Oooh, that’s too bad she needs a reading tutor.
No. No, it isn’t.
That, my friends, is the exact response I have given to several people in my life who have expressed dismay about my daughter needing a reading tutor. They speak as if she should be embarrassed, or I should be embarrassed when it’s quite the opposite for us. I’m so darn proud of my daughter for being willing to work with a complete stranger in an attempt to challenge herself.
My husband and I first noticed our daughter struggling with reading last year in first grade when her friends were moving up to chapter books and she was at a standstill with early reading books. Together, my husband and I decided to create a challenge for her with a goal to reach reading level M by the end of the year. There was no bribe associated with this, instead just a focus on where she might want to be. It worked, and she was at level M before the end of the year. You could see her pride in her accomplishment all over her face, and while she wasn’t reading her chapter books like she had hoped, her reading certainly had improved.
Then summer came. We spend a large chunk of our time playing outside in the summer and our kids are exhausted by bedtime. We made the mistake of not pushing her to read daily, due in part to her fighting us every time we asked.
As the school year started, we soon realized she was no longer at reading level M. She had reverted all the way back to level H. And while that upset her, I could see what bothered her the most was that her friends who were reading chapter books last year were continuing to excel and move forward. And our poor daughter had to hear that she went backward. I can only imagine how detrimental that was to her confidence.
After 4 months of second grade, she had barely improved to level I. She complained about her reading level group and that the books were too easy, but we could see her struggle when she would do her nightly reading at home.
To make matters worse, her brother had entered kindergarten and quickly moved from a level A to a level D/E and often could read some of her level H/I books. Naturally, our goal was to make sure reading did not become a competition between the two of them, so we focused on praising him when she wasn’t within ears reach. As proud of him as we were, we didn’t want her to think that made us any less proud of her.
As the New Year arrived, we decided it was time to take control of our daughter’s reading progress. Whatever they were doing at school (no offense to the school) simply wasn’t working. She had the drive to improve, but the improvement wasn’t happening. Every night was a fight to get her to read, and she would break down into tears from the request.
So, we made the decision… she needed a tutor. Someone outside of the school, and outside of our daily social circle. Someone that she could trust. Someone that would be just hers, and not sharing with her brother.
This was new. This was incredible. This was the shift we had been looking for in her confidence and interest in reading. Each week, we continue to see her improve and she looks forward to her tutoring sessions. Even more incredible is that she isn’t embarrassed by having a reading tutor — and why should she be? She is taking control of her learning process and figuring out how to approach it from a different angle. She is proud to have a reading tutor, and we love that she expresses it to anyone who will listen.
While her reading level is at a J right now (which is absolutely an improvement), we feel confident that she could be reading at an even higher level but that the school does things at their own timing so we won’t push it.
And the icing on the cake? Our daughter now asks to read to us! You read that right. Our daughter who would fight until she cried about having to read, will now pick up a book and read to us at home, in the car, or anywhere she can! She’s finally trying to read the Magic Treehouse chapter books that she had been hoping to read. And we could not be more proud of her.