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University-run language and literacy pre-K program reopens

University-run language and literacy pre-K program reopens

University-run language and literacy pre-K program reopens
June 26
12:00 2021

The department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology’s language and literacy pre-K program, hosted at the Speech and Hearing Center, will reopen in September for children ages 4 to 6.

The program is returning after being shut down because of COVID-19. It uses evidence-based multi-sensory and traditional educational practices proven effective in preventing reading delays and strengthening pre-literacy skills. These strategies include guided language-literacy instructional activities focused on speech production, expressive and receptive language skills and pre-literacy skills such as phonemic awareness, sight word recognition and print awareness.

“I wanted to start a program which addressed things very early with preschoolers in terms of their phonemic awareness and working on some of their sounds, we call it phonological processes acquisition, which interacts with reading and early literacy skills,” said Theresa Kouri, College of Health and Public Service principal lecturer and director of the Speech and Hearing Center.

The program is hosted by graduate student clinical technicians, directed by Kouri and another licensed supervisor. Small group and individual sessions will be facilitated on two mornings of the week, either Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday.

Pre-K students are assigned an individual student technician who will work with them in both the group and individual settings.

“[The clinal technicians] were very skilled at giving individual care in a group setting, which I think is pretty useful,” said Steven Gore, parent of former pre-K participant and Denton resident. “They never isolated the children to give isolated care, unless they really, really needed it.”

Students who participate in the university’s pre-K program often have various types of speech, literacy or language delays. The program is designed to aid kids in preparing for kindergarten.

“We definitely saw [our child] improve a lot, especially in speech and literacy, after he joined this program because he did get a lot of tailored care,” Gore said. “They kind of rolled it all in together, so speech and literacy was being done at the same time.”

Some children participate in this program alongside other preschool and daycare programs, as families do not have to choose between any programs to participate. Gore’s child was able to attend both preschool and the university’s program simultaneously.

“Some of our children attend our program two mornings a week and then they’re in their [independent school district] program the rest of the time,” Kouri said. “These are kids that need a little more special help and support. They benefit greatly from attending the UNT program in conjunction with their ISD program.”

Scholarships and fee waivers are available to those who need them. The language and literacy program has received grant funding from the Scottish Rite and Caplan foundations to help families cover expenses.

“We have the luxury of having a couple of grant sources that are funding some scholarships for this program,” Kouri said. “Many children can come and take advantage of this program for little or nothing.”

Speech, language and literacy delays are often diagnosed in children around 18 months. Delayed speech or language development affects five to 10 percent of preschool-aged children, according to the University of Michigan Health System.

“It’s very important for children because that’s how you communicate throughout your whole entire life,” speech language pathology senior Clacie Terry said. “It’s how you learn to speak, say words, write, and put words together and speak to others. It’s kind of the backbone of society, really.”

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Yaryzza Lira

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