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CNN Today

Study: Reading Early and Often Makes a Powerful Difference in Child's Education

Aired February 17, 2000 - 2:04 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: It is not unusual to see toddlers at the computer these days pointing and clicking. When it comes to learning, a new survey from the Education Department supports a head start.

Here's CNN parenting correspondent Pat Etheridge.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CLASS (singing): Sunday, Monday, Tuesday.

PAT ETHERIDGE, CNN PARENTING CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When it comes to getting ready for school, it seems it's never too early to start.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kids do want to learn. I mean, they enjoy it and they soak it up.

ETHERIDGE: A sweeping new national study, the first of its kind, shows that most children enter kindergarten with beginning reading skills, almost all know numbers and shapes, and most are healthy and have good social skills. The Department of Education focused on 22,000 kindergarten children in the classroom and at home. The message to parents: reading early and often makes a powerful difference.

RICHARD RILEY, EDUCATION SECRETARY: Increasing the amount of time that we read with children, that parents, other adults read to children and with children, making sure that they have that kind of development.

ETHERIDGE: The progress comes in part thanks to more parental awareness about early learning. Julie Clark was a stay-at-home mom who's created the popular video series "Baby Einstein."

JULIE CLARK, CREATOR, "BABY EINSTEIN": The most important thing you can do is spend time with your babies and spend time with your children, if it's reading or whatever it is, really work with your children one-on-one, and I think there's nothing more important than that. And stimulate, stimulate, stimulate.

ETHERIDGE: There's more advanced education in preschool, like the public pre-kindergarten program for four-year-olds in Georgia funded by the state lottery.

DEBORAH BASS, GEORGIA 4 K PROGRAM: We cannot wait for kindergarten or first. We've got to start at birth educating our children to get them ready.

ETHERIDGE (on camera): The report finds that gaps in early learning are linked to race, poverty and parents with less education, and these differences are already apparent by the time children enter kindergarten.

(voice-over): From here, the study will follow the same children through the fifth grade, revealing whether learning differences persist or change over time.

CLASS (singing): These are the days of the week, yes!

Pat Etheridge, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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