In a moment of serendipity, Spitfire had a great opportunity land in our lap: teaming up with The Center for Alexandria's Children to offer parent reading workshops to participants in their Learn & PlayGroup program!
A key component of our Theory of Change is to create demand for and build inclusive community around girl-focused programming among Spitfire's caregivers and community partners.
We've understood this role differently over the years -- our goal used to be for caregivers and community partners to want their kids involved in our programming. Easy.
It seems so basic, but, thanks to the pandemic, we have come to realize that caregivers play a tremendous role in nurturing a love of reading (and love of self!), long before they can even think about enrolling their child in Spitfire programming. Conversely, not engaging parents and caregivers as partners in this work is missing a critical opportunity to meet our mission of nurturing each girl's love of reading, love of self, and love for girls across all communities.
Years of research show that parents reading with their children from an early age has a huge impact not just on their children's later performance in school, but also on social-emotional, economic, and health outcomes later in life. Reading at home isn't always easy, though. Free time is scarce and there are many demands on it. Kids don't always want to read (particularly if it's not part of the family's routine). New, compelling, high-quality books are expensive and can be hard to come by.
So what can we do? What role can Spitfire play?
Spitfire has teamed up with The Center for Alexandria's Children to pilot fun, engaging parent reading workshops where we practice simple strategies for building a culture of reading at home - in any language, at any literacy level. We will also be equipping each family with high-quality and culturally relevant books to add to their home libraries, activities that they can use to increase comprehension and engagement with the text, and resources for families to continue in their reading journey. We'll then take the learnings from this programming to offer it to caregivers in the Spitfire community as a component of engaging them as partners is our work to empower girls through reading.
We're incredibly grateful to The Junior League of Washington for fully funding the pilot of this work! We wouldn't be able to do this without their support!