The typical six-year-old is usually either in kindergarten or first grade (depending on their birthday and district mandates). Reading skills at age six can vary wildly—some children are proficient readers, others are working on sight words and early literacy skills. For this reason, some parents wonder if their 6 year old is struggling with reading.
If you are lying in bed at night fretting that “my 6 year old is struggling with reading!” try not to stress too much. Here’s how parents may be able to better determine if a child really is struggling:
Schools should have grading rubrics in place to help parents understand grade-level expectations. In elementary school, grades could be letters or numbers. With the number system, children are usually graded as ‘above grade level” (4), proficient/at-grade level (3), partial mastery (2) and area of concern (1). These explanations could differ per district, however. The letter system is a bit easier for parents to understand; A through F provides a bit more definition and less ambiguity for parents. A child with a C, for example, is still scoring average.
These rubrics and how a child measures provides a glimpse into subject mastery. Typically, schools will provide a progress report in the middle of a quarter to help parents better understand their child’s progress and their struggles. Scores and reports are one way that a parent can understand a child’s reading ability.
Many districts implement standardized tests in reading and math to better understand students’ progress and mastery in these subjects. These tests may be administered throughout the school year to ensure that children are progressing appropriately and meeting grade-level standards.
Parents should receive scores from these tests; typically, scores will show a percentile rank and how a child compares to peers in the same grade. These tests can vary, however, and if a child is ill, tired or simply just having a bad day, their scores could be affected.
If a child is consistently scoring low or seems to be struggling to read at home, too, parents may want to request a meeting with the teacher and discuss options or possible interventions. While a single low score may be a blip, consistently struggling on reading tests could warrant more attention.
Struggles at Home
Parents may notice struggles at home before a teacher picks up on an issue. Maybe a child fails to grasp what is read to them or has issues sounding out words. When reading with a child, any struggles should be noted.
That being said, parents should not expect children to read perfectly and without error. Reading—like all skills—takes time and practice. Yes, for some children reading comes naturally…and easily. For other children, though, reading requires nightly practice and some parent involvement.
How to Work on Reading Skills at Home
All kids should read for fun. Whether a parent reads to a child or if a child reads independently, books and stories should be encouraged for entertainment. Yet, reading also has to be a skill that is mastered so that children can read to learn.
Play Reading Games
Six-year-olds are still at the age where memorizing sight words may be part of the curriculum. Make flashcards to help children quickly identify these words. Or play sight word reading games. When reading a book or story, have children spot all the sight words for a scavenger hunt activity. Parents also can make Bingo cards and play Sight Word Bingo. Get creative to help children embrace a reading adventure!
Listen to a Book
Children can listen to an audiobook while reading or following along in a book or story. Hearing the story may help them better understand what is being read or learn to decipher difficult words. Some children are auditory learners, and listening may be a better way to absorb information.
Talk about the Story
Encourage children to read a level-appropriate book aloud. Help correct any errors they make while reading, and ask questions about the plot and characters, too. Focus on the ‘w/h’ questions of comprehension: who, what, when, where, why…and how.
Let Children Choose Their Books
Sometimes kids don’t like to read, because they simply don’t like the book or story. To encourage children to read, allow them to choose their own book. If you want to encourage independent reading, be sure to choose books on their level.
Use a Reading App
For parents who want instructional help for the child, a reading app like Readability may provide the support they need to increase their reading skills. Readability provides leveled content that advances in difficulty as a child masters each level; lessons are never too easy or too difficult. Stories offer interactive features and colorful illustrations to keep children immersed in the reading experience. Parents can track their child’s progress via the Parent Dashboard, which allows parents to view time spent on the app as well as the child’s reading level.
Parents should feel confident that an app is the right fit for their child’s individual needs, and Readability offers a seven-day free trial that allows parents and their child to explore the app’s content and features. Ready to try Readability? Sign up for a free trial today.