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Every Child Reading: Tips for Schools

Schools that promote reading success make first grade count and step in immediately of there's a problem. Read about these and other ways principals can help every child in their schools become a reader.

Work in your communities

Form family literacy programs for new parents and care-givers so that all children will develop a strong language base and love for books before they attend preschool or kindergarten.

Provide strong early education

Set up high-quality preschool and kindergarten programs that not only introduce language skills and concepts of print, but also include diagnostic tests for early intervention.

Give teachers the most help possible

Provide teachers with new materials, tools, and strategies and extensive, ongoing, and meaningful professional development to use them.

Keep the size of class for reading instruction in the primary grades low

Studies show that elementary-age children do better when classes are 15 children to one teacher. Some schools reduce class size by providing additional certified teachers, tutors, librarians, special education teachers during reading periods only.

Make first grade count

First grade is a very important year in a student's schooling because it's when children usually define themselves then as good or poor readers.

Base reading instruction and text selection on solid research, using evidence, not ideology

Then provide explicit and systematic instruction in phonics and exposure to rich literature, both fiction and non fiction.

Write and read together

Creative and interpretive writing instruction that begins in kindergarten will help build reading competence and practice.

Test often on what the child is taught in class

Continuous assessment is the only way teachers will know how fast children learn and what individual needs must be met. Informal assessments can be daily, with regular testing every six to 10 weeks.

Step in immediately if there's a problem

For those children who experience problems, one-to-one tutoring with certified teachers or well-trained paraprofessionals is best.

Expect families to help

Children should spend additional time reading aloud and silently beyond what time permits during the school day. Ask parents to have children read aloud to them for 20 to 30 minutes daily in first grade. Help families choose materials that interest their child and that match his or her reading level.

Pull out all the stops in second grade and beyond

Give special attention to children who are not reading well at the end of first grade so that you can strengthen their language skills and reading ability.

References

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Endnotes

Endnotes

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Excerpted from: Every Child Reading: An Action Plan. (June, 1998). Learning First Alliance. Reprinted with permission.

Copyright © 1998 by the Learning First Alliance. Learning First Alliance member organizations include: American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Council of Chief State School Officers, Education Commission of the States, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of State Boards of Education, National Education Association, National Parent Teacher Association, National School Boards Association. For more information, see www.learningfirst.org

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