F3’s Director of Education, Leiah Groom-Thomas, is working directly with Jaclyn Dynia, Senior Director of Innovation and Research at The Center for Childhood Innovation at SSEL, to provide a world class soccer and literacy program to its 2-5 year-old students.
The goal is to get young children excited about reading and soccer and familiarize them with the way our program is structured. Establishing a routine with young children will help facilitate learning on a range of emergent skills highlighted in the program, from executive functioning to alphabet knowledge to social-emotional development. Research indicates that early childhood (birth through age 5) is a critical time for all children, and our program utilizes targeted instruction and opportunities to apply this knowledge in practice, which reinforces learning.
The program is utilizing three soccer-related children's books throughout the six weeks of soccer and reading instruction sessions:
Dr. Dynia says, “The Soccer and Literacy program provides a unique experience for the littles at South Side Early Learning. This pilot project will inform the development of the curriculum, provide feasibility data for the program, and examine gains in children's language, literacy, and self-regulation skills.”
This is a natural fit for Final Third Foundation, as it already provides an early childhood soccer program each season for its recreational soccer program, Columbus East Soccer Association (CESA). The CESA Tiny Tots program has an underlying philosophy and curriculum. Each season coaches focus on children learning basic soccer skills using a variety of techniques to engage participants, which include using colors, numbers, and specific words and phrases.
Director of education, Leiah Groom-Thomas
Leiah Groom-Thomas, Director of Education for F3, will take the lead on developing and expanding F3's Soccer & Literacy Branch, which includes F3 Early Learning, programs, After-school and Summer programs, as well as a Train the Trainer Program. Leiah is in the final stages of receiving her PhD in Reading and Literacy in Early and Middle Childhood from The Ohio State University. Her research expertise includes young children’s literacy and comprehension skill development. Prior to pursuing her PhD, Leiah was a teacher at Grace Christian School in Blacklick, Ohio where she also assisted in organizing and operating various camp programs.
The objectives of the program are to foster a love for reading, generate enthusiasm for the game of soccer, and develop an understanding of teamwork and leadership.