A look at other New York literacy programs

Few examples of ideas on table

As part of a series of “community conversations” about literacy this spring, the Schenectady County Public Library hosted people from around the state to explain programs aimed at lifting literacy for young kids. Here are a few examples of the ideas on the table:

Read to Succeed Buffalo:

  • Beginning a decade ago, this program focuses on developing common and effective literacy education beginning in licensed home-based child care providers and working through the early elementary grades, including with Head Start and elementary schools.
  • The organization sends tutors into city schools and runs an “Imagination Library”  that gives away books to kids throughout the year, focusing on increasing home libraries.
  • Under the banner of the “Experience Corps,” the program places over-50 volunteers in  schools for four hours a week. The volunteers participate in 25 hours of training.
  • The focus is on quality training and faithful  implementation of proven literacy education strategies, said Anne Ryan, executive director. “We need aligned coherent  programs that run from pre-k to third grade; we cannot afford to not be focused on pre-k, which happens to be one of the most important years,” Ryan said.

Read Alliance:

  • This New York City program is narrowly focused on literacy and mentoring, bringing high school students into elementary schools to read with young kids. 
  • The program relies on one-on-one mentors who during the school year spend 45 minutes working with elementary students at risk of falling behind. The sessions last about 45 minutes and happen inside the elementary schools.
  • The  high school mentors are key to the program, director Kelley Perkins said: “The fact they have this high school kid coming to sit with them, giving  them their undivided attention for 45 minutes, you would  think a pop star walked in these kids are so excited to see them.”
  • The tutors are trained with a nationally recognized program and collect data about student reading progress that is shared with schools and teachers. The tutors come from similar backgrounds as the younger students — some were once the mentees — and can also serve as models of success.

Parent-Child Home Program:

  • This decades-old program works in communities interested in developing a model of home visits for needy families in order to develop literacy skill and to give parents and guardians the tools and know-how to engage their kids in learning.
  • The parent-child program works with groups of stakeholders to develop community-based efforts along a similar method.
  • The home-visit model focuses on showing parents and guardians effective strategies for reading to their kids and engaging them in literacy-building activities; the families also receive books and educational games to use with their kids.  
  • Under this home-visit model, the trained family specialists visit a home twice a week for 30 minutes.Those visits go on for the two years before a child enters kindergarten.
  • “The parent is the child’s first teacher and the home is the child’s first classroom — there is no question about that,” director of training Michele Morrison said. “What happens in the home is critical not to the child’s school success but life success.”
  • The program’s research shows that students in the program are 50 percent less likely to be referred for special education and are 30 percent more likely to graduate from high school.

Other stories in this series

Categories: -News-, Schenectady County

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