Thursday, February 20, 2014

Reading below grade level

So, it has happened.  What could be worse for an elementary school librarian than to hear that your child is reading below grade level?  That happened when I received the midyear reading assessment for my kindergartner.  Christine is reading on a level B, and should be on Level C.  No, I did not hyperventilate.  I just shrugged my shoulders and said, “Eh?” 

As a person who loves reading more than anyone else I know, the most exciting experience I have had as a parent has been sharing my love of books and helping my children learn to read.  More than first steps, more than first words spoken, first words read have been the most significant.  This is because 1) reading is perhaps the most vital life skill a child needs for success in the world and 2) reading is just amazingly awesome.  AWESOME! I tell you!

My recent research on the importance of reading choice has helped me not to freak about the results of that midyear assessment.  We need to remember that any test is a snapshot of one day. It is not an all-encompassing picture of a child’s abilities. Christine is without a doubt the most strong-willed of my three children, and if she doesn't feel like doing something, it isn't done without a struggle.  I'm not worried, because here is what I know:
  • Christine lives in a print-rich environment.  Access to books is one predictor of a child’s success as an early reader.
  • She knows all of her letter sounds, the majority of her kindergarten sight words and can decode C-V-C (consonant-short vowel- consonant) words.
  • We read aloud every day.  She loves to listen to me read and she reads books to me.  Our favorite series?  Elephant & Piggie by Mo Willems

  • She has already moved from merely decoding words to reading with expression.
  • Her love of books is more important than an assessment. 

I expect that Christine will reach the goal of Level D at the end of the year and we will read lots this summer.  Not only does she have a reading model in me, but in her two older sisters as well.  Not on grade level?  So what?  She’ll get there, and we will not sacrifice her love of reading while doing so.

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