Thursday, May 2, 2019

Spring is here!

      I can feel it in the air! Do you hear the birds singing in the mornings?  It's a wonderful feeling isn't it?!  We can definitely feel the shift here at Cedarhome Elementary. Students are becoming a bit more antsy. They're talking about practices for their spring sports, and are excited to not have to bundle up in three layers to stay warm!

Thinking back when my two sons were young and in elementary school I remember the difficult time we had sometimes fitting it all in between 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on school nights. (Bedtime was 8:00 p.m. and yes, they needed that much sleep!)  One would have baseball practice at Heritage Park, the other at Stanwood Middle School.  Their dad could sometimes help with transportation, yet other days mom was on her own.  On top of that, I'm a teacher! My first question was always " How much homework do you have today?"  And I always wanted to make sure some reading was done as well.

You've worked all year to establish before and after school routines and schedules. During this busy time of year I recommend trying to stay as close to your already established schedules and expectations as much as possible. It's tough to do, but so important! Children thrive when they know what is expected of them and what to expect in a day or week. Especially with reading!  For those students who struggle with reading, or "don't like to read", being allowed the opportunity to not have to read is like winning the lottery!  But unfortunately there is no pay off like winning the lottery and the struggle becomes even more difficult.  

So if something needs to be skipped because of busy spring sports schedules and activities, think about missing that night time T.V. show to get 20 minutes of reading in.  If that doesn't work, maybe skip the morning cartoons?  To quote Margaret Fuller (American Author) "Today a reader, tomorrow a leader."

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Can Learning "Freeze" Over Winter Break? You bet!

I'm sure many of you are aware of the "Summer Slide" (see previous blog post of 6/12/18 - School's Out for Summer) but did you know that a winter learning loss can also threaten your child's knowledge and academic growth?  You may think that this small break won't hurt, but it can lead students to lose valuable lessons they've worked so hard to master this past semester!

You may think that the difference between summer and winter break is huge and that it wouldn't be difficult for a student to lose skills after months of not putting them to use. Yet in fact, research has shown that the largest losses in some subjects are experienced within the first two weeks out of school.  Our school district's Winter Break is a little over two weeks, meaning students have plenty of time to lose valuable skills, strategies, and information.  This can be the result of not putting their lessons to use and forgetting about school for a couple of weeks.

Don't take me wrong, it is important for students to have a break from a strict academic routine, but that doesn't mean they (we) should forget about school all together. Look for some fun activities the whole family can participate in that are also educational! Visit our local library, practice writing skills by keeping a winter break journal, play math games, and of course as a Reading Specialist I can't miss this opportunity to remind everyone to READ! Read with your child, read aloud, in the car, listen to books on tape, read new recipes together, anything to keep them reading! Be sure to check out the monthly newsletters sent with our LAP students for additional ideas. 

Less than two weeks upon their return from winter break students at Cedarhome Elementary will be given Winter Benchmark assessments to determine if their academic progress is on track. These assessments are also used to determine if a student could possibly need additional reading support through the LAP program or within their classroom. So please, make sure your child(ren) continue reading throughout your holiday!  We would like their assessment results to show their true academic growth so far. Thank you and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Long-Term Effects of Skipping your Reading Homework

Greetings!  When I began this Reading Support Blog a few years ago I found myself collecting research articles that I felt would or could be of interest to parents and families.  Some posts each year are of the same thread, basically required by the Learning Assistance Program compliance laws.  Others are just my way of trying to help parents and families while they work to support their child's learning at school and at home.

I read an article titled "The Long-Term Effects of Skipping Your Reading Homework", written by Pamela DeLoatch on the website EduDemic. (April, 2015)  I'd like to share some of the most interesting points the author gave on this subject.

First off, reading really is fundamental.  Of course it's important to be able to read in order to learn and navigate through life. But DeLoatch points out there is more to it than that.

1) Reading makes kids better at math.  Through a British study it was found that students who frequently read for pleasure had better vocabulary and spelling, and were also more proficient at math. The theory was that reading exposes students to new ideas, which may make new math concepts easier to comprehend.

