Project BIBBS, an early literacy intervention project developed by Buck Leonard Association for Sports & Human Enrichment, has showed measurable gains during its eight-month field testing period.
Project coordinator and association Director Rose Hunter expressed satisfaction with the project’s success and said she believes that BIBBS – Babes, Ice Cream, Baseball and Books – has great promise as an early literacy best practice model.
Developed around universal research that supports the importance of early literacy routines, BIBBS promotes read-out-loud activities as a gateway to learning and early development.
The project, funded by a PNC Foundation mini-education grant, placed parents in the roles of primary teachers and educators of their children, and offered parents early literacy development training with the goal to help them become actively involved in preparing their children to become confident learners – prepared for academic success.
Hunter said the project employed an associative, or: “taste good” agent (i.e. ice cream) to coincide with children’s constant need for food. This incentive helped children establish appropriate listening behaviors and quickly got them to settle into good reading routines
“Nutritious snacks soon replaced ice cream as children fell into predictable story-time routines,” Hunter said. “Parents were asked to extinguish the snack component as soon as the child became fully acclimated to the reading program.”
Quintina Pittman, parent of 1-year-old Kaleb and 3-year-old TaKayla, explained her participation in the BIBBS Project.
“My son and daughter can hardly wait now for story-time; they are in their seats enjoying their snacks and ready for me to begin reading,” she said. “Kaleb likes to sit in his high chair, and TaKayla likes to sit at her tea table; we did most of our daytime stories in the kitchen.”
“My child listens quite well now without the behavioral stimulation,” said Kanisha Privott, mother of 2-year-old Malachi. “However, I will continue to use the snack companion to maintain a consistent read-out-loud schedule.”
Most of the 12 families and 16 children enrolled in the field-testing effort are residents of Rocky Mount Authority community – some 90 percent of the project’s population has older siblings enrolled in the Buck Leonard Baseball League.
Hunter measured the success of the BIBBS Project in terms of the following measureable outcomes:
- Parents can without too much change in their daily routines, center read-out-loud activities during snack-time,
- Young children might readily associate snack time with read-out-loud story time and early in the project might expect the two activities to take place at the same time.
Planned baseball and other outdoor motor activities can increase parent-child interactions beyond the home settings, promoting physical development, language/cognitive and social functioning among BIBBS participants when supported by their parents, baseball coaches, older siblings and player senrolled in the baseball league.
Some parents might need considerable encouragement to fully accept their roles as their children’s primary and lifelong teachers; parents and may need to develop additional skills and serve as their children’s “reader” models – a definite best practice.
Hunter said that the project evaluation process involved the use of observation tools, parent and coach feedback sessions and surveys.
This evaluation method enabled a cross-sectional project outcome analysis.
She said the lack of developmentally appropriate books of any genre in the home, and little connection with the local library, only 1 percent of participants had library cards, signals developmental delays for BIBBS participants.
Hunter said she believes that if parents of at-risk populations do not gain the skills needed to assume their primary educator roles, their children might continue to enter school unprepared to perform on academic par with children from more advantaged backgrounds.
While the goal of BIBBS is to offer early literacy intervention to the target population, Hunter contends that the model requires further development to include refining the behavior modification component, exporting the model into a curriculum format to better identify parent education and training methods, BIBBS material layout, activity guidance, as well as, culturally and developmentally appropriate books and other early literacy learning materials required to ensure the very best outcomes for children enrolled in the program.
Hunter suggests that for children and families to receive the maximum benefit of the BIBBS Project, well-trained volunteers are needed to ensure an adequate service delivery ratio where time, methods and materials are fully explored and implemented.
Toward this goal, Buck Leonard Association for Sports and Human Enrichment will begin a grant writing campaign to fully fund the BIBBS Project.
Hunter encourages all inner-city community groups to get involved at some level in early education intervention.
People interested in becoming BIBBS volunteers (grant writers, literacy and baseball coaches) should email rosehunter@ buckleonard.org.