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awalls4b
awalls4b asks:
Q:

My 7yr old son is struggling with reading.Has difficulty sounding out words, retaining words he just sounded out and questions his every move.

We've done flashcards, extra workbooks, reading every night and nothing seems to be helping him. We are just at a loss of what direction to go next. I have filled out paperwork for him to have a "child study" done at school to see if he needs an IEP. He just has such a hard time I think he is just getting frustrated and then shuts down.
In Topics: Helping my child with reading, Helping my child with school work and home work, Special education
> 60 days ago

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Expert

ChildSpeechLanguage
Mar 2, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

In addition to the other recommendations from swbrandt, kat_eden, and readingservicemom, you may also wish to consult with a reading specialist.  Also, have you had your son's vision tested recently?

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Additional Answers (8)

kat_eden
kat_eden , Parent writes:
Hi! I'm sorry you and your son are having a rough time. I'm not a reading expert - hopefully the experts you're working with at school will be able to help you understand what's going on with your son and get him access to any additional resources he might need.

I just wanted to comment on his "getting frustrated" and shutting down. My oldest son (now 7) went through a very similar stage when he was six. What worked for us was just to back way down on trying to get him to read on his own. We continued reading to him every night and making sure that we were reading books that he was really excited about. We put away all the flash cards and workbooks. When we read really simple books, we'd invite him to read just a word or two on every page. I'd point to words I KNEW he knew (a, the, I, etc) and we'd read the story together. If he resisted or said he didn't want to I'd just read the whole thing myself - no discussion. By taking the pressure off, and setting him up to succeed, he started to get more confident and he started to have a lot of fun. After a while, I could start pointing to words that were just a LITTLE more challenging (but that I still knew he would get). Then I moved on to words that were a little harder that he needed to sound out and I'd help him sound them out. I would never let him get to the point of frustration or failure. It felt very tedious and at times I thought we might be reading "The Cat Sat on the Mat" for the rest of his life. But after a while, and kind of all at once, he just took off. He started reading more and more words on the page and eventually he was reading entire books to us.

Now he's addicted to books and he tries to stay up until all hours of the night reading chapter books on his own.

So stay hopeful! I could be that your son does have some learning challenge or disability that the experts will be able to help him work through. But it could also be that if you back way off, and build his confidence from the ground up, he'll be able to become an avid reader all on his own.

Good luck to both of you!

Kat
PS - He's really lucky to have a mom who cares as much as you do.
> 60 days ago

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readingservicemom
readingserv... writes:
Students struggle with reading for different reasons, but most have to do with phonological awareness, or their ability to work with and understand sounds.  After grade 1, most curricula have gone beyond this, but that doesn't mean that your son is ready to move on.  Sometimes the "reading" problem is really an underlying problem like this one.  More reading work may not help him.  He may need phonemic awareness  (just working with sounds) before phonics (sounds partnered with letters).  He may be getting frustrated because he does not have the foundation he needs in order to do the phonics work- kind of like skipping to multiplication without understanding addition first.
This is where I would look first.  Other problems could include processing problems, or not explicit enough phonics instruction.  Or something else entirely.  Good luck.  I hope he grows to love reading!!
> 60 days ago

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swbrandt
swbrandt writes:
The others here make great points about reducing stress and focusing on phonemic awareness.  The good news is that there are all kinds of things you can do with your son to make learning to read / decode more fun and less stressful!  Enjoying reading is key.  Here's some:

- Break out the play dough!  Have your son form letters that make a sound ("make the letter that sounds like ____") or objects that start with a given letter.

- When you read to him, engage him around the story, not just the words.  Ask "real questions" - What do you think will happen?  What would you do in that situation? - not just "teacher questions" that you already know the answers to.

- Try different kinds of duet reading:  you take turns reading sentences or pages, you both read in unison, etc.

- Try wordless story books.  Then he can tell you the story from the images or you can tell the story together.  No text required but GREAT for building confidence and enjoyment and also concepts of story elements, figurative language, etc.  A fantastic wordless picture book is "The Lion and the Mouse" - my son loves it.

