View Full Version : Reading level?

06-04-2011, 12:54 PM
Ok, strange question here. I'm always nervous about my 7 yo's reading - mostly because he is so far behind his older siblings, both of whom were reading chapter books by the end of first grade.

Yesterday he read Fox in Socks to me - well, most of it. I read some of the harder sections, like Luke Luck Likes Lakes and through these three trees freezy breeze . . .whatever. Occasionally he corrected himself and sometimes I pointed at the lines or even the words to help him stay focused, but mostly he did it.

Is this age-appropriate? Is this a little behind? Any guesses?

06-04-2011, 01:57 PM
Does he have any vision issues Cara? Often when children are behind in reading it may be because they can not see what they are reading very well.

06-04-2011, 01:58 PM
Judging by my dd's classmates, it sounds like he's right about in the middle. My dd has always been ahead in reading, like your older kids, and had read the first four Harry Potter books by the end of first grade. She's now in 2nd, and they're just starting to expect them to be able to read *very* simple chapter books. She got a summer reading list that included stuff like Cam Jansen. They listed Amber Brown books as "advanced reading." This is for rising 3rd graders.

06-04-2011, 02:12 PM
Thanks Eileen.

Mommy, Raven did have eye surgery for wall-eyes when he was 3, but his vision tests have all been fine. He seems to have troubled HEARING the different letters sometimes - when I ask him to try to spell out a word, he often guesses wrong consonants because he hears it wrong. I had some trouble too - i remember I had trouble saying "Cara" and my dad kept going over it with me, and i really couldnt hear the difference - I was probably saying 'Cawa'. I also know I wasnt in the advanced reading section until the second half of second grade. But his father, legally blind, was reading at the age of 3. So i'm still kinda worried.

OTOH, so many homeschoolers always say 'dont worry, he'll read when he's ready.' OTOH . . . he was briefly in the county program for delayed speech - during which time his hearing was tested to be fine.

Hard to be a home schooling mom and not worry, I suppose.

06-04-2011, 02:34 PM
The DORA reading evaluation might be useful tool for you.

I have used this with my youngest for the opposite reason...I couldn't keep up with her reading level. But, it gives a complete breakdown of all reading skills and what needs to be worked on.
My daughter with dyslexia had a lot of problem with phonemic awareness (not being able to hear the different sounds of the words). Scottish Rite recommended Sounds Abound (http://www.linguisystems.com/products/product/display?itemid=10017/).

My son with vision issues had no issue learning to read. He doesn't like to read (still, at 22) but he has no problem with it. He has had 7 eye surgeries....3 before school age.

06-04-2011, 02:38 PM
Has he ever been tested for functional vision problems, like tracking? Batman has tracking and convergence issues, which I'm currently giving him therapy for. He learned all his phonics and sight words, but when it came to reading text, he'd tire very quickly. I had no idea initially why he was such a reluctant reader. Another problem might be visual memory. Some kids just have a hard time recognizing words, even when they've read them over and over. Some kids have a hard time with visual memory generally, and with some, it's just symbol imagery like letters. The book Seeing Stars, by Nanci Bell, is supposed to help with this issue.

Or he could just be moving along at his own pace!

06-04-2011, 03:07 PM
He is actually pretty good with sight words - he's clearly memorized a lot of words. Pushing him to sound them out is more of a challenge. I have wondered about the tracking, but its not a good time to check it out yet . . .

I will check out those links, thanks Terri

06-04-2011, 04:48 PM
That's about where one of my two is, Cara. For the rush to testing that the public schools have to do, I would say that's slightly (though not profoundly) behind. But for an average 7 year old not being drilled with sight words - especially if you're trying to push some phonics? I think it's not behind. If that makes any sense.

I was also concerned with tracking issues for my slower reader. One way to check it is to see if reading the same words on an uncluttered page with a larger font (and an easy to read one, of course... not comic sans, mind you... ;)... or that might just be my own crazy) helps him read more easily. Also, see if guiding him with a paper strip *above* the line he's reading helps. It's something about how the eyes move apparently that makes it such that having it below is less useful (the tendency is such that kids with tracking issues want to look up, not down). Those things help Mushroom. I never ended up getting him formally evaluated (a strip of paper sure is cheaper than vision therapy) but I also think the issues are relatively small. If they persist, I'll reevaluate.

