Q:

My daughter just finished kindergarten. Her teacher feels that the child should go to transitional first grade before entering first grade, as she sometimes mixes up her lower and uppercase letters and sounds. The school is offering a four-week pre-first-grade program starting later this month. The children who complete the program will go on to first grade. With my work schedule, there is no way that she can attend the class, as I can't pick her up after it's over. Do you think the class would help?

I've bought a summer reading program the school was offering to help children with their letters and sounds. Also, I'll be using the summer project the teacher designed to help students with their writing. Is there anything else I can do this summer to get her ready for first grade? -- Hope to Help

A:

We recommend that you start using the school programs now. Take them slowly and work with them daily. Don't go onto something new until a lesson has been completely mastered. Also, you should read to your child a lot. Use some books with rhyming words and ask your child to tell you which words rhyme. You'll find helpful video clips for additional teaching ideas at www.readingrockets.org/article/3403.

The best scenario would be for your child to attend the program, as it is specifically designed to ready children for first grade. Hopefully, the school program that you bought will also ready her for first grade. In either case, she might still need some additional help in learning to read in first grade.

While you don't want your child to be in over her head in first grade, you must realize that placing her in the transitional first grade would actually be a form of retention. Furthermore, such programs have not been shown to be as effective as educators think they are. Consider asking the school to evaluate your child's skills again at the end of summer.