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  • By the end of the Kindergarten year, Hamblen Elementary expects the students to be reading at a level 4-6.  I am sure you have heard or read that statement from us. And I am sure questions are running through your mind. Such as:

    These are important questions, so here is a quick explanation.  Feel free to contact one of us if you need more help or information.
    What is a level 4 to 6?
    Our school uses a test called the DRA to determine your child's reading level.  To reach a reading level the child will read to the teacher, while the teacher listens and records the child's reading behaviors on a page called a running record.  On this page the teacher can see exactly what errors the child is making while reading.  If the child is reading 95- 100% of the words on a page correctly then they are independent at that level.   
    In addition to being able to read the text aloud, the student will have to retell the story and make a connection to it. This ensures that the student has actually UNDERSTOOD what they have read.  So when your child's teacher tells you that they are reading at a level 2, that means that they can read and understand a book at level 2 independently. 
    So when the teacher says that students should reach level 4 or 6 by the end of the year it means that we want the students reading and understanding these harder texts on their own.  Not a parent reading it to them-- but the child themselves reading and talking about the text. 
    To get an idea of what a level 4 or 6 text looks like some examples and some key attributes are shown in the document viewer above. Take a good look at our goal for your child's reading for the year.
     How can I help my child get to that level? 
    Just as you would never go to the gym and pick up a 200 pound weight and expect to bench press it; a student can not simply pick up a level 4 or 6 book and be successful.  Students have to work their way up to the higher leveled books by practicing and reading lower level ones, learning strategies to look at and figure out tricky words, and learning and memorizing many of the high frequency words (or sight words) that are found in these books.
    I am going to be quite frank and honest.  It is going to be hard to impossible for them to do this without your help. They need you to read with them, help them learn their sight words, and practice their word attack strategies.  You are their Personal (Reading) Trainer. 
    Here are some ways you can do this:
    1. Listen to them read.
      • Make sure they are tracking their print and not just making it up or reciting what they have memorized.  This means watch to see that their finger is under their words (at least until level 4)
      • If they make an error that affects the meaning of the story-- STOP them.  Repeat what they said and direct them to look at the word or words that they missed.  For example---- The boy rode the horse.    but the child says-- The boy rode the house. You would say: " You said-- the boy rode the house.  Does that make sense?    Let's look at that word again.  Do you see any chunks you know in the word [or] . Try it again."
      • If the child is unable to use strategies to figure out the word- tell them the strategy and the word. Then have them reread the sentence.
      • If the child makes an error but it does not affect the meaning-- DO NOT STOP THEM!-- make a note and look back at the sentence after the child is done.  EX-- My mother loves me.   child reads-- My mom loves me.   Wait until the story has ended and go back and use strategies.
      • Cross check their reading.   After they have finished reading- pick a page and cover up the picture. Then have the child reread the page. This makes them pay attention to the words instead of the pictures.
      • At the end of the story ask your child to close the book and tell you what they remember about the story.  If you need to prompt them with questions-- but try to see how much they can tell you independently.
    2.  Read to them.
      • Pick a book and read it to them. They need to hear someone reading fluently to know how their reading should sound.
      • Discuss the book afterwards. Tell them what it reminds you of and ask them what it makes them think of.
    3. Let them see you reading
      • They need to know reading is important. If you are a pleasure reader let them see that you like to read.  If you don't enjoy reading for fun-- at least point out the things you do read, such as recipes, directions, etc.
      • Try to read a variety of things-- blogs, magazines, books, recipes, canned goods in the supermarket.
    4. Practice Sight words
      • Knowing sight words will help students read and understand better.  So point out sight words while you are reading together. And encourage them to find them on the page.
      • Practice writing sight words-- some fun ways include:
        • with shaving cream
        • with sidewalk chalk
        • in pudding on a plate
      • Practice reading sight words
        • circle or cut them out in old magazines or newspapers
        • sing your word list to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
        • put words on index cards and play games with them such as:
          • Go Fish
          • Memory Match
          • Jump and Find--- put 5 cards down direct your child to "Jump to the word 'see'.  Walk to 'the'."
    5. Play with words
      • Sing nursery rhymes
      • Give rhyming commands.   EX-- Touch your knee and come kiss me.  Touch your head and go to bed.
    6. If you have a computer or Ipad available  use Starfall or Istation
      • Ask your child's teacher for an Istation Log in Sheet
      • Go to www.starfall.com  to have your child practice reading
     How can I find the right level books for my child to practice with?
    As your child's teacher, we are happy to send home leveled books for you to work with your child with, but we do need them to be sent back so that other students can use them too. But what if you want to get some leveled books for your child from the library, or Scholastic Magazine, or maybe Grandma wants to get some?  So how do you tell if the book is what we call a "just right book".  There are many ways to determine this-- here are 3.
    1. Use the 5 finger rule
      • Have your child pick a book they want to read
      • Go to a page and have them read it to you.
      • As they read you have made a fist.  At each mistake they make in reading put one finger up to count each error.
      • If they make no errors or just 1-- the book may be too easy for them-- but it is okay for them to read it by themselves for extra practice.
      • If they make 4 or 5 errors-- the book may be too hard-- but you can still use it to read to them.  It is good for kids to listen to books that are above their level so that they can learn new words.
      • If they make 2 or 3 errors-- the book is probably a good book to read WITH them-- helping them with the tricky words.
    2. Ask your librarian to help you. 
      • Librarians are very good at figuring out book levels-- they have tools to help them
      • Often libraries will even have sets of books already leveled-- but be cautious-- some leveling systems are different from others-- so look at the book or use the 5 finger rule if you need to.
    3. Use a book leveling site or App.  One of my favorites is the Scholastic Book Wizard.
      • Often librarians have special collections of leveled readers