All in – to support young readers

The city wants children to reach literacy by 4th grade – a critical milestone. The effort starts way before age 5.

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Philadelphia has embarked on an ambitious campaign, called READ! by 4th, to ensure that all city students are able to read by the time they enter 4th grade, which numerous studies have shown is a make-or-break point for future success.

Students who reach this benchmark are more likely to do well in school and graduate. Students who don’t are more likely to tune out and drop out.

In this edition, we look at teaching reading in schools and at home and highlight where families can find resources.

Although there are many places parents can turn for help, dealing with struggling readers is not easy. It can become a full-time job – not something all parents can do. Families who have found positive solutions say that even well-resourced schools may be ill-equipped and resistant to meet the needs of students with dyslexia and other reading challenges. They advise parents to be relentless advocates and demand diagnoses. Their stories highlight how critical it is for schools to have the resources and personnel to help their students.

Schools here are revamping reading curricula. Many of the District’s lowest-performing schools now have retrained teachers and classroom libraries that are tailored to student reading levels.

The medical community is raising awareness of children’s health issues – how vision problems or asthma can affect learning. It is also emphasizing the importance of mentally stimulating activities for children from the earliest ages. We offer tips on what parents can do with their children during everyday activities to help them become better readers.