|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

First Grader's Reading Level

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: Our son started first grade last week. He started in a combo 1-2 class, and has been put into a straight first class now. While he is above grade level in math and science, he is not "reading" in class, according to his teacher. What level should he be at in the beginning of the year? We have taught him phonics and blending, which he demonstrates for us at home, but not necessarily in class yet. Also, what are your views on "sight reading" as a supplement to phonics?

A: First, I would not be too disturbed at your son's "assignment" to a "straight first class" at this time. You should not interpret this as a failure on his part to "measure up" and he certainly should not be made to feel that he is behind or that he has disappointed you or his teacher. A child can openly or internally feel this disappointment, fear, and sadness when these combined grade classes "sift out" into "lower and upper" levels.

Let's not forget that he has just turned six and that he has a natural time schedule inside him regarding all his learning, whether it's learning how to walk or learning how to do something as amazingly complex as reading. There is no reading level that he should be at as this school year begins. You have been providing him with encouragement and reading enrichment at home (I hope without any pressure to achieve a certain competency) and we hope that he is in a nurturing class where his teacher can adapt her reading teaching methods to his learning style. I certainly would share with her what you have been doing with him at home. Neither of you should apply any pressure on him to "get with the program". Reading is too complex a learning to insist that his brain do something NOW that it will naturally do later.

As to the seemingly controversial, never-ending phonics and whole language reading debate, I believe that creative combining of both methods has always been the way to go and let's face it, in the English language there are many words that you just have to learn by sight reading. Encourage your little guy in all he does in and out of school and perhaps talk with the teacher about not using the phrase "He's not reading." My guess is that he may be sounding out many words, both in and out of school, and only his successful progress should be referred to, not his inability to "do it all" right at this moment.

More on: Expert Advice

Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

3 Fun Thanksgiving Games for Kids
Looking for some great Thanksgiving games to play with your kids? Print our free Pin the Feathers on the Turkey game, Pin the Hat on the Pilgrim game, and Thanksgiving Parade Bingo game for loads of laughs this Turkey Day!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Top Family Movies in Theaters for the Holidays
Taking the kids to the movies is a special family treat for the holidays! Don't miss 2014's best family films in theaters from Thanksgiving through Christmas.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!