Early literacy skills open doors to learning after third grade

It is said that until the third year, children learn to read. But from then on, they read to learn.

The third is a pivotal year.

Laws in Florida once required 3rd graders to achieve pass level 2 or higher on reading tests to be promoted to 4th grade. But recently, the law was finally changed.

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Third graders can still advance to fourth grade as long as the district can prove the student is successful at that level. This puts a heavy burden on teachers in the classroom to keep binders overflowing with current reading scores, worksheets, vocabulary test results and the like to provide data to prove “progress” in reading skills.

And Florida is not alone. At least 26 states have third-grade reading laws. These laws aim to improve early literacy outcomes through a variety of approaches involving the principles of prevention, intervention and retention.

No one would claim that reading is an indispensable part of every student’s education.

Elvia Munguia-Rodriguez, a third-grade student at Pineview Elementary, works on a series of math problems during class.  Pineview Elementary is using Quik Piks to help students learn math equations that may be on future tests Wednesday, March 13, 2019.

Third year reading exam

Without strong reading skills at the elementary level, problems with reading and reading comprehension often continue into middle and high school. Children can become frustrated with streams of new vocabulary words and future learning.

But how can the standardized high-stakes grade three reading exam take into account low-income students, those with language impairments, ESL learners, and so many other issues?

The third grade exam requires students to read stories of approximately 500 words and answer questions about what they have read. The test also requires them to use tables, graphs, maps, and other materials to gather information to answer questions. It’s a challenge.

So, given the potential learning losses during the pandemic, this year there was even more emphasis on preparing third-grade students.

Lakeisha Johnson and her daughter Maya Johnson, 5, read a book together in their home on Monday, June 7, 2021.

National Literacy Week

January’s National Literacy Week is another way to get everyone involved in reading and inspire teachers to find creative ways to make better readers.

Librarians invite local authors to speak at the school. There are contests like ‘Book it-Bake it’ for students to make homemade cakes with their favorite book cover. Teachers hold bookmark design contests and book character dress-up events. There is no end to fun ideas.

Additionally, Family Literacy Day is held annually on January 27 to raise awareness about participating in literacy-related activities as a family. Since 1999, thousands of schools, libraries, literacy organizations and community groups have taken part in the global initiative.

Be a good role model

Parents understand the importance of promoting literacy skills from an early age. As experts advise, it pays to read to children from birth, filling the shelves with little golden books, Berenstain’s bears and brilliant Dr. Seuss nursery rhymes.

One of the most effective ways to help your children learn to love reading is to be a good role model. Plan a visit to the local library. Read the recipe aloud when preparing dinner. Ask your child to keep a reading journal. As an avowed bibliophile, my child often saw me reading books for my monthly book club event.

And, although I’m not Theodor Geisel, I use my own passion for teaching and writing to create a series of children’s books that make reading fun. Check my website for the link to “Percy Conquers New York City”.

This weekend seems like the perfect time to curl up with a good book.

Terri Friedlander TLH Blogger Terri Friedlander TLH Blogger

Educator, podcaster and author Terri Friedlander can be reached at www.terrifriedlander.com.

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Dwight E. Schulz