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Accelerating Reading Progress with High Effect Size – Part 5: Caregiver Support

Estimated reading time: 16 minutes

Literacy Leaders: Welcome to the fifth article in our six-part series on Accelerating Reading Progress with High Effect Size. In this installment, you are challenged to think about your school or schools from the angle of parent or caregiver support and the effect that has on your students’ reading progress. What’s eye-opening is just how much effect caregiver support can have on reading progress.

A quick review first. If you’ve been following along, you’ll know this series looks at accelerating reading progress through the lens of Dr. John Hattie’s meta-analyses in his Visible Learning Influences database. Part 1 provides an overview of high effect sizes. Then, Part 2 focuses on comprehension influences. Part 3 goes into fluency influences, and Part 4 highlights the high-effect size influences of independent reading. While previous articles are not essential, they may be useful for reviewing your data and strategies for better outcomes.

And now, like all good educators, we believe in the power of reinforcement to lock in previous knowledge shared. So, it’s time for a….

Lit Check ✅ for Understanding.

Test your knowledge of impact related to independent reading practice (article 4 in our series).

Likely to have a negative 👎 impact on student achievement…

Question 1: Which of these Visible Learning influences related to independent reading practice (article 4 in our series) has an effect size <0.00 and is “likely to have a negative impact” on student achievement?

a) Presence of mobile phones

b) Growth mindset

c) Rehearsal and memorization

d) Self-directed learning

e) Environmental structuring

Potential to considerably accelerate 👍 student achievement…

Question 2: Which of these Visible Learning influences carries an effect size greater than the 0.40 hinge point, plus the “potential to considerably accelerate” student achievement?

a) Summer vacation length

b) Mass practice

c) Teacher-student dependency

d) Transfer strategies

e) Perfectionism

Answer 1:

a) Presence of mobile phones 👎

Unsurprisingly, the presence of mobile phones (effect size -0.26) is considered “likely to have a negative impact,” along with other similar technologies, like FaceTime and social media (-0.12), TV hours (-0.15), and screen time (a whopping -0.29 effect size).

But there’s hope! When students are left to their own devices, they don’t always choose detrimental… devices. Plenty of influences show evidence for the success of independent practice habits, regular routines, and growth mindsets.

Answer 2:

d) Transfer strategies 👍

Did you know “transfer strategies” has one of the highest effect sizes of all the influences related to independent reading practice? At 0.75, these meta-cognitive, self-regulated behaviors represent the power of consistency across settings.

Evaluating relationships between schools and families is at the heart of what you’ll read today. So, let’s get to it.

Parent involvement and parent engagement. They mean the same thing. Right?

Studies by Dr. Hattie illuminate the profound impact of active caregiver engagement in nurturing literacy skills, boosting confidence, and propelling academic achievements to new heights. So, that’s what we’ll dive into in this article.

But first, let’s define our terms regarding parental participation in education.

Experts usually differentiate between “involvement” and “engagement.” Involvement refers to parents attending school functions and meetings, with teachers leading educational planning and goals. Engagement, however, means all parties—parents, caregivers, teachers, and schools—actively collaborate. This deeper level of engagement is linked to better academic, behavioral, and health outcomes for students.

True literacy triumph arises from a collaborative partnership between educators and families. Emphasizing high expectations for parents and caregivers, Dr. John Hattie imagines their role as it relates to Visible Learning:

The importance of parents

“Parents are not ‘first teachers’ but ‘first learners’ – as the parents learn, so do their children.

Parental expectation about learning is among the most powerful home influences, and the home needs to promote a ‘language and love of learning.’ This means parents talk to their children about their learning at school and home. This also means they enjoy the struggle, failures and successes when learning together, and set fair boundaries to take on increased challenges and learning safely.

This might mean being clear about what success looks like for a child cleaning their room. It might mean allowing multiple opportunities to succeed, and talking about errors and failure as opportunities to learn.”

– Professor John Hattie, University of Melbourne

So, what’s the current situation with caregiver support in your school(s)?

Yes. We know that’s not an easy or quick question to answer as it tends to vary not just across schools but grade levels and even classrooms. Even so, it is a valuable exercise of review. Before you can plot a course for improved outcomes you need to identify where you are versus where you want to be.

