Ready Set Grow (RSG) Kids share book with 2-year-olds at Quincy Medical Group

Local third graders, under the guidance of music teacher, Sarah Guilford, wrote and illustrated a children’s book, called BINGO! BINGO is available at every public library in Adams County. Quincy Medical Group physicians give BINGO to all children during their two-year-old appointments. The book is fun for singing, talking, reading, and snuggling.

The RSG Kids started as a leadership and service project and blossomed to impact the whole community. Music teacher, Sarah Guilford, told a group of Adams School third-graders about a 2012 survey that showed 78 percent of the 3-year-olds entering Quincy’s Early Childhood and Family Center didn’t recognize any letters, and 80 percent didn’t recognize any numbers.

Guilford invited all Adams School third-graders to help do something about this — by taking part in a special project aimed at putting more books into the hands of babies and toddlers. More than a third of the school’s 90 third-graders, with permission from their parents, stepped forward to help as the project got under way in January.

The students involved in this project had to fill out “job applications” and were assigned specific tasks suited to their skills. Gabby, for instance, was asked to help with public relations. Others were tasked with other duties, such as writing, sketching, coloring or publishing.

Guilford said she decided to spearhead a reading project at Adams School after she heard about the “Ready. Set. Grow.” initiative being launched by United Way and the Regional Office of Education.

As a music teacher, Guilford felt it was important for the book to feature some sort of musical element. So she decided to base the book on a popular folk song about a dog named Bingo, “except we’ll add more verses to it,” she said. Each verse — written by students — requires children to sing and spell different animals’ names while touching the letters in each word.

“There’s tons of research out there about how music can be used as a learning tool,” Guilford said.

“When the child is looking at the letters in the word  Bingo and hearing them and touching them and singing them, they’re involving all different parts of the brain,” she said. “And the more connections your brain can make with something, the more likely it is to be remembered.”

United Way and Ready Set Grow are thrilled that Quincy Medical Group physicians will give BINGO to all children  during their two-year-old appointments. Pictured below are Dr. Tanya Mero, Sarah Guilford, Lexi and Dr. Tim Jacobs. 

“This book is a great tool for all young children learning to speak, learning to recognize letters, and learning to read,” said Dr. Mero with Quincy Medical Group. “Reading to children is so important, even as babies and this book enables parents to read with song.”

“The time to prepare children to learn is from the age of 0-3 years old,” said Dr. Katherine Collins, pediatrician at QMG. “From a medical standpoint, as parents sing, talk, and read to children, the brain cells create links among each other and become stronger. The opportunity for creating the foundation for reading begins in the earliest years. We hope to educate and begin this process from the start with parents.”

Guilford also feels the RSG Kid project will have other benefits besides helping preschoolers. She thinks it will help the third-graders as well. “We want to help our preschool readers, but we also want to help our third-graders become leaders and do something good for the community,”  said Sarah Guilford,  “Collaborating with members of the community to help prepare Quincy’s youngest citizens for kindergarten was an honor for my students.  The lessons my students learned from the project went far beyond reading, writing and speaking.  The greatest lessons they learned touched their hearts.   They experienced the joy that comes from caring and sharing.  They experienced the reward of confidence that comes from meeting and exceeding expectations, and they experienced the peace of fulfillment that comes when you make a positive difference in the lives of others.  Quincy Medical Group’s support of our project provides another life-lesson for my students.  It affirms the fact that the sky is the limit when you give your best in synergizing with others to make a difference in the lives of those around us.”

Lexi, the 2014 student project manager, commented, “I am really, really, really excited about this, because it’s just wonderful to see how much this book will be making a difference in every little kid’s life. It’s just awesome to me.  I never thought it would go this far.”