- Play rhyming games and recite silly, ridiculous, fun rhyming chants and poems, like limerics.  Go to a good children's bookstore and you should be able to find lots of good choices.

- Make up stories together and then write them.  Use that as a reading text.  He can do the illustrations if he likes to draw/paint.

I hope some of these turn out to be fun for you and your son.  One other thing that I noticed in your description is that your son doesn't retain what he's read/decoded.  That could be a sign of a working memory (short term memory) deficit so make sure your school is assessing for that!
> 60 days ago

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BruceDeitrickPrice
BruceDeitri... , Teacher writes:
March is the 55th anniversary of Flesch's "Why Johnny Can't Read," which explained why so many children couldn't read. A lot hasn't changed!

Many schools insist on sight-words, even though this is a game-stopper for some children.  

I write a lot on these problems. The link below, about Flesch's book, contains a quote from a teacher wringing her hands over a student much like your son. Note that the teacher has no clue what to do.

My advice is to make sure your son can say the alphabet quickly and easily, and then the sounds that each letter stands for.

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m.nelson
m.nelson writes:
I would try using books that are of definite interest areas for your son.  If he's already interested in the subject matter, he might be more determined to stick with the book.

Also, have you considered trying books with an audiobook complement?  I teach a middle school reading group and my students are making great progress with the Scobre Press reading program.  They offer MP3 players with all of their books.  Also, they're sports books mostly, so maybe your son would find them interesting if he's into sports?

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Katama
Katama writes:
I believe your on the right track with having a child study group look more closely into your Childs difficulty with reading.  I have 3 children and two of them at the age of 8 were both diagonsed with dyslexia. The school administered many tests and in the end they has the schools physiologist give the last test to determine if it was dyslexia.
 
Do you know if there is a family history of dyslexia? Dyslexic is a learning condition that slows down reading ability. Often times the child has trouble remembering a word they have just read. For example, my daughter would often get stuck on the word "was" I can't tell you how many times I would correct her and say that word is "was" or saw, of,.
 
A dyslexic child also has a hard time with an isolated word recognition like your flash cards you mentioned because they have no meaning no clues to decode from.  My child would also mispronounce words like gajamas, for the word pajamas. Because it is also the way they hear the word. That's why most children with dyslexia have trouble with sounds and spelling.
A great book you should read is by Maria Shaywitz
Great book! But anyway,  
 Both children are doing very well thanks to a reading program called, "Wilson reading program"  We also had them tutored during the summer to reinforce what was learned during the school year. They are now currently in 7 grade and 4 grade. My 4 grader is still getting the help in Wilson reading, but my daughter in 7 is not, but she still has accommodations like un- timed tests. A list of a few accommodations are, no spelling tests, reading aloud in class, un-timed tests, graphic organizers and a few more.
Best of luck to you and your child. Keep in mind these children are brilliant and usually very bright,  and gifted in math and comprehension. They have a great perspective and a gift to analyzing things.
My best,
Katama
> 60 days ago

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sarahadmin
sarahadmin writes:
You could try checking out the Easyread System. The system specializes in highly visual learners, and children with short attention spans. Through daily lessons that are between 5 - 15 minutes on the computer, the child plays games and reads stories using phonetic characters that represent the sounds in words - fun characters, like the ants in pink pants or the bear with long hair. Just doing extra workbooks, more reading, more of the same thing that doesn't seem to be working is probably only making your son more upset and discouraged. Try doing a free trial lesson on the site with him and see how he responds!
> 60 days ago

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jayemm1965
jayemm1965 writes:
Hi...I find it really sad when i see blogs about parents who hurt because their child is finding it difficult to read. My son struggled to read and someone recommended a book called Toe by Toe. He took about 12 months to get through it but what a difference it made.  His reading age went up by four years and now he loves to read and his confidence has grown so much. It helps retain phonic sounds into there long term memory.  I would recommend this book to any child or adult who struggles.  The good thing about it is that it has the instructions inside (for the confident reader to teach) I thought it was expensive at first but it was worth every penny and more...Great little book.

