Concerns about my DD(21 Posts)
Not sure if this is a home ed question or an SEN one or both, but any advice would be great
Ive He'd my children from the beginning. My eldest DD is 7, the other two are 4 and 1, so its hard to know quite whats normal as Im only doing formal learning stuff with my eldest. So its the eldest one Im starting to get really concerned about, heres the stuff that's worrying me: shes bright but cannot read anything bar very basic words despite doing one year of phonics with her; she writes and sometimes reads in reverse 'mirror image'; she cannot seem to decode words phonetically; she has a limited attention span unless its something shes very interested in; she cannot easily get started with projects and its virtually impossible to get her to finish anything, shes loses interest so quickly; socially she is struggling, when she goes to groups on her own, which she wants to do, or goes to after school clubs (Brownies and an arts group) she doesn't speak atall apparently, not one word. She does have HE friends, but they are always either boys or much older children, she seems to be at a complete loss with her peers.
Would you be concerned? If so, what would you be doing about it?
I should add that I believe she is a very right brained type of learner, so aswell as phonics I have been doing more visual whole word work with her, but progress is painfully slow.
Though I don't feel terribly competent to answer your question, I still have an opinion, LOL. In a nutshell, my opinion is that your eldest may well have some sort of special needs but that it's too early to decide there is a problem and try to diagnose it.
I have an NT teenager who was a "late bloomer" with reading and writing - but you wouldn't know it now. Trying to find out what was "wrong" with her would have undermined her faith in herself. For her, the answer was to wait, and not to push the things she wasn't ready for.
My younger child is seven and has a metabolic disease which affects brain development, so it is almost certain that her quirks will turn out to be longer-lasting challenges rather than just her being a late bloomer. Nevertheless, I don't feel that the clock is ticking with respect to finding out exactly what she finds difficult and how best to help her. For her too, the answer (I feel) is to wait, to refrain from pressing her to do things she isn't yet inclined to do, and to watch her personality and abilities unfold. There are early clues - the short attention span, the resistance to tasks initiated by others, the late understanding of basic mathematical ideas - but they are only early clues. She's growing and changing, developing new skills and experiencing new environments. The full picture isn't here yet.
No doubt there are various specific conditions which have crossed your mind - "could my daughter have this?" I can't tell you not to worry; parents do worry about whether their children will have a rough time in life and whether we can do anything to smooth the path for them. However, outside of a school environment, does it matter if any conditions which your daughter may have are left undiagnosed for a few years longer? In most cases, I should think not.
To me, the absolutely essential question is, "Is my child feeling frustrated by the situation?" If she wants desperately to read and can't get the hang of it, if she is terribly lonely because her attempts to make and keep friends are awkward, if she wants to complete a task of her own choosing and gets distracted and wishes that she could finish it... then it will be time to investigate.
If none of that applies, then maybe it's more helpful to adjust your expectations and the way you are approaching things. Does your daughter actually need to read now, or do projects, or have friends of her own age? Mine doesn't need or want any of those things, not yet anyway.
From a school-centric point of view, seven looks quite old. Our girls would have finished three years of school by now. Teachers and parents would have been tearing their hair out for some time over why they hadn't advanced by the expected number of sub-levels. A diagnosis would be wanted so that this lack of progress doesn't have to look like the school's fault, and so the child doesn't have to suffer the daily discomfort of watching most everyone else in the class do things which she can't manage.
But being outside the system, we don't have to take that view. To me, seven is really young. I've known lots of HE children who were socially awkward and unable to read at seven. Some of them later turned out to be very ordinary people and some did not. It's hard to predict the future of each child. Perhaps it's best for their self-esteem if we just give them the space they need to grow in their own time, for a bit longer at least.
That's a beautiful and insightful post, Saracen.
Firstly, I wouldn't be too concerned as she is still very young. My dd is H.ed and still hasn't mastered phonics and she is 9.
I think it is important to know their strengths and weaknesses, which you obviously do.
I am continuing to let her work at her own pace and learn the things she wants to. I know there are gaps and there will continue to be gaps but as long as she is progressing albeit slowly I don't worry.
I think reading has helped her progress this year, does your dd enjoy this?
In terms of social skills, these are obviously acquired over time and if she is happy to attend groups, eventually she will come out of her shell. Some dc are happy to stand on the side lines until they are ready and confident to be sociable. Others just wade in there with no sensitivity to others (my dd). Your daughter sounds lovely and quite normal to me.
I would advise you to encourage the things you say she will concentrate on as obviously this will help when she becomes confident in other areas.
Do you think she might like drama, music or dance, these are enjoyable to many and great activities to make friends and share a common interest. Long term the friendships, camaraderie and encouragement from their peers is lovely to see.
You always seem to knock the nail in the head, if you don't mind me saying, such a lovely post.
Well yes it has been my feeling that part of the beauty of HE is that I can let things happen in their own good time. Ive always been v anti labels etc Im just starting to wonder if Im just burying my head in the sand a bit. She is very frustrated by her lack of reading skills, and yes, she really would like to try to make more friends. Its hard to know how to help her when Im not there. I was a 'shy' child, but I had a small but very good group of friends throughout school & I was able to make these friends because I think of the consistency and intensity of the daily school experience. So hard for DD to do this in the ad hoc HE world, where families turn up to things when they feel like it. So hard for her to do it at places like Brownies when most of them know each other from school. By the way, I don't think she'd be better off in school, Im just trying to figure out what I can do to help her.
