As I mentioned before, all children learn at different rates.
However, I am very concerned with any school system that has not either taught a child to read by age eight or conducted testing to determine if there is a learning disability that is impeding reading progress. By now, the school should have evaluated your son and developed an appropriate, individualized program.
The fact that he is on target with or ahead of grade-level standards in mathematics suggests that there may be a learning disability affecting reading, such as dyslexia (this is just an example, please see the school for evaluation and testing).
If you are in the United States, your child has a legal right to a free and appropriate education, which should include support for any diagnosed learning disabilities.
I am a little confused as an eight year old would usually be enrolled in third grade, possibly entering fourth grade. And I am very concerned that he has been promoted to the fifth grade without the school system addressing his reading needs. Your son has a right to learn to read.
Please call your school principal and request evaluation for learning disabilities. You should be invited to a meeting to discuss your child's learning needs. If you require an interpreter, one should be provided. Early intervention is key!
Reading can open up entire worlds and I wish your son a great experience learning to read!
I'm sorry to hear your son is having trouble with reading and writing, but I'm glad he's showing strength in mathematics (something many kids hate!) Before I can really help answer your question though more information would be great on your situation. What state are you currently living in and has your son been enrolled in school up until now? Is it more of a matter of difficulty with reading/writing in general or is has he had no prior experience/practice with English (is English a second language)?
I hope that your son's teachers have asked for a full evaluation of his educational skills in order to assess if he has a learning disability. Also, discuss with his pediatrician these concerns and perhaps he may need a hearing test as math skills are usually very visual and reading skills often depend on the knowledge of phonemes or sounds of letters.
For more information check out www.nasponline.org in order to gain information about the school evaluation process which has federal guidelines. However, if your son is in private school you may need to make the first contact with the public schools yourself.
Maybe it’s Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a specific learning disability and primarily affects one’s ability to learn to read. Dyslexia is characterized by difficulties with accurate and fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. Dyslexia varies in degrees of severity and is highly hereditary. It is not uncommon for a child with dyslexia to have an immediate family member who also has this condition. Also, it is not unusual for two or more children in a family to have dyslexia.
Dyslexia is estimated to affect some 20-30 percent of our population. This means that more than 2 million school-age children in the United States are dyslexic. Although children with dyslexia typically have average to above average intelligence, their dyslexia creates problems not only with reading, writing and spelling but also with speaking, thinking and listening. Many times these academic problems can lead to emotional and self-esteem issues throughout their lives. Low self-esteem can lead to poor grades and under achievement. Dyslexic students are often considered lazy, rebellious or unmotivated. These misconceptions cause rejection, isolation, feelings of inferiority, and discouragement.
The central difficulty for dyslexic students is poor phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness is the ability to appreciate that spoken language is made up of sound segments (phonemes). In other words, a dyslexic student’s brain has trouble breaking a word down into its individual sounds and manipulating these sounds. For example, in a word with three sounds, a dyslexic might only perceive one or two.
Most researchers and teachers agree that developing phonemic awareness is the first step in learning to read. It cannot be skipped. When children begin to learn to read, they first must come to recognize that the word on the page has the same sound structure as the spoken word it represents. However, because dyslexics have difficulty recognizing the internal sound structure of the spoken word to begin with, it is very difficult for them to convert the letters of the alphabet into a phonetic code (decoding).
Although dyslexia can impair spelling and decoding abilities, it also seems to be associated with many strengths and talents. People with dyslexia often have significant strengths in areas controlled by the right side of the brain. These include artistic, athletic and mechanical gifts. Individuals with dyslexia tend to be very bright and creative thinkers. They have a knack for thinking, “outside-the-box.” Many dyslexics have strong 3-D visualization ability, musical talent, creative problem solving skills and intuitive people skills. Many are gifted in math, science, fine arts, journalism, and other creative fields.
Dyslexia is a persistent learning difference that one does not outgrow. With early detection, proper intervention, and certain accommodations, dyslexics can improve their reading and spelling skills significantly and succeed academically.
Late talking, compared to other children
Pronunciation problems, reversal of sounds in words (such as ‘aminal’ for ‘animal’ or ‘gabrage’ for ‘garbage’)
Slow vocabulary growth, often unable to find the right word (takes a while to get the words out)
Difficulty rhyming words
Trouble learning numbers, the alphabet, days of the week
Poor ability to follow directions or routines
Does not understand what you say until you repeat it a few times
Enjoys being read to but shows no interest in words or letters
Has weak fine motor skills (in activities such as drawing, tying laces, cutting, and threading)
Unstable pencil grip
Slow to learn new skills, relies heavily on memorization
School Age Children
Has good memory skills
Has not shown a dominant handedness
Seems extremely intelligent but weak in reading
Reads a word on one page but doesn’t recognize it on the next page or the next day
Confuses look alike letters like b and d, b and p, n and u, or m and w.
Substitutes a word while reading that means the same thing but doesn’t look at all similar, like “trip” for “journey” or “mom” for “mother.”
When reading leaves out or adds small words like “an, a, from, the, to, were, are and of.”
Reading comprehension is poor because the child spends so much energy trying to figure out words.
Might have problems tracking the words on the lines, or following them across the pages.
Avoids reading as much as possible
Writes everything as one continuous sentence
Does not understand the difference between a sentence and a fragment of a sentence
Misspells many words
Uses odd spacing between words. Might ignore margins completely and pack sentences together on the page instead of spreading them out
Does not notice spelling errors
Is easily distracted or has a short attention span
Has difficulties making sense of instructions
Fails to finish work on time
Appears lazy, unmotivated, or frustrated
Avoids reading and writing
Guesses at words and skips small words
Has difficulties with reading comprehension
Does not do homework
Might say that they are “dumb” or “couldn’t care less”
Might hide the dyslexia by being defiant or using self-abusive behavior
Avoids reading and writing
Types letters in the wrong order
Has difficulties filling out forms
Mixes up numbers and dates
Has low self-esteem
Might be a high school dropout
Holds a job below their potential and changes jobs frequently
The sooner a child with dyslexia is given proper instruction, particularly in the very early grades, the more likely it is that they will have fewer or milder difficulties later in life.
Older students or adults with dyslexia will need intensive tutoring in reading, writing and spelling using an Orton-Gillingham program. During this training, students will overcome many reading difficulties and learn strategies that will last a lifetime. Treatment will only “stick” if it is incorporated slowly and consistently over time. There is no such thing as a “quick fix.”
The best learning environment for a student with dyslexia is always one-to-one. Students who have severe dyslexia may need periodic one-to-one tutoring to catch up and stay up with the rest of their class. This specialized tutoring helps dyslexic students become successful in reading, writing, spelling, grammar, and vocabulary. It also will help them with math, and word problems.
Sounds like he's being taught with sight-words. Not phonics. All the exerts I trust say that sight-words will cause major problems.
Google "Dyslexia, Disability and Deception: What Five Experts Say" for the case against sight-words.
Ive recently tried this program with my 7 year old son. You can Teach Your Child to read with free video guides.
First Step Reading is a step by step program , my son is really enjoying the videos and the characters in them. He has picked up on the phonics sounds and is able to read better now. It has really worked out well for us. Hope it helps you too.
You must check out this site, and the videos are FREE for all: