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EDUCATION: Don’t put students in pigeonholes

Letter by Patricia J. LeBlanc, Tacoma on March 1, 2013 at 1:54 pm | No Comments »
March 1, 2013 2:29 pm

Re: “Bill would require third-graders to read” (TNT, 3-1).

I am appalled at yet another attempt by lawmakers to mess with what happens in the classroom.

I am a school librarian and a parent. My son did not read at grade level until the fifth grade. I have a houseful of books, and I read to him every day. Believe me, I despaired that he would ever learn to read fluently.

Two things happened when he was in fifth grade: The Learning Assistance Program teacher started a before-school reading club, and his fifth-grade teacher read a book that grabbed his attention so much that we had to go to the library to get a copy so he could read along with the teacher. He has been a reader ever since.

Some kids take longer. In public school education we used to believe in the idea of developmentally appropriate practices. We didn’t teach reading in kindergarten, we didn’t call students failures in third grade and we gave students time to practice their reading skills.

We are so busy with word skills, fluency skills, timed readings, scripted teaching and the like that we forget that to be a good reader, one must read – preferably a book of one’s choice.

To the Legislature: smaller class sizes, more books and time to read them is a much better route to getting kids to read. And don’t worry if it takes a little longer than third grade.

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