Is Your Child a Struggling Reader?

Michigan Alliance for Families has compiled parent-friendly resources to help you learn more about how your child learns to read. A Michigan Alliance Regional Parent Mentor can guide you through these documents and websites.

What skills does my child need to learn in order to read?

There are five key skills that students must learn in order to read:kids reading

  • Phonemic Awareness
  • Phonics
  • Fluency
  • Vocabulary
  • Reading Comprehension

Schools should have reading programs that directly teach these five key skills.

When should my child be learning these five skills?

Teaching Reading: Skill Progression in Grades K-6

In the early grades (K-3), students are “learning to read.” After third grade, students are expected to “read to learn.” Every year there are certain grade-level goals your child should meet. With effective instruction, most students should be able to meet these goals as scheduled. A few students, such as those with language delays or learning disabilities, may need individualized reading goals. However, the five key skills necessary for reading remain the same.

Michigan Academic Standards

The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn. Educational standards help teachers and parents set clear and realistic goals for success. The standards require the progressive development of reading comprehension so that students advancing through the grades are able to gain more from whatever they read.

How will the teacher (and I) know if my child is learning these five skills?

Your child’s teacher should be measuring how well your child is learning each of the five key reading skills. Ask your child’s teacher how these skills are being measured and where your child is performing compared to grade-level goals. You should receive information about your child’s progress about three times each year.

MiMTSS Michigan’s Multi-Tiered System of Supports Technical Assistance Center 

Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills DIBELS is an example of one reliable schoolwide assessment system to monitor progress in the early grades.

What if my child has NOT met his or her grade-level or IEP reading goals?

Children who are not meeting grade-level reading goals need to receive reading interventions that have proven results. School staff need to identify which key skills your student needs to develop, and target instruction to those specific skills.

Students who are somewhat behind need:

  • 30 minutes of additional, targeted reading instruction per day.
  • Progress monitored at least twice each month.

Students who are significantly behind (more than one grade-level) need:

  • At least one hour of additional, targeted reading instruction per day.
  • Progress monitored at least weekly.

Ask who will provide the intervention to your child, how often it will occur, and how progress will be tracked and shared with you. Put this request in writing to both the teacher and principal (even if it’s just an email). Ask to have this information incorporated into your child’s individualized education program (IEP), if one exists. Ask that your child’s reading information be provided in graphs or charts so you and the teacher can easily see if your child is making progress. It is important that your child’s scores “go up.” If your child spends three or more weeks receiving special instruction or an intervention with no progress, it is time to re-evaluate the plan.

Be sure your child is getting the instruction needed.

Questions Parents Can Ask About Reading Improvement

If your child’s teacher has difficulty explaining how your child is progressing, or your child’s scores are not “going up,” ask to have a reading specialist, school psychologist, special education supervisor, or curriculum specialist evaluate your child’s reading skills. Ask these individuals, the principal, or district administrators what supports can be put in place for the staff at your child’s school to make sure they have the training, materials, support, and time they need to provide your child with an evidence-based reading intervention and to regularly provide you with progress monitoring data.

Additional Resources

Let’s Read Together! How to Become Your Child’s Reading Coach

LD Online (for students with IEPs)

Open Books Open Doors: Teaching Reading to Children With Down Syndrome (for students with Down Syndrome)

Literacy for Children with Combined Vision and Hearing Loss (for students with multiple disabilities and complex challenges)

Michigan Department of Education, Low Incidence Outreach (MDE-LIO) (serving students who are Blind or Visually Impaired (BVI) and/or Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH))

My Child Can’t Read  (Great Schools)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email