How to Navigate This Program
Congratulations on joining a collective of parents and caregivers committed to distancing themselves from the hopelessness of the literacy crisis in our country.
Together, equipped with science, frameworks, strategies, and each other we can make our homes epicenters of learning and literacy support for our young people.
In light of the current climate of our schools, we as caregivers play a vital role in our children’s literacy instruction. That role, however, is greatly diminished if we don’t understand the science of reading and learning and the impact that our home environment has on our children.
For years we have heard the phrase “parents are a child’s first teachers.” Though often well intended, this very phrase can and has been weaponized against parents, which indirectly, has also caused harm to children. How can parents teach what they don’t know? In fact, we are now recognizing teachers and schools themselves were misguided for decades about reading instruction. Everyone got it wrong. How were parents ever supposed to get it right? Then? Now?
As we step into the present and look towards the future, it is time for everyone to learn to get it right! The realization of the past can feel heavy. But, the future is bright. Policy makers, curriculum developers, administrators, and educators across the country are learning the science of reading and teaching strategies to support it. To this effect, it is only appropriate that parents and caregivers also receive adequate access to training and learning on the science of reading and teaching strategies.
We know that reading to your child is not enough. It never was or will be. Reading to children and promoting the joy of reading is not the same as teaching children to read, write, and think critically. This cohort has been created such that parents and caregivers can learn the science of reading in the brain, understand why school curriculums are now aligned with the science of reading, but most importantly, how to support that learning in the home environment through connected interactions with our children.
Right about now, if you are feeling a little anxious because you are “not a teacher” or “good at teaching your children,” you are invited to take a deep breath. Release that. Your instruction at home will not replace school or look like more time at school. Your instruction and support at home will be distinct. Your children need it to be. In fact, this too is a part of what makes the science of reading real. Because, through the home environment, your children will make additional connections to the skills and content they are learning in school and have an opportunity to ground and expand their learning. If you are choosing to homeschool, you too can breathe.
You will have the skills to support their reading and writing as your children need it. But you don’t have to recreate the school environment, which you are opting out of in order to do it. Explicit instruction doesn’t mean “set up a classroom.” Ultimately, this cohort and the skills it will give you will equip you to do the things as an extension of your caregiving and in service of your child’s relationship with print not do school. So yes, everyone can breathe.
Learning to read and write can be challenging and learning to teach someone to read and write can be too. When we look at the experience through this lens, we see how you and your children are learning alongside each other. You are partners in this process and there is beauty and power in that.
Additionally, because of the commitment you are putting in, you are becoming a trusted resource for your children to come to, lean on, and trust. Your children will come to learn that when or if they have trouble with their journey, they can come to you because you can help them. This is a whole life hack friend! One of the most powerful pieces of this journey will be for you to learn the science of reading so that it can inform your interactions and build relationship with your child.
There are things you can do at home that schools could never do. And there are things that schools may be able to do that you can’t. When we advocate for schools and home settings and equip both educators and caregivers, we best serve our children. Ultimately, this is the assignment.
Lastly, and this one is very good, I believe all children should also be empowered by this science. Along the way, you will find video explanations and opportunities for children themselves to engage in the work and learn what the science means and how it influences the activities they are working on. This will help them have lifetime knowledge not just of reading and writing but also, why we learn to read and write and how we deepen and even share our practice with others.
I hope that this all truly excites you and you are ready to gift yourself and your children one of the best legacies of your lifetime, a commitment to turning your home into an epicenter of learning, growth, connection, and literacy as well as be a part of the solution to a national crisis.
You are a part of history. We all are. While this problem sits heavy on the shoulders of us as a country, you and I are forging our own destiny.
So, welcome to your cohort! We look forward to serving and being in community with you.
Nikolai Pizarro, Raising Readers
How to Engage with Program
This cohort is a hybrid of recorded modules, live virtual weekly meetings, digital guides, and access to additional questions and support.
Every week a new lesson is unlocked for the cohort. You are encouraged to watch and go through that material in a self-directed manner. However, each weekly lesson will not be unlocked until the previous lessons have been engaged with. If you miss a week (or two), you are able to catch up on your own. You just cannot move forward until you do.
The first half of the cohort will focus on you learning about the science, teaching strategies, and why they work. The second half of the cohort is dedicated to more implementation. I don’t just want you to do without knowing. You deserve to be informed. But I don’t want you to know without doing either! Engage with the work. Ask questions. Try the exercises. Pay attention to what is working and what doesn’t yet. Ask other parents in the cohort. Have conversations with your children about how they feel along the way. Share your wins. This is your cohort. It was created for your enrichment and the elevation of your children. Use it.
Each week, we will hold LIVE question and answer sessions virtually on Zoom. These sessions are designed to answer questions on anything you learned in the material and/or tried and would like to expand on, troubleshoot, and/or celebrate!
In order to make the most use of our LIVE sessions, cohort members are asked to submit questions via our questions form before. During the LIVE sessions we will get to as many questions as we can. Priority will be given to questions of people that are present. If we do not get to your question, you will receive an email response. Members are encouraged to attend LIVE sessions or watch their recordings. The LIVE sessions are priceless. It is in answering and asking questions based on our experiences that our learning expands and we are exposed to scenarios not covered in the recorded materials.
Recordings of each LIVE session will be posted 24 hours in your cohort’s recording vault. Some members do not want to be recorded or speak live on a Zoom call but still have questions. When submitting a question you have the option of asking to just receive an email response.
You have access to your course for 13 weeks, however the print resources will be in Google doc forms so you will always have the updated version of the print materials and you will be able to renew access to the cohort for a nominal fee.
Your cohort LIVE meetings are Tuesdays at 11 am and 8 pm EST starting June 20th. You will receive a Zoom email. This is a new feature and we are proud to roll it. Some parents work nights and always had to watch a recording so we wanted to offer a day time LIVE option.
One thing about this work is that I will always work to make it better and LISTEN to what parents are needing. I may not be able to meet everyone’s request but I invite you to always communicate with us so that we can try.
When using Zoom remember we are recording. I love seeing your faces and video on but, it is not necessary. If you would not like to be on the recording, use a still picture and turn your video off. Please do NOT use your last name on your Zoom name and simply have your first name and preferred pronouns and of course, remind your young people that the sessions are recorded with lots of other parents in a group, not just me the person they are hearing. They of course are welcomed to be on camera (I love that) but, I want them to be aware such that we can be a consent based cohort.
Again, thank you for being here, trusting me, and trusting yourself to do this work.