The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a regional movement in Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties to help children from birth through 3rd grade, especially those from asset-limited families, succeed in life by ensuring they read on grade level.
Part of a nationwide movement of more than 390 communities, the Suncoast region focuses on addressing the most common issues and obstacles that impact a child’s ability to read:
— School Readiness
— Summer Learning
— Family Engagement
— Health Determinants
In each county, dozens of nonprofits, schools, community organizations, agencies, and individuals are doing meaningful work related to the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. While there are unique approaches to tackle each county’s needs and challenges, there is much to learn and share together. There are boundary-spanning activities and approaches that benefit all four counties as each works toward helping children succeed in school and in life.
Realizing there is no single policy, program, or practice that will change the trajectory of children from asset-limited families, each sector brings its assets to this community movement by working with people, businesses, nonprofits, government (including schools and libraries), and the media. Building relationships around shared values and aspirations require a common language and shared data. Building this movement will take time, patience, focus, and resources to create opportunities for all.
If you have concerns about your child’s progress or comprehension, it would be best to voice your questions to their teacher or pediatrician, who can further evaluate their abilities and explain the various developmental growth stages. We encourage you to remember that each child learns and grows at their own pace, and just like adults, they each have unique preferences, skills, and habits that will most likely continue to change over time. It may take some creative brainstorming to find a good routine that works for your family and a set of books that your children can enjoy and read.
If your child does not qualify for THIS BOOK IS COOL!, rest assured they can still access SCGLR’s full library of webisodes and activity guides featured on the website.
You may also find additional support from programs at your local library. Getting your library card is the first step to unlocking a new world of books!
Another tip we have is to keep the FIVE FINGER RULE in mind. If you notice your child is struggling with reading, they may not have selected an appropriate book for their current level. Next time, ask them to raise a finger each time they come across a word they don’t know on a page. If they raise all five fingers, it might not be the best fit, which further contributes to frustration and disinterest.
Be a good reading role model! Find a book for yourself and try to read in a visible spot for 15-20 minutes a day. Monkey-see, monkey-do! Inspire your family to join in and build the habit into your daily lives as both a brain-building and bonding opportunity.
Family engagement is a collective responsibility in which schools and other community groups and organizations are committed to reaching out to engage families in meaningful ways, and in which families are committed to actively supporting their children’s learning and development. Statistics show that family engagement in reading – including reading aloud to children – has a major impact on reading success. SCGLR offers programs that are free to help families engage with their children and promote reading and learning success. (See programs tab for current offerings)
Research shows that proficiency in reading by the end of third grade enables students to shift from learning to read to reading to learn. Many students who do not reach this important milestone falter in the later grades. Although schools must be accountable for helping children achieve, schools cannot succeed alone. Engaged communities come together to remove barriers, expand opportunities, and assist families in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities in assuring student success.
Many parents and caregivers are unsure how to help their children learn. In our 4-county region, people, businesses, nonprofits, government, and the media are working together to provide resources and programs so families can acquire the support they need to help their children learn. The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading provides opportunities for families to discover how to encourage their children to achieve the success they deserve. (See programs tab for current offerings)
While there is an emphasis on early childhood learning, SCGLR provides workshops and programs that can be applied to people of all ages. For example, Mind in the Making offers the 7 Essential Life Skills training to help adults understand and encourage executive function-based skills we all need to thrive. The Power of Presence workshop explores the seven presences — Mind, Heart, Faith, Courage, Financial Freedom, Values, and Connectedness that helps parents, caregivers, or any adult gain insight into improving their ability to be present.
Parents and caregivers may often feel they do not have the time to engage with their children due to work and life responsibilities. SCGLR provides programs and workshops that do not require a large time commitment; often, these events are held in the evenings and/or weekends to accommodate parents. Many programs are also offered in the summer when parents may feel they have more time to include engagement activities into their regular schedule. Research shows that children thrive from high-quality time with parents and caregivers. In other words, it isn’t about endless hours of time—it’s about how you choose to spend that time that truly matters.
Every interaction with a child can be a brain-building moment. Providing a word-rich environment to our youngest children creates connections with words and sounds and things! Sharing a book with a child (letting them set the pace of the book, asking questions, pointing out funny pictures) can foster a lifelong love of reading. Talking about what you see and think also helps children become more observant and curious. The more you engage with a child, the greater difference you will make!
When the dangers surrounding the pandemic have subsided, there will be many opportunities to get involved. To stay informed about volunteer opportunities, we encourage you to sign up for the SCGLR newsletter and visit the website’s volunteer section to find out about events scheduled near you.