Q:

How can parents judge the quality of their children's reading instruction? I definitely know how important it is for children to be good readers, and I worry that my children might not be receiving good instruction. However, I don't want to jump to conclusions because I really don't know how to judge the reading instruction that they are receiving. -- Worried

A:

According to the International Reading Association, judging the quality of reading instruction is something parents can begin to do when attending a school open house or during a parent-teacher conference. Effective reading programs provide the following:

  • Good teachers. The more teachers know about reading instruction, the more children succeed. Your school should be proud of its professional development program and the support it provides to teachers in keeping up with the latest research findings and best practices.
  • Mixed instruction. Anyone who works with children recognizes how rarely they are on the same page at the same time. Moving from whole class instruction to small groups and one-on-one attention every day gives each student the chance to stay on track.
  • Great classroom and school libraries ... and time to use them. Even the best textbooks can't hold a student's attention forever. All children need easy access to an array of interesting books, magazines and other reading material.

Research shows that the amount of time that is spent on instruction is the most important variable in students' learning to read and write. Generally speaking, the students who get the most reading instruction do best.

  • There are several intangibles that will also give you clues to the quality of the reading instruction that your children are receiving in school. If your children appear very eager to read and to do reading assignments at home, it is a sure sign that the teacher has caught their interest. Also, if your children frequently pick up books and attempt to read them, it shows that they have developed confidence in their ability to read.

When all is said and done about determining whether or not your children are receiving quality reading instruction, it truly boils down to the effectiveness of their individual teachers. Teachers truly make the difference.