How to Improve Reading in Children Reading Below Grade Level

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From early childhood through middle and high school, far too many students struggle with proficiency in literacy and read below their grade level. No one individual can remedy the deficit in literacy, but caregivers and teachers together can make a positive impact. Teachers can differentiate instruction as needed while caregivers follow specific strategies outside of the classroom. Achieving literacy is a critical education priority, because without it children cannot reach their full potential.

Collect information about students who have been identified as reading below their grade level. Teachers gather the data from work sampling, tests, observations and anecdotal information from caregivers.

Create small, homogeneous groups of students in the classroom. Provide a daily 30-minute book activity that focuses on literacy. Have the children use a composition book and use a pen to record their assignments. Attend workshops and in-service training sessions to develop new strategies to use in small groups. Encourage parents and caregivers to reinforce specific objectives that the students are currently learning in class.

Promote vocabulary learning by focusing on terminology used throughout the curriculum. Create a print-rich environment, especially in early childhood and lower elementary grades. Challenge caregivers to encourage the child to recognize key vocabulary words in their home and neighborhood.

Integrate academic English into daily lessons and begin to do so in the early grades. Students should use their composition book for their work. Evaluate the work sampling once per month.

Arrange for peer-tutoring in the classroom. Students may read together and collaborate to complete activities. Use colorful stickers on their work as a reward.

  • Early childhood students should be encouraged to develop beginning literacy skills. Reading to children as early as possible helps to develop literacy skills. Neglecting to support literacy development can have far-reaching effects and cause the child to be behind his peers.
  • When planning lessons, be mindful of learning theories that might be useful. Try to identify the kind of learning preference each child has. Whenever possible, differentiate instruction to fit the needs of the student.

Cheryl Waters Likins is an analyst and writer. Likins obtained a master's degree from Seton Hall University and Bachelor of Science from Upsala College. She completed doctoral-level studies in biomedicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She has been a freelance writer since 2007. Likins' work appears online at (Italy), GolfLink, Trails, eHow, and other publications.