My child seems to be having real problems with reading but the teacher seems unconcerned. What can I do?
This is a difficult and anxiety-producing situation. Be it math, reading, science--when you're worried about your kid, it can be hard to think straight. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Make sure you and the teacher are seeing the same thing. First, collect your own evidence. Why do you think your child is behind in reading? Is it the time that homework takes? Is it the way they read aloud? Gather some data, like recording your child reading out loud if that is what is causing you some concern.
Teachers collect lots of data about their students. So make an appointment and ask the teacher to walk you through what the data is telling him or her. Be patient. Sometimes these reading assessments can be full of jargon. Just keep asking questions until you understand. Then present the evidence you have. Listen to the recording with the teacher and ask him or her to tell you what they hear.
At Greatschools.org they have very helpful milestone videos will give you examples of what fluent readers sound like at each grade-level.
2. Depending on what you and the teacher talked about, agree on how often you will check in about your child’s progress. It’s hard to have patience but remember that learning to read can be like riding a bike or learning to swing. When your child is ready, it will click.
3. If you are still concerned, make an appointment with the reading specialist and ask for some things you can do at home. Then try those strategies for a few months to see if anything improves. Keep a record. (They will likely suggest #4)
4. Go back to the basics. Understanding that words are made up of parts and each part makes a particular sound is a basic component of reading. So talk about words and their parts with your child. All the time. In down time. At supper time. The teacher will have suggestions but games such as "I Spy" can easily be adapted. For example, you can draw out the sounds in a word and say something like: "I spy a sss--eeeaaa---ttt bbbb---eeellll---tttt. What is it?" And then your child says "seatbelt!" And then you switch.
5. Read to your child. Every night. Always. Help your child feel the pleasure of a good book. Learning to read can be hard and your child will need the delight of a good story to keep their motivation.
6. Help your child not get discouraged. Struggling with learning to read can be very demoralizing for a grade-schooler. Remind them they can do hard things and you have every confidence that they will get it eventually.
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