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Bringing Kids Up to Grade Level in Reading

by Victoria Thompson

A child's reading proficiency is linked to every other subject in school and directly affects academic achievement. Reading fluently and on grade level leads to discovery learning that helps spark the imagination. When a child struggles with reading, his confidence in his ability to perform academically may flounder as well, so it's imperative to recognize a struggle with reading early, before frustration begins.

Read Aloud to Kids

When reading aloud to a child, the adult models fluent reading and the child learns proper intonation. Children benefit from being read to by increasing vocabulary knowledge, reading comprehension and the ability to decode words, according to Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S. of Family Education.com. Because a struggling reader is at a disadvantage and is likely to choose material with simple vocabulary that doesn't support vocabulary growth, choose read-aloud material that is above the child's reading level and explain difficult words and concepts to further his comprehension.

Understand Child's Reading Progress

Parents who are engaged with a child's academics and communicate regularly with teachers are more likely to understand and support the reading goals of each grade level. Discuss your child's reading level with her teachers and listen to your child read aloud often so you can recognize a problem before it become serious. As your child reads, ask yourself: Does he read without many errors? Can he decode text and comprehend concepts?

Discuss What's Being Read

Some children may have difficulty concentrating when reading independently. Ask questions throughout the text to help comprehension. Pause after each section to model questioning and answering strategies. Your reader will begin to understand that this is a natural part of the reading process, used to retain information. With frequent modeling and practice, he will begin to silently ask himself questions about the text to further his understanding.

Re-Read Text

Reading text more than once builds fluency. By re-reading content with which they're already familiar, children practice reading with smoothly and fluently, enhancing their ability to decode unfamiliar vocabulary words in the context of what they're reading. Going over a passage or a book and reading it again improves word recognition and comprehension.

Provide Variety of Reading Material

Reading is more enjoyable when the reading materials are interesting to the reader. Visit the local library to let your reader choose his own books. This creates ownership and builds excitement. Play books on tape so your child can relax and listen for entertainment, while following along with the story in a book. Children who grow up seeing the adults around them read are more likely to become proficient readers themselves, so surround yourself with books and let your child see you read during leisure time.

About the Author

Based in North Carolina, Victoria Thompson has taught middle school for the past 15 years. She holds a Masters of Education in middle school instruction from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She teaches English daily to English as a second language students.

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