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Families and Literacy:

Reading Checkup for Independent Readers (Grades 3 and Up)

How are your children developing as readers, and what can you do to help? Use RIF's series of Reading Checkups to evaluate your children's progress through six stages of reading development, from picture-pointing to independent reading.

Each checkup describes the knowledge and skills that most children demonstrate at a given stage and suggests how they can be nurtured.

How to Use the Checkups

Use the reading checkups the way a doctor uses a growth chart. Look for a steady pattern of growth with a few lulls and spurts. That's a healthy sign that your child is doing well in reading.

Age or grade ranges are listed for each checkup, but just as a guide. We recommend that even if your child is already in school, you begin with the Reading Checkup for Babies and Toddlers and work your way forward. That way you will better appreciate the steady growth your child has already made toward becoming an independent reader.

How Parents Can Help

Parents play a key role in their children's reading development at every stage. As you mark your child's progress, don't forget to check up on what you can be doing to actively promote your child's interest and skills.

What Do the Checkups Mean?

Notice where most of your check marks fall. If your answers are mostly A's, your child may still be making the transition from an earlier stage. If the answers are mostly B's, your child is in the middle of this stage. If you checked mostly C's, your child is probably stepping up to the next level. If you have any concerns about your child’s reading progress, talk to your child’s teacher or pediatrician.

Checkup for Independent Readers:

Independent readers have mastered basic reading skills and can teach themselves new things by reading. The more they read, the more their skills improve. Independent readers are also independent thinkers. They are beginning to interpret or read between the lines and respond critically to what they read. Thanks to your involvement, they are off to a healthy start toward a lifetime of reading.

Does your child...

1. Read different kinds of writing, such as news, information, poetry, and stories?
a. just stories b. some variety c. often

2. Talk about books and find meaning in the stories?
a. not yet b. sometimes c. often

3. Read for information and to learn new skills?
a. sometimes b. more often c. often

4. Read for pleasure, not just for school?
a. almost never b. sometimes c. often

Can your child...

1. Read aloud smoothly and with expression?
a. not yet b. sometimes c. often

2. Interpret what the writer is trying to say?
a. not yet b. sometimes c. often

3. Write longer and more interesting sentences than before?
a. not yet b. sometimes c. often

4. Spell most words correctly?
a. not yet b. more and more c. most of the time

Not to worry! It's okay if your child...

1. Doesn't like to read aloud. Silent reading goes a lot faster.

2. Still reads picture books. Many are quite sophisticated and written for older readers.

3. Makes spelling mistakes. Help your child create a personal list of difficult words to spell.

Source: Reading Checkup Guide: Helping Your Children Become Better Readers, developed for "Read Me a Story," a RIF/VISA brochure.

Reading Checkup for Independent Readers (Grades 3 and Up)