I had a conversation this week with a friend who was angry and upset about the fact that her fifth grade son needed a reading tutor.
"Honestly, why didn't I know that he needed help way back in third grade? Why did it take this teacher this long to finally let me know that my kid was having problems? HOW could he be so far behind—now?" she pleaded.
Without getting into the details of her particular situation, I will say that she is not alone.
Many of the students I tutored over the last ten years I found to be two, three, or four reading levels below the targets for their grade level. Often, all it takes is one year for a student to miss some integral pieces in the reading comprehension skillset, and he or she begins to fall further and further behind.
How does this happen? How should parents stay on top of this kind of thing when there is so much to know and do? How do you know if your child needs a reading intervention? When should you push the panic button?
There's no hard and fast answer for every child, but here are a few elements to keep in mind:
• Know the chart below. You don't need to memorize it! Just keep it handy, and when report cards or progress reports arrive, look at the chart. Know where your child is and where he or she should be.
Should you panic if your kindergartner is reading at a level A at the end of the school year? You might want to talk to the teacher. Level A is still in the first grade range, but if the child has been struggling to meet Level A benchmarks all year long and isn't making progress, then you need to connect.
Should you panic if your second grader finishes the year at a level M? Probably not. Level M is in the range for the first part of third grade, so if you keep up the reading over the summer, you can see how your child progresses once the school year begins.
(Chart taken from A Parent's Guide to Guided Reading)
• Know how your child reads. Now and again, ask your child to read to you. It doesn't always have to be a book, though books totally work. Have your son read the lunch menu or the headline of the newspaper to you in the morning before school. Have your daughter read you the steps of a recipe while you make dinner.
Always have a sense of how your child reads. If you notice huge pushback or feel like something isn't right, talk to your child's teacher.
• Know your child's teacher. Always keep an open line of communication with the teacher. If you have any concerns, email. Call. Request a conference. You, as a parent, are permitted—encouraged!—to know at all times how your child is performing and progressing in school.
What questions do you have about this important topic? We'd love to know!
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Read all posts by Amy Mascott.