HealthPartners is expanding a national program in its primary care clinics to help young children develop the skills to learn to read by age five. The Reach Out and Read program is currently in or is being implemented in 2015 at nearly 50 clinics at HealthPartners, Park Nicollet and Stillwater Medical Group including the Mahtomedi Clinic.
The program was developed based on research that shows that children who learn to read at grade level by third grade are more likely to graduate from high school and more likely to have better health as adults.
“Doctors, nurses and other caregivers can greatly influence patient choices and this program is an opportunity for caregivers to help parents build language skills and brain development in their children which can last a lifetime,” said Steve Scallon, MD, pediatrician and Regional Medical Director for Stillwater Medical Group.
According to Reach Out and Read, parents who participate in the program are four times more likely to read aloud to their children compared to parents who do not. On vocabulary tests, pre-school children in Reach Out and Read programs score three to six months ahead of children who did not participate.
The Reach Out and Read program is part of HealthPartners Children’s Health Initiative to improve the health and well-being of children from pregnancy to age five. It’s Important because research shows there is a strong link between health and well-being early in life and health and well-being later in life.