Amy (not her real name) was entering third grade when I met her mom after an event on children’s literacy. Her mom scheduled a call with me and explained to me how Amy had lost her confidence in reading over the past two years since she had trouble sounding out words.
Her parents knew that pushing her to struggle through her homework every night wasn’t effective, but they didn’t want her to fall further behind either. They found themselves arguing regularly about getting all of the reading and writing homework done, and they knew there had to be a better way to support Amy.
Her teachers kept assuring her mom that she’d catch up on her own, but her mom knew that something wasn’t right.
At the time I met her, it was already a struggle to get her to pick up a book, read aloud, or write a short story for school. Amy had lost her confidence and felt embarrassed, and therefore unmotivated to try.
During our consultation, I realized that Amy had unfinished learning in phonics and phonemic awareness, which is usually taught briefly in Pre-K and Kindergarten and then never touched again in first through third grade. Because of these gaps, Amy had been making up for them by guessing words, skipping words, and refusing to read aloud.
So, I developed a full curricular plan for Amy that included lots of reading of books she loved, some very fun and engaging phonics games, and some writing prompts that enticed Amy to express herself. As we started meeting, I saw her understanding of some of the basic literacy principles grow, and her teachers and reading specialists at school began reporting great progress in her work.
As part of the Resilient Reader program, I also work directly with parents. I met with Amy’s parents twice a month to ensure that her parents were able to provide Amy with the support she needed at home.
Instead of focusing on homework, her parents began focusing on having memorable, fun experiences around reading and learning with Amy and her siblings. They learned concrete ways to bring joy and connection into the home, and did away with nightly spelling test arguments.
Her parents were relieved to not have to fight about homework and spelling words every night, and Amy’s confidence steadily rose because she began feeling more relaxed and supported at home.
Amy said that she felt she had more skills to “calm my mind down and get ready to use my reading strategies” and her parents reported that they saw Amy’s motivation soar in the past few months.
As the program came to a close, Amy ended third grade on a fourth grade reading level!
Amy had fully caught up in her reading and would no longer be pulled out of class in third grade for reading support. She and her parents also had a closer relationship to each other because they spent more time having fun and less time stressed about school.