Today, one in every three K-3 students in Minnesota is struggling to read. That’s 100,000 kids—a staggering number. Even more staggering is that about 90 percent of a child’s brain development happens before the age of 5, and during the first few years of a child’s life more than 1 million neural connections are formed every second. So when traditional school learning doesn’t begin until age five or six, how might we reach children during these early stages of development to jump-start learning and help close the opportunity gap? Our solution: Reading Corps in Family Child Care.
“We put a stake in the ground 10 years ago that we wanted Reading Corps to reach every child in Minnesota that needed it,” explains Audrey Suker, CEO at ServeMinnesota. “You can imagine that if every child care provider in communities had access to this, the whole community would start to feel different.”
How It Works
Tutors travel between three Family Child Care sites a week, visiting two each morning, to provide around 90 minutes of early literacy interventions. Working with children anywhere from infancy to age five, tutors conduct whole group, small group, and one-on-one sessions based on an adapted PreK model. Tutors also partner with the provider to lead instruction, and they work closely together to support strong student outcomes. Providers also participate in rigorous professional development including training and coaching to help them succeed.
Tutors have the opportunity to serve outside the classroom in their communities and build valuable relationships with providers and families. They also are able to work with mixed ages and potentially whole sibling groups who wouldn’t be able to learn together in a traditional school environment. Given Family Child Care tutors travel to multiple locations and take on additional leadership and organizational tasks, tutors serve part time but receive an increased living allowance.
“If you are interested in increasing your leadership and teaching skills, as well as having a strong impact on student outcomes, this innovative pilot is a great choice for your service year,” says Becky Scott-Rudnick, Director of Family Child Care.
In order to meet the needs of children across the state, Reading Corps in Family Child Care is now expanding to Bloomington for the first time for the 2018-19 school year. A total of three members are needed in Bloomington, as well as 13 in St. Paul and Minneapolis, and six in St. Cloud.
If you’re interested in taking your service outside the school or would like more information, please contact program manager Nou Thao.
Want to learn more? Check out this Pioneer Press feature to read more about one tutor’s experience serving with Reading Corps in Family Child Care and how she makes a difference for children in her community.