How to Approach Students Starting the School Year Below Reading Level

Written by Julie Osterhout

It’s time for a new school year to begin – a fresh start for everyone! The beginning of the year is an exciting time to get settled in with your new group of scholars. There is usually a little underlying anxiety about what that group will hold. A few questions could cross your mind.

What will their strengths and weaknesses be?

How am I going to best help them grow?

Where do I begin?

Dreamscape can give you the perfect place to begin. We provide a free placement test to give you consistent data to show where your students will begin. Sign your class up for Free HERE!

When you get the results, do not panic if the reading levels aren’t on grade level (or even close). The probability that the Summer Slide had an impact is high. Let us at Shoelace Learning help you actively combat Summer Slide and increase your students’ reading abilities!

Try implementing some of these strategies to help improve your student’s reading level.

Revisit the Basics

If students are behind on their reading, take a step back and make sure that they understand the fundamental strategies of reading comprehension. Without a complete understanding of this knowledge, it becomes difficult for students to improve their skills beyond this. Create a simple lesson to review fundamental skills to implement once a week.

Goal setting

You could set four different kinds of goals.

1. Daily Goal: Small and Achievable!

Ex: Explore a new book; Start a chapter book; Read a book about a specific topic

2. Weekly Goal: Building Stamina

Ex: Read one or two chapters; Read for 10 minutes each night

3. Quarterly Goal: Tie to benchmark or progress monitor

Ex: Improve reading score; Achieve a certain percentage

4. Yearly Goal:

Ex: Be on grade level; Grow a predetermined amount

Tips to Keep their Goals Relevant

1. Put goals somewhere where students can reference them.

2. Check in often. Make sure if you are having students set goals that you are encouraging their progress.

3. Keep Accountability and Flexibility. Be sure that you understand why the goals are important and keep students on track. Also, be flexible and adjust goals as needed. To help jump start this process, here are some great examples of reading goals to be setting with your students.

Consistent Practice

In alignment with their newly set goals, the student should have time to practice on their own, giving them the independence to try and complete their goals. It is with this repetition that improvement will show. Use Dreamscape, our game-based reading program to give daily practice.

Genre Exploration

Although fiction books can open a child’s mind to endless creativity, students should also be exposed to non-fiction books. Benefits can include expanded vocabulary, preparation for later grades, and also help inform students about the world that they live in. Try to do a “Book Tasting” in your room! Set out books of different genres and have the students visit each book. Students can flip through the pages and see which books stand out the most!

At-home Learning

Most families want to help, but aren’t sure how! A traditional way to assign 15-30 minutes of reading a night. This reading can be assigned or student choice. If you are not feeling successful with these assignments, try to assign Dreamscape for your students. This is great for families on the go or parents who have limited time after school. Parents feel good knowing their child is being instructed on the correct level and getting crucial reading practice! Sign your class up for free and have parents link with their child.

Student Check-Ins

Although some students may be on track, it is important to check-in with your students on their progress. This can be once a week, once a month, whatever seems suitable for each student. This time can provide an opportunity to review their goals, adjust where needed and define new strategies for their success. Don’t forget that students always remember what you have promised! Be sure to carve out the time necessary to keep their goals moving in a positive direction! We hope that with the application of some of these suggestions, you feel you have a healthy plan going into the school year! Check out our Resource Hub for other ways to improve your instruction for FREE!

About Julie Osterhout

Julie Osterhout is a former teacher in the elementary setting with a focus on ELA. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband and two children.

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Thank you very much for the information.


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