This is the reply i got from Toe By Toe when i emailed them in dispare!

Thank you for your query.  It sounds like your son does need some special support but there is no reason why you cannot supply that necessary approach yourself.  Based upon what you have told me in your message, he may be slightly dyslexic but please note that we maintain that - in practice - it is largely immaterial whether your child is 'officially' diagnosed as "dyslexic".  If a child is struggling to read there is a problem and it needs to be addressed.  'Dyslexia' is only a label after all.  What you - as a concerned parent - need to know is what can be done to help him to overcome the problem.  Having said that, much does depend upon the severity of the child's literacy problems.  Dyslexia is like anything else.  Not black or white.  It's a continuum.  Toe by Toe will work with any child but - of course - the length of time to get through the manual varies enormously.  Under ideal conditions, for a child of average 'disability' (if I can use such a term), it should be possible to finish TBT in 2 school terms.  In contrast, where a child is very severely dyslexic it can take years.  However, with perseverance, they will eventually be able to finish.  Since the child is now 8 years old, the sooner you begin working on his reading the better.
 
Toe by Toe is a single manual and it is written to be used by non-qualified people so there is no reason why you cannot take the child through the scheme yourself.  You will probably find the web site useful (details later) and we also have a free telephone / e-mail support service to provide as much help to parents as we can.  Toe by Toe is most effective when done 'one to one' for 20 minutes per day.  This is not to say that the scheme will not work when used for less time or done less frequently - the problem is that it may take longer than the target of 6 months to finish.  It is unlikely that your child would get DAILY TBT sessions at school so it will probably be best if you work with him at home.  In that respect, I have no doubt that Toe by Toe will make all the difference but it may be for the best if I give you a few pointers first:

The scheme has been developed in such a way as to make it possible for non-qualified people - such as parents - to use.  In fact , in our experience, the support of an able, committed parent who can find the time to spend 20 minutes a day going through the book with their own child works wonderfully well as long as the instructions (in the red bordered 'coaching boxes') are followed to the letter.

Unfortunately, despite the simplicity of the instructions in Toe by Toe - they are often unread or ignored.  For example, I often have parents or classroom assistants tell me that their student "simply will have nothing to do with the nonsense words" and thus they have had to "miss out those bits".  This scheme took my mother 25 years to develop and the nonsense words are an integral part of the scheme and it simply will not work properly unless the nonsense words are covered and read correctly. Also, some parents feel that they may have to accept some incorrect pronunciation to avoid discouraging the child.  This is self-defeating. If a child knows right from the start that the words and sentences have to be read correctly in order to receive a tick, they will have a real sense of fulfillment as they see the pages signed off by their tutor.  
 
Generally speaking, a tutor's first task is often to convince older students that they CAN learn to read.  It is important, of course, for confidence that the student keeps a sense of momentum.  Therefore, what we do when a particular word / skill is holding things up is: draw a circle around the problem word and then move it forward a few pages (i.e. write it at the top of a new page where it can be practiced further until the student gets it right on 3 consecutive occasions).  The old page can then be signed off as finished (I put the completed pages behind a rubber band so it is easy to find the starting point for the next session and also the child can easily see how much has been completed and - crucially - never has to be looked at again).  The manual will certainly get more difficult later but - as a decoding scheme - this should not matter too much.  As long as the lad is prepared to 'have a go' that is all that is required.  A sense of progress is the best motivation for most struggling readers and they soon realise that what is - for them - a mysteriously difficult skill is within their reach.  

Please accept my best wishes in your struggle to provide your child with the precious gift of literacy.  If you need any further information please don't hesitate to contact me by e-mail at: frank@kedapublications.co.uk

Yours sincerely,

Frank Cowling ( Toe by Toe admin.)
P.S.  Further info on our new website at:
www.kedapublications.co.uk
25 days ago

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