Use the “bully pulpit” to place a spotlight on early literacy
Whether by reading to young children at the public library, establishing a mayor’s book club, or distributing free books to families in need, city leaders can help promote the importance of reading with young children. City leaders can also organize a community book drive, working with pediatricians to distribute books for young children or joining with corporate partners to coordinate donations and finance bulk book purchases. Partnerships with local schools are another effective way of getting books directly into the hands of pre-K and kindergarten students.
Reduce chronic absenteeism in preschool programs and early elementary grades
When young children are chronically absent (missing more than 10 percent of the school year), they are much less likely to reach the goal of reading proficiently by third grade. In partnership with schools, health agencies and community groups, city leaders can work to identify the underlying causes of these absences and develop strategies to address them. For example, attendance for children suffering from asthma can be improved through targeted health care services and efforts to eliminate mold or other asthma triggers in their homes. Other strategies for cities to consider include creating safe walking routes to schools, using media messages and direct outreach to help parents understand the importance of school attendance, and collaborating with school leaders to reduce or eliminate suspensions of young children in the early elementary grades.
Bring together preschool and early elementary teachers for professional development
Many factors influence the quality of child care and early education programs, but perhaps none matter more than the education and experience of early childhood care providers. Consequently, developing a well-trained workforce in early care and education is a key step for city leaders committed to building a strong foundation for early learning. City and school leaders can collaborate on professional development offerings that bring together preschool teachers in public schools, Head Start programs, and child care centers or other community-based providers. Peer learning opportunities and onsite coaching support for child care and early learning staff and administrators can effectively strengthen the quality of local programs.