The Worcester Public Schools – always in style! New column from John + more🍁🍁


By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee

Kids need to READ!

As a former Worcester elementary school principal (Belmont Community School) and, now as a Worcester School Committee member, I continue to talk to parents about the importance of reading. I have spent endless hours talking about the “summer slide” that takes place during school vacation time due to children not engaged in learning activities. Please remember that the summer slide is real, for our schools see the decline in reading and math achievement just from being away from school.

I have seen many articles on the “Pandemic Slide” or the “Covid Slide.” Many researchers using existing data on learning loss typically seen during school summer vacation predict that summer loss and the loss in the COVID 19 spring could potentially cause academic setbacks for many students. In the worst case, they may retain only 70% of the gains they had made in reading and only 50% of gains made in math.

Thus, parents, who are the child’s first and most important teachers, need to do all that they can to offset any educational loss. I would encourage parents to tell their child that reading activities will be an important part of their lives during this coming school year.

Reading … recipes, directions, comic books, magazines, short stories, novels, biographies …

Let’s focus on reading. Reading aloud. For parents of toddlers let me emphasize that reading aloud to young children is the most important way to get them started on the road to being a successful reader. Read to and with your child as often as possible. This is a way to spend time with your child and, if it’s convenient, read at bedtime. Twenty minutes of reading aloud will accomplish more than you can ever measure.

“The more I read,

“The more I know

“20 minutes a day will help me grow.”

Consider reading books of interest to your child and for the real young ones consider: Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Curious George Books, Bob book set by Scholastic and cardboard books like The Little Blue Truck. Outstanding authors to be considered include Tomie DePaola, Jan Brett, Patricia Polacco, Eric Carle and Laura Nameroff just to name a few.

Books in the primary grades: Look for book series. I love the Magic Tree House books, for they are high interest and very entertaining. Your 6- to 10-year-old reader can join time-traveling duo Jack and Annie in their magic tree house, as they adventure through history. Young readers can travel through history without leaving the comfort of home with Mary Pope Osbourne’s award-winning series, The Magic Tree House!

Other series for this grade level: the Junie B. Jones series, which is a set of 27 books. The series’ is about a young girl, Junie, who has a friendly, bright, funny and spirited personality. Junie B. lives with her parents, Robert and Susan, and her baby brother, Ollie. She does get into many very funny situations.

In the grade 4-6 series for the sports-minded kid: the Matt Christopher series is outstanding. Matt Christopher wrote more than 100 novels featuring a variety of sports. Very entertaining, and the sports-minded student will love them. Another outstanding writer is Lois Lowery. She has written a variety of fictional books from Number the Stars to the fantastical The Giver.

Other books that I recommend are the Harry Potter series, the Mary Poppins series, The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series. There so many more! The important takeaway is get books into the hands of your child!!

Another great activity during the Pandemic: having a Family Night on the Weekend. Bring out the popcorn and read a book! Once in awhile get a movie based on a book that the family has read. Show the movie and compare/contrast. Many of these movies can be obtained at your local public library.

You can also gather activity books. Give children their own activity book with crossword puzzles or number games customized for their specific age group. Set a “due date” to keep them on track – but let them work at their own pace.

Going right along with reading please consider having your child at any age have a diary. Have your child write the highlights of his/her day each evening before going to bed. How about your child’s thoughts on this pandemic? Other writing activities can be writing a letter to a friend that due to the pandemic they may not have seen, or writing to a relative. They could write to their classroom teacher, for many students will not see their teachers for awhile if they are on a remote learning schedule. Be sure your child writes about their favorite book and parents send me their essay: John Monfredo, 8 Cherokee Road Worcester, Ma. 01606. I’ll be selecting the best report by grade level and will award the winner a new book!

I hope that I have raised interest in more reading during the COVID crisis and shown how parents can support their child. It’s so important to have “all hands-on deck” during this global health crisis. I am confident that you will make a difference in the life of your child. Need additional tips, parents? Write to me!