The Early Literacy and Learning Model (ELLM) is a research-based, comprehensive curriculum for 3-, 4-, and 5-year old preschool children that has been proven to be effective improving children’s early reading achievement. The literacy-focused curriculum builds children’s cognitive development through literacy, mathematics, science, social studies, the arts, motor experiences, and physical health. Children’s acquisition of important cognitive and social/emotional development is facilitated through interactions with supportive teachers and ELLM coaches who encourage children’s curiosity, persistence, and creativity by planning and implementing engaging activities and providing support during learning experiences. ELLM is designed to expand children’s vocabularies and refine their understanding and comprehension of words they know and use.
To help meet the challenge of improving the emergent literacy skills of young children in urban schools, the University of North Florida (UNF), College of Education and Human Services, and the UNF based Florida Institute of Education (FIE) established a significant partnership with several governmental and private organizations, Head Start Centers, public and private child care centers and public school districts committed to improving reading among children, particularly those children who come to school under prepared.
The Naples Children & Education Foundation, founders of the Naples Winter Wine Festival has funded the ELLM curriculum as part of their Children’s Early Learning Initiative serving under- served children in Collier County. The Early Literacy and Learning Model (ELLM) is designed to close the school readiness gap for at-risk 4-year old children in Collier County. ELLM targets portions of Collier County and all of Immokalee that house children born into conditions that bear the demographic (mobility, language), socioeconomic (poverty, hunger, healthcare), and institutional (under performing schools) risk factors predictive of educational failure.
Research has identified poverty and language as the two largest barriers to learning and success. Additionally, research has found that this level of poverty has a negative effect on a child’s brain development. The impact of severe poverty can be off-set by intensive interventions such as focused and stimulating activities like those that are incorporated into the ELLM design. ELLM provides professional development, curriculum, assessments, and classroom materials.
ELLM creates a cohesive network of early learning sites, including Head Start classrooms and private early learning centers. Instructors visit each other’s classroom, share best practices and learn together. The ELLM literacy coaches link and support the classrooms and ELLM Teacher-Get-Togethers provide opportunities for formal and informal networking. As teachers increase their knowledge, skills and self-confidence—student outcomes improve. ELLM has helped to bridge the school readiness gap created by poverty. Pathways’ is so fortunate to have this interactive literacy-based curriculum that offers development for not only the children, but teachers and families too.