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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 (7)

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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