Back to school: Florida State University center provides resources for families to help young learners

Students at a classroom in Atlanta listen to a teacher reading. Photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control via Unsplash.

As children across the country prepare to go back to the classroom — some for the first time since the COVID-19 global pandemic began — the Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR) at Florida State University has launched a resource section specifically for families navigating those crucial early years of learning.

The “For Families” section of the FCRR website contains a diverse array of videos, instructional materials and even a comic book series to give parents, caregivers and families resources to support their children’s reading.

“The pandemic continues to present so many challenges to children’s learning in school and at home,” said FCRR Director Nicole Patton Terry. “The picture that is emerging is distressing, especially among our students who were already more vulnerable to experiencing difficulty in school. Now more than ever, teachers and families are searching for solutions. The very least we can do is make sure they have access to evidence-based resources and support to help their children.”

As researchers across the country are still trying to understand how the pandemic has impacted student learning, emerging evidence suggests that many students did not experience the learning gains that schools would have hoped for last year. The disparities between student groups are pronounced, with reports of many students with disabilities, students who are growing up in poverty, and students in race-, ethnic-, and language-minority groups experiencing even greater challenges to learning.

FCRR was established in 2002 by the Governor’s office and the Florida Legislature to improve reading — and thus learning — through the latest research. Over the past two decades, they have produced evidence-based resources for children, families, schools and communities.

As more families supported their children’s learning at home over the past 18 months, FCRR created and adapted materials geared toward that learning environment. The “For Families” page is an extension of that work and includes resources developed by faculty-sponsored projects and initiatives including the Regional Education Laboratory Southeast, the National Center on Improving Literacy and more.

FCRR faculty and students also have been actively involved in helping support educators.

The FCRR website features additional resources specifically geared toward educators and provides activity pages, screening assessments and the latest research on different educational issues.

On a local level, this summer, FCRR faculty and students offered sessions at the Florida Department of Education’s Summer Literacy Institute and provided training in reading instruction for teachers in Leon County Schools.

“We’re working with Leon County Schools to connect the dots so that educators, families and communities have access to the evidence-based tools and resources they need and so that we can develop new solutions that can address the needs they’ve identified for their students,” Patton Terry said.


The Florida Center for Reading Research is an interdisciplinary research center at Florida State University. Drawing from multiple disciplines, FCRR investigates all aspects of reading and reading-related skills across the lifespan. Through rigorous and robust research, innovation and engagement, FCRR advances the science of reading to improve learning and achievement from birth through adulthood.