The state of Florida released its reading scores, which revealed that 53 percent of third graders passed the reading test. This means that 47 percent of third-graders are lagging behind. However, a passing score was a three. The Florida Phoenix reported that a proficient score was a four or five, and only one in four third graders were reading proficiently.
Third-grade reading skills can impact the future of a child. The Reading Foundation reports that 74 percent of third graders who are lagging behind in reading at the year’s end won’t catch up. Third-grade reading also predicts high school success; one study notes that third graders who aren’t proficient readers are more likely to drop out of high school.
What can parents do? Understanding a child’s reading struggles is an important first step. A child isn’t a statistic. Children can overcome the odds against them, but many will need help. Some might need additional reading intervention.
The earlier that parents can catch a child’s reading struggles, the sooner they can advocate for their child and find ways to help their child with reading. Helping children learn to read, though, can and should begin early—even at infancy.
Here are some tips for parents to encourage reading and to help guide their child’s reading at home.
Read to Babies
Babies aren’t too young for reading. Children learn vocabulary from parents. Reading can even begin in the womb. Read to an unborn baby.
New parents might be too exhausted to read to newborns, but as babies are more alert and wakeful as they age, parents can begin to read to them. Choose books that engage infants. They love to explore textures and sounds.
Some board books include soft or bumpy textures that are appealing to curious little ones. As infants begin to explore their surroundings, they might love these interactive books.
Storytime also can be a wonderful bonding opportunity for parents and babies. Choose a few books before bedtime and begin a nighttime routine that continues as they get older.
Toddlers and Reading Regularly
Toddlers are exploring their world. Books are a journey into new adventures and introduce fun new friends, too. Toddlers also might love books that feature flaps that can be lifted, buttons that can be pushed for sounds and books with textures.
Most toddlers still take a daily nap. Parents might read before both naptime and bedtime. There’s no such thing as too many books!
Reading Tips Preschoolers
Preschoolers can begin to learn their alphabet and the sounds of each letter. To help toddlers prepare for reading, parents can play games with them to make phonics lessons fun and engaging.
Draw letters with chalk while playing outside. Fill a small children’s pool with water and make words out of floating letters (alphabet soup!). Parents also can make a match game to help children practice letters; make one card with the uppercase letter and one with the lowercase letter. Mix up the cards, and flip over two at a time to try to make matches.
Most importantly, read to toddlers every day. Make reading a habit and encourage children to select books for parents to read. Some precocious toddlers might even begin sounding out words.
Kindergarten, First Grade and Second Grade Reading Tips
Kindergartners will begin reading during this grade. They will learn to sound out small words and read simple books. Kindergarteners and first graders also will need to memorize and master a list of sight words.
In addition, children will focus on answering questions about the books and stories they read. Comprehension in both kindergarten and first grade may focus on the simpler elements of the story, though (the who, what, where, when, why and how).
In kindergarten and first grade, parents can still read aloud to children. However, they also will need to help children practice their sight words. Use flashcards or games to help children gain mastery over sight word lists.
Children also should read aloud to practice their reading skills. If parents notice that a child is struggling with phonics or comprehension, they can reach out to the teacher for guidance on how to best provide help. Parents should be sure that children are reading books at the correct reading level.
Each year, reading becomes more complex. Second graders might still be responsible for memorizing a list of sight words. In addition, some second graders could be reading chapter books.
Identifying reading struggles by second grade could help ensure that parents provide a child with the literacy help they need before they begin third grade. Start a dialogue with the child’s teacher to gain a better understanding of a child’s struggles and how best to help.
If a child is reading far below grade level, they could qualify for intervention at school. In addition, parents who are concerned about a child’s reading also could schedule an appointment with a pediatrician. The pediatrician could provide additional referrals to other specialists that could help diagnose any learning disorders or other medical conditions.
Helping Third Graders and Older Elementary Students
Children in third grade and beyond will likely be reading shorter or even longer chapter books. While children in earlier grades were learning to read, children in upper grades are reading to learn.
Children who fall behind in reading could also fall behind in other subjects as they get older. If a child cannot read well, they also could have difficulty deciphering meaning from other textbooks and subjects like science and social studies.
Parents can help children with reading at home by asking questions during reading, using tools like graphic organizers for reading comprehension bookmarks and even reaching out to educators for any additional resources that can be used to guide children.
If parents are concerned about their child’s reading, they might request additional evaluations from the school or work with a pediatrician to gain referrals to specialists.
How a Reading Program Could Help Children of All Ages
Children who struggle to read could be at risk for falling farther behind their peers. Third grade becomes a pivotal point for struggling readers, as this might be the grade where catching up to peers and hitting the necessary reading benchmarks could become extremely difficult.
Parents can use Readability from preschool through fifth grade to help guide the reading struggles of their child. Readability includes a built-in AI tutor that is programmed with voice recognition software. When using Readability, the child reads books aloud; the tutor listens for any struggles and provides help when necessary.
The AI tutor also asks questions at the end of each story to test a child’s comprehension. If a child answers a question incorrectly, the tutor shows them a section from the book to help them answer the question. The tutor also reads this aloud. The child can then have another chance to answer the question correctly.
Readability also helps children increase their vocabulary skills. Every book in Readability includes a vocabulary list, and children also can tap any word in a story to hear the definition or hear it used in a sentence.
Parents are provided with a private portal in the program to follow their child’s program. They can access their child’s reading data; parents can review their child’s reading fluency, comprehension, and readability. They also can see how long their child used the program.
The earlier a parent identifies their child’s reading struggles, the sooner they can intervene and provide help and guidance. Parents can sign up for a free seven-day trial period for Readability to explore the program and use it with their child. Sign up for a trial today and see how Readability can help boost a child’s confidence, reading fluency and comprehension.