I am not a parent. Yet. But I have two great ones. I am sending this question into the ether as a teacher, a community member and a future parent. I remember very clearly my mother reading to me nightly. I remember the tickles, the engaging, dynamic readings, and as an art teacher mom’s specialty, all of the fun activities and crafts.
I am now a 12th grade English teacher at a public high school in NYC. I only get to see the end of a student’s secondary journey. I don’t get to see how they begin. One of the most heartbreaking experiences is when, as a 12th grade teacher, I see that some of my students are not prepared to leave high school because they have not developed even the most basic of literacy skills. They are reading and comprehending at elementary levels. Now obviously the school system has blame here.
How did these students get this far?
Why was there not an effective intervention?
As I prepare supported lessons and modified materials for these students, I can’t help but wonder, how far back do I need to go to get to the root of this problem?
Were these students always behind?
Did they begin their very first day of school behind?
I hate the idea of labeling students as “on grade-level” or “behind,” but it is an unfortunate reality. As a student progresses through the grades, the skills and content become more complex. It will become harder and harder for a student to access them if he/she does not have the foundation in literacy to do so.
Kids need to begin their learning journeys at home, before they are old enough for traditional schooling. I do not mean memorization or drills; I mean learning. Reading. Engaging with their creativity and their own minds. It is the responsibility of parents to read to their kids and to create learning experiences in the home so that a child has a foundation in literacy and a positive association with reading and learning. There is no way around it. And parents have the unique POWER to do it. Parents can shape their children in all different ways. Why not begin to shape their futures in the home, before they even step foot into a classroom?