With the help of Lakota Schools a local laundromat now offers a sort of brainwashing for children of the best kind.
Children at the West Chester Township Splash ‘n Dash now have a free, mini-library of books they can read while their parents are washing clothes.
Set up at a donated clothes folding table at the business, the idea of taking reading opportunities outside of schools to where community children are is proving popular, said Angie Brown, creator of the “Literacy at the Laundromat” program.
“It’s a fun way to say you can read anywhere. It doesn’t matter where you are,” said Brown.
“We have many students in our district who love to read and we thought … wherever their parents are – and they had to sit for a few minutes – they could read a book,” said Brown, who is also leads Lakota’s Parent Family & Community Engagement program.
Children are allowed to not only read the books, which are donated, at the laundromat but are encouraged to take them home.
If they write a paragraph summary of the book – then signed by a parent or guardian - and turn it into their local school they receive a prize, said Brown.
The outreach literacy program is now located in four sites in West Chester and Liberty townships – including a barbershop, church and the MidPointe Library West Chester. By next school year Brown said she hopes to have a total of 20 free book sites throughout the Lakota school system.
The books are donated by Lakota Schools, MidPointe and various business and community organizations.
Fliers – in both English and Spanish - explaining the program are displayed next to the books. It’s a reflection of the growing number of students enrolled in Lakota’s English as a Second Language program designed to teach foreign-born students the English language.
The program reflects an emphasis in recent years by Lakota officials to broaden learning opportunities beyond the district’s 22 school campuses in the two Butler County townships. Those efforts are expected to accelerate with the arrival of new Lakota Superintendent Matt Miller this summer.
“Reading is one of the basic foundations of learning and study after study proves that students who enjoy reading do much better academically,” said Robb Vogelmann, acting superintendent. “Yet, some families struggle with how to encourage their students to read.”
“Lakota’s informal literacy initiatives help address that gap, making books available to students outside of the classroom and incorporating parental involvement. We believe the ‘Literacy at the Laundromat,’ along with our other informal literacy programs, will inspire more families to support and encourage their student reader,” said Vogelmann.
Phillip Vance, manager of Splash n’ Dash at 7770 Cincinnati Dayton Road at the Tylersville Road intersection, was glad to lend space to the new literacy program.
“It’s great and it provides an opportunity for children to improve their reading skills. Otherwise they sit around here with nothing else to do while their parents do the laundry,” said Vance.
“They (children) really enjoy the program,” he said.
“And we also love it because it tones them down quite a bit while they are here,” said Vance with a laugh. “They are not running around.”