06-04-2011, 05:16 PM
In Texas, they won't evaluate for dyslexia in the schools until they are 8. Libby was finished with therapy when she was 8 1/2 (evaluated at 6 1/2). I think they aren't aggressive enough. I did not teach my other two to read, but after having three kids in the same house, exposed to the same things, there was definitely a difference in her ability. She WANTED to read. She carried books around with her all the time. We would try to read BOB books and have to sound out the same word on every page. Sight words did NOT stick in her head...at all.
Since Scottish Rite is a research center for dyslexia, they get MRI's on the kids in the program as part of the research. It is amazing to see the brain differences between dyslexic readers and typical readers. In fact, there was an identical twin in the program and they did an MRI on the twin (for research purposes) and discovered by the MRI results that he was dyslexic also. Then they did the functional evaluations.
I am all for trying to nail down issues when they are young. :D

06-04-2011, 05:29 PM
He actually reads fairly quickly for words he's memorized - which is really extensive. I'm often suprised at some of the bigger words he knows. We watched A Town called Panic maybe 3 mo ago and he could read all the subtitles himself. He doesnt seem at all concerned with his reading - and he's really stubborn. 2 years ago we tried the BOB books. He read 1 and half of the second one, and then just flat-out refused to every try again. He says he hates reading, but if he gets absorbed in to a story - if its funny or exciting - his fluency seems to improve and he will read more than he's supposed to (you know, we do the 'every other page' thing and if he's in to it, he doesnt stop at the end of the page)

I feel like his biggest problem is his lisp or whatever causes him not to be able to hear consonants, and not having the patience to sound out big words. I'll try the paper over the line (pointing to the beginning of the line helps a lot, since he often skips a line if they are close together).

I see that the evaluation Teri posted is only $20, so if I can get Raven to actually TAKE the test (have I mentioned he's stubborn?) I'm sure I could get dh to approve it.

thanks again guys. I guess when I think about it, his reading is continuing to improve, so I shouldnt be TOO worried . . . but i really appreciate the ideas and feedback and such!

06-04-2011, 05:48 PM
I didn't know at the time that "tracking" can be an issue, but my son struggled with exactly that until last year--well after he turned 7. He COULD read and well above "level", but he didn't like to. He didn't like to hold the book (still somewhat an issue, but getting better--he has general using-his-hands issues--don't ask how that works with playing hockey!) and when he'd read out loud, I'd have to do the paper trick Farrar talked about, though I did it underneath each line not thinking above might be better. Gradually I switched to simply pointing to each line, until finally he didn't need that anymore. His ability and comprehension were always high so I didn't realize it might be a real problem, but looking back, I'm guessing it's not too uncommon.

It's a delicate balance, catching problems early vs allowing each kid to mature at their own rate. My best guess is that you know the answer in your mama-heart, which path to follow.

Some of this sounds kind of like the phonics vs whole word battle, too. I've never spent any real time on phonics, my son is clearly a whole word reader, yet I wonder about the wisdom in not stressing it more. He's not great with sounding out brand new, complex words {some of that might be sheer laziness}, but he immediately memorizes a correct pronunciation. Perhaps Raven is the same way. I'm guessing it's too soon to worry too much, particularly if an interest in reading is there.

eta: oh, Cara, some of this doesn't matter any more. We must have been typing at the same time...

Stella M
06-04-2011, 07:14 PM
He sounds about where my ds was maybe 6 months ago ? I wouldn't be bothered by a 7yr old reading at that level and with the issues you describe if I could see improvement over time - even gradual improvement. I'd probably do what I do with my ds and just keep an eye on things over the medium term or so to track that improvement. My ds still needs help with tracking too - thanks for the tip about paper above the line Farrar! - but I figure he's needing it less, so am not stressing. Maybe I should be stressing ? Nah...

06-04-2011, 08:09 PM
Cara, I've seen a free reading level test online which is a pretty decent one with good instructions on how to administer and score it. But the test that costs money may be a better evaluative tool - certainly if it told you more than reading level it might be. I can't seem to find the one I originally saw, but the Phonics Page also has links to tests here (http://www.thephonicspage.org/On%20Reading/readinggradeleve.html). There's also this (http://highland.hitcho.com.au/readingassessment.pdf)quick one.

06-04-2011, 10:04 PM
THanks Farrar. I do think Raven is by nature more of a whole-word guy, but my understanding is that even whole-word readers NEED to have a decent grasp of phonics to move in to more advanced reading. you cant memorize every word. And besides, how would you have fun trying to read the words on the labels of highly processed foods out loud? Of course, when I tried to ask dh how he learned phonics, he cant remember - i mean, he doesnt remember details much, anyways, but he taught himself to read at age 3 . . . he certainly wasnt analyzing it.

06-05-2011, 12:36 AM
Your second description sounds a lot like my 11 yo son. He is what I would have called a "reluctant reader". He COULD read, but didn't like to. If the type was too small, the font was wrong, there were too many words on a page, etc., he wouldn't do it. Or he would fatigue very quickly.
He does wear glasses (got them at age 6). He has low muscle tone and is just overall a floppy kind of guy. ;) I am sure that his muscle tone carries over into his eyes.
He is COMPLETELY different now. For him, it was time. He was very different than my daughter.
The books he needed were like Diary of a Wimpy Kid (with the lines on the pages, pictures throughout and a large easy to read font).
Also, Geronimo Stilton books....varied fonts, lots of pictures interspersed, nice white pages with high contrast.
Oh, and what is that pig? Kate DiCamillo writes them. Those are the same way.

