Early Literacy Matters (ELM) is a non-profit early intervention program in Tampa, Florida.
We are housed at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) and our mission is to promote success in school and life by teaching pre-reading skills to at-risk early learners, ages three and four, in Hillsborough County. Because these children are behind in these critical early learning skills for their ages, ELM's principal goal is to develop and enhance emergent literacy skills through on-site coaching in specifically identified early childhood classrooms.
To achieve this goal, experienced early childhood coaches provide students with multi-sensory educational instruction weekly with Nemours BrightStart! Literacy Curriculum. This better prepares early learners for success in kindergarten while simultaneously educating preschool teachers about key early literacy strategies to use in their classrooms. ELM coaches also provide preschool teachers and directors with ongoing professional development through college level or continuing education classes.
ELM was initially funded by the Children's Board of Hillsborough County, Florida in September, 2002 and has been housed at HCC since February 1, 2004. The program has served more than 600 preschool teachers and 6,500 preschool children since its inception. The ELM program model has looked slightly different over the funding years, with coaches alternately working with only at-risk students and then only early childhood educators in at-risk neighborhoods. Now ELM serves both simultaneously.
In Funding Year (FY) 2015, ELM expanded its services, adding three-year-olds. For FY 2016, ELM will use a center-wide approach, offering information and materials to all center staff.
ELM continues to identify and work specifically with children ages three and four who are behind in the skills necessary to learn how to read and focuses on the Tampa target neighborhoods of East Tampa, West Tampa and Sulphur Springs.
Coaches work with the classroom teachers and directly with preschool families when possible, to get everyone involved in early literacy. Coaches provide all participants with information, strategies and take-home activities designed to increase literacy skills.
Research suggests that this combined approach of child intervention, teacher education and family involvement, better prepares children for kindergarten and later success in life.
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How ELM Works:
ELM's trained literacy coaches assess each targeted child as well as their teacher using different assessment tools.
Approach in Action:
After assessment, ELM coaches provide enrolled children with a minimum of 12 weeks of early literacy lessons.
In the 15 years since the program's inception, ELM has successfully met the annual program outcomes.