Parents should send questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or ask them on the columnists' Web site at www.dearteacher.com.
Is My Child Reading on Grade Level?
Question: How can I tell if my child is really reading on grade level? Everything seems to be going along all right for him in third grade. – Curious
Answer: First of all, your child's report card should indicate if he is reading on grade level. And it will also tell you how well he is reading on grade level. A visit to your child's classroom during reading time will give you an added picture of how well he is doing compared to his classmates. Plus, a chat with his teacher should make it clear to you how well he is reading.
You can do an informal reading test by having him read a passage of a current assignment in a grade level reader. If he doesn't make more than five errors per 100 words, you can be fairly confident that he's reading on grade level. You can also find out if his reading skills are developing appropriately by visiting the Reading Rockets Web site (www.readingrockets.org/article/162). This Web site also has information on other grade levels.
And here is one more important determiner of his reading skills – if he truly enjoys reading and frequently has his nose in a book, things are probably fine.
Incidentally, you are right to be concerned about whether or not your third grader is reading on grade level. Children who are not reading on grade level at the end of this year are likely to face considerable difficulty in school in fourth grade and beyond when reading shifts to reading for learning content area material.
Additional Help with Textbook Extras
Question: Are there textbook aids that will offer my child extra help? – Need Extra Help
Answer: Schools are now looking for textbooks that provide students with additional help for their studies. There are textbooks that have CD recordings of the material. A recording can be downloaded to a computer so students can read the material as they listen to it being read. It can even be downloaded to an iPod. This is very helpful for weak readers who aren't comfortable reading textbooks above their reading level. Some textbooks are also linked to a companion Web site.
If you look in the front of your children's textbooks, you may find a section that lists aids that can be purchased. This can include extra quizzes, exercises, workbooks and CDs. Also, some will list helpful Web sites or other beneficial resources.
In addition, most textbooks now have available for teachers extra materials for special-needs children – gifted, learning disabled, English as a second language students. They present the textbook material in the way these students need.
Don't ignore the extra aids that are already in your children's textbooks. Students often find running glossaries, chapter-review exercises, boldfaced terms, discussion questions and self-tests to be helpful.