Simple Things Principals Can Do to Help All Children Read Well

Schools play a pivotal role in helping young children learn how to read. This collection of tips will help administrators, teachers, and other school staff members set children on the path to reading.

Encourage your teachers to work together to teach reading and writing across all the subjects.

Encourage them to develop interdisciplinary courses. Provide opportunities for special educators to share with general educators effective strategies for working with students who have learning challenges. Introduce challenging reading and writing activities and provide technology to engage all students.

Offer extended learning time for students after school and in the summer to increase reading opportunities.

Keep your school open beyond regular school hours and in the summer as a community learning center. Organize volunteer reading partners to come in during those times and read with your students. Request assistance from your school district's special education office to provide training for volunteers working with students who have learning challenges.

Establish a family literacy program.

Provide literacy, parenting, and early childhood education programs for language-minority families and other families with literacy needs and their children. Devote a PTA meeting to how to become a reading tutor and to inform parents of effective methods of reading with their children. Send home information about these programs in the family's native language, where necessary.

Implement systematic and routine homework schedules.

Help families know what to expect of their children regularly and how to monitor assignments. Ensure that all teachers regularly assign challenging homework. Develop and send home a sheet of suggestions for families about how to help their children with their schoolwork.

Provide high quality staff development in second-language acquisition and bilingualism.

Students with limited English proficiency experience greater success in school when their teachers understand the role of the first language in literacy learning. Encourage teachers to become familiar with the native language of their students.

Excerpted from: Simple Things You Can Do to Help All Children Read Well and Independently By the End of Third Grade (1997) U.S. Department of Education


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"When I say to a parent, "read to a child", I don't want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate. " — Mem Fox