The truth is the landscape of caregiver involvement within any educational community displays a wide range of participation. On one end, there are those who remain uninvolved, while at another point sit parents who engage through activities like parent-teacher meetings and school events. At the far end lies transformative “engagement,” where caregivers actively partner with educators to foster not just their child’s educational journey but also to uplift the entire student body.

Schools and districts around the country are in very different places on their road to true parent engagement, and that’s OK!

Unlock Literacy Progress with Home Reading Success

See how we get parents to engage in their child’s reading practice at home. Explore our innovative and evidence-based approach that boosts literacy with engaging home reading experiences.

Independent Reading Practice - Kids Read Now
Independent Reading Practice - Kids Read Now

Unlock Literacy Progress with Home Reading Success

See how we get parents to engage in their child’s reading practice at home. Explore our innovative and evidence-based approach that boosts literacy with engaging home reading experiences.

What can be done to achieve high-effect sizes through Caregiver Support?

Achieving collaboration between schools and homes may seem daunting, but the benefits far outweigh the challenges.

Looking through the lens of Visible Learning’s influences, we can see that attaining significant impact through engaging parents and caregivers, though challenging, lays the foundation for profound academic advancement and fosters a culture of lifelong learning among children. While there is no universal solution or shortcut, Dr. Hattie’s research offers invaluable insights, enabling you to examine your environment critically and make informed choices.

Study the effect sizes of factors related to parent engagement in the table below. Reflect on the findings. Which strategy or strategies seem most accessible for your team to implement initially? And which could follow?

Avoid attempting to tackle everything simultaneously. Progressing one step at a time ensures steady forward motion.

When looking at the table below, look closely at the effect sizes in the last column in the table. Yep — these 11 Influences related to caregiver support are in the Zone of Desired Effects. In other words, their potential exceeds the hinge point (average) impact of 0.40.

Table Created by Kids Read Now | Data synthesized from the Visible Learning Meta-x Global Research Database: https://www.visiblelearningmetax.com/Influences

Building bridges between home and school for reading success

You now see that parent engagement/collaboration is a highly desirable influence, but the target of that collaboration is fuzzy… Let’s define what constitutes a successful outcome.

When parents are actively engaged in their child’s education, the impact is profound and far-reaching. Quantitative data consistently demonstrate the positive correlation between parental engagement and student achievement. According to research published by the American Psychological Association (APA), students with involved or engaged parents are more likely to earn higher grades, exhibit better behavior, and have higher graduation rates.

However, the benefits of actively engaged families extend beyond academic performance.

Qualitative outcomes of parent engagement include improved student motivation, enhanced social-emotional development, and increased school satisfaction. When parents establish routines for reading at home, engage in meaningful conversations about school, and support their child’s learning aspirations, they create a nurturing environment conducive to lifelong success.

With Visible Learning’s Global Research Database, you can narrow your scope to those influences with high effect sizes and the potential to accelerate student achievement. This body of research is a solid place to start when building the foundation for parent and caregiver collaboration.

(Seriously. Bookmark this tool already!)

Visible Learning The Sequel book cover - caregiver support - Kids Read Now

You’re getting the latest information!

Just last year, John Hattie published Visible Learning: The Sequel, a more current version of his meta-analyses that now include over 130,000 studies involving 400+ million students.

The data presented in our 6-part blog series on accelerating reading progress were derived from this up-to-date database.

In the meantime, support is available to expedite your progress in this domain. Notably, Kids Read Now emerges as the nation’s foremost expert in boosting reading outcomes through parent engagement — a testament to their commitment and efficacy.

Seamlessly transforming engagement with Kids Read Now

Schools looking to simplify and amplify caregiver involvement in their children’s literacy development will find a valuable partner in Kids Read Now. We are the leading initiative in the United States dedicated to actively engaging parents in their children’s reading adventures. Our program encourages rich dialogue and detailed feedback on reading experiences facilitated by our in-home, independent reading program.

Roadblocks to fostering caregiver support in schools

When addressing aspects of students’ lives outside of school, we must always be conscious of equity and inclusion. Our imaginative “perfect world” of parental engagement is one that includes, values, and supports all types of families from all backgrounds.

