Second grader not meeting reading expectations

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  September 27, 2011 06:00 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

dear Barbara,

My son is in 2nd grade, I held him out the first two weeks waiting for the district do a grade level test. We just moved to Pa. They said he was at 2nd grade level with a need for extra reading class, in the first week his teacher and I noticed he is not at all up to 2nd grade level. The principal does not want to retain him with this new study showing kids retained drop out in high school. I know I should of been retained in 2nd grade but they kept pushing me forward even though I was struggling for years, as soon as I got to 10th grade I dropped out.I want better for my son, so on that note am I doing the right thing by retaining him? That means he will be in a new classroom, new teacher; its already a new school, new town I'm afraid its all to much for him to handle. Help please

From: Jeanette, Monroeville, PA

Dear Jeanette,

Holding a child back continues to be a hot-button topic, that continually generates headlines, including this one in Sunday's New York Times: "Delay Kindergarten at Your Child's Peril." Every time I answer a question about it here, there is always a heated discussion. So here I go:

I'm an advocate for meeting a child's individual needs; the principal's idea of sticking to a policy on principle is inflexible and wrong-minded. One policy does not fit all.

On the other hand, second grade is a tough time to hold back (when I've recommended it the past, I was always talking about kindergarten), especially since he's started the year and, as you point out, already made a bunch of major adjustments.

With that in mind, I would keep him where he is and use every resource you can think of -- the teacher, a tutor, the school librarian, the guidance counselor, the town library -- to get him the extra help he needs and to instill a love of reading. Would a literacy program help? Does he need an Individual Educational Plan? Does he need glasses? Spend time at the library with him, get to know the librarian, have her recommend books, do all you can to read to him on a daily basis, to sprinkle your home with reading material. Be a parent who models a love of reading. And if that isn't you, if you hate to read because it's hard for you -- get yourself some help. I can't think of anything that would be a better role model than for you to say to your son, "I never learned how to read well; let's do this together."

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

8 comments so far...
  1. I was diagnosed with severe myopia when I started first grade, when I was six. I never went to kindergarten (wasn't required back in the 1960's). For the first six years of my life I had no idea that the world wasn't a blurry, shadowy place. Barbara's idea of an eye test is great. When I showed up for class the first day the teacher wrote on the blackboard and I walked right up to it to try to see what she wrote. She sent me straight to the school nurse for the eye test. The nurse asked me to tell her where the apple was on the table (remember that test?). I asked her where the table was. Once I got my first set of glasses I was on fire! I still read about 3 books a week.

    Read with your son. Learn to love books, for yourself and for him.

    Posted by JBar September 27, 11 08:56 AM
  1. I'm a first grade teacher and I can tell you with 100% certainty that children get to be good readers by READING and by TALKING ABOUT READING.

    Read a bedtime story to your child EVERY NIGHT. Talk about it--Did you ever feel like that? Does that make you think of another book? What do you think he'll do next? If your child interrupts you to ask a question, let him! Let it create a discussion, and then stick a bookmark in the page and finish the next night.

    Hit up the library--It's FREE! You pick some, he picks some. Make it a routine, like Tuesday after school. Ask the librarian to suggest good books for him to read to you and for you to read to him. Get books he can explore, that are too high for him to read but he can look at the pictures. The important thing is that he's interested so if he loves trucks, find monster truck books.

    Your child should be bringing home a book to read EVERY NIGHT. Request that from the teacher if he isn't. It should be on HIS LEVEL to read to you. It's hard to listen to a beginning reader! It takes patience. Talk about this book the same way you talk about the bedtime story. If he gets to the end of a page and doesn't remember what happened, back up and have him reread it.

    Practice his sight words with flashcards, jumping jacks, relay races (he gets to run across the living room and slap the wall if he can read it), closing his eyes and spelling the word, anything that helps remember. Start small (2-3 words) and add more words in.

    Whatever his spelling words are, it's important he can read words with that PATTERN. If he has dog/log/frog, he should also practice bog/hog/cog.

    This sounds like a lot of work, but it can be easy once it's a routine. Do these things whether you hold him back or not. He needs a foundation before he can build the walls of the house.

