National Read Across America Day on March 2 is an awareness day mainly focusing on motivating children to read as it improves their performance in school. But what does reading awareness mean to students year-round, especially if some have certain learning difficulties?

“Some common issues that we currently see are students who have gaps in foundational skills, and need strategic support,” said Erin Kinsella, IPS district reading specialist. “Most of our students that were flagged for characteristics for dyslexia struggled with phonemic awareness or lacked decoding strategies.”

Kinsella serves as a resource to administrators and schools in areas of reading instruction in order to maximize reading achievement for our students in the district. She provides leadership in the development and implementation of interventions and reading supports as well as direct coaching supports to our schools.

Kinsella also assists school leaders and educators across the district with the implementation of screening for risk factors of dyslexia and interventions.

IPS uses data to support instruction as well as collaboration with district leadership to establish approved interventions for students who have challenges with foundational skills. Those are the skills in which a student should be proficient and master in order to become fluent readers.

Principals, district personnel, instructional coaches and teachers all have access to the guidelines and are provided frequent communication to ensure effective support across all IPS schools. There is also information for schools to share with families, including notification that their child will receive targeted intervention supports.

“I am most proud of the collaboration between curriculum leaders including district coaches, principals, and their [dyslexia] designees for the work that is being done for our students across this district,” said Kinsella. “Educators in each and every building are working together for their students throughout our K–12 community and together we are growing readers.”

To ensure equity, there are multiple district leaders who collaborate in support of meeting the needs of all learners in our schools. Kinsella works with IPS district ELA coaches, data strategists, school psychologists, district ESL coaches, and top curriculum leaders to choose the best programs and resources available for support and interventions.

In addition to the support provided in school, parents can explore a variety of activities and events to spark interest in students of all ages and skill levels. Kinsella notes a few tips for all families:

  • Read together aloud as a family and let your child choose the book. Families can ask questions and expand upon the reading as they share the stories together.
  • Have your child predict the next word in the book, especially if it is a repetitive phrase or rhyming word.
  • Point to the words in the book as you are reading aloud.
  • Let your children choose stories that have characters in which they see a connection along with a storyline that resonates with them.
  • Find books at the library that match the theme or topic being studied by your child. Infusing home with school allows the child to learn the topic from multiple perspectives, creating a deeper understanding. This will also support the home/school connection!
  • Encourage activities that require reading such as cooking (reading a recipe), constructing a kite (reading directions), or identifying a bird’s nest or a shell at the beach (reading a reference book).

Read Across America Day, also known as Dr. Seuss Day, is a yearly observance in the United States. It was inaugurated by the National Education Association on March 2, 1998.