Now, he reads everything. He read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy this past school year, along with the Hobbit, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, 39 Steps....anything that crosses his path.

The DORA test does give quite a bit of information on the skills that the child has and what needs to be worked on, along with pointers on how to work on those skills. I found it to be worth the money. Sometimes Homeschool Buyers Co-op has a cheaper deal on the assessment.

ETA: The pig is Mercy Watson.

06-05-2011, 08:23 AM
SO my ds(now 8) has had problems reading but has improved. We lived in VA BCH for K-1st and he was in PS. His 1st grade teacher kept saying he was behind in reading so when I worked with him at home he wasn't sounding out the words!? When I went to see his teacher she stated they don't sound out words, they use "word chunks". Well, it wasn't working. She stated that sounding out the words was not encouraged. When we started homeschooling after we moved, I realized he was still behind because he needed more education on the sound of the letters. I was worried because I was scared we missed the boat and he wouldn't catch up. Did I mention he HATED to read!? Anyway, I actually bought Hooked on Phonics.... I had to start at the begining and it has worked. I am not saying that he is an excellent reader and loves it but, I do see much improvement. We are now doing Hooked on Phonics Master Reader and ENJOYS it! He actually has picked up books on his own to read which he would have never done 6 months ago. It is still a struggle but any improvement is awesome. I hope you find what works with your child!

06-05-2011, 10:51 AM
I think my younger daughter is more of a whole word kid. She doesn't like using the BOB books at all, doesn't like trying to sound out words, but she recognizes a lot of words and always asks me how to spell stuff so she can write it down. My older daughter loved the BOB books and learned to read at age 3 (after asking me to teach her - I never would have attempted to teach a 3 year old to read, otherwise) in about a month. They're so different.

06-05-2011, 05:00 PM
That's about where my nearly-8 year old is. He's a bit behind (last time I tested, he was at a grade 1.9 reading level, but that was several months ago. We're halfway through HOP level 2), but he's made so much progress over the past year that I'm feeling ok with that, and that there's a light at the end of the tunnel as far as catching up goes.

I have a really hard time judging what is reasonable because I was held back in 1st grade, so the books I was reading as a 2nd grader are the books I would have been reading as a bright 3rd grader if I'd stayed on track. And I can't actually remember what I was reading in 1st!

My DH was reading at a 5th or 6th grade level by 6, and is kind of annoyed that DS isn't reading similarly.

06-09-2011, 10:35 AM
Cara, he sounds like my DS 6. I think your ds is very normal. I can't speak of specific issues he may have, but we found that with intense help from the reading teacher, he had improved a lot. Its one of the reason we are hsing. He needs one on one work (yes he's stubborn too!). I know that developmentally, ps hasn't a clue, at least not ours anyway. There is a big push to read when you are in kindergarten, and if you can't do it, you are behind. I think my son is, but I also think that due to his speech(cleft palete) and the fact that he was in a Chinese orphanage for the first 2.5 years of his life, we have a more developmental thing going on. I try to keep in mind that kids are devlopiong to around 8 and until then, there is a huge range of ability.

I wanted to mention the Phonographix program that I will probably try to incorporate bits of. I really liked it and it made a lot of sense to the kids. Naturally, it was discontinued by the district. It had what was called "sound pictures." The /e/ sound could be represented by the "sound pictures" e, ee, ea, etc. At first, I didn't get it, but over time I grew to understand it. I think its exactly what I need for DS. I don't know if its school only or an individual can buy it. The do have a website and maybe it can give you some tips.

One thing that also encouraged DS was choosing his own books. That made a huge difference. We also kept a reading log per the reading teacher with the time for each book. Over the course of a few days, he could see how the more he practiced, the better he got at a certain book, even if it was one out of his comfort zone/level. She challenged him to work on things that were not so easy for him. I am continuing with a lot of her methods since they were so sucessful. She also suggested going over the most frequently used words (lots of sight words). I have some flash cards for this and also they can be found by looking up Dolch word lists.

There is also a reading level guide for books in the teacher section of Scholastic. I have found it quite helpful. reallygoodstuff.com also has EZC readers to help with tracking. They only sell 12 at a time though, but it might be worth it. Its an improvement over using a finger and highlights a whole line of text at a time.

I'm realizing as I write this that with hsing, I'm going to be able to take the best of what the teachers have to offer and tailor it to DS's needs!

Again, I really think your ds is very normal for his age.