Wednesday, July 4, 2018


"Reading and writing, like everything else, improve with practice.  And, of course, if there are no young readers and writers, there will shortly be no older ones.  Literacy will be dead and democracy - which many believe goes hand in hand with it - will be dead as well."  
                                                                  --Margaret Atwood 

Learning to read and spell are basic skills.  We have a responsibility to ensure that all kids learn these skills.

According to The Learning Alliance, in the U.S. only 36% of kids are reading proficiently by the end of third grade.  The consequence is that fourth graders who are not reading at grade level are likely to become our country’s lowest income, least skilled, least productive, and most costly citizens.  I would add that they will also become our least healthy citizens.

I believe that literacy is directly related to health literacy.  Not being able to read is a factor in whether or not an individual will enjoy a lifelong passion for learning.   

In every Growing Healthy Kids cooking class, we bring a dry erase board and a big bag of colorful dry erase markers.  The kids are charged with writing and decorating the day’s menu board.  The rule is that everything must be spelled correctly by the end of the class. Kids flinch and make faces about the rule but it matters.  Eating fruits and vegetables matter.  Knowing how to spell them correctly does too.

Spelling has always been one of my “things”.  I joke that I was an editor in another life because of my passion for the written word.  When I write, my goal is that the finished document will have perfect spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  Growing up in California, my elementary school teachers emphasized spelling lessons. Class assignments were returned to students with corrections duly noted with the teacher’s red pencil circled around the offending misspelled word.  I am so grateful to my teachers and my parents for ensuring that I learned to read and spell.

Writing is a basic skill that must be learned early in life and practiced all of our lives. Spellcheck and autocorrect are not substitutes for the basic skill that comes from learning how to spell correctly.  Kids now expect their computers to make the corrections for them.  I see the results in every class we teach as kids struggle with spelling ingredients and reading food labels.

While health literacy is key to the mission of Growing Healthy Kids, so is knowing how to spell A-P-P-L-E.  

Have a blessed Fourth of July!

With love and gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.