Tips to Encourage Your Child To Read


We’re celebrating Read Across America Day with a few tips to encourage your little one to read.

Kids on the Block values the importance of literacy, and works closely with elementary school students to empower them to become great readers. We strongly believe reading can be enjoyable for any child on any level.

Here are some tips from Kids on the Block to help elementary school students become great readers:

Tips to Encourage Your Child To Read

  • Help your kids set reading goals. Reading is different for everyone, so let your child set personal goals to reach. This can be reading one book independently per day, or even working their way up to their first chapter book.
  • Read to and with your kids. Take turns reading portions of a book before bed. Hearing words read aloud is just as significant as having your child read them independently.
  • Let your kids read common items around the house. For instance, have them read recipe instructions when cooking meals, directions when assembling household products, or even sections of the newspaper.
  • Most importantly, remind your kids that reading can be fun! Encourage them to choose books, magazines, and comics they would enjoy. Reading is beneficial no matter what materials are used.

“The more you read,

The more things you will know.

The more that you learn,

The more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

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How To: Encourage Your Children to Be Kind


We’re often asked, “How can parents encourage their children to be kind?”

We’ve compiled a few tips to help!

  • Say no to “Sticks and Stones can break my bones, but words can NEVER hurt me.” Discuss to children about the impact words can really have on others, and encourage them to say kind words, words of encouragement and support.
  • Encourage conversations about actions and consequences. Let kids know that positive actions result in positive consequences. Tell them they can make a big impact by using kindness. For example, when one puppet kid is insulted, she responds with a compliment to the bully. This kindness disarms the bully; he cannot respond to her positivity with negativity and more hurtful words.
  • Make a big deal about little acts of kindness. Point out and congratulate even the smallest acts of kindness from your child. Using positive reinforcement can empower your child to spread kindness more often.

Kids on the Block continually encourages young children to be kind through the “Sticks & Stones” presentation. Through puppetry, the students are challenged to create a positive environment in their own school by sharing kindness with one another. Throughout the show the kids learn how everyone is different and how to celebrate those differences instead of teasing others.

After thinking about how it feels to hurt someone’s feelings, Kids on The Block asks each child in the crowd to find three different people and say one nice thing to each. We encourage them find other students or teachers they may not know very well to spread kindness throughout the school.We also would like to take this opportunity to encourage the adults reading this to find three different people to either say something to or do a sweet gesture for.

Helping kids understand differences will also help create empathy and encourage kids to be kind. Check out our kids teaching what diversity means!

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How Can Parents Address Name-Calling?

How Can Parents Address Name-Calling?

Two common questions we’re asked is how are we addressing name-calling and what can parents do to help?

Kids on the Block is addressing the problem of Name Calling with their “Teasing and Name Calling” presentation for kindergarten and first grade students. The students are shown a scenario where the puppet kids are struggling with teasing. As a result, the kids learn a few ways to respond if they ever find themselves being teased.

Most importantly, the students have the chance to interact and empathize with the puppets during the show. Afterwards, the students are encouraged to discuss the consequences and negative feelings caused by name calling. Ultimately, Kids on the Block challenges the students to seek out others and say nice encouraging things to spread positivity around the school.

Tips for Parents and Teachers:

  • Encourage your child to complete the Kids on the Block activity sheet.
  • Work together with your child to come up with new ways to respond to teasing and name calling.
  • Talk with your child about the consequences of teasing versus saying nice things to one another.

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STARS Literacy Programs 2016

Research shows when an activity is fun, we tend to perform better. At STARS, we believe, we can make reading a fun activity and impact the community by improving reading proficiency!

Services for Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH) – Literacy Program

Thanks to funding provided by Community Enhancement Fund, STARS was able to develop a program focused on Literacy for the deaf and hard of hearing students we serve. STARS DHH – Literacy program works individually and in small groups with students who are deaf or hard of hearing to improve their reading comprehension, writing skills and sign language proficiency. Additionally, we work with teachers and parents on best practices to assess and support the students in these areas.

