As parents, we all want what is best for our children. Whether it is getting them involved in sports or community activities, or just making sure they brush their teeth, we strive to put our children on the path to success.

One of the most important ways parents can support their children is by helping them to build literacy skills early in life. Learning to read is one of the most important phases in a child’s education. The ability to read is a significant predictor of success in school and in life. That is why Mississippi adopted the Literacy-Based Promotion Act to provide strong support in the early grades for young students and their families.

Starting in the 2018-19 school year, 3rd grade students must score at level 3 or higher on the reading portion of the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP) English Language Arts test to qualify for promotion to 4th grade – a higher benchmark than in previous years. Parent involvement is also critical to students’ success.

There are many ways that parents can help their children build and strengthen their reading skills. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Read with your child at least 20 minutes each day. Consistent practice goes a long way!
  • Talk about letters and sounds. Help your child learn the names of the letters and the sounds the letters make.
  • Sing rhyming songs, read rhyming books, and say tongue twisters with your child. This helps them learn new sounds in words.
  • Talk to your child. Use trips to the grocery store, dinnertime chats, and driving in the car as a time to introduce new words and practice their speaking skills.
  • Choose the right books that interest your child. Make sure the books your child is reading are just challenging enough to help them learn—not too hard and not too easy. Ask your child’s teacher or a librarian for help with this!
  • Make sure books and other reading materials are around. Your child will be more likely to pick up a book and read if books are easy to find.

When parents are involved, and show that reading is important and fun, their children benefit. And, it’s a great way to spend time together and to prepare for a successful future. Let’s all pick up a book today and read with our children.

Dr. Kymyona Burk is the state literacy director at the Mississippi Department of Education. Additional information about the importance of literacy can be found at http://strongreadersms.com/.

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