Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Nemours BrightStart! program?

Nemours BrightStart!, the first program of its kind in the nation, researches, develops and offers evidence-based tools targeting young children at risk for reading failure. In addition to direct services for young children, Nemours BrightStart! helps parents, educators, health care professionals and community leaders understand key concepts and actions needed to promote reading success for all children through a variety of specific tools, services and resources.

What are Nemours BrightStart!'s mission, vision and goal?

Our mission is to provide leadership, advocacy, research and services to reduce the effects of dyslexia and reading failure.
Our vision is freedom from the disabling effects of dyslexia and reading failure. And our goal is to effectively instruct children at the very beginning of their reading journey to ensure long-term reading success and to create the capacity in others to do this same work.

How did Nemours BrightStart! develop?

Formed in 2005 at the request of the Nemours Board of Directors, Nemours BrightStart! was created in Jacksonville, Fla., to provide our screening and instruction services in child care and preschool sites throughout Duval County, Fla.

Why does Nemours, a children's health system, care about reading failure?

Reading failure often disrupts child development in academic, cognitive, social, behavioral and emotional domains; therefore, it is a major child health issue.

Children with medical problems may struggle with reading, either due to specific learning problems caused by the medical condition, frequent school absence, or both. Parents also often reach out to their pediatricians for help when their child struggles in school.

For all these reasons, Nemours has employed its legacy of scientific and clinical expertise to pioneer early identification and proactive intervention to put children on the road to reading success.

What has the Nemours BrightStart! research found?

Nemours BrightStart! has proven that the foundation for successful reading is built in the early years, when a young child's brain is highly responsive, adaptable and attuned to learning language.

Our own reading readiness supplemental curriculum has been tested for several years with scientific studies of the highest research standards, and every year results have shown that this program closes the reading readiness gap for the majority of at-risk participants.

Our longitudinal research is showing that these results are sustained from kindergarten through third grade, making our program appear to be a powerful "inoculation" against future reading failure.  

What does Nemours BrightStart! include?

The Nemours BrightStart! multifaceted approach includes:

  • online Preschool Reading Screener
  • early educational instruction
  • professional development for educators and
    health professionals
  • health care provider programs
  • parent education
  • research and evaluation
  • advocacy and policy work
Why are early literacy programs important?

Beginning developmentally appropriate literacy programs at an early age is the most effective preventive action against reading failure. In fact, if a child is not reading at grade level by the end of first grade, that child has about a 10 percent chance of reading at grade level by the end of fourth grade. Simply put, younger poor readers usually become older poor readers, and early instruction is needed to address this longstanding problem.

Who should receive early literacy screening?

All prekindergarteners and kindergarteners should be screened on reading readiness skills.

In what settings can children receive the screening and instruction?

Screenings can be conducted in child care settings, schools, libraries, doctors' offices and other community locations. To date, instruction has been provided in child care settings, schools and through private tutors. For screened children who cannot receive instruction through their schools, we offer tools and resources to help parents work directly with their children. 

What are the warning signs for reading failure in young children?

Some "at-risk" warning signs in children 4 to 6 years old include difficulty with:

  • identifying letter names and sounds
  • reading and writing his/her name
  • rhyming
  • separating and blending word parts
  • reading several words
What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a specific type of learning disability, generally diagnosed when a child is about 8 years old or in the third grade. Dyslexia is fundamentally a language-based disorder. People with dyslexia have difficulty analyzing and blending letter sounds within words, and building a large bank of easily recognized words.

What causes dyslexia?

Neuroscientists have identified regions of the brain that develop and function differently in people with dyslexia. It is not caused by brain damage, and is also not caused by vision problems, a major misconception being that the eyes or brain "flip" letters. (Reversed or flipped letters and words can be a part of dyslexia, but not in
every case.)

Is dyslexia linked with below-average IQ?

No. Dyslexia is not the result of low intelligence. Children with dyslexia are intelligent and often show gifts in art, athletics, music and science. Generally, dyslexia means a bright mind that learns differently.

Who is most at risk for dyslexia?

While reading problems occur across all races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic levels, and in all written languages, there are specific risk factors:

  • Family history of dyslexia or other learning disabilities.
  • Low parental reading level.
  • Preschool language disorder, especially language
    comprehension disorder.
  • Attentional, behavioral or emotional problems that affect learning.
  • Poverty and attendance at schools with a high poverty rate.
Can dyslexia be cured?

Dyslexia is not a disease; therefore, it cannot be "cured." Nemours BrightStart! is designed to help young children with early literacy difficulties respond and adapt, preventing a possible future of dyslexia.

What has been the impact of Nemours BrightStart!?

To date:
  • Tens of thousands of prekindergarteners have been screened on early
    literacy skills, with thousands of at-risk children receiving Nemours
    BrightStart! intensive educational instruction.
  • Two-thirds of participating at-risk children who have received the Nemours BrightStart! educational instruction have moved to the typical range in their reading readiness skills.
  • At-risk prekindergarteners completing the Nemours BrightStart! intensive educational instruction gain an average of 114 percent on their reading
    readiness scores.
  • The majority of the at-risk children who have received Nemours BrightStart! instruction continue to display strong reading performance into the early elementary school grades. 
  • Program results have been presented in peer-reviewed presentations and scientific/academic journals.