Raising A Reader continues supporting early literacy during the pandemic

Like many of our programs, Southwest Human Development’s Raising A Reader had to adapt to the COVID-19 health crisis.

Raising A Reader is an early literacy program designed to educate parents about the importance of early literacy skills and how they can build these skills in their young children to help them enter school ready to learn. The program’s goal is to make sure that each child has the language and literacy skills they need to succeed in school and life. Parents attend eight weekly early literacy workshops with their children, ages 0-5 (older family members are welcome to attend, too). Families who participate in the program also receive 12 high-quality children’s books to build their home libraries and are connected to local resources.

Since the pandemic began, Raising A Reader has worked diligently to continue helping Arizona children and families build the foundation for early literacy. To achieve this, the program has reorganized its operations to ensure every child, family and staff member is safe and meeting their goals.

In the past, Raising A Reader learning sessions took place in schools, community centers, libraries, apartment communities and other convenient locations in Arizona communities. Since the beginning of the pandemic, all Raising A Reader sessions became virtual learning experiences via Zoom. The program specialists provide web links to pre- and post-evaluation surveys to measure where each child is on their literacy journey. Specialists also provide any technical assistance that families need to ensure they have access to the program. The program continues to provide free books and resources to children and families, but have limited in-person interactions to just one initial exchange at the beginning of each eight-week series.

For an effective educational experience, it’s imperative that the program emphasizes the facilitator-parent-child relationship to ensure the family’s goals are met. Busy parents aren’t always able to attend sessions, so Raising A Reader has adjusted its communication methods to be more accessible. The program’s specialists reach out via phone, text or email and provide a link to a recorded session and resource of the week, so parents can be involved at their convenience.

Southwest Human Development’s work to support child development continues despite the challenges presented by the pandemic. We remain committed to providing high-quality programs and resources like Raising A Reader for all Arizona families.

For more information about the Raising A Reader program, please contact Elizabeth Webber-Schmitt at ewebber@swhd.org. Or, fill out the contact form on our website.