Although many schools are able to host some sort of digital learning sessions for students during COVID-19 related school closures, parents are increasingly taking on the role of teachers as they guide their children through remote learning. Unfortunately, parents often don’t know the best way to support their students’ vital learning skills, including literacy skills. Here are 4 strategies school leaders and teacher should use to empower parents during school closures:
Educate parents about the far-reaching importance of literacy skills.
School leaders and educators have known that literacy skills are important for more than just English classes, but we can’t assume all parents know this too. The first step to empowering parents to support their students’ literacy skills is helping them understand the long-term impact reading can have on their children’s lives.
Provide parents with a few key, easy-to-understand facts about the importance of literacy skills, such as:
- More than 85% of the school curriculum is taught through reading.
- One of the most important predictors of whether students will graduate high school is whether they can read proficiently by the end of third grade.
- Reading achievement rates are a predictor of school discipline, attendance, dropout, and juvenile crime rates.
You can also provide parents with recommendations of articles they can read for further information. However, it’s important to keep in mind that parents have limited time for lengthy articles, so offering a few key facts can help them quickly understand the big picture.
Suggest reading strategies that should become a part of students’ daily routines at home.
Even if parents understand the importance of their children’s reading abilities, they may feel overwhelmed and unsure how to best support students’ literacy skills. You can make reading at home feel more manageable by breaking literacy learning activities into three simple categories:
Reading Aloud or Independent Reading
The Children’s Reading Foundation recommends parents read with their children for at least twenty minutes each day. Even if children are older and know how to read independently, reading aloud to them offers many positive benefits, including:
- Building a wider vocabulary
- Establishing strong listening skills
- Developing social-emotional skills, such as showing empathy
Encourage parents to read with their children, or at least set aside independent reading time, and allow their kids to read books which interest them. These may include fiction books, nonfiction books, plays, comics, graphic novels, or other reading materials covering a wide range of topics.
Recommend some resources for parents who feel unsure about how to improve their students’ vocabulary. For example, vocabulary.com offers free vocabulary games for students at all levels. Reading Rockets has also assembled a list of vocabulary mobile apps available for download for free or at minimal cost.
Immediately following the daily reading time, encourage parents to have students write in a Reading Journal to reflect on what they’ve read. Students can write summaries of their reading materials, and also practice comprehension skills such as:
- Making predictions — What will happen next?
- Social-emotional learning — How did each character feel, and why?
- Applied learning — How does this book relate to your life?
Parents can even combine vocabulary instruction with writing practice by asking their students to identify new words they’ve learned in their reading, and have them practice writing new sentences or stories with these words.
Recommend resources for struggling readers.
Some parents may need more support for their students, especially if their child is falling behind with their reading level, has an IEP, or is an English Language Learner (ELL). Here are a few resources we recommend:
- org — This website offers free content and tools for students of all ages, including special support for SPED and ELL students.
- Reading Rockets’ Target the Problem! — This tool helps parents find out specific problems their child is struggling with when it comes to reading. It also offers advice for parents to support their student.
- Reading Rockets’ Recommended Literacy Apps — This list of apps is recommended for students with dyslexia or other learning disabilities which negatively impact their reading.
Schedule a call with the Center for Student Achievement Solutions.
CSAS offers targeted professional development support for principals, school district staff, and other school leaders who need help closing the achievement gap for all students. We’re extremely sensitive to the unique issues you’re facing due to coronavirus-related school closures, and we would be happy to learn more about your challenges through a free initial consultation call. You can also follow us on LinkedIn for regular updates about how to best support your staff, parents, and students during the pandemic.