Contributor: Michelle Moss-Owens
Children have more pressure on them now than they ever have. When Oklahoma adopted the “no social promotion” it really added pressure. Representatives at the Department of Education distaste the label that this agenda creates. However, children can’t leave the 3rd grade unless their reading score is at a certain level. The teachers start telling you this in kindergarten. My first conference with my son’s first grade teacher revolved around his reading score. Please understand the score indicates if your child can read within the timed test not necessarily if they can read or not. I don’t particularly like the test but as in most things … it really doesn’t matter because it’s the test they have chosen as their instrument for determining reading levels.
My son doesn’t pick a book on interest. He picks it because of the reading level. He knows what his friends reading levels are as well. In the library you aren’t allowed to check out books that are higher than your reading level. He was with a reading tutor most of the second half of the year. I approached his classroom teacher about tutoring him this summer. Unfortunately, the Moore Public School changed their tutoring policy and teachers aren’t allowed to tutor on school property. So his teacher has opted not to tutor this year.
I know my son. He needs to be tutored in an environment he knows. If he’s in an unfamiliar environment he will spend more time trying to figure everything else out and won’t focus on reading. We were told he qualified for summer school for his reading. We opted to go in a different direction. I don’t think forcing him to attend school for the month of June almost three hours a day will accomplish anymore than the whole school year.
Instead we are stepping up his reading activities at home. It’s a gamble. I have to trust that I know my son better than the school. I’m betting his 3rd grade promotion that I do know him best. I’ve spent the last seven years thinking of ways to help him understand things. He asks a lot of questions that I generally have to look up. His questions were greater than my knowledge several years ago.
I am fortunate because my son does love the library. We go often. We let him check out as many books as he likes. On Friday he checked out a graphic novel that was above his reading level. He was so taken with the book that he slept with it under his pillow. Over the weekend he read the 200 page book SEVEN times. The words he struggled with in the beginning now flow off his lips. At his insistence I looked up the author and discovered this book is his first one and another one is due in September 2012.
Summer is quickly approaching. Activities over the summer make all the difference in children’s ability to pick up the next year where they left off or even better … ahead of the curve. The first lesson to learn is to keep looking until you find something that will pique your child’s interest.