Not all families have equal access to resources or opportunities for involvement. Families facing systemic barriers such as poverty, limited education, or houselessness may encounter additional challenges. They might be underestimate the valuable role they play in their child’s education. These families may miss out on vital information about school events, struggle to access books and educational materials, or feel marginalized within the school community.

However, it’s essential to recognize that every family, regardless of their circumstances, is capable of making meaningful contributions to their child’s education. By providing targeted support and resources, schools can empower families to overcome barriers and actively participate in their child’s learning journey. This may involve offering transportation assistance and translation services, hosting parent workshops on navigating the education system, dedicating personnel to family relationships, and making technology and resources accessible to all.

Partnerships between schools and families are too important to only part-way.

By fostering a culture of collaboration and inclusivity, districts can harness the collective power of parents and caregivers to create a supportive and enriching educational environment for all students.

If your district has access and opportunity issues with your student population, if your community is surrounded by book deserts, Kids Read Now is the solution partner for you. Our recipe for reading progress success has been perfected over the last decade with our school district partners. Check us out and have a chat to see how we might be a good fit for you too.

Free Teacher & Family Pack to Boost Reading.

Inside each pack are 9 creative ways to help boost students’ desire to read more in the classroom and at home. While these don’t deliver outcomes like participating in the Kids Read Now program, they do offer activities and game templates created by literacy experts that are sure to tempt students of all reading levels to pick up a book and begin reading!

Free Teacher & Family Pack to Boost Reading.

Inside each pack are 9 creative ways to help boost students’ desire to read more in the classroom and at home. While these don’t deliver outcomes like participating in the Kids Read Now program, they do offer activities and game templates created by literacy experts that are sure to tempt students of all reading levels to pick up a book and begin reading!

Building literacy bridges between school and home starts with you

As literacy leaders, you’re often the spark that ignites change. While that’s a big responsibility — you’re not alone! We’ve got your back.

Our approach recognizes and appreciates the challenges of both sides: parents and caregivers at home and educators and administrators in schools. And actually, we don’t see “sides” at all. Rather, we see the potential of bridging home and school together to achieve maximum impact.

Kids Read Now doesn’t try to change how teachers teach or interfere in how parents manage their busy family lives.

Like parents, caregivers, and school communities, we focus on the same shared goal: the child. Kids are at the center of everything we do.

We zero in on each student’s curiosity and interests and turn that curiosity into a desire to have more — more stories about dragons, sports, or about kids like themselves.

It’s all about how we get young students to read. Empowering kids with choices and valuing their voices is just the beginning. That’s why the Kids Read Now program succeeds where others have failed.

Let’s see the ways that Kids Read Now’s in-home independent reading program leverages the power of caregiver support to accelerate reading progress and inspire a love of reading.

7 powerful ingredients for accelerating reading progress: the Kids Read Now recipe.

We know the importance of listening in building relationships and making decisions. Below, you’ll get a chance to “hear” parents and caregivers lend authentic voices to the Kids Read Now experience.

So, what are the ingredients?

1. The Power of Choice

Students choose their own reading journey as they select from a Wish List that features a wide variety of books: SEL, multi-ethnic, bilingual, series, award-winning, and student favorites. Then, parents and caregivers honor their choices with continued positive encouragement at home.

⭐️⭐️⭐️ “The excitement to read the book the second it came out of the mailbox is huge. My child usually fights us when it’s reading time, but never with the books she got from the program. Because she chose them she wanted to read them.” – Chelsea, 1st Grade Parent, Howell Public Schools

2. The Power of Anticipation

Once kids have selected their books, they cannot wait for them to arrive. Kids Read Now schools take advantage of this sense of anticipation, communicating with families through multiple channels to plan for delivery and answer questions.

⭐️⭐️⭐️ “My son asked every day during the summer, ‘Did I get any mail?’ I thought he was expecting a toy or something, and when he got his book, he fist pumped and said, ‘YES!!!!!’” – Elizabeth, 4th Grade Parent, Vandalia Butler School District, Ohio

3. The Power of Self-Efficacy

Here’s the secret only educators who use Kids Read Now know: they get to curate the list of books to match each student’s interests and abilities. Students only select texts that they’re able to access independently, guaranteeing they’ll feel successful reading every book that arrives in their mailbox. When kids feel proud, parents feel proud, too.

