Reading Problems
First Grade Reading At West Stafford School

We are truly fortunate to have a very comprehensive program for reading and language arts instruction in first grade.  We use the Houghton-Mifflin reading series, which targets the key skills research tells us are critical to build early literacy: phonics and phonemic awareness, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary development.  Students receive an hour of language arts instruction with their whole class, as well as an hour of small group instruction targeted to deepen understanding of the skills taught in the class lesson, provide additional practice, and meet the specific needs of each learner.  Small groups are led by the first grade staff and our intervention specialists.  Be sure to visit your child’s small group teacher at open house!

How Parents Can Help
Some ideas to help parents work with children in reading and writing.

1.  Get caught reading and writing!  Whether it's the newspaper, a shopping list, a novel, or a thank-you note, your child needs to see that you value reading and writing, and they are activities you engage in daily.

2.  Talk to your child.  Oral language is the springboard for reading and writing.  Research tells us that as parents, we spend far less time talking with our children than we think we do.

3.  Check these web pages and your child's other teachers' pages.  Practice the high frequency words and assignments you see there.  Ask your child to retell the stories she or he heard or read that day--a good retelling includes character names and descriptions, a clear description of the setting, and the events of the story retold in order.

4.  Don't stop reading aloud to your child, even if he or she can read independently.  Continue to read from more challenging books.  Share stories, explain vocabulary, delve into the richness and compexity of stories beyond these early readers.

What is DIBELS?

What is DIBELS? Your first-grader may come home at different points this year and tell you that he or she “Did the DIBELS today.”  Unless you’re a reading teacher at a school that uses that assessment, you’ll undoubtedly be mystified!

DIBELS stands for “Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy,” and it is a quick assessment of fluency we use at various points in the year.  In first grade, this screening is comprised of three one-minute sub-tests.  In the fall, students' letter-naming fluency, ability to segment phonemes (that is, to separate the sounds in a word—“cat--/k/ /a/ /t/”), and ability to produce the sounds in a nonsense word ("sim" or "lut," for example) are assessed.  Later in the year, we begin to assess oral reading fluency.  Please feel free to contact your child's teacher or one of our reading specialists (Janice Gowdy or Mary Ellen Vigeant) with any questions.