The Blog

As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!

Reading Readiness

As parents you can do many things before your child goes toschool so that

he will be ready to learn to read. One of the most important is for you to read

to your child. While reading, you can put your finger under the word so that your child begins

to associate the sound of the word with the printed word. It

also helps to stop the story and ask him what he thinks will

happen next, or how the characters feel, or how he would like the

story to end. There are endless questions that help to keep your

child involved and to use his imagination.

If your child does not enjoy these questions but only wants

you to be close and to read to him, sometimes the same story over

and over and over again, do just that. Parents reading to their

children should first and foremost be a pleasant activity.


After doing all of these pre-reading activities, some

parents are surprised and dismayed when their child goes to

school and does not seem to be learning to read. The child does

not get an “S” for Satisfactory but gets a “N” for Needs

Improvement. If this happens to your child, immediately request

a conference with the teacher in order to understand your child’s

program. The better you understand the program, the more helpful

you can be. It is very important that parents take this action

early in order to bring about change and eventual improvement.

It is not helpful to wait until the school year is over to find

out why your child is not making progress in reading.

The reason for this is that, if there is an undetected

problem, your child may be missing out on appropriate reading

instruction in the very important early grades.


By third grade most programs are geared to children who have

already learned to read. Children are given books in science and

math and sometimes social studies and are expected to know how to

read them. Less time is spent on learning the mechanics of

reading. More time is spent on using reading as a tool for

learning. Children who are not on grade level are at a

disadvantage and it is very difficult for them to catch up. Each

year they fall further behind. If your child is not on grade

level in reading by the end of the second grade, it might be to

his advantage to be given another year at second grade in order

to become efficient in using reading as a tool


One little girl had not learned how to read by the end of

second grade. When she transferred to another school, her mother

requested that she be placed in second grade again rather than

going on to third grade. The new school ignored the mother’s

request and put the child in third grade. The girl’s mother

acquiesced because now her daughter’s new classmates may feel she

was being “put back”. ¬†After two weeks in the new third grade,

the child herself asked to be put into second because she could

not read. She understood that until she could learn to read, she

could not do the third grade work. As a second grader, I am

happy to report that she is doing well and making progress. She

feels good about herself as a learner. Out of the mouth of babes

sometimes comes great wisdom. I encourage parents to be just as




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