Early Literacy

December, 2014

We are all aware of the importance reading skills can play in a student’s success in school.  Research shows that children’s reading skills can predict future success and readers who are skilled are more likely to be successful following their educational career. 

In light of this information, the state of Iowa has initiated the Early Literacy Implementation efforts, which is a part of a 2012 state law to improve literacy.  This initiative is not mandated for non-public schools such as our school.  However, even though this initiative has not been funded or mandated for our schools, much of what is required is deemed best practice in literacy development and has been the practice of the educational program in our school.  This letter will explain the steps our school has been and will continue to take to ensure quality literacy development for the students in our school.

Public schools are required to use a universal screener, or assessment, to determine student reading ability and pinpoint areas of weakness that can be targeted by teachers.  Our school has been using assessments for this same purpose for many years.  Students’ reading skills in comprehension (understanding what is being read), fluency (the rate of reading), accuracy (correct reading), and phonetics (correctly sounding out words) are targeted during these assessments.  The administrators and teachers use data from these assessments to design instruction that will assist students with skills they struggle with in order to strengthen reading skills.  Students are assessed multiple times throughout the year in order to monitor progress and note growth.

You may have heard that beginning in May of 2017 those students who are identified as substantially deficient in reading by the end of third grade will be required to attend a summer reading program and/or may be retained unless they qualify for exemptions.  This does not apply to our school.  We already offer summer programs to assist and challenge students in their learning.  The determination of promotion for students remains a decision made by the school and parents. 

It is important to remember that literacy development does not stop at third grade, but continues through a child’s educational career.  As partners with you in your child’s educational journey, don’t hesitate to contact the teacher and ask what kinds of activities you might engage in at home.  Many teachers have links on the school website to quality learning sites. You might consider these ideas as well, all free!

  • Play the Alphabet game in the car (either noting letters or things that begin with that letter).  Use other games like Memory, I Spy, and Twenty Questions with your children. 
  • Reading together is also a powerful practice with your child.  As you read, ask them questions such as:
    • What do you think will happen next?  Why do you think so?
    • Who is your favorite character?  (Don’t forget to share your favorite!)
    • What has been your favorite part of the story?
  • Use your child’s spelling words and challenge them to create sentences or stories with the words – this will develop their vocabulary.
  • Pull a cartoon from the paper and talk about why it is humorous.
  • Find out what novel is being used in class and read it too; then you can talk about it when you are together.
  • You might also check out resources from the Iowa Reading Research Center at http://www.iowareadingresearch.org/literacy-resources/teacher-family-resources

We work hard to use research-based techniques in the classroom in order to give your children the education that will help them be the person God has intended for them to become.  Our mission is to challenge students to develop their individual God given gifts for a life of service in God’s Kingdom.  We are proud to partner with you in this important work.