UNT literacy program aims to prevent reading challenges in preschool-aged children

Tuesday, August 6, 2019 - 09:21

The University of North Texas College of Health and Public Service Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology is offering a language-literacy preschool at the UNT Speech and Hearing Center to ready children for entry into kindergarten and first grade. 

In 2016-2017, approximately 55 percent of children in Denton county schools met grade level expectations for reading on the STAAR test. UNT Speech and Hearing Center hopes to ultimately improve that percentage with a new preschool literacy program.

Theresa Kouri, principal lecturer and clinical director for speech-language pathology at UNT, is using evidence-based educational practices for children ages 4 to 6 that have been proven highly effective in preventing reading delays and strengthening pre-literacy skills. 

The training strategies are appropriate for children regardless of their reading level and include guided language-literacy instructional activities in a curriculum that focuses on speech production, expressive and receptive language skills, as well as pre-literacy skills, such as phonics, sight word recognition and print awareness. 

“It has been demonstrated that early intervention is the most effective mechanism for preventing more pronounced literacy delays during early and later elementary school years,” Kouri said. “For example, in many of our school-aged clients with dyslexia, many early and basic literacy skills are weak or missing. It is believed that had these skills been established earlier through effective early intervention, a number of reading delays may have been reduced.”

The UNT language-literacy preschool will be offered in early September, two to three mornings per week depending on a child’s programming needs. It will include large and small group instruction as well as individual therapy sessions if needed. Full or partial scholarships – funded through the generosity of the Dallas Scottish Rite Foundation and Independent Bank – are available as needed or requested.

Neale Chumbler, dean of the college, says this program is one of many in HPS that’s making a difference. 

“I applaud Dr. Kouri’s hard work in leading an innovative service delivery program for children in Denton who can benefit tremendously from strengthening their pre-literacy skills,” Chumbler said. “This program, which employs cutting-edge techniques, is one of several key HPS services that aims to improve the health and well-being of the community.”  

Parents with children in Kouri’s summer preschool program say they’ve seen improvement in their children’s ability to build and recognize words and identify letter-sound associations, as well as increase vocabulary and speech production skills.

To register for the program or for more information, call 940-565-2262.

UNT News Service
(940) 565-2108