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For parents and teachers

Back to School

Fall is on its way, and it's time for the school year to begin — and not just for kids, but for parents and teachers, too. Parents can help their young children become acclimated to the newness of school and ease their older kids back into familiar school-day routines. If you're a teacher — whether a novice or an old pro — Reading Rockets has ideas and resources to help you get ready for the best school year yet.

Back to School

Resources for parents and educators

Back-to-school night and beyond
Reading Rockets has gathered resources to share with parents as well as materials to help parents make the most of back-to-school night and set the tone for a successful school year.

Back-to-school tips for special education teachers
Our top 10 back-to-school tips for special education teachers emphasize communication, organization, and a focus on student success.

Back-to-school for principals and administrators
Browse these tips from principals on topics such as community-building, teacher motivation, professional development, parent involvement, and successful special events.

Parent involvement checklist
Does your school do a good job of reaching out to parents? Use this checklist to evaluate and improve parent-school partnerships.

Growing Readers newsletter for parents
These one-page briefs, in English and Spanish, tackle topics ranging from family literacy activities to what to do if you have concerns about your child's progress in school. Read online anytime or subscribe to receive future monthly editions. Teachers can include these briefs in their school or classroom newsletters.

Sound It Out: A Reading Rockets blog
Join Joanne Meier — reading researcher, writer, teacher, and mom — every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on best practices in teaching reading.

Children's books
Stories about autumn, school days, and new friends can help ease kids into the school year.

Books for Back to School

Just for parents

Who's Who at Your Child's School

Who's who at your child's school
There are many people at your child's school who are there to help your child learn, grow socially and emotionally, and navigate the school environment. You might want to keep this list handy all year long.

Open House: What does a good classroom look like?
Does your child's school host an Open House before school starts? Here are some thoughts on what to look for that can set the right tone for a great school year.

Listen and look at back-to-school night
Back-to-school night is a great opportunity for families to learn more about their child's school and teacher. Here are some signs to look for that indicate your child is in a place where good reading instruction can take place. (In English and Spanish)

Back-to-school tips for parents of children with special needs
Our Top 8 back-to-school tips for parents emphasize communication, organization, and staying up-to-date on special education news.

Easing back into school
Back-to-school is an exciting (and sometimes nervous!) time for students and parents. A few tips might help you and your child get off on the right foot.

Reading tips for parents
Download and print these one-page tip sheets available in English and 10 other languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, Haitian Creole, Hmong, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Navajo, and Vietnamese (currently available for pre-K through third grade). Tips for parents of babies and toddlers are available in English and Spanish.

Helping your child succeed in school
Ten things to do to help your child succeed at school. (In English and Spanish)

For families of English language learners
Visit our bilingual sister site, Colorín Colorado, for information on helping your child become a good reader and a successful student.

What's screening, differentiated instruction, and leveled text?
When the back-to-school bell starts ringing, parents often hear and read school-related terms that are unfamiliar to them. Here are three terms related to reading instruction that will give you a better understanding of what's happening in your child's classroom and what it all means for your young learner. (In English and Spanish)

New school year = rough transitions for some
"Back to school" has special meaning for Henry. Transitions are tough for him, so these first few weeks of getting adjusted are hard for everyone. I know things will eventually settle down, but I wish these this time of year could be easier. So many tantrums, so many tears. What can parents of struggling students do during these first few weeks of school?

Building a good relationship with your child's teacher
Visit our sister site, LD OnLine, for practical tips on fostering a sense of partnership with the teacher and administration to support your child's education.

Organization problems and the beginning of the school year
From our sister site, LD OnLine, learn how to help get your child with learning disabilities organized for school.

Lunchbox notes
Small notes tucked inside a lunchbox or bookbag can really bring a smile to your child's face. These printable notes, featuring artwork by well-known children's book illustrators, will encourage reading and remind your child that you are thinking of them!

Creating a welcoming, literacy-rich classroom

Literacy-Rich Classroom

Literacy-rich environments
The literacy-rich environment emphasizes the importance of speaking, reading, and writing in the learning of all students. This involves the selection of materials that will facilitate language and literacy opportunities; reflection and thought regarding classroom design; and intentional instruction and facilitation by teachers and staff.

