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Low Reading and Math Levels

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: My nine-year-old daughter is in the fourth grade and is extremely behind in her reading and math level. (She reads at a first grade level.) She may be required to repeat the fourth grade at the end of the school year.

I've helped her with flash cards and read with her nightly. When we sit down to do homework and read, she has a tendency to lose interest in whatever we are doing at the time. She also gets to be a little "antsy" in her seat. I don't know what else to do. Please help.

A: Reading and math problems do not go away. Every day that your daughter does not receive help, she will fall further behind her classmates. A child with problems as severe as your daughter's should have been evaluated by specialists at her school.

This team should have looked at her performance in the classroom and on standardized tests and determined if a battery of tests for a learning disability needed to be given. If the school has not initiated a study of your child's problems, request this help today as it is your legal right. The school will have forms that allow you to request an evaluation.

On the other hand, if your child has been evaluated and an individualized learning plan (IEP) has been developed for her, it is obviously not working. In this case, return to the school and request a meeting of the study committee to reevaluate the help your child needs.

Try to figure out how your child learns best. Is it by hearing material? Then you can help with homework by repeating multiplication facts or reading to her. Is it by touching everything in sight? In this case, give her manipulatives (blocks, coins) to solve math problems rather than using flash cards. If your child needs to see things to remember them -- use pictures, charts, or illustrations to help her organize and remember material.

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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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