2) Reading fiction helps children be more empathetic.  The University of Buffalo found that students who read novels could place themselves into other people's situations more easily, and had increased compassion.

3) Reading can boost self-esteem and communication skills.  A separate education provider stated that those students who have enhanced vocabulary from reading can often have an easier time finding words to express themselves and do not get as frustrated and angry.

I admit, I remember how busy it was when my sons were in elementary school. They had math homework, spelling tests to study for, after school activities, and the list could go on.  It's no wonder how the standard daily reading requirement can fall to the wayside!  You may reason that your child can catch up on reading minutes during the weekend or during a less hectic time.  But folks, does it really happen? Or does something else get in the way?

Besides the benefits given above, I want to share a graphic that demonstrates the gains made when students do their daily reading homework, or sadly... the result of them not reading nightly. 
This graphic came from a study (Nagy & Herman, 1987). They determined a student would possibly fall in a particular percentile range on standardized tests, if they read that amount of time.  Can you believe those statistics between student A and Student C?  Scary right? It just might be a good thing to share with your child, especially if they want to "Skip the Reading Homework" assignment!

Monday, October 15, 2018

What is the LAP (Learning Assistance Program)?

What is the Learning Assistance Program? (LAP)

LAP is a state funded program which offers supplemental services for K–12 students scoring below grade-level standard in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. These services focus on accelerating student growth to make progress towards grade level. They may include academic readiness skill development or behavior supports. These services address barriers preventing students from accessing core instruction. The intent is for LAP students to increase academic growth during the period of time they are provided services. LAP emphasizes research-based best practices designed to increase student achievement.

Districts implementing LAP services must:
  1. Focus first on addressing the needs of K–4 students in reading or reading readiness skills;
  2. Use data when developing programs;
  3. Provide the most effective and efficient practices when implementing supplemental instruction; and
    Approximately 50 percent of LAP-enrolled students are in grades K-4 and receiving ELA or readiness services.

Excerpts from the OSPI website at

How did my child qualify for LAP services?

Stanwood-Camano School District uses multiple assessment measures in the fall, winter, and spring of each school year to assess all of our elementary students in reading. Students scoring below what is considered grade-level percentiles are eligible to take part in the Title I and/or LAP programs. Classroom performance and teacher input is also considered. Please contact your child's teacher or the LAP Coordinator, Cindy Phillips at Cedarhome Elementary if you have any questions about how your child performed on the assessments or to ask any questions you may have. 

Title I/LAP Parent Policy

Please click on the link below to view the Stanwood-Camano School District's Title I/LAP Parent Policy and learn more about Cedarhome Elementary's LAP Program.

Learning Assistance Program Parent Policy

Monday, September 17, 2018

Welcome to Cedarhome!

Welcome to Cedarhome Elementary's Reading Support and Learning Assistance Program (LAP) blog! My goal is to post ideas and resources for parents who want to support and work with their students at home. You'll also find ideas for home for those students who are just learning to read, or those honing their reading skills and strategies. I look forward to supporting you and your child as he or she becomes a reader this 2018-2019 school year!  

If your son or daughter is receiving additional support through the Learning Assistance Program (LAP), you will also find information about LAP here at Cedarhome. If you have questions, comments, or concerns about the program or about your child's progress, please email me directly, call to speak with me, or arrange for a private meeting.

Don't forgot to "bookmark" this web address for the easiest way to check for new blog posts!

Happy Reading!

Cindy Phillips
Reading Specialist
LAP Coordinator

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

School's Out for Summer! Well.....almost

The Summer Slide or Summer Regression is not something you find at the park. No, it is a proven fact that occurs every June, July, and August.  Like most teachers and students I look forward to those summer weeks to recharge and have fun.  But as an educator who works with struggling readers I cringe at the thought of them being out from underneath my wings from the middle of June to the first week of September. I've taught for over 20 years and I've read the research.  I've seen the very evidence that research warns us about.  Here are the facts:

