Thursday, May 20, 2010

Some Information You Need to Know from Your Child's Teacher

Luckily, as a teacher, I know what I need to ask at different points in the year from my kids' teachers, and I know what they mean. For most parents, however, teacher information is a bunch of educational jargon that, as long as the words "on or above grade level" come out, have little importance.

But they do.

Here's how to be informed.

You should find out your child's reading level -- that could be a number of different things. They may have a grade level equivalent - say, 2.5 (second grade fifth month). That is straightforward. But there are other numbers...depending on the testing format they are using. They may give you a number or a letter. What you need to do is ask for a table, or listing, that explains where that is, and most importantly, ask them to show you a few books that would be good examples of that level. It is essential you find out something else too. Ask if this is their independent or instructional level. There is a huge difference.

Independent levels, simply, is where they can manage the book on their own. They may have a few mistakes, but they are fine to themselves.

Instructional levels, however, are those books where they are capable, yet they need is where teachers start working with kids. This kind of book offers a little challenge above where they are (sometimes called I + 1 -- independent level +1). Those are the books you want to be reading with them (not to them).

Don't stop asking there. Get specific. Your teacher should be able to tell you how they came to that reading level, based on their fluency (pacing/how quickly and smoothly they read), accuracy (did they say the right words/decoding), and comprehension (based on questions, how do they understand what they are reading). If you have younger kids, they will also do some things called phonics and phonemic awareness. You will want to know which letters they still need to master, and what phonemes they need too. They will have a list of those for you.

Find out what area your child was strong...capitalize on that, and where they were weaker...strengthen that.


I can help. I can offer some suggestions on how to improve fluency, accuracy, comprehension, and the phonetic basis of reading. But you need to be armed with the right information, and it needs to be clear to you what type of material (text) to use. This goes from the very youngest child to the high schooler in your home.

No matter what strategies I offer, they have to have the right level of material so they can find success.

Go to school. Make an appt. with the teacher. Don't wait for the report card to come. Find out what you need to know to help your child.

You won't regret spending that extra bit of time with the teacher finding out. Trust me.

1 comment:

  1. This is sooo hlepful and wonderful information Jewellyn! Thanks!