The program currently provides services to 12 deaf and hard of hearing students in three different schools: Hillsboro High School, West End Middle and Eakin Elementary School. Using the Fairview Literacy program, we meet with each student weekly, either individually or in a small group.  The program focuses on improving reading comprehension, writing skills, sign language proficiency, bridging multiple meaning words and conceptual signing of topics and items translating from English to American Sign Language.

One unique aspect of this program is the lessons are specifically customized to meet the students at their level of learning, as well as incorporate their individual interests.

Kids on the Block – Literacy Program

Kids on the Block (KOB) is excited to partner with Shwab Elementary in piloting a six-week literacy program focusing on reading as a fun activity. Based on over 30 years of experience in classrooms, we believe this new literacy program will help bridge the gap for many young people who feel intimidated by reading.

During the six-week pilot program, KOB will take groups of Tier 2 students and work with them to help increase their reading scores. We will begin with an educational puppetry presentation for the entire group of students. The Kids on the Block presentation helps children understand choice in the reading process as well as the social and emotional aspects of the difficulties of being a reader that is behind their peers. The students will work in small groups, as well as pair up, to read with each other. At the end of the program, the students will walk away with two books chosen for them, and a third book of their choosing, as research shows when a child chooses a book in which they are interested, it increases their chances of being a better reader.

So, with the use of puppets, educators, hardworking kids and a lot of compassion and enthusiasm, Kids on the Block is working to help students in Middle Tennessee to have bigger and brighter futures!

Compassion: The Antidote to Trauma

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by negativity?  Turning on the news you see a stream of violence, drug abuse, scandal and scary statistics.  The weight of our social ills, mental health issues and rates of physical disease can make many feel helpless…or even worse, cynical.

Compassion: The Antidote to Trauma

One research study has begun to transform the way people think about these issues; instead of feeling overwhelmed, they feel hope.  The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study was conducted by Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control in the mid 90’s.  Surveying over 17,000 patients, they found a strong relationships between childhood adversity and later development of disease, disability and social problems.  From crime to cancer, from academic failure to alcoholism, high rates of childhood trauma was the common denominator.

Fifteen years later, scientists have found that toxic levels of stress hurt the developing brains and bodies of children.  Specifically, toxic stress from trauma changes the very architecture of your brain, kills your cells and even changes the way your genes are expressed. Getting deep beneath the skin and putting cracks in the foundation for lifelong health and wellness.

Why would this knowledge create hope?  Because now, we better understand how to meaningfully solve our most enduring problems with one approach.  Since ACEs are the root cause, we need to decrease and alleviate childhood trauma.

When a child is displaying negative behavior, it is often due to stress hormones surging through their bodies which put them in fight, flight or freeze mode.  This is a natural survival response.  When kids come from traumatic backgrounds, they frequently experience this survival reaction.

The CDC’s recommendations for driving down rates of ACEs are safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments.  It may seem overly simple, but empowering coaches, teachers, pediatricians, parents and mentors to understand how childhood adversity impacts health and behavior creates a powerful response which is the antidote to trauma.  Suddenly these adults change their question from “what’s wrong with you?” to “what happened to you?”

Science shows we heal child trauma and promote resilience through trauma-informed, or compassionate care.  When hurt and reactive kids are met with calm and safe adults, they can begin to learn these skills themselves.  The brain continues to grow and develop through 25 years of age.  This means adults can help kids build neural connections to combat trauma and improve functioning simply by modeling the behavior they want to see.

Many adults are highly motivated to help and support youth but they become burned out because they deal with challenging behavior, they don’t understand on a daily basis.

For example, when a child curses you, it is difficult not to take it personally.  When these same adults recognize what is happening in the brains and bodies of these children and adolescents, they can respond in a compassionate way that doesn’t worsen trauma symptoms but begins to heal them.

Programs that treat families and youth break the cycle of physical disease, health risk behaviors, addiction, violence and mental health issues.  Realizing the deep impact of trauma, recognizing signs and symptoms, and responding in a way that reduces symptoms are the keys to trauma informed care and a healthier society.  By doing what is morally right for children, we are doing what is logically and fiscally right for all Tennesseans.   This science provides hope that we can move from marginal to massive results in addressing our most burdensome problems.