    And last, my personal opinion of retention is that some kids need it. Dropout rates are higher for kids who have been retained, but like the letter writer said, he's likely to drop out if he spends the next 8 years frustrated because he can't read what everyone else can.

    Good luck, letter writer! You are an awesome parent. You are worried about your child LEARNING and pushing him to get the best education possible. What a lucky little boy to have you in his corner!

    Posted by 1st grade teacher September 27, 11 10:53 AM
  1. I trust the classroom teacher more than the principal. She/he knows what is expected in 2nd grade and sees second graders every day, while the principal may have never taught 2nd grade. From a teacher's perspective, you know your child best.
    If it was my child and the teacher and I both thought retention was the way to go, I would go for it. Explain it to your child from the perspective that the new school does things differently than the old school and first grade is a better fit for them. I think it being a new school, in a new place, there won't be a better time to retain him.

    Posted by teacherinmass September 27, 11 10:09 PM
  1. Is he behind in other things besides reading, such as math, motor skills, social skills? Is he small for his age or have a late birthday? Then I'd hold him back. If he's on track with everything else and just needs extra work on the reading I'd have him go ahead. Otherwise you'll have a kid who's doing great in first grade reading but is bored out of his gourd the rest of the time.

    Posted by di September 29, 11 12:55 PM
  1. Please have your child tested for a language based learning disability such as dyslexia. Testing should be done by a neuropsychiatrist. These disabilities are often genetic and may explain your struggles in school.

    Posted by Mom of Dyslexic September 29, 11 12:58 PM
  1. Does he have all of his site words down? My son's school uses Lively Letters program and the kids love it. It is all song based and it was very helpful. They used it in K, but it might be worth looking at. It's also very pricey from what I hear.

    Posted by mom September 29, 11 01:51 PM
  1. I agree with the librarian suggestion. I'm a librarian at a small public branch and I love helping kids find books to read. It really doesn't matter if its a fiction story or a non-fiction as long as he's reading. I've had the best luck getting boys hooked with non-fiction, what's his favorite thing? Get a book on that and go from there.

    Posted by Kali September 29, 11 09:45 PM
  1. I am co-director of Reading with TLC, the program that features Lively Letters, which a parent above mentioned. It will not necessarily help a child overcome reading disabilities and bring a child up to speed. Think about it...if you had a child who had trouble walking, would you just keep telling him to walk or would you find out what is stopping him and try to help him overcome the disability?
    Just keeping a child back and giving him more of the same might also not be enough to help. Ask for a research-based phonics program and supplement it with all that reading that was recommended above. I wish you the best of luck!

    Posted by Penny Castagnozzi January 4, 12 06:01 PM
 
8 comments so far...
  1. I was diagnosed with severe myopia when I started first grade, when I was six. I never went to kindergarten (wasn't required back in the 1960's). For the first six years of my life I had no idea that the world wasn't a blurry, shadowy place. Barbara's idea of an eye test is great. When I showed up for class the first day the teacher wrote on the blackboard and I walked right up to it to try to see what she wrote. She sent me straight to the school nurse for the eye test. The nurse asked me to tell her where the apple was on the table (remember that test?). I asked her where the table was. Once I got my first set of glasses I was on fire! I still read about 3 books a week.

    Read with your son. Learn to love books, for yourself and for him.

    Posted by JBar September 27, 11 08:56 AM
  1. I'm a first grade teacher and I can tell you with 100% certainty that children get to be good readers by READING and by TALKING ABOUT READING.

    Read a bedtime story to your child EVERY NIGHT. Talk about it--Did you ever feel like that? Does that make you think of another book? What do you think he'll do next? If your child interrupts you to ask a question, let him! Let it create a discussion, and then stick a bookmark in the page and finish the next night.

    Hit up the library--It's FREE! You pick some, he picks some. Make it a routine, like Tuesday after school. Ask the librarian to suggest good books for him to read to you and for you to read to him. Get books he can explore, that are too high for him to read but he can look at the pictures. The important thing is that he's interested so if he loves trucks, find monster truck books.

