As I have been doing a few videos on using the McGuffey’s for homeschooling the same question continues to be asked:
How do I know what level to put my child in?
I know this is a quandary, especially when considering that these wonderful books do not go by the grading system we use in modern times.
Good news–there is a way to tell, and it is a simple one that you can implement in just a few minutes.
Basically, you pick a portion of a reader that you think is the approximate fit for you child that is about 100 words long. Then you have your child attempt to read that passage aloud to you. As he/she reads, keep track of how many words are missed or misread. Then use one or both of these simple charts (whichever one is easiest for you to understand) to determine whether the passage is at independent, instructional, or frustration level.
Independent level is for those times when he/she will be reading for information or pleasure. Frustration level is something you want to avoid, but where most of us mistakenly think our children need to be. Instructional level would make Goldilocks very happy because it is “just right.”
The first chart on the page covers only the words read, but the second chart introduces another element; comprehension questions. This is where you pick 10 questions about what has been read and see how many your child can answer correctly and easily. This is important because reading is not just about accuracy, but about communication. Some children may have a technical understanding of reading without the maturity or familiarity with life to be able to comprehend what they have read. This means that more time needs to be spent at lower levels until there is growth in other areas.
These ideas are not my own, but were gleaned and compiled from Ruth Beechick’s books, The Three R’s, and You Can Teach Your Child Successfully. I hope they help you as they have helped me!