“My son’s teacher said he’s behind in reading!”
Are you worried about your child’s reading level? You thought everything was fine and then the teacher tells you it’s not fine? And, that if you don’t do something . . . he will repeat the grade, he will require summer school, he will be in serious trouble . . . ?
This happened to Nichole in my Book Love launch group. We hung out on Google + last Friday night to chat about a recent conference with her son’s first grade teacher. Apparently her son would flunk if he didn’t get from level C to level I by the end of the year.
What I found, and what is very common, is that Nichole had NO reason to worry.
Trickle-Down Pressure to Read
Developmental experts and reading specialists know that age does not equal reading ability. You don’t suddenly become a reader (or ready to read) because you turned five or six. Yet, because of the federal pressures to perform on standardized tests, schools are pressuring the teachers who are pressuring the parents and students.
I honestly feel so much compassion for teachers. It’s a stressful time to be in education.
But, pressuring kids to read is:
1) not going to help them love reading,
2) developmentally inappropriate (in kindergarten especially) grade,
3) not going to work. Read what you should see in your child’s classroom for reading.
Do This: Don’t Worry
Nichole told me, “My son only knows 40 of 42 sight words!”
And as I listened, I thought, how awesome is that! He knows all but 2.
But, her son’s teacher felt this was a serious problem.
Really? 40 out of 42 is not a problem. 9 out of 42 might be concerning. Isn’t it interesting that perspective?
And, Nichole’s son has 9 months to get to level I so why is the teacher telling Nichole to worry? Pressure from administration, probably.
Do This: Make Reading Fun, Not Stressful
The reason I wrote Book Love is to give you a resource you could easily flip through and use for ideas right-this-second to make reading fun for your kids.
Consider these two reading scenarios — which would encourage Book Love?
#1. You set the timer, sit and read with your child while your other kids are playing. She painfully sounds out the words, and then repeats reading the book over and over as required by the school. Then you have to log in the book, title, and author.
#2. You ask your child to choose a books from his special book shelf of books. .Together you go to his favorite cozy reading spot, decorated with beanbags, pillows, lamps, and posters. Then, you take turns reading and chatting about the book. You might even have special reading snacks and drinks. You glance at the clock but aren’t too worried about the time because you know it will be around 10 – 30 minutes depending on how many books you read. You’d rather you read for joy than worry about the time.
Of course, scenario #2 is much more likely to encourage Book Love. That’s the goal.
Do This: Modify the Reading Homework
Consider why the school is requiring your child to do the reading activities and homework — for her to learn to read, right? Your goals are the same. However, you can modify the requests of the school to make it more fun and to better fit your child’s personality and still meet the reading goal. Explain to your teachers your homework modifications, and how you are going to be working toward the goal of reading comprehension improvement BUT, in your own way. Assure the teacher that you want the same thing as she or he does.
Most of the time, the teachers are very happy to know how involved you are and are wiling to be flexible.
P.S. Remember, Don’t Worry
I want you to know that you are doing a good job. Children develop on their own timeline, and if we can just allow them to grow at their own pace, they’ll usually be just fine. Really. But, if it seems that reading is just not clicking, and there is no growth, then you do need to investigate.
*Next week, watch for a post about the signs of a learning disability.