For the past two weeks, KSEE24 and First Five Fresno County have teamed up for a series called Family Focus: Lifecycle of Literacy.
We started with the benefits of reading to baby in the womb, at birth, toddlers, preschool and kindergarteners. Lastly, we're exploring how early literacy pays off for first and third graders.
"Penguins regurgitate to their children," Macy is a first grader at Pyle Elementary in Fresno reading from her journal. She and her classmates are already reading and comparing, writing journals, and critical thinking.
"I'm amazed everyday. We have words like regurgitate or interaction. Our big idea right now is 'change is inevitable.' That's a lot of grasping for a first grader," said their first grade teacher Lori Kelly.
She said studies have shown students are perfectly able to perform at higher standards. So the bar has been raised.
"We want to create career ready graduates and what we were doing before wasn't working for everybody," said Kelly.
First and second grade is where they're getting that foundation for critical thinking in third grade. And third grade is where they're getting students ready for the real world.
"What year are you going to graduate from high school?" Pyle Third Grade teacher Michelle Papi asked her classrom and in unsisom they screamed out, "2023!"
In fact, these Pyle third graders have already started thinking about life after high school.
"Go to college or go to a career," answered one student when asked his plans after high school graduation.
Papi said these early conversations help them realize the importance of education, which is why in third grade they move from fiction to reality.
"Reading non-fiction text, pulling out main ideas and details and then being able to put that in print," Papi explained is just part of curriculum.
Experts say the learning needs to continue outside the classroom.
"I have my kids make grocery lists for me as I'm making dinner," said Dr. Martille Elias, Program Director of Fresno Pacific University's Reading & Language Department.
Lists, reading aloud, even writing letters are all things experts say can help a student learn at home outside a structured setting.
"All of those things are literacy experiences that help them realize reading and writing has a purpose," said Elias.
Copyright 2014 cbs47.tv Nexstar Broadcasting, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.