By Allison Gardenswartz, Consulting Educator
What is the developmentally appropriate expectation for kindergartners with regard to reading? I have a 6-year-old boy who is in kindergarten. He knows his letters and the sounds of each letter. He is making progress blending the sounds and reading words. He is not reading fluently at all and thinks that he is a "bad reader."
I think that the school environment puts too much pressure on him to be reading and he feels that he should be reading. He has had meltdowns at home about reading homework. I am constantly reassuring him that he is learning and practicing and is doing a great job. I know from my older son that some children don't read until later on. It would be helpful to understand, what is an appropriate expectation for kindergartners and reading?
Reading is definitely developmental and just like some children walk and talk earlier than others, some children will read earlier than others. One of the keys to reading is capitalizing on a child's interest in reading at the time that they show it. It is essential that a child feel good about reading and thus willing to put the effort into the struggle of trying to decode these letters and sounds into words with meaning.
Kindergarten is the year of learning to read. Kindergarten teachers expect that the reading readiness skills are in place prior to kindergarten and then they use the kindergarten year to ensure consistent knowledge of all letters and sounds, blending and beginning reading by the conclusion of the year.
For a child that is struggling, I always recommend going back to a place where he is confident and successful and then building from there. Read books that are sing song like or seem a little easy — maybe books that he has memorized, yet he can read aloud fluently to build confidence and get him feeling good about reading again. On a day when he feels frustrated or is melting down, allow him to sit in your lap while you read to him. As long as he is following along in the book and actively listening, he is improving his reading skills.
It is always beneficial to talk with the classroom teacher as well. Different teachers have different expectations and you should be clear on what the expectation is for your son. Ask for specific recommendations from the teacher of things that you might do and what the teacher's impression is of your son's level. If the expectation seems unreasonable, then perhaps it is worth discussing with the principal.
Use the summer before first grade to model reading daily in your lives and be sure that your son is reading daily, whether he reads independently or he sits with you while you read to him. The goal is to lay the foundation for reading to be a positive force in his life and an enjoyable experience!
Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.
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