Children's literacy improves with more parental involvement

caines | 9/27/2012, 5:30 a.m.

Miami Times staff report The Childrens Trust and its community partners continue to advance the Read to Learn campaign by rolling out new programs and refocusing existing ones around literacy. Statistics show that one-third of Miami-Dades Children are not reading at grade level in the third grade, which is why Read to Learn is dedicated to making sure all of our children reach that critical benchmark by 2020. To achieve its ambitious goal, Read to Learn is partnering with numerous organizations, many of whom have been working to support and improve literacy for years. The wheel to improve literacy includes many spokes, and a host of initiatives are needed to grow better readers. One way to help young people improve as readers is to utilize technology to support literacy through web-based tools. In addition, M-DCPS has identified schools in need of academic improvement through its Education Transformation Office (ETO). As a result, neighborhoods where these schools are located will get special attention from The Childrens Trust. More literacy-focused summer camp experiences will be increased to reduce summer learning loss known as the summer slide. Additional resources also will be invested to improve the quality of child care programs that feed these designated schools through the Quality Counts initiative, operated by The Childrens Trust and the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe. Lastly, new place-based networks of service providers will be created to improve the reading skills of children in schools targeted by the ETO. On the horizon is a new program, Reading Pals, created jointly by The Childrens Movement of Florida and United Way of Greater Miami. It will engage, train and deploy volunteer reading coaches in 10 Florida regions. In Miami-Dade County, the local Reading Pals arm seeks to recruit 300 volunteers and will begin in early October at numerous private Pre-K and public school sites. It is funded by a three-year grant through Carol and Barney Barnett. Whats truly exciting about Reading Pals is that it will offer thousands of volunteers an opportunity to be at the forefront of ensuring that more children have a bright future and one that is built upon literacy, said Vance A. Aloupis, statewide coordinator of the Childrens Movement of Florida. The Read to Learn Book Club launched this past March is already delivering books monthly in English or Spanish to the homes of nearly 2,600 three-year-olds across the County, along with a parent guide specific to each book.