    Your child should be bringing home a book to read EVERY NIGHT. Request that from the teacher if he isn't. It should be on HIS LEVEL to read to you. It's hard to listen to a beginning reader! It takes patience. Talk about this book the same way you talk about the bedtime story. If he gets to the end of a page and doesn't remember what happened, back up and have him reread it.

    Practice his sight words with flashcards, jumping jacks, relay races (he gets to run across the living room and slap the wall if he can read it), closing his eyes and spelling the word, anything that helps remember. Start small (2-3 words) and add more words in.

    Whatever his spelling words are, it's important he can read words with that PATTERN. If he has dog/log/frog, he should also practice bog/hog/cog.

    This sounds like a lot of work, but it can be easy once it's a routine. Do these things whether you hold him back or not. He needs a foundation before he can build the walls of the house.

    And last, my personal opinion of retention is that some kids need it. Dropout rates are higher for kids who have been retained, but like the letter writer said, he's likely to drop out if he spends the next 8 years frustrated because he can't read what everyone else can.

    Good luck, letter writer! You are an awesome parent. You are worried about your child LEARNING and pushing him to get the best education possible. What a lucky little boy to have you in his corner!

    Posted by 1st grade teacher September 27, 11 10:53 AM
  1. I trust the classroom teacher more than the principal. She/he knows what is expected in 2nd grade and sees second graders every day, while the principal may have never taught 2nd grade. From a teacher's perspective, you know your child best.
    If it was my child and the teacher and I both thought retention was the way to go, I would go for it. Explain it to your child from the perspective that the new school does things differently than the old school and first grade is a better fit for them. I think it being a new school, in a new place, there won't be a better time to retain him.

    Posted by teacherinmass September 27, 11 10:09 PM
  1. Is he behind in other things besides reading, such as math, motor skills, social skills? Is he small for his age or have a late birthday? Then I'd hold him back. If he's on track with everything else and just needs extra work on the reading I'd have him go ahead. Otherwise you'll have a kid who's doing great in first grade reading but is bored out of his gourd the rest of the time.

    Posted by di September 29, 11 12:55 PM
  1. Please have your child tested for a language based learning disability such as dyslexia. Testing should be done by a neuropsychiatrist. These disabilities are often genetic and may explain your struggles in school.

    Posted by Mom of Dyslexic September 29, 11 12:58 PM
  1. Does he have all of his site words down? My son's school uses Lively Letters program and the kids love it. It is all song based and it was very helpful. They used it in K, but it might be worth looking at. It's also very pricey from what I hear.

    Posted by mom September 29, 11 01:51 PM
  1. I agree with the librarian suggestion. I'm a librarian at a small public branch and I love helping kids find books to read. It really doesn't matter if its a fiction story or a non-fiction as long as he's reading. I've had the best luck getting boys hooked with non-fiction, what's his favorite thing? Get a book on that and go from there.

    Posted by Kali September 29, 11 09:45 PM
  1. I am co-director of Reading with TLC, the program that features Lively Letters, which a parent above mentioned. It will not necessarily help a child overcome reading disabilities and bring a child up to speed. Think about it...if you had a child who had trouble walking, would you just keep telling him to walk or would you find out what is stopping him and try to help him overcome the disability?
    Just keeping a child back and giving him more of the same might also not be enough to help. Ask for a research-based phonics program and supplement it with all that reading that was recommended above. I wish you the best of luck!

    Posted by Penny Castagnozzi January 4, 12 06:01 PM
add your comment
Required
Required (will not be published)

This blogger might want to review your comment before posting it.

About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

Submit a question for Barbara's Mailbag


Ask Barbara a question

Barbara answers questions on a wide range of topics, including autism, breastfeeding, bullying, discipline, divorce, kindergarten, potty training, sleep, tantrums, and much, much more.

Send your questions to her at:
meltzbarbara (at) gmail.com.
Please include your name and hometown.

Child in Mind

Moms
All parenting discussions
Discussions

High needs/fussy baby

memes98 writes "My 10.5 month old DS has been fussy ever since he was born, but I am getting very frustrated because I thought he would be much better by now...has anyone else been through this?"

More community voices

Child in Mind

Corner Kicks

Dirty Old Boston

Mortal Matters

On Deck

TEDx Beacon Street

RSS feed


click here to subscribe to
Child Caring

archives