School district challenges parents to put down phones, spend more time with children

School district challenges parents to put down phones, spend more time with children

Kids across the Lowcountry are anxious for spring break to start. While they might be looking forward to some time out of the classroom, Charleston County School District doesn't want the learning to stop.

District officials are encouraging parents to take more time out of their busy schedules for uninterrupted conversations with their kids.

They've launched the "30 million word gap challenge" for local families in Head Start, a federally funded program for students from lower income households.

The "30 million word gap" concept comes from a nationally recognized study out of Rice University. It found that children who grow up in poverty come to school having heard 30 million fewer words than their classmates from middle or upper-class homes.

Education experts say this puts children from lower income families at a disadvantage for learning in the classroom.

The Charleston County School District challenge is using the slogan "Drop the line, embrace their minds." They're urging parents to make small changes to their daily routine, put away the electronics and find time to talk with their children. For some families, this means having more thoughtful conversations on the car ride to and from school.

"She comes home everyday telling me about the new things that she learns," said Jovanna Stevens.

Jovanna Stevens' five year old daughter, Jayuanna, is in Pre-K at Midland Park Elementary in North Charleston.

The Stevens are one of several hundred families who have signed up for the challenge.

"I'm there 100 percent, it's very important to me," said Stevens. "I feel that education is number one, no matter what."

Stevens says she's been taking extra time to read and talk to her daughter and is already seeing it as a success.

"Big difference - the communication is a lot easier for us and we just talk more," said Stevens.

Currently, Charleston County School District is providing the "30 million word gap challenge" for families in Head Start. They hope to expand the challenge to all families next fall.

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