In the primary grades (K-3), children develop reading ability at many different rates. At HIP, we feel it is inappropriate to label a child as a “poor reader” in grades 1 and 2. A study by Felton in 1992 found that 69% of “at risk” preschoolers had become good readers by third grade. But we also know (Juel) that children who have trouble reading in grade one will struggle with reading for the rest of their school careers.
An effective primary reading program with supportive at-home reading is ordinarily sufficient to bring most children to satisfactory levels of reading ability. For parental support, Paul Kropp recommends the Three R's in his book How to Make Your Child A Reader for Life : Read with your child every night; Reach into your purse to buy books your child will enjoy; and Rule the TV and videogames so there's time for reading every day.
Here is a set of early warning signs of a reluctant reader. If your answer is “yes” to three or more of these questions, it's time to confer with your child's teacher and step-up the reading activities at home.
- Is your child unable to concentrate or listen to a story for more than a few minutes?
- Is he unwilling to read aloud even on a one-to-one basis?
- Does he have difficulty blending sounds to decode long words?
- Does he guess wildly at difficult words – or skip over them?
- When reading aloud, does he fail to fix incorrect words, even if they don't make sense?
- Has his teacher mentioned reading issues to you?
- Are his results on state, provincial or standardized tests disappointing?
If you feel your child might be a struggling reader, we suggest you download the HIP Three-Minute Reading Assessment (click here) to get an estimate of your child's comfortable reading ability. Many parents have unduly high expectations of what children can and should read at a given age level. The HIP assessment, like any good standardized test, will sometimes show that your child has no substantial reading problems. However, if your child is reading two or more grade levels below the level of his class, he is certainly a struggling reader and some action needs to be taken.