“The research is clear: if children cannot read proficiently by the end of third grade, they face daunting hurdles to success in school and beyond. Third grade marks a pivot point in reading. Reading is the ‘Open, Sesame’ for acquiring knowledge: Learn to read, and you can read to learn just about anything. … But learning to read is a complex matter that begins long before a child starts school. In fact, researchers now know that the foundation for reading lies in the oral language children are exposed to and develop in the first three years of life.” – (Hart & Risley, 1995)
Elementary school (K-6) is the place where academic foundations are laid for all children. Learners are introduced to mathematical concepts, scientific hypotheses, as well the place history plays in the formation our society. Of all the academic areas learners are exposed to, a focus on reading provides learners with a foundation that becomes the springboard for success in science, math, and history.
Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School is fortunate enough to have parents/guardians who have a clear understanding of the value of their children becoming proficient readers as early as possible. Many of our parent volunteers have taken on the responsibility of helping our school have a library that is accessible to all learners at every grade level, with an understanding and appreciation for the books that are available. Our parent volunteers have taken the time to instruct our learners on how to check out books that they want to read.
In addition to our library being accessible to all learners, our school curriculum has a strong foundation built on our learners reading every day. We use a reading system called CAFÉ. The letters in CAFÉ stand for the following reading skills that must be developed in order for a child to be considered a proficient reader:
- C = Comprehension
- A = Accuracy
- F = Fluency
- E = Expand vocabulary
Finally, having a great school library system as well as a strong reading program in all of our classrooms is extremely important. However, one very important factor centers around the amount of reading our learners do outside of school, during weekends and holidays. Since our learners do not receive homework, it is incumbent upon families to establish a strong reading program at home. We encourage you to encourage your child at least 20-30 minutes a day, depending on grade level. We also encourage you to read to your child as well. Please feel free to ask your child’s facilitator about any books she would recommend they read.
Frederick A. Birkett, Ed.M
Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School Director