The Secret to Engaging Your Early Reader {Lexile Levels}

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Undoubtedly, storytime since birth has always been a very healthy outlet to the growing mind of our children. Yet something changes between the ages of 5-8 in this journey. As they attempt to grow independence in their reading, they are faced with a wall of challenging words that can sometimes act as a barrier to their progress.

Sometimes this barrier doesn’t seem to be hard enough and sometimes the pure frustration of all sides leaves both parent and children in tears. This used to be a joy when it was parent conducted, but it seems so daunting through the ages of kindergarten to second grade. Why? How can we make this experience into a positive one full of growth again, instead of the exhausting obstacle course of words that it has grown into?

The secret trick to encourage the engagement we seek again is actually as simple as a number; your child’s Lexile level.

lexile

This is a number personalized to the individuality of your child’s reading skills. In America, it can be found on all standardized state testing (MAP testing is what Kentucky schools call it) and is taken at various times throughout the year. If you struggle to discover or find this number, please consult with your teacher because this is the number that they use to gauge where your child is and how to challenge them to get to the next level.

Once you find that number, here’s the fun part: it will literally guide you to the books that your child can currently read. You can even buy slightly above their Lexile level to see if they are up for the challenge, but if they start to grow frustrated, you know exactly what books are in their comfort zone to build that confidence back up with.

Easily explained, your child is going through this mentally challenging obstacle course that we have already established. What happens when you run an obstacle course with other people who are of various athletic strengths? Some will achieve more at certain parts while others get overwhelmed and want to give up. If you spend all of the energy you have at the beginning worried about where everyone is and what is normal, you are missing out on the strength training that obstacle course is intended for. We need to teach our children that this strength training can be applied mentally; building up their individual speed and toning the muscle of confidence that will encourage them to dig even further.

It seems overwhelming with the boundless amounts of titles out there and when you have multiple children like we do, we often try to get something that will just work for both. Yet, that is not what our kids need. Personally, our children are in kindergarten and first grade. With only a year apart, their levels were so extremely different. We were trying to force them both to conform to the same. Our son grew an intolerance. He started to hate family reading time and would constantly say phrases like, ” I don’t know how. I give up. Have sissy do it. I can’t,” while our daughter was breezing through it and begging for more.

After learning about their individual levels, we have actually learned that our son is extremely gifted in reading and letter recognition for his age.

He just needs to feel confident and take his time. Our daughter wasn’t ready to independently start most chapter books, but was reading too quickly through the smaller picture books. We found a sweet spot at the 240 Lexile level with the Magic Treehouse Series. Every day, we have her read us a chapter and she can do most of it independently. It is introducing her to newer words, but the words are at a level that she can sound and work out easily. This is causing her to slow down a bit as she is finally being challenged to tone those mind muscles. The great thing about that series is there are 28 books and they slowly grow in Lexile level with your child.

How do you find the level while shopping for a title? In the about section on Amazon, it will show you directly when you are buying. Most schools and libraries in all states will also be organized by Lexile level and any US librarian is qualified to help you find books in your child’s range. Also, you can do more research on your own or look up the title on the official website.

Share your child’s number with loved ones along with this article to help bring awareness of their Lexile numbers. This information is just as unique as your child and will help be a building block to their future, no matter the age.

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