Preschoolers from around Fort Wayne aimed to set a Guinness World Record title Thursday morning to focus attention on the importance of vocabulary.
The record-breaking goal was to host the world’s largest vocabulary lesson featuring a reading of “Mr. Tiger Goes Wild,” a book by Caldecott Honoree Peter Brown. The Fort Wayne children were 4,000 in more than 35 cities across 15 states who participated in the simultaneous vocabulary lesson hosted by PNC in support of its Grow Up Great initiative.
While it may not seem common for kids to get excited about reading, the interactive book included fun elements such as a paper tiger mask for kids to use as they read along with the teacher, screaming “ROAR!” whenever the book prompted them on the page.
Not only was the event fun for the kids, it was also epitomized PNC’s mission to support early childhood development and community projects.
Doug Wood, PNC regional president for northern Indiana, said vocabulary is considered the building block of education and has become a focus within early learning. He said one of the first indicators of a child’s future success is the number of words he or she hears before kindergarten. He even pointed to a study that found an at-risk child hears 30 million fewer words by age 4 than a child from a more well-to-do household.
“The reason we put our resources behind early childhood education is for two reasons. First of all, we have noticed through study after study that children who are behind by the time they get to kindergarten really never catch up or rarely catch up. You can look at demographic studies and see that kids that don’t have the resources to read at home or read early on can be behind. We put a lot of emphasis on early childhood education,” Wood said.
Since 2004, Grow Up Great – a $350 million, multi-year, bilingual initiative – helps prepare children for success in school and life. With a focus on underserved children, Grow Up Great hopes to provide leadership, advocacy, funding, volunteers and educational resources to help families, educators and community partners provide opportunities that enhance children’s learning and development.
In addition to the reading, each child also received a copy of the book and “Words Are Here, There, and Everywhere,” a new multimedia educational kit created by Sesame Workshop for PNC as part of a continuing partnership.
“It’s a very engaging story. This all is supposed to emphasize that learning is fun, and reading is fun,” Wood said.