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Back to School! (The Middle Years)

We're a few weeks into the school year and you should be starting to get an idea of your child's workload. How are they handling it? Is it easy? Challenging? Overwhelming?

Middle school is when the read-to-learn years really kick in. Teachers at this level tend to assume that all of their students are successful readers, so they don't think about providing reading support. Unfortunately, this is often not the case.

Every three years, the US government conducts nationwide academic testing in 4th, 8th, and 12th grade classrooms, known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP. This is often referred to as the Nation's Report Card. For the past 30 years, only about 30% of 4th and 8th graders have been shown to be proficient readers, meaning they are able to read at or above grade level.

What this means is that about 70% of students in 4th & 8th grade need some level of reading support in order to comprehend their schoolwork. Your child's teacher may or may not be aware of this, so it's up to you to know whether your child is part of that 70%, and to discuss with their teacher what type of support they need.

Just like in the early years of school, if you want your child to get the support they need, you have to be the squeaky wheel. Set up a parent/teacher conference as early in the year as possible. Call the school regularly to check in with the principal. Fill the teachers' inboxes with your questions and concerns. Show up to PTA meetings and ask about reading curriculum and progress.

If your child is part of the 30% of proficient readers, that's great! Encourage them to read as much as possible, but still check in with their teacher every now & then to make sure things are on track. As academic demands increase, even proficient readers might begin to struggle from time to time.

The bottom line is, know what type of reading is happening in your child's classrooms and how well they're coping with it. The bulk of our learning occurs through reading, and if a student is struggling, they're going to fall behind. Be there to catch them when it happens.

Please drop a comment below if you have questions or want to know about other topics related to reading.

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