Discontinued students

graduateReading Recovery takes place with students in Year One in order to catch those who are already slipping behind the other students in the class. After 15 – 20 weeks of intense instruction the student graduates from Reading Recovery, but he or she is not to be considered ‘fixed’. He or she will probably need to be given extra assistance within the classroom (and at home) to ensure continual advancement, and no slipping back into bad habits.

As Marie Clay wrote:

The child has come a long way in a short time, but still has a long distance to travel (to become an independent learner) … (after Reading Recovery) some children may react with new doubts about their ability to cope. ( Literacy Lessons Designed For Individuals)

How can you help at home AFTER Reading Recovery?

Keep doing what you have been doing. Continue to hear your child read EVERY day. Keep up the momentum of all the good habits and strategies that your child has been using.

Think about these questions as you listen to the reading:
– Is your child reading smoothly or word by word?
– Are you jumping in to help without giving ‘wait time’?
– Is your child expecting you to do the reading work if he  / she is stuck?
– Is your child slipping back into a bad habit that you have not seen in a while, e.g. ONLY saying a few letters to guess an unsuitable word?
– Is your child rereading, taking words apart, checking that the reading sounds right and makes sense, and trying again?
– Is your child using the meaning of the story (by rereading, checking the picture) to support taking the word apart to solve words?

Use opportunities for reading and writing within your daily life. Here are just a few of the many websites that are full of ideas:

petaaParents’ Guide To Helping Children At Home With Reading And Writing




Ideas to help with Reading, Writing and Maths




reading children11 Ways Parents Can Help Their Children Read




developingDeveloping Writing and Spelling at Home




You may also wish to read an earlier post about Discontinuation.

Decoding and Comprehension

graduationSome of my students are in the process of graduating from Reading Recovery. It is extremely gratifying to observe the progress that takes place over the 15 – 20 weeks of lessons.

When I believe that a student is ready to finish he / she does the Observation Survey again. The student is asked to read some familiar and unseen books in order to check the strategies that are being used.

When Student A ‘graduated’ recently she was able to read books up to Level 19 that she had not seen before. I would say that this reading level was a decoding level for her. She was able to decode (work out) enough words for the book to be considered instructional (not too hard according to a mathematical formula that we use). However, she was not able to tell the teacher many of the important parts of the story, and further questioning revealed that she did not understand what she reading.

The main reason for reading is to gain meaning.

chefIf you can say the words correctly (because you are good at putting the letters together), but you do not understand what you are reading, it is called ‘barking at print’. I might read a cookbook this way. I could sound like a great reader (only stumbling over a few words) but I would have no idea what most of the instructions meant. (I know this from the few cooking shows that I’ve seen on TV. The contestants use a different language to me, e.g. emulsify and temper the chocolate and blast chiller.)

Student A read up to Level 15 at a comprehension level. She was able to retell the main events and answer questions about the books. The comprehension level is often below the decoding level. It will depend on the understanding that the student brings to the book. If the student has a background in a language other than English it is likely that he / she will not know the meaning of many of the words. It is also harder to predict what will come next.

I can be reasonably confident that Student A will be able to read Level 15 books independently if she is familiar with the topic (ideas, setting, vocabulary, structure).

It is always a good idea to ask your child a few questions about a book to check he or she is understanding what is being read. You could ask your child to tell you what has happened so far. ‘Sounding good’ does not always mean that the reader is comprehending.