Parent & Caregiver Frequently Asked Questions

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Please click the question below to find the answer, or scroll down to read all questions and answers! If your question isn’t answered here, feel free to email program@readahead.org or text/call Evelyn Canela, Senior Director, Program & Impact, at 212-965-2286 (English & español).

What steps do you take for safety and security during Read Ahead sessions happening through Zoom?

How will scheduling work?

What happens if school/remote learning schedules change mid-year?

What is the parent/caregiver’s role and level of involvement?

Which of my children is able to participate? Can multiple join at one time?

What technology does my child need to participate?

My child was in Read Ahead in 2020-21. Can they return and get matched up with the same mentor(s)?

My child is still learning English. Can they still participate in Read Ahead?

How does Read Ahead benefit my child?

What is the mentor’s role?

Can you tell me more about BookNook?

Is the program free?

What steps do you take for safety and security during Read Ahead sessions happening through Zoom? 

  • We have developed virtual mentoring procedures in partnership with our school partners and a team of expert attorneys. 
  • Read Ahead uses Zoom for video conferencing, set up with tight security settings to ensure children’s safety is prioritized.
  • Children and mentors are supervised by a Program Coordinator, Read Ahead’s staff member assigned to your child’s school. Mentors are screened and background checked through Sterling Volunteers, a global background screening company with 40+ years of experience.
  • The Program Coordinator monitors and supports pairs during their one-on-one time (in Zoom breakout rooms) by randomly joining the rooms to check in. Students can at any time ask the Program Coordinator for help or choose to leave the breakout room with the mentor and return to the main Zoom session with the Program Coordinator.

How will scheduling work?

  • There are several options for Read Ahead session times which differ depending on your child’s partner school. Most students will have the option to join from home either after they get home from school or on Saturdays between ~10-1.
  • Some schools will have students in select classes joining Read Ahead from their classroom during the school day if we’re working in partnership with classroom teachers — if that’s the case, the students’ schedules are determined in collaboration with the teacher.
  • Some schools and collaborating after-school programs will have specific times for students to join Read Ahead from the programs — if that’s the case, the students’ schedules are determined in collaboration with the after-school program.
  • Our Program Coordinator will reach out to caregivers to let you know when session options are available and learn what works best for your family. Please note that sessions will reach capacity, and there may be a waitlist to participate, especially if your child has very limited availability.

What happens if school/remote learning schedules change mid-year?

  • We will work with you and your child’s school and mentor(s) and would strive to find a new session time that works. While we don’t know what the future will bring, we are prepared to adapt and be as flexible as possible to prioritize students’ needs and allow them to maintain consistent relationships with Read Ahead mentors.

What is the parent/caregiver’s role?

  • You are your child’s greatest champion and supporter. We appreciate your insights on your child’s interests and how to best work with them—you can include this in your permission form. Our Program Coordinator is always happy to hear from you and will keep you updated on your child’s progress throughout the year. We especially will rely on and appreciate your help communicating about your child’s weekly attendance with the Program Coordinator.
  • Parents and caregivers are important partners in helping to build a successful and meaningful friendship between your child and their mentor. Attendance is very important in that relationship building. Please see the Read Ahead mentee attendance policy.
  • You have the option to join a virtual session so you can meet your child’s mentor(s) and Program Coordinator. After that session, Read Ahead is a time for your child to be with their Read Ahead friends and mentor(s). We’ve seen that mentoring works best when it is one-on-one between a student and mentor. You will not need to be actively engaged in Read Ahead sessions.
  • Please help ensure your child logs onto a computer/tablet/iPad for their weekly session!

Which of my children is able to participate? Can multiple join at one time?

  • Read Ahead is designed for one-on-one mentoring between a mentor and a child in grades 1-5. We work with our partner schools to identify which students to include. If you received an invitation for one of your children to participate and you have another child at the same school in grades 1-5 who you would also like to join, email program@readahead.org!
  • Children younger than 1st grade or not enrolled through our partner schools are not eligible to participate.
  • Multiple children may not participate at the same time on the same session/device.

What technology does my child need to participate?

  • Your child will need to actively use a computer with a video camera or tablet/iPad with a video camera during virtual Read Ahead sessions. Unfortunately a smartphone will not work for participation in Read Ahead.

My child was in Read Ahead in 2020-21. Can they return and get matched up with the same mentor(s)?

  • We strive to keep students and mentors matched together for multiple years, but unfortunately it is not always possible. Please note in your permission form if you feel strongly about your child’s mentor match. If the mentor(s) return to Read Ahead and schedules permit, we will make every effort to accommodate your request!

My child is still learning English. Can they still participate in Read Ahead?

  • Yes! Our mentors speak many languages and if it would be best that your child be matched with a mentor(s) who can communicate with them in another language, please note this when you complete your permission form. We will do our best to make that possible and will consult with you or a school staff member if it is not possible. BookNook has a Spanish-English bilingual feature that can be used to support students.

How will Read Ahead benefit my child?

  • Our mentors provide one-on-one time and individualized attention with a non-school or family role model. They offer support, practice, and encouragement intended to boost students’ academic, personal, and reading confidence. Read Ahead provides both structured and unstructured reading activities and the opportunity to discuss books and life with trusted, caring adults, as well as peer-to-peer connections in the full group session activities. 

What is the mentor’s role?

  • Mentors support mentees’ reading and social-emotional development. They inspire enjoyment of learning and reading in a fun environment through conversation, reading together, and other activities. They also expose children to future educational and professional possibilities by sharing their own backgrounds.
  • Read Ahead mentors act as advisors, role models, coaches, and friends. A Read Ahead mentor is there to offer your child support, encouragement, and growth by fostering your child’s confidence and reading skills through check-ins, leading students through BookNook literacy lessons, and guiding them through free-reading time and fun activities. Mentoring has been shown to help students with academic performance, school attendance, and social emotional communication skills.

Can you tell me more about BookNook?

  • BookNook offers pre-built, personalized, standards-aligned English Language Arts lessons for children and mentors to do together. It’s fun for students and includes interactive educational games that help build targeted reading skills including vocabulary, comprehension, and more. BookNook is designed by educators, and is research-based and rigorous, while being fun for students! If you’d like to read more, visit their website.

Is the program free?

  • Yes! There is no cost to participating students, families, or schools! Read Ahead is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, funded through private donations.
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