Creating a classroom library
How do you create a classroom library that is both organized and enticing to young readers? One teacher illustrates how she set up her classroom library, including tips on acquiring books and materials, organizing the shelves, creating labels, and making it cozy.

Arranging your classroom
As a teacher, setting up your classroom is one of the most exciting parts of August! Where should the classroom library go? Where should the teacher desk go? How should the student desks be arranged?

Literacy centers: getting started
This lesson from ReadWriteThink gives teachers resources and guidance to establish four different centers: reading, listening, computer, and poetry.

A classroom layout for literacy centers
From Scholastic, tips on setting up classroom centers for listening, guided reading, poetry, writing, buddy reading, word study, and more. Here's a closer look at setting up a listening center.

Get off to a smart start
Use these resources from Scholastic to set up your classroom and build a strong community. Also, check out the best tips, strategies, and shortcuts from real teachers to help you get off to a great school year.

Creating a welcoming classroom for English language learners

Creating a welcoming classroom for English language learners
Your ELL students are adjusting to new ways of saying and doing things. As their teacher, you are an important bridge to this unknown culture and school system. Here are things you can do to help make your students' transitions as smooth as possible.

Reaching out to parents of English language learners
Some Hispanic parents may feel apprehensive about getting involved because of their limited English skills, lack of familiarity with mainstream culture and the public school system in the U.S., and other reasons. Here are some ways to reach out to parents of ELLs and increase their involvement with school.

About Stephen — and fresh starts
Educator Brenda Dyck shares the story of Stephen and ponders the importance of offering a fresh start to every student who enters her classroom.

Resources for first year teachers

The first year of teaching is tough. Everything is new, from the students to school procedures to new relationships with colleagues, administrators and parents — not to mention lesson planning and classroom management. These resources can help you navigate your first year:

First Year Teachers

First Year Teacher course
The First Year Teacher program is a self-paced professional development course for novice teachers developed by Reading Rockets. The 10 modules include video segments featuring teachers using effective strategies for teaching core reading skills including phonemic awareness, phonics, speech sounds, and text comprehension.

The 90-minute reading block
Research shows that students need at least 90 minutes of uninterrupted reading instruction per day in order for sufficient student reading development. Here's a chart that shows how to set up an effective 90-minute reading block.

Excellent reading teachers
Every child deserves excellent reading teachers — they make a profound difference in children's reading achievement and motivation to read.

First year teacher essay
Advice for new teachers followed by answers to your questions, from Reading Rockets.

English language learners and the five components of reading
Learn how you can play to the strengths and shore up the weaknesses of ELLs in each of these areas: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.

Resources for first year ELL teachers
Colorín Colorado has compiled this list to help new ELL teachers navigate their first year in the classroom. These resources may also be helpful for veteran teachers who are new to teaching ELLs.

Find more First Year Teacher resources from Reading Rockets.

Teaching tools

Target the Problem

Target the Problem

This tool helps parents and classroom teachers understand the specific problems a child may be having with reading. You'll find practical suggestions on what you (and kids themselves) can do to help students overcome or deal with their reading difficulties.

Teachers' Guide

Launching Young Readers Teacher's Guide

Created for preschool through second grade teachers, the Teachers' Guide lists typical reading achievements by grade level and suggests how teachers can foster the development of phonemic awareness, fluency, spelling, writing, and comprehension skills.

Reading 101

Teachers who know the art and science of teaching reading are able to provide skillful, effective reading instruction, and can help students who need it overcome obstacles to becoming readers. This section of this Reading Rockets provides detailed information on the components of effective reading instruction.

OSEP Toolkit: Put Reading First

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at the U.S. Department of Education has created a toolkit of best practices for teaching reading, based on the latest research, for kindergarten through Grade 3.

AFT Tools for Teachers

This online resource from the American Federation of Teachers provides resources to support professional growth and helps teachers do a better job every day.

NEA Back to School Guide

The National Education Association has compiled a list of their best articles and resources to help you — whether new or veteran — get ready for the fall semester.

Books about reading

The links to Amazon.com are provided for your convenience. A portion of your purchase helps support Reading Rockets. Thank you!

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