My fourth grade son is very smart, but sometimes he needs a little extra help understanding and reading through his assignments. I do that with him at home, but I want to make sure he is getting extra support at school. How can I make sure he gets the support that he needs?
Unfortunately, there are too many children like your son in schools. Educators refer to them as "underachievers" or mistakenly "Smart but lazy".
Your child my have several problems, needs or issue in literacy. But let me tell you the most common ones.
Parents often read a lot to children who are "very smart". Children who are "very smart" often memorize what they hear. So these children learn to read by 'guessing' instead of learning the 'reading code'. They do not learn phonics or phonemic awareness, the rules of spelling, the 100 or so sight words, they do not develop a good ear for listening to individual words or parts of words. So, as the reading material gets more difficult, more abstract, and the child needs to read and comprehend new material-- not just memorize easy stories or guess from pictures-- we come to realize that he/she does not have the basic mechanics of reading.
My advise would be to speak to your teacher about your observations, request that your child be given a test of basic reading skills and comprehension to determine exactly where he needs remedial help or intervention. Ask to speak to a reading specialist. The sooner you do this, the better off your child will be. The fourth grade is a difficult year if the child cannot 'read to learn'. It will only get harder for him because the material in all content areas will become more abstract.
If your child is very smart as you mention, he will catch on quickly with the right diagnosis and intervention and support. Be willing to support him to participate in afters school programs, summer schools, or extra programs.
This is probably the MOST important step you will ever need to take for your child. It will influence what he will do for the rest of his schooling years.
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from a fellow member
Many schools offer after-school homework programs, which may be helpful. These programs often hire high school and college-age tutors, many of whom are working toward a degree in child development, who can encourage him and help answer his questions.
Also, don't be afraid to talk to his teacher! I'm not saying you should ask the teacher to give your son preferential treatment, but it's not uncalled for for you to let her know your son is struggling and ask his teacher to keep an eye on him.