It’s hard to align busy teachers, specialists, and families when reading instructional plans are too complicated. Instead, put a strong basic plan in place that all stakeholders understand – and are supported to implement with fidelity. Then, with the input of trained staff and helpful families, note the missing pieces and fill in from there!
Here are the 4 basic parts that should be foundational to your literacy plan:
1. Trained teachers deliver daily systematic phonics-based instruction (20-30 mins, thru gr 2 or 3) with research-backed materials, so children learn to read individual words fluently (i.e., developmentally appropriate work around phonemic awareness, letter knowledge, letter-sound correspondence, decoding, etc.)
2. Specialists support children who struggle with phonics-based work. During quick, regular classroom assessments, teachers notice issues early and alert specialists, who work with students on their specific problems often enough to make a difference.
3. Teachers easily and regularly bring high-quality language- and knowledge-building experiences into children’s lives using a content-based reading curriculum. (This type of instruction builds crucial skills that have to accumulate over time and that students need to understand texts throughout the school years and beyond.)
4. Children get more high-quality language- and knowledge-building experiences beyond the school day because families and after-school providers have information and tools to playfully build these skills daily – through conversations and reading together. (Schools don’t have enough time with children to build all these skills during school hours. Use Abound or other tools to include untrained adults in realistic ways.)