Read Well, Think Well
The Read Well, Think Well Initiative has set out a bold vision - all children in Calgary are reading well by the end of grade 3.
Reading is at the heart of all learning. Strong reading skills are more important than ever as the vast majority of jobs require a high-level reading level as well as strong thinking skills.
Every year at least a quarter of young children are left behind in their reading. Many of them are poor – children from low income families are 10 times more likely to experience reading difficulties!
For many low-income children, learning barriers emerge early. The gap widens when children don’t have access to book or language-rich homes or high-quality learning experiences. Poverty is a life experience that causes the kind of stress that interferes with how parents and children interact with each other—parents can’t be as responsive as they need to be to their children, and that undermines their efforts to create the kind of positive learning environment. In addition, many parents themselves have limited literacy skills.
The Read Well, Think Well Initiative is founded on the idea that low-income parents are just eager to support their children’s reading success as middle and high-income parents. They may not have $60 to $100 to spend per tutoring session but are eager to learn what they can do at home to support their children succeed at school.
The Read Well, Think Well Initiative has two different approaches – it provides family learning-based reading intervention in a small group setting (WordPlay Program) and individually (Learning Starts at Home Program).
Schools and teachers do their best to help low-income children succeed in the classroom, but they cannot do it alone. Supporting family learning is part of the answer. Parents are the first, most significant and most enduring influence in putting children on the path of learning success. If we want to get children who struggle on track with reading, we need to make sure that their parents are fully engaged in their learning every day.
Poverty shouldn’t be seen as an excuse to say that low-income children can’t succeed. They can.
Who Will it Benefit?
100 low-income families with struggling readers ages 5-8 (grades K-3) will benefit from the Read Well, Think Well Initiative.
Reading and financial disadvantage are closely linked. For adults, struggling to read is often the root cause of unemployment and low pay. Children whose parents have limited literacy skills are more likely to experience reading difficulties themselves - and this has the potential to be devastating for their future lives.
The Initiative will yield dual outcomes - children will receive remedial instruction at the very beginning of their reading journey and parent will learn key concepts and actions needed to promote reading success for their children.