Extra reading help for my second grader

Last year, I wrote a blog about my son attending a daily tutoring session called RAP, which stands for Reading Acceleration Program which is designed for children struggling with reading.

He was chosen for tutoring because he scored low on fluency (the speed in which he reads) on his Texas Primary Reading Inventory (TPRI) test. Last year, he was closer to 40 words per minute when based on his grade level, he should be reading 60 words per minute.

Open bookNow before his teacher decided he needed RAP, I had no clue his reading wasn’t up to par. He is our first child, so we had no one to compare him with and his reading grade was an 89, so we weren’t concerned. After about three months of attending RAP for thirty minutes each day (and doing daily RAP homework, which consisted of reading a short book and doing two other exercise), Jase reached the goal set for him and was dismissed from RAP.

When he stared second grade, I was not surprised to find out he had been assigned to RAP again. Jase has never loved reading. At our first parent-teacher conference in October, when I mentioned his lack of liking to read, his teacher assured me that when he found the type of book he likes to read, he would probably take off.

Well, here it is four months later, and I have checked out a variety of books – mysteries, dog stories, space stories, poetry – and nothing really excites him. I think he sees reading as a chore. I definitely think my husband might be a bad influence here since he doesn’t like to read either. I, on the other hand, love to read. I read the newspaper every day, read books and magazine and the kids see me doing it all the time. But the appeal has never rubbed off on Jase.

Again this year, the need for RAP comes from his fluency rate. At the beginning of the year, he was tested at 45 words per minute. By mid-year, he only improved to 48 words per minute when they say he should be at 75 words per minute.

At our parent-teacher conference last month, we talked extensively about Jase and reading. He is currently reading at a K level, and typically, they want second graders at the M level before the end of the school year. I think this is one of the things I find the hardest – finding books that are his level and are not too easy or too hard.

We talked about ways to improve his reading such as pre-reading a section to look for words that he doesn’t know. Explaining the words and their pronunciation is supposed to help him not have the interrupted flow of reading, which leads to poorer comprehension.

Jase has a tendency to switch words around in the sentence, leave out words or even add words that are not on the page. Her advice was to let him self-correct rather than letting us correct him.

Her other suggestions were to record him reading so he can play it back and hear it for himself. She suggested the app Chatter Kids as one that allows you to record 30 second blurbs to play back using other people’s images as the ones talking. So imagine your child’s voice coming from George Washington or Hans Solo.

And of course, the last suggestion was to have him reread the books because with familiarity, he will begin to pick up speed.

I hope that these techniques will improve Jase’s reading. I know he may never love reading, but it is an essential skill that he needs to master. We will keep working on it throughout the school year and hopefully through the summer break too. I’m envisioning many trips to the library and used book store this summer!

4 thoughts on “Extra reading help for my second grader

  1. sjhigbee says:

    Hi Susan,
    I’m a Brit, so I’m not too sure about the age of your son, but may I pass on some of my experience as a teacher, both in Special Needs and as a classroom primary school teacher (6-11yrs)? It doesn’t sound like he has specific learning difficulties – more that he is unenthusiastic and so doesn’t read if he can avoid it.
    Firstly, don’t panic. It happens a lot, particularly with boys and particularly these days with cool distractions such as computer games to funnel attention away from storytelling on the page. Often, children – particularly boys – simply don’t see the point of slogging through all those words. It often is a developmental issue and they get to a certain age (often around 9/10/11) and it suddenly all comes together and within a term they are reading fluently.
    Whilst I understand and appreciate the class teacher’s concerns (she will be under pressure to get his scores up, for starters) my advice is not to let your own role get muddled. You’re his mum. Your job is to make any reading interaction FUN. Keep his daily reading practice bite-sized. No longer than 10 minutes, max, preferably five minutes. Don’t get into ANY arguments about it. Read alternate words with him. And it doesn’t matter WHAT you read – so long as he likes it.
    What are his hobbies? If they are computer games – go out and get hold of the rule books containing the cheats and the backstories… sports – find a book about his favourite team. Comics… war stories… Basically so long as it isn’t porn – it doesn’t matter. I got a 13 year old dyslexic girl reading by providing recipe books because she wanted to be a chef… Some children have to see the POINT of reading – and being told it is important to their future simply doesn’t do it. But if you can make it relevant to them, then you often can crack it.
    Whatever you do – try and keep your concerns about his literacy away from him. You’ll know that when you feel under pressure or guilty about something – you avoid it. Reading can often become that issue around reluctant readers. And good luck:))

  2. Hi – Thanks for your long reply. Jase is 9. I agree that he doesn’t see the “need” for reading. It is just hard that I love reading and he doesn’t. We keep working on it but it is hard to find books he likes. I try to bring a variety home from the library. My mom recently got him a The Lego Movie book and he eagerly read that. We will keep trying. Thanks!

  3. […] plan. Now this came three days after meeting with Lexie’s teacher to discuss her involvement in RAP – a reading program that Jase did last year. It is designed to help those students who need extra […]

  4. […] We are no stranger to this program as Jase did this at the end of first grade and then again in second grade. His participation was to build up his fluency (the speed in which he […]

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