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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Reading Tips from a Pro

thI am a parent with four teens from abroad.  Teaching them to read in English makes me a pro.  Today, I had them tested, and they are reading pretty much at grade level or above, though not everyone is at their correct grade level, if that makes sense.

Let me explain.

My kids didn’t really go to school in Russia.  When they were taken into custody at older ages, they lived at substandard orphanage boarding schools which had one of ours in First Grade at age 10.  They were going nowhere fast. 

The best-case scenario was our oldest who came home the youngest, at almost age 8, and had not had any school at read-booksall.  Our first morning together, he sat at the hotel room coffee table in his pajamas at 5:00 a.m., insisting I teach him, and we started our lessons with a Russian book on phonics. He was so excited, and is now entering his senior year of high school, straight As, fluent in both Russian and English, and working on a couple more languages.

The others are playing catch-up for their ages, not quite at grade level for their age in America, due to the fact that:  a) Russia starts school at age 7, not at age 5;  b) none of them started school at age 7; and  c) for at least the first year in reading-book_1374406cAmerica, they studied their lessons in Russian with me, while we made the bridge to English

So while they’re not exactly at their intended level, they’re pretty close, given all of their setbacks.  And the good news is:  they’re reading accurately for that grade level and for ELL students, that’s a big deal.

Today, they took the Scholastic Reading Inventory Test, reading a series of short passages taken from fiction and nonfiction books and articles, and assessing each one’s reading ability.  Working with them day-in and day-out, it really didn’t tell us anything we didn’t know, but it gave some reading_on_beachwonderful suggestions to help support or maintain their reading progress.

For the stronger readers, the printout said for us to encouraging outside reading of at least 40 minutes a day.  We were to help them find reading books at more challenging levels than their current standing, and to read widely in a number of different fictional genres, whether historical, contemporary, or science fiction.

For the developing readers, they needed to be reading 20 or 30 minutes a day, at the appropriate reading range, perhaps including the daily newspaper, websites, or weekly news readingmagazines.  Read items at different times and discuss them with the student.  Spend time every day looking through non-book kinds of materials, such as food labels, advertisements, pieces of mail, etc., to demonstrate the importance of reading in daily life.

In our case, these are good suggestions.  I like the idea of switching genres, and ensuring that each is reading something that’s appropriate, as well as challenging, for him/her.

The examiner said we’ve made a lot of progress in a relatively short period of time.  We can only go up from here.


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2 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar hoonew says:

    So, you give them the Scholastic Reading Inventory Test, and you get the scores, with recommendations right away. Hmmm, how’re those SAT scores coming along?!

    Congrats on everyone’s successes- you ARE a pro, Alexandra.

    • avatar admin says:

      We finally got our OCTOBER PSAT scores in late May-! After bugging the local high school, College Board, he said, she said, everyone blaming the other person, etc., etc. The high school offered us a free SAT, but I think in the fall we’ll just take it at a local college. This is way too much drama for me….

      The SRI Test came from our calling the local junior high non-stop from January to April, trying to get the younger 3 kids scheduled to take the standardized tests in several subjects. They would not return our phone calls, nor e-mails, they were out sick, they did not know the protocol of including homeschooled children, etc. Our main “Office of Homeschooled Students” sends us a letter each year, granting permission to homeschool after looking over our intended scope and sequence, materials, etc., and they say every year to contact the local schools for any testing desired. No one mentions that it’s simply impossible to schedule.

      So I finally e-mailed the Superintendent of Schools and a very nice person said the only thing she could help us with was to schedule an SRI. But really, she said, it’s now May and the local schools’ regular tests are past– why not start next January to get our kids on the list for that spring? Right. So they took the SRI at some main office downtown and it went quite well.

      Oy. These are the people I could have educating my kids??? Most days, I feel like anything but a pro, but when I consider the alternatives….

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