I would ditch phonics and just read things with her that she really likes. That way she gets a very good reason for being able to read (rather than just something you are trying to teach her). Start with pointing out words she might know (common ones). Then add in methods for decoding some words. Get her to read words now and again - choose her favourite things. She will get there.
It's great that you have younger children too - you're likely to have familiar books around the house. That's a great way to build up reading confidence - by hearing someone read a story you already know.
Put the subtitles on when you watch DVDs.
Unlimited access to things like alpha blocks games on c beebies.
I've never taught anyone phonics in my life, and I've never tried to teach anyone to read. Given plenty of reading matrial, especially computer games and iPad apps, they pick it up themselves, using whatever methods work for them. I'm reall not convinced any of it has to be explicit as long as you put no pressure on and read to the child whenever they ask you to.
Off at a tangent but I hate phonics and would never use that method myself.
Thanks for the ideas Right Im ditching the phonics altogether! Think I felt I should do it, even though I felt it wasn't right for her. Don't know why.
On the other hand, she could be dyslexic. Have you considered an assessment?
In terms of brownies, dd1 is in school and fairly sociable and well integrated, she doesn't go to the same brownies as most of her friends and is the only one from her school there. After 18 months she still says she doesn't have any friends there - girls will say hello to her when they see her and aren't actively excluding, but most of them go to a different school and it doesn't seem to be that useful for making actual friends. For our purpose it is ideal as it gets dd1 out of her comfort zone and expands her world beyond her school gates. I think it may be tough for your dd though and I know someone who HE who found that their dd didn't really benefit from it. I'm not saying to take her out, but just not to be too surprised or think it is to do with her. Not sure what but is there anything you could either join as a family, or maybe something like a drama group which is maybe less localised. Also trying to find neighbours etc who you can maybe socialise initially as a family to build up some confidence.
In terms of reading etc it wasn't until dd1 was 7.5 that she really started to get the hang of it - a year on she can read almost anything, dd2 is the same still struggling at 6.5 - and they have formal
hothousing phonics every day. Ds is nearly 4 and seems naturally good at it. I considered getting behavioural optometrist assessment for dd1, decided to wait 6 months and that was the crucial time for her. It is natural to be concerned and important to act on those concerns, however I as a parent was more concerned than the teachers, and talking to friends who are teachers they say they are concerned about their dc's reading at a stage that they wouldn't worry if it was a pupil. I have found teaching them to read is one of the most frustrating challenges as a parent. Good luck with it and hope you don't mind my thoughts from a non-HE perspective.
Oh also don't discount the boys. Dd2 could have lots of friends amongst the girls at school, but no, her best friend is a boy and she's very happy playing with him. She finds the boy politics less complicated than the girls.
While I think that most children would pick up reading whatever the method I found that my dyslexic DS didn't and he needed a very structured approach, using phonics. I did a lot at home, he got extra help at school. He simply wouldn't be where he is today if it had just been ignored.
They are all different and you can't make sweeping statements about 'all children'. DS was increasingly frustrated and upset by it.
If you are interested I can give you a link to a wonderful woman who just has her whole method for free on the Internet. It is somewhat old fashioned but it works. I made lots of my own material to go with it, card games, etc and wrote my own books for him.
There is lots of debate in education about the best way to teach reading and for the majority of children it really doesn't matter- however for some it really does matter and you need to find the method that suits them and not just let them drift thinking they will get there eventually- they might not. There are lots of adults who can't read or can't read well- they just get good at hiding it.
Can you not try and do things very regularly with other HE families- it is seeing the same children everyday that helps them make friendships. Unless you are very outgoing and confident once a week is not enough.
How much do you manage to do without the younger ones with you?
Thanks 3birthdaybunnies I am grateful for all replies and all perspectives Yes I get what you're saying about Brownies, although she seems to want to continue with it for some reason! We have a lot of HE groups etc in our area, I just perhaps need to have a look at trying some different stuff and perhaps widen our circle a bit. I don't really discount boys as friends, I was the same as a child & yes I think its is something to do with girls social rules being so much more complex!
Have I thought about dyslexia? Yes, but I don't think its that. She has a good memory and all the early pointers for phoneme awareness, such as rhyming etc were all fine. She was an early talker too. She is though very 'visual' and Im thinking shes better at seeing the whole picture, so with words perhaps better at the whole word rather than breaking into parts. Having said all that I would definitely say that her lack of reading ability is unexpected in that she is bright and learning in other areas is fine. She does have what I would call some ADD traits. Perhaps I need to find a method which engages her more.
exoticfruits, a link to those resources would be great thank you.
Just adding that yes though Im fine with her friendships with boys, its the friendships with older girls Im more concerned about. All her friends who are girls are aged 10 and above and I feel uncomfortable with that. They want to do all these sleepovers and things which I don't feel shes ready for.
I'd suggest having a look at PhonoGraphix, you might be able to borrow it from the library, in case its approach helps make a break through. I also used "Puddle Lane" and "Red Nose Readers" with my children
The link is here
If you read the first page you will see that she had a DS with Down's Syndrome and schools failed him. She did her own method and she offers it all for free. She taught him to read when he had just been written off.
Dd1 was also an early talker, is probably on track for grammar school and has always been articulate and able to form arguments, but she really found reading frustrating. One thing that helped them is knowing that they only have to learn to read once. It was like a lightbulb moment when they did learn.
I wouldn't give up on brownies either as dd1 really enjoys the activities, I just don't know that it is enough to make friends. She has been on holiday with them and I think she will increasingly benefit from it as she goes to guides etc when I think seeing each other once a week is easier to build friendship and they can meet up outside on their own too.
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