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Pinpoint why daughter is having trouble reading

By Marge Eberts and Peggy Gisler

King Features Syndicate

Q: My daughter repeated first grade this year, only because of her reading. She still has problems sounding words out and knowing the different sounds of vowels. For example, in the word "ride" she does not understand that the "e" makes the "i" have the long sound. Do you have any suggestions on what I can do to help her out?

A: Your daughter is the perfect example of why we are generally against retention. The school did not take the time to analyze why your daughter was unable to master basic reading skills the first year. Now your daughter is in exactly the same place she was last year at this time — she is still unable to read.

If any of our readers have a child who a school wishes to retain, it is imperative for you to find out exactly what the child’s problems are. You must also know how the school plans to resolve them if the child is retained. Retention alone is not a miracle worker in most cases. In fact, most children who are retained do not do as well subsequently as those with equal abilities who were promoted to the next grade.

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This is serious. You need to act quickly and insist that your daughter be tested to specifically pinpoint why she is having such difficulties acquiring basic reading skills. The school then needs to develop a solid summer program that will help her. This might involve summer school, a tutor, a learning center or a college reading center.

Incidentally, once you know exactly what your child’s reading problems are, you might be able to help her. Besides following suggestions from the school, visit www.readingrockets.org/helping to find out the many ways parents can work with their children to improve specific reading problems.

Readers: Summer is just around the corner, and your high school students should be thinking about how they’ll use some of this time to work on the college admission process. No matter what grade your children will be entering, they need to visit or have visited several colleges so they can begin to narrow their choices of schools that they might like to attend. If your children will be applying to college next year, they can take so much pressure off themselves during their senior year by starting to fill out applications.

If your children have not yet found a summer job, they should be trying to find one that enhances their admissions application, if possible. It is especially good if they can find a job that ties to one of their interests. Should your children be unable to find a job, they should look into volunteer opportunities in their community — again searching for one that ties to their interests.

Finally, and we hate to mention this, but students can profit from doing some preparation for admissions tests, as they might not have much time during the school year. At the very least, they should look at the guides for both the ACT and SAT tests. And they should read a lot to improve verbal scores on these tests.

Send questions to Dear Teacher, in care of the Post-Bulletin, Box 395, Carmel, IN 46082-0395; or e-mail: DearTeach@aol.com.

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