READING IN THE PRIMARY GRADES 115
Since reading is such an important tool of learning, parents become concerned when their child does not make the progress they expect. What can they do to help? First, they need to know what progress to expect from a particular child. No two children are exactly alike. Second, they should treat the child as a child—their loved and loving child—not as a reading problem. Third, they should confer with the teacher about specific ways in which they can help.
READINESS FOR READING
You have probably heard teachers mention lack of "readiness" in explaining why a child was not reading a first-grade book as soon as he started school. The following excerpts from a parent-teacher interview illustrate the dissatisfaction that many parents feel with the readiness program in the beginning of the first grade.
Parent: As a teacher myself, I just wanted to tell you I feel Paul has been given enough word and picture games and that he is ready for reading and writing.
Teacher: I'm so glad you came in. I wish more parents would be interested in talking over their child's readiness for reading.
Parent: That's just the trouble. My husband and I are tired of hearing about readiness for reading. We want Paul to begin to read. All the children seem to do in school is play. We are concerned about Paul. According to tests he's a bright boy. He wants to learn to read and we think he should begin learning to read.
Teacher: Many children need to get used to the change from home to school. They need to settle down a bit before beginning instruction in reading. I also need some time to observe which children seem ready to read and which need more of the prereading games that prepare them for successful reading. My impression of Paul thus far agrees with yours, and I am planning to put him in the group who will begin systematic instruction in reading.
As a matter of fact, Paul did not need any more of the prereading experiences that are so important to prevent initial failure. Bright children learn to read quickly and better without going through the readiness exercises that are needed by children who have been less fortunate in their preschool experiences and are less mature mentally.