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Back-to-School Authority: State educators push children to read at an earlier age

<i>WFSB</i><br/>Every day
Every day

By Roger Susanin

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    MIDDLETOWN, Connecticut (WFSB) — Education leaders in Connecticut have set a lofty goal, looking to teach children to read earlier than ever.

Teachers will have some new tools to try to make it happen…but there are also things parents can do to help.

Every day, Middletown mom Nicole Charles reads to four her children who are all between the ages of 2 and 7.

Story time can take quite a while because the kids often stop to ask questions and make observations.

However, Charles said she finds the time because, as a teacher and a mom, she knows story time will set her kids up for success down the road.

She also understands not every parent is lucky enough to be in the same position.

“Spending this time isn’t as easy for some people as it is for others. So, I think that is something that needs to be addressed,” Charles said.

That’s why she is so excited that the state is ready to spend major resources, nearly $13 million, on helping every child in Connecticut learn to read at an earlier age.

“Our future is at stake. There’s nothing more important right now,” said Fran Rabinowitz, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents.

She’s also a livelong champion of early literacy and believes the investment will be a game changer.

“We have the knowledge and skills to be able to teach every child to read,” Rabinowitz said.

She said right now, thousands of Connecticut kids still can’t read by the end of third grade, and that is simply unacceptable. She believes a new lofty goal is attainable in getting every child to read by the end of first grade.

“I know that’s a heavy lift, but there are ways to do it,” she said.

The investment will help the state build a new statewide reading success center where educators will create new standards in training for teachers and curriculum so that all preschool through third grade students receive the best instruction.

“I do believe that we have the ability now to share what we know about the science of reading,” Rabinowitz said.

Parents will play an important role too. Rabinowitz said parents should read to their kids as often as they can, enroll them in preschool early, and just get them talking about everything they encounter each day.

“It can be fun. You can teach kids the letters, you can teach kids the sounds, you can teach kids background knowledge and make it fun for them,” she explained.

Back in Middletown, Charles said she’s glad a new chapter is being written in Connecticut and hopes every child will one day be able to love reading the way her children do.

“I’m very happy to hear that the state of Connecticut is focusing on that, because I think it’s really important,” she said.

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