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    Strengthening Literacy Practices with Preschool Families
    Posted on 09/19/2019
    A family and teacher join together for a photo in the classroom.

    Strengthening Literacy Practices with Preschool Families

    Head Start classes at Roxhill Elementary started this week with songs, introductions, and a conversation about reading. Parents and children sat in a circle as Mrs. Toni Washington, a family educator, led them in a song.

    As she transitioned from child to child, students clapped along, said each other’s names, and greeted one another. The opening circle invited students and their families to feel welcome, especially as they transition into the first days of school. As families and children began to feel more at ease, Washington asked parents how and when they’re reading to their children.

    A teacher holds up a book while reading to students in a classroomRoxhill Elementary is one of many schools across the district that offers Head Start, a federally-funded child development program that educates and supports young children and their families. In Seattle Public Schools, the Early Learning Department offers full and half-day programs to help three and four-year-old students improve social competence and school readiness through commitments to a supportive learning environment.

    This year, the district is focused on early literacy through the Seattle Super Reader initiative. The initiative is a goal of Seattle Excellence, the district’s strategic plan, to have 100 percent of students reading by third grade. And, teachers like Washington are getting a head start with our youngest Seattle Super Readers.

    After introductions on the first day of classes, Washington encouraged families to continue reading to their children at home and provided some reading tips. Holding up "The Kissing Hand" by Audrey Penn, she drew everyone’s attention to the cover.

    "Sometimes I like to show the children a picture of the author and the illustrator, so they know that there’s a live person that wrote this book," Washington said to families.

    Washington read through the book and modeled best practices for parents to use with their children, including encouraging children to come up with their own story using the pictures and asking open-ended questions that foster their imagination.

    A mom holds her preschool-age daughter in a classroomSee below for Mrs. Washington’s reading tips when reading with your child:

    1. Ask open-ended questions, so students can explore their imagination
    2. Do a picture walk. Before you begin reading, ask students to tell you a story about the pictures they see using their own words.
    3. Ask follow-up questions that are open-ended.
    4. Acknowledge all answers. All answers are correct. If your child is responding, that’s great!

    Learn more about reading tips and strategies for families, tools, and suggested books on the Seattle Super Readers webpage.

    Read more about Seattle Excellence, the district’s Strategic Plan

    Learn more about the Head Start program at Seattle Public Schools.