Strong Foundations: Talk. Read. Listen

Talk. Read. Listen

I hope you are enjoying your summer!


Back-to-school is fast approaching, and I’m looking forward to a new school year full of new opportunities to improve education in our state. During my 2017 State of Education address, I said that I will support anything that helps teachers teach and students learn. That remains my guidepost as I begin my third year as Commissioner of Education, and it informs a lot of the work we are undertaking at RIDE.


Over the next four weeks, in addition to the weekly Field Memo, I’ll be sharing with you an overview of several priorities for the year ahead. Throughout the year, I’ll be talking a lot about these priorities, and working hard with the RIDE team and with educators, students, families, and all stakeholders, to advance policy that creates pathways to opportunity in education.


Robust public education requires a strong foundation, and for our kids, that means an early emphasis on literacy. Last fall, Governor Raimondo issued a challenge for Rhode Island to double the number of children who are reading proficiently by third grade by 2025. We accepted the challenge, and are committed to improving literacy for all kids.


At RIDE, we will continue to support high-quality literacy instruction, but helping children learn to read and instilling in them a love of reading isn’t a job for teachers alone. We all have a role to play.


For families, that means that you should make time to read, talk, and sing to your child every day, beginning at birth, to help build early language skills. Start conversations on the things that interest them, and take turns talking and listening to help your child’s vocabulary grow. Create reading routines, not just by reading bedtime stories, but also by reading aloud everyday items like street signs, household packages, or labels.



The books you read, the conversations you have, and the songs you sing don’t have to come from a textbook. Parents teach their children every day, without even realizing it, and we should encourage these activities that help develop vocabulary and enhance literacy. If we set the example, our kids will follow, and reading will become an important part of their lives. And if we set the example early, our kids will be better prepared for the future. Reading proficiently by third grade is a key indicator of success later on, including the likelihood of graduating high school and completing college.


How do you make reading a priority in your home? Join us on social media and share your ideas, your favorite books, and photos of your family reading, by tagging@RIDeptEd and using the hashtag, #RIReads. For more information on the Rhode Island Campaign for 3rd Grade Reading, visit


Ken Wagner, Commissioner



P.S. – Share this message with friends, family, teachers, and students, and encourage them to sign up for our e-news by clicking here


Rhode Island Department of Education