Struggling Reader Help: This Mom Took Action and It Worked
Ruby was like any typical first grade student.
With backpack on and all smiles on her first day of school.
She was excited to get on that bus and her mom was excited for her, too.
But, as the year progressed, her teacher and her mom noticed a change in Ruby.
She had frequent meltdowns full of tears and lots of withdrawal as she struggled with feelings bigger than she was, but she was always willing to try.
Her mom watched this beautiful and radiant kid withdraw and wither away because of repeated failures to live up to expectations. Her light just disappeared. She couldn't keep up with her peers, and it crushed her confidence.
Ruby’s mom was understanding and kind to her, but the last straw for Ruby’s mom was when she went to the parent teacher conference at the end of the year. The teacher mentioned that Ruby was the in the bottom 25% of the class. She suggested summer school and reading with her more at home.
At this point, Ruby’s mom, Mandy, was frustrated. Why had they waited till the end of the year to tell her that her daughter needed help with reading?
Ruby's mom knew how bright her daughter was, but being in the bottom 25% of the class is not exactly a compliment. Her mom wondered how could all of this be happening?
So, Ruby’s mom started searching on the internet for a solution. She turned to her stay at home mom group on Facebook. She vented to them what was going on and one of the members, who happens to be a parent to a girl in my daughter's class, mentioned me. She knew what I did because I had a big, and I mean big, sign on my car that said "reading tutoring."
She suggested me and we did the free assessment to find out what was going on for Ruby. The biggest thing holding Ruby back was her phonics skills. Everything else seemed to be in place. And in just 3 short months of working with me, she went from the bottom quadrant of her class to the top starting 2nd grade.
Ruby was able to put on that backpack on the first day of 2nd grade, with a big grin on her face, fists pumping the air with enthusiasm to have a great year.
And guess what?
She was at the top of her class reading.
Kids didn’t make fun of her. They admired her. She got to enjoy the next two years worry free about her reading.
But then, something happened in 4th grade. Her mom noticed that her lexile score was not increasing over time. It seemed to stay the same or drop. While Ruby was getting a B in reading, she realized that a 619 is low for 4th grade. She had dropped from the 75th percentile to the 44th percentile in a year. This concerned her mom, but this time she knew exactly who to call.
I was bummed to hear that Ruby was struggling again. I was eager to find out what was happening and it was just as I had expected. She struggled with the transition between learning to read and reading to learn. See, in 4th grade, kids are reading for a purpose. They read in every subject, but this kind of reading is different than what we do in 1st and 2nd grade. So now phonics was not the problem. In fact, she was at an instructional level with upper middle school words. This is the level she could be taught at. Ruby's biggest problem was comprehension. The higher level comprehension questions were killing her. She didn't have any strategies for reading these and she desperately needed them.
In fact, here are her exact results.
In just 6 months, with 1 hour of reading instruction a week, we completely closed the gap for her.
And this is how her mom felt.
This was five years ago, so why would I be featuring this story today? Well, these results are long lasting. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, Ruby’s mom sent me this message.
I am proud of Ruby’s accomplishments. She reached these milestones because of three factors.
1. Early and Repeated Intervention at school
2. Working one on one with me in tutoring
3. Ruby's willingness to always do the hard work.
When you put all of this together, you have a winning formula for success.
I am also proud that this is just one story out of hundreds just like Ruby's.