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‘It starts at home’: Statewide literacy meetings give parents tools, resources to help children become stronger readers

Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 10:24 PM CST
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MOSS POINT, Miss. (WLOX) - The Mississippi Department of Education is taking action to help Mississippi students catch up in school. The department held eight meetings Monday across the state to discuss the importance of parental involvement when it comes to literacy for third graders.

At each meeting, families received an overview of the state law concerning literacy and assessment, as well as strategies that can be used at home to help students improve their reading skills.

One of those meetings was in Moss Point, where parents gathered to talk about what they are already doing and what else they can be doing to help their children become stronger readers.

“It starts at home,” said parent Myeshia Pugh. “You have to take your kid’s education serious.”

This is why Pugh said she made sure to attend Monday night’s meeting.

“I just wanted to get a little more insight on how I could use different techniques with my boys as far as reading goes, just taking an extra step to make sure he has the reading skills he needs to progress,” said Pugh.

Assistant State Literacy Coordinator Jill Hoda says family engagement is a critical component in helping students read.

“We want all families to understand the importance of working with teachers at school. It’s a partnership. Families are children’s first teachers,” Hoda said. “The second reason why we wanted to do it is we wanted to provide strategies for families to work on at home, and then third is to get out statewide testing information.”

Hoda said research shows students not reading on a grade level at the end of third grade are likely to struggle as they progress in school.

“When the Literacy-Based Promotion Act was passed in 2013, it was solely, purposefully targeted on kindergarten to third grade,” Hoda explained. “That’s when you learn to read. So as you transition after third grade, you’re reading to learn so it’s your foundational skills years.”

RELATED: Mississippi Department of Education Fall 2021 Kindergarten Readiness Assessment

The Literacy-Based Promotion Act is the law that put the third grade “Reading Gate” test into effect, making it necessary for a student to pass the statewide reading assessment in order to be promoted to fourth grade.

Here are some tips to help your child become a more successful reader:

  • Make reading part of every day, even for just a few minutes. Find the parts of your day where you can add time to read, and areas where you can keep books, so they are always available. Consider downloading a virtual library on your cell phone or tablet.
  • Talk about how the pictures in books and articles help you understand the text.
  • Show your child the cover page and ask for predictions regarding what the text will be about.
  • Listen to your child read.
  • Read the story using different voices for each of the characters. Have fun!
  • Choose an array of books that spark your child’s interests, such as sports, historical figures, music, mystery, or adventure.
  • Ask questions about text your child reads. What did you learn? What was the author’s purpose? What are the most important points?
  • Allow your child to ask questions about the story. Talk about familiar activities and objects.
  • Let your child retell the most important points of a text.
  • Encourage your child to reflect on what was read by writing a summary, journal entry, or short reflection.
  • Visit your local library often!

For more information and free grade-specific tips and activities to help your child become a stronger reader, visit the Strong Readers, Strong Leaders Mississippi website.

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