⭐️⭐️⭐️ “Per Covid my child had fallen behind drastically. With your program it has helped tremendously. My child is so proud and feels smart/confident. We still have a ways to go, but the progress is awesome.” – Kayluv, 1st Grade & 2nd Grade Parent, Maryland

4. The Power of Routine

Successful readers intentionally create habits that incorporate independent reading into their daily lives. Reinforcement from adults at home and school helps young learners adhere to a personalized schedule that’s rigorous and realistic. The more consistent the expectations are across settings, the stronger the impact.

⭐️⭐️⭐️ “This program has allowed my child to learn to love reading. We have developed a routine of reading each night before bed. She has excelled in language and comprehension because of this program.” – 1st Grade Parent, West Branch Rose Area Schools, Michigan

5. The Power of Accountability

Setting clear goals has an above-average effect size, meaning that students who rise to the occasion are likely to accelerate their progress! Upon finishing each book, caregivers assist in recording and reporting through the Kids Read Now technology portal.

⭐️⭐️⭐️ “My child loved calling the phone number to report the books he read.” – Tera, 2nd Grade Parent, Greenville City Schools, Ohio

6. The Power of Voice

So, your students have developed a plan for independent practice, followed through with reading, discussed their understanding with family members, and reported their books as “read.” Now, they get to have their opinion heard by reviewing the book on the app and assigning a rating. This gives reading comprehension and fluency an authentic purpose, instilling confidence in students of all abilities from all backgrounds.

⭐️⭐️⭐️ “As a family, we feel this is a great program that gives children age-appropriate books that THEY choose and lets them be excited about receiving them in the mail. And the follow-up/discussion questions are very helpful for parents — to help engage our child and have them think more in depth about about what they read.” – 3rd Grade Parent, Allegan Public Schools, Michigan

7. The Power of Ownership

Every student who receives books through the Kids Read Now program gets to keep them — forever! This is critical. Research has shown, time and again, a positive link between literacy levels and the number of books in the home during childhood.

⭐️⭐️⭐️ “I feel it’s a good way to get kids to read. It gives them the opportunity to receive books that their parents might not of been able to afford.”
Christina, 5th Grade Parent, Wicomico County Public School

Next up… Without this factor, all of our work will fail

In our series, we’ve covered some big, beefy categories of educational practices, all with the ultimate goal of accelerating reading progress to boost proficiency before spring assessments.

Can you guess what the final article in our series covers?

Once again, we’ll be using the Visible Learning lens to tackle a tough topic: student motivation and engagement. Without the student’s help, no literacy learning will take place in school, at home, or anywhere.

Kids Read Now has embraced this truth. It’s why they began their tireless work over ten years ago — to get Kids to want to Read Now!

Question: What is the difference between parental involvement and parental engagement in education?

Answer: Parental involvement typically refers to participation in school events, while parental engagement involves intentional action and collaboration between parents, caregivers, teachers, and schools.

Question: How does parent and caregiver support impact student achievement?

Answer: Parent and caregiver support has a profound positive impact on student achievement, leading to higher grades, better behavior, increased graduation rates, improved motivation, enhanced social-emotional development, and greater school satisfaction.

Question: What are some evidence-backed strategies for fostering collaboration between schools and families?

Answer: Evidence-backed strategies include proactive communication, seeking input from parents on educational initiatives, soliciting feedback on curriculum and instructional strategies, and providing targeted support and resources to empower all families to participate in their child’s learning journey.

Question: How can schools address the challenges with involvement and engagement that some families with systemic barriers face?

Answer: Families facing barriers such as poverty, limited education, or houselessness may encounter challenges in accessing information, educational materials, or feeling marginalized within the school community. Schools can provide support through transportation assistance, translation services, parent workshops, dedicated personnel for family relationships, and ensuring technology and resources are accessible to all.

Question: What are some key features of the Kids Read Now program that promote caregiver support and accelerate reading progress?

Answer: The Kids Read Now program promotes caregiver support and accelerates reading progress through features such as student choice in book selection, anticipation of book delivery, curated book lists, personalized reading plans, reporting and feedback mechanisms, and book ownership for students.

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