"Research shows that children who do not read in the summers months can lose two to three months of reading development while those who do read tend to gain a month of reading proficiency." -Richard Allington & Anne McGill-Franzen. The Impact of Summer Setback on the Reading Achievement Gap. The Phi DeltaKappan. Vol. 85, o.1 (Sept. 2003), pp. 68-75
Research Suggests…that children who read as few as six books over the summer maintain the level of reading skills they achieved during the preceding school year.  Reading more books leads to even greater success.  When children are provided with 10-20 self-selected children’s books at the end of the regular school year, as many as 50 percent not only maintain their skills, but actually make reading gains. -McGill-Franzen & Allington. The Impact of Summer Setback on the Reading Achievement Gap. (Sept, 2003)
All young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in education activities during the summer. Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of summer. -(White, 1906, Heyns, 1978; Entweisle & Alexander 1992; Cooper, 1996; Downey et al, 2004).

So what can you do to help avoid the "Summer Slide"? My first suggestion is to make reading FUN! Find as many ways as possible to show that reading isn't always just for school subjects.  As well, set the example.  If you're telling your kids how important it is to read, but they don't see you reading? Hmmmm? Get the picture?

And, because I feel so strongly about this I've done some of the FUN groundwork for you!  Below are links to various summer reading challenge opportunities and some PDF documents you can print out at home.  Enjoy! Have Fun! and READ!

Dr. Seuss Word Challenge  Sign up and login!  Help reach the goal of reading 20 millions words across the country!

Barnes & Noble Reading Journal  This is a PDF you can print out.  It lists books for grades 1-6.  Read any eight books through the summer, write about your favorite parts and then earn a book from their book list provided!

Chuck E Cheese Rewards  Complete this reading rewards calendar and earn 10 free tokens for Chuck E Cheese! I believe you can do this more than once throughout the summer, but only 1 per day.

DOGO Books Summer Reading  Read and review 3 books on and earn a free book, then do it again!

Half Price Books "Feed Your Brain"  This is very similar to a reading log.  Read 15 minutes each day, have your parent initial the calendar.  Once you've read 300 minutes you earn bookworm bucks.  And there is a Half Price books on Everett Mall Way!

The two links below are documents that can be easily printed, posted on the fridge and used for motivation to find a fun way to read.  Challenge the entire family to mark off as many as possible!

Summer Reading Bucket List

Summer Reading Challenge

Monday, April 30, 2018

Too busy to read? Here's what going to happen...

Wow!  Can you tell that spring is just around the corner?  What was your first clue?  Less rain, more sun? Kids becoming antsy at home, being willing to go outside and play? Or, is it the many after school activities? LaCrosse? Baseball? Tennis?  Swimming Lessons? I get it, I really do.  I raised two sons (with a little help from hubby, ha! ha!) who were very active.  There were many nights when it was fast food or PBJ's for dinner, because we were "too busy" for anything else.  And then fit in reading homework? Who has time for that, right?! Well, I'm going to put on my "Reading Specialist" hat and flatly state, "Families need to make the time to read during the week or it can seriously effect their child's future success in school and beyond."

I'm attaching a link to a wonderful article;  The Long-Term Effects of Skipping Your Reading Homework.  The author, Pamela DeLoatch outlines the reasons how completing the nightly reading assignments benefit students.  My favorite part is where she shares an infographic that quantifies the long-term difference between regular, periodic, and infrequent reading. Be sure to look for it.

After you read the article, I would love your feedback. Was this helpful? Has it inspired you to help your child find the time to read?  Remember, it doesn't always have to be at home.  Can they read while their sibling is warming up for the baseball game, or while another sibling is at LaCrosse practice (and they're too young to stay home alone so they get drug along?).  Can they read while you waiting in the fast food lane at McDonalds or are waiting for your Jimmy's pizza?

Just keep in mind that regular reading provides significant long-term benefits. And with that segue, below are the links to this months Reading Connections!  I noticed some great ideas in the Intermediate Edition. There's even a section titled "Road Trip Games".  Weren't we just discussing where opportunities to read may be?  (<:

Reading Connections, Beginner Edition, May 2018

Reading Connections, Intermediate Edition, May 2108