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Reading Below Grade Level?

Question: How Do I Help My Child Who Is Reading Below Grade Level?

#GreatQuestion! Here’s my veteran homeschool mom answer—IMHO.

Reading Below Grade Level

I find this interesting because my friend’s son, who is in second grade is reading “below grade level” even though his school requires him to bring home a book to read aloud to his parents every school day. He has read aloud over 65 books at his grade level since September. I’ve had the privilege of helping him with this homework about once a week.

Sometimes it is a struggle for him to read. Other times he reads harder words faster than I would expect—challenging, multi-syllabic words.

I don’t expect this “label” to impact his future. He will most likely go to college and major in engineering or physics or IT because it’s his area of gifting. He is a child—impressing people with his reading skills is not high on his list.

How does that variance in his reading skills test out accurately? Second graders are not very consistent at that age. They can be tired, bored, or distracted during a test. I would expect that to skew the results.

Does Reading Below Grade Level Matter?

Dr. Howard Richman (Ph.D. in education and homeschool advocate at PAhomeschoolers.com) did a reading comprehension research project. One part of the study was to see if there was a correlation between the age a child learned to read and the reading comprehension level in 5th and 6th grade.

Reading: What Works Well at Home  Guess what he discovered? “It appears that, as far as their eventual reading ability is concerned, it may not matter when students start to read.” This article is worth reading this article if you want to learn more about what works to help your child become a great reader.

Stop Putting Them in a Box

Children are unique individuals. Let’s stop trying to categorize by putting them in a “grade-level” box.

Yes, testing is a way to determine if perhaps a child needs help. It’s not hurting my friend’s son to read a book every day. There’s nothing wrong with helping a child through intervention. Early intervention is helpful and good, but labeling isn’t always right.

A teacher with multiple degrees and certifications once told me that even if a child overcomes the problem, labels never go away on their school records. Do you think that’s a problem?

Help is what they need, not who they are from now on.

What to Do About Your Child’s Reading Level

  • Find out what your child needs to learn in reading or to practice.
  • Look for a reading course or workbook that addresses that need.
  • Sit with your child as you work through the program together—providing instant feedback that is positive and encouraging.
  • Watch as your child overcomes reading difficulties and makes progress.
  • Read this article about late reading-Do Children Read Too Early?

That’s the beauty of one-on-one teaching typical of homeschooling. It is also typical of parents who want to help their child do his best in any educational setting.

Hope this helps.

Harriet Yoder

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