by 2020 a dozen states or more will increase by at least 100% the number of low-income children reading proficiently at the end of third grade
Parents are the first and most important teachers in their children’s lives. Research shows that students are most successful academically and socially when their parents are involved and engaged in their learning. There is no set of policies that will replace parents’ role in their children’s education.
Improving parental engagement can help turn around the nation’s achievement problems. Study after study has demonstrated that reading well by the end of third grade is a critical milestone toward academic success, and ultimately, economic self-sufficiency.
Parents are critical to this equation, yet many do not recognize the important role they play. Funders and advocates can support parental engagement programs that seek to fill these gaps, reaching out to parents to help them become partners in their children’s education. The best programs go deeper than fliers sent home in backpacks or a single committee with a few active parents on board.
They provide two-way communication that encourages parents to interact and join teachers in the education process. Many of these programs collaborate with community and faith groups to promote social connections. They tailor their approaches to the community, recognizing cultural identities and building trust among parents. They send teachers to visit homes and explain the need for preschool or other interventions. They apply metrics to assess their success.
The message has been clear from countless sources: parents need to read to their children. But what parents really need to know is how they read makes all the difference in the development of their children’s vocabulary, comprehension and critical thinking skills. Research has shown that by reading with their children – not to them – parents greatly increase children’s language and literacy, developing the foundation they need to enter kindergarten as strong, confident learners on a path to grade level reading and so much more – for a lifetime. Plus, story time will be more fun as parents help their children become storytellers themselves.
To help parents learn key things to do at story time, the Rollins Center for Language & Learning at the Atlanta Speech School has partnered with the Junior League of Atlanta to produce the complimentary video READ. In just five minutes, parents learn what they can do to make books come alive for their children and increase their learning: Repeat Books, Engage and Enjoy, Ask Questions, and Do More. A two-page coaching sheet recaps the four steps, and provides more information on the research that is the basis for the READ strategy. This video is narrated by Justin Cook, a 2010 graduate of the Atlanta Speech School’s Wardlaw School, and is posted on the school’s website, atlantaspeechschool.org.