Our children take an incredible reading journey during their early school years.
From kindergarten to 4th grade, our children are expected to make giant leaps in their reading. From reading words to full sentences and expanding their vocabulary many times over to understanding all that they’re reading and writing.
During this great reading journey, we also expect most of our children will struggle at points to keep up, or even just lose interest. That’s where parents and other loving grownups come in to make sure they become strong readers.
One of the best ways we can do this is by knowing our child’s most current reading level as the teaching of reading is based on helping students master a series of reading levels from kindergarten through third grade:
- Kindergarten: Reading Levels A-C
- 1st grade: Reading Levels D-I
- 2nd grade: Reading Levels J-L
- 3rd grade: Reading Levels M-O
Parent guide to early reading skills is a great source that shows the skills your child should have based off of her grade.
Some children may begin to display a need for glasses at this age. You can use this document provided by the Willis Eye Hospital to see if your child may need glasses.
If your child is a student in the School District of Philadelphia, you can find her current reading level on her most recent report card to see if she’s reading on grade level. You can also look up your child’s report card here and download the School District’s detailed reading level chart.
Now that you know your child’s current reading level, it will be easier to find books that match her reading level, which will help her build confidence in reading. All children can make huge leaps in reading levels in a very short time, so keep in mind the best way to grow a reader is with books that aren’t too hard or too easy.
Life is full of teachable moments.
What we do as parents and other loving grownups can make all the difference. And what we’re talking about doesn’t take extra money, or even more time.
Experts say little changes we make in our children’s lives can make really big changes in getting them to the read-by-4th milestone. Some ideas:
- Make active reading an everyday thing. Read with your child rather than to her. Ask questions that can’t be answered with a yes or no. Share new words at every chance. Connect the story to your child: “How do you think she feels now? Have you ever felt that way? What would you do?” Find more tips here.
- Find the right books to keep your child interested in reading. Share a book you love. Try funny books of jokes or riddles. As your child gets older, see if they like a particular book series so they can keep reading about characters they love. See if your child thinks nonfiction books on things like history or science are cool. Audiobooks are also another great way to find stories your child will want to keep listening to.
- Make family storytelling a tradition. Give your child a journal to create a family memory book of drawings and writing about family experiences you have enjoyed together.
- Introduce different types of writing. Write letters, thank you notes, shopping lists, wish lists, labels and captions for drawings.
- Get in the routine of packing your child’s favorite book. Reading together is great for bus rides, waiting rooms, etc. Forgot to pack books? No worries. It’s a perfect time to make up stories together.
- Show them reading and writing is everywhere, not just in books. Read aloud all the signs you see together. Have them help you navigate a bus route by looking at maps together. Or have them pick from a menu what they want to eat.
- Play, then play some more. Whatever, whenever, wherever you play, give your children in-the-moment attention. Set up no-cell-phone zones during play time. Make your imaginations the best toy to share. What may seem like fun and games are continuing to build the motor, social and literacy skills they need for school.
Whether you’re playing or reading together, try to stretch the time you have together—not just in minutes, but in the amount of attention you give.
Is your child struggling with reading?
If your child is currently reading below grade level or behind in school, she’s not alone. Most of our children struggle with their reading and writing at some point. What’s important is to get them help as soon as possible. Here’s how.
- Partner with your child’s teacher and neighborhood librarian. Working together you can find ways to get your child the help, books and resources she needs based on her reading level. Here are some conversation starter ideas.
- Get a free reading screening from AIM Academy. You get immediate results and practical ideas from AIM’s certified school psychologists.
- Watch Empowering Parents, a PBS special hosted by Al Roker, on how families can identify and address early signs of reading problems. Reading Rockets is another great resource, as is Understood.org.
- Make sure your child attends school on time every day from start to finish. In just one day, she could make a giant leap in reading. The thing is, you never know which day that’s going to be. Here’s some ideas parents like you shared that are helping them make weekly perfect attendance a family goal.
- Be picky about your child’s out-of-school time. Our children actually spend more than 80% of their time outside of school, so what your child does after school, over the weekend and during the summer really matters. Find reading-rich programs at After School Activities Partnership.
Most of what we share comes from parents like you, so we welcome your ideas. Send us an email or call us.