Literacy plays a pivotal role in student success. The ability to read is the academic lever that determines a student’s future and is strongly correlated to achievement in all other areas. However, a lack of resources and investment in literacy creates a barrier for student achievement that cannot easily be overcome. This is where we step in as advocates for resources that students and families need to create a clear path to success.
Students spend the early stages of life, up until second grade, learning to read and facing the challenges that that alone presents. In third grade, students are expected to read more independently for comprehension. Students who are not able to read on grade level when expected will ultimately have more difficulty with course material than their literate peers. With limited time for reading mastery in the classroom, illiteracy is not immediately addressed and silently becomes more than a barrier, but a solid rock wall with achievement on the other side.
Based on my experience in the classroom, promoting literacy (and tackling illiteracy) takes time and effort. It is a seed must be nurtured by parents and guardians at home, supported at the school level, and embedded in our values. Families can support literacy efforts at home and in school in several ways:
- Giving students time to read at home that is outside of instructional time
- Supporting and advocating for book fairs at their school
- Taking students to the library and allowing them to self-select books
- Attending a read-aloud or reading program hosted at the library or school
- Modeling reading techniques
- Watching read-aloud videos on YouTube
We cannot always assume that time and resources are available, though, and the reality is that they often are not. Parents in our community have a tremendously hard job to do without much support. As advocates, we can provide community support by providing access to tutoring, references, transportation, and cost-free options and challenging our leaders to invest in our children’s futures. If we are serious about improving student achievement outcomes, we should all be advocating for investments that will benefit our children.
Parents and the communities they live in are the primary influences on children’s lives, especially education. Even if we are not the parent, we are still the community. Let’s make sure that our communities and families have the tools they need to build a foundation for student success.
Elaina Ross is currently in her sixth year as an educator in Memphis, TN. Elaina dedicated her first five years to teaching in the Hickory Hill and Westwood communities, and currently serves as an Instructional Coach for K-5 educators. She has a master’s degree in education from Christian Brothers University.