The big gap between parent understanding, and reality
I read a statistic this week that I have to share:
9 out of 10 parents and caregivers think that their children read at or above grade level, according to a recent study of thousands of families.
The reality? Only 35% of fourth graders read proficiently, and 66% are either basic or below basic readers, according to the latest national reading test results. What’s more, only 9% of the children in grade four have advanced reading skills, which is surely what you want for your child.
What happens when parents don’t understand reading?
Maybe being in the dark about some things is just fine, but not knowing how your child is doing as a reader — knowing which skills he has down and which could use some work — might mean you miss things when he’s in the early grades, when extra support works best. And it might mean you don’t do things at home that would set him up for the later years, when the books have much more complex language and ideas in them.
If you’re counting on schools for all this reading stuff, remember that many teachers aren’t trained in the latest science and many materials they’re given don’t focus on foundational skills. If that sounds like a real problem, it is, and the individual hard-working teacher isn’t to blame.
As a parent, you can only control so much. But you can step up and find out more about learning to read. In a study we did of parents and caregivers, 86% didn’t know which skills children need to become successful readers. It’s not complicated, it just isn’t common knowledge.
Children benefit when parents know what learning-to-read is all about
I think that the gap between what children can do and what parents think they can do, combined with a lack of understanding about what skills children need to make sure they read well, contributes to the larger reading problem in the U.S. It’s why I created the CheckIn tool for families to use, to learn about the benchmarks at each age and how a child is doing in the three types of skills that reading well demands. If the system breaks down for kids, parents and caregivers should be aware enough to notice and make sure children’s needs are addressed.
We have the means to close this gap between perception and reality, so that’s the good news. In the next part of this series, I’ll explain how more awareness about learning to read could decrease learning loss this Covid-complicated year, and talk about specific things that parents, and schools, can do to help.