Parents whose children are about to enter third grade in the fall may be concerned that their child fell behind because of virtual learning issues during the shelter-in-place orders amid the coronavirus pandemic. Third grade is the year that many children learn multiplication facts and begin to read harder texts (maybe chapter books).
The decreased availability of education for some children could leave parents feeling that their child has fallen behind and wondering how to help a third-grader with reading…especially as the academic stakes become much higher because of mandated standardized testing (which often begin in third grade).
The Learning Curve During Covid
When schools shut down across the country last spring, some districts were prepared for the online world of education and created extensive virtual learning options for students. Others might have been unable to provide access to learning for all students.
Parents were thrown into the role of teacher, and many may have been ill-prepared to help a third-grader with reading, teach math problems, explain science lessons, or create their own home school program.
Pew Research reported that lower-income families seemed to be hit the hardest during the school closures. According to Pew, “…about three-in-ten lower-income parents (29%) say their children’s school has provided not much or no instruction, versus 13% of those in the upper income group who say this.”
In addition, Pew also noted that a little more than 40 percent of low-income families were concerned that their child might backslide.
Even when the online learning options seemed to work perfectly in the eyes of the district, some parents may simply have been unable to take on the role of a teacher. Work obligations could have resulted in a lack of time for educational engagement with kids, and, for many parents, balancing work with overseeing online learning was simply overwhelming.
As businesses reopened and parents have been sent back to work, the fear is what education will look like this fall. Some districts are discussing an alternating schedule to reduce capacity or online learning options.
Parents have been outspoken about the struggle this poses to their daily lives, noting that the biggest complication to a partial reopening of schools (i.e. reduced capacity) is that many parents are expected by their employers to come into the office now that businesses have reopened.
How to Help a Third Grader with Reading Before School Begins
Summer may feel like catch-up time for parents to help their child before school begins in the fall. Maybe there is more time now to help a third-grader with reading or to work on math skills.
If time is still constrained, though, there are a few ways that parents can help kids during the summer…especially with reading. For children who just finished third grade or who are about to start third grade in the fall, here are a few ideas to help their reading journey:
- Sign children up for a reading club or program (via the library, school, etc.)
- Read together at night (ask ‘wh’ questions to gauge comprehension)
- Let children listen to the book as they read
- Play word games
- Download reading comprehension worksheets (or email the school for resources)
- Use a reading app like Readability
How Do Parents Know if a Child Has Fallen Behind?
The end of last year was fairly chaotic for many families. School didn’t look anything like the norm, and it may have been difficult to gauge a child’s intellectual growth.
Parents might not know their child’s reading level at the end of the year. However, there should be baselines from the middle of the year that parents can access by sending an email to the school.
Most children are given reading assessments throughout the year to gauge growth and identify possible struggles and concerns. If a child was on target mid-year, parents will at least have an idea as to what level was last mastered.
By understanding this reading level, parents can choose books that are a fit. If a child is still reading those leveled books fluently, parents may feel confident to boost them to more difficult text.
However, if a child was below grade-level or reading below the grade expectations before the pandemic, not making adequate progress or simply struggling, then parents may need to seek out additional literacy resources.
A reading app like Readability can help readers who struggle with comprehension or phonics. A built-in AI tutor corrects pronunciation issues and asks questions about the story to check for understanding. The app also moves with the child, and it only advances to a harder level when a child displays mastery.
While Covid and the shelter-in-place mandates have impacted learning, the pandemic also led to a spike in unemployment. Many families may be struggling financially, and educational resources may be an investment that must be carefully researched.
Readability provides a free seven-day trial for parents to explore the app’s features. Parents can start their free trial by simply entering an email address, and there is no obligation beyond the trial period.