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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Sep 23, 2020

Local Reading Specialist Launches Program to Improve Kids’ Literacy Skills

COVID-19 has created an environment of educational uncertainty for many parents, teachers, students and administrators. One local woman had the vision to offer a supplemental curriculum that supports the efforts of area school districts and teachers. Established as a LLC in 2015, and launched last month, I Read All Day is the vision of Colleen O’Neil, a local reading specialist for those in kindergarten through fifth grade and former coordinator of the office of Early Literacy for the state of New Jersey.

The original concept was to use technology to bridge the literacy gap between students of all socioeconomic backgrounds. At the time, online instruction for younger children was a novel idea. Fast forward five years and virtual instruction zoomed into every living room in the country. The concept for I Read All Day had to shift. Children needed more in-person instruction with certified teachers and the opportunity to learn with their peers. The idea of Backyard Literacy was launched and starting in early September, pods of five to 10 children began to meet with certified educators, both retired and active, to begin classes on a variety of topics. A total of eight hours of instruction is spread out over multiple weeks at the discretion of pod parents. CDC recommendations are followed, and the idea is to meet the needs of families and students on their own terms.

Students enjoy the social interaction that being with their friends delivers, while receiving grade level literacy instruction designed to strengthen their literacy skills. Parents get peace of mind knowing teachers are instructing their children at an appropriate level, based on their child’s abilities. Retired teachers are available to instruct during the school day. Active teachers are available only after their contractually scheduled school hours, or in the evenings and some weekends. Parents can rotate hosting duties or opt to remain at the same location throughout the duration of the sessions. I Read All Day is fully insured, and all teachers are vetted.

I Read All Day is initially concentrating on serving the following Monmouth County communities: Middletown, Red Bank, Holmdel, Rumson and Fair Haven. Plans to expand into neighboring towns are under consideration depending on the initial demand. I Read All Day remains focused on bridging the literacy gap for all students. With that in mind, the company is exploring grants that would expand the program so it’s available for families regardless of socioeconomic status.