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Reading on Grade Level
Q: I am homeschooling my six-year-old and I want to be sure he is reading on grade level. Is there a specific way to determine exactly what grade level your child is reading on? Is there a certain passage or book they should be able to read at a certain age?
A: Yes, there are ways to determine if your child is reading on his grade level. But perhaps you might want to rethink your reasons for requesting this information. In a school environment with 25 or 30 children in a classroom, it is important for each child to progress at the same rate. Tests determine who is ahead or who is falling behind. If a child is not reading by a certain age, he may be labeled as having learning difficulties.
The trouble with this model is that each child's learning style, maturity level, and developmental stage is not taken into consideration. Individuality is sacrificed for the progress of the group. The truth is, an individual may be very bright, even gifted, but simply may not be ready to read at six -- or even seven or eight. My older daughter loved to read independently at six years old. My younger daughter wasn't ready to read until she was almost eight. Today they are both avid readers, reading several books a week. Thankfully, homeschooled children do not have to adhere to the "at this age he must be doing this" mentality.
This doesn't mean homeschooled parents ignore reading if a child does not appear ready to read independently. Reading should always be an essential part of your life as a homeschooler and you should read to your child every day. It just means that you do not have to judge your homeschooled child by traditional school standards. It is more important for a six-year-old to develop a love for stories and to see books as a source of information and pleasure. By comparing him to other kids and testing him, there is a very good possibility you'll take away that enjoyment and have him join the ranks of so many kids who see reading as just another subject or chore to get through.
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Isabel Shaw is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom of 15 years. She and her husband Ray homeschool their two daughters, Jessica and Amanda. Besides being a contributor to FamilyEducation.com, Shaw has written for Home Education Magazine, The Link, Homeschooling Horizons Magazine, The Homeschool Gazette, and other publications.