newman's co-host at the event, Dr. Ronald Reigner, associate professor of reading and language arts in College of Coastal Georgia's School of Education.

"I frequently reference the 1985 report, 'Becoming a Nation of Readers.' Among its primary findings, two simple declarations rang loud and clear: 'the single-most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children, and it's a practice that should continue throughout the grades,'" Reigner said.

Agencies like the Boys and Girl Scouts of America, Grandparent Connection, Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy and many more will be featured at the parenting fair. The event is free and the college will provide refreshments. Registration is not required but suggested and can be done by calling Newman at 267-4100 ext. 1545 or by email at

The Brunswick News
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