I have been convinced for some time that my second-grader is not reading as well as she should be. Unfortunately, my suspicions have been confirmed. Her recent report card shows that she needs improvement in her sight vocabulary and oral reading skills. What steps should I be taking to see that her skills improve? I have not been contacted by her teacher. -- Needs Improvement


The teacher is aware of your daughter's problem. Now what you need to do is to find out what the plans are to improve the child's skills. There is a program called Response to Intervention mandated by the federal government and run by the states that deals with screening all students and placing them in tiers so help can be given at the level needed. Your school may not have the funds to fully implement this program. Whether the school has an RTI program or not, a conversation with the teacher is needed to give you an idea of how severe your daughter's reading problems are and what is going to be done to help her.

It may be possible that your daughter's reading skills can be improved within her reading group in the classroom. Or she may need more specialized help from a reading specialist. A formal evaluation of your daughter's reading skills is needed. If you think that she might have a learning disability, you can learn more about the special services that she is eligible for at LD Online (www.ldonline.org). Should you not be satisfied with the school's evaluation, you might think of getting a second opinion from a specialist outside of the school. There will probably be a fee for this evaluation.

You are very smart to hop on this problem right now. Children need to be good readers by the end of third grade in order to be successful in school. Knowing sight words is definitely essential. The first 300 sight words that should be learned by the end of third grade appear in 65 percent of all reading material. You can see a list of these basic sight words by searching for "instant words" on our website

(dearteacher.com). Also click on "Reading" under "Skill Builders" to discover techniques that you can use at home to improve your child's reading.