Almost 7 year old not really reading(13 Posts)
I know thats not a big deal in unschooling circles, but Im beginning to think my DD is suffering a bit with low self-esteem & Ive begun to think its related to her difficulty in learning to read.
Ive always wanted to follow their lead developmentally for learning to read and write. DD has shown no interest whatsoever in learning to read until she turned 6. She asked me to help her with it & I have, but she has found it so hard. Phonics just dont click with her & so we've gone down a more 'whole word' approach. We are more unschooling than anything, though I dont like to label what we do.
DD is very clued up, very bright & she has noticed that all her younger cousins can read, plus also her brother, who is a year younger seems to find reading much easier than her.
Obviously I try to build up her confidence & emphasise all the things she is good at. She is very creative and also very 'sporty'. She is in a swimming group with children 3 years or older than her for example, so its not like shes not achieving anything.
I am finding her behaviour very 'oppositional' atm, she has always been string willed and independant but right now everything feels like a battle with her. If I say black she says white, on EVERYTHING. She is refusing to read atall now and so Im just leaving it atm. I have totally gone at her pace, but there are times when she asks me to teach her to read, but then when we get down to it, she just refuses to do it. Ive tried every approach, games, workbooks, reading eggs etc I dont know how but shes managed to get so far up on reading eggs, but yet some days she cannot read CVC words like 'dog', even though she could read those words months ago.
I feel so crap about it & Im beginning to think Ive done her a real disservice.
I read to her everyday, she loves me reading to her. Her comprehension level is very good, she is a bright girl.
Im really looking for advice from unschoolers who have gone through this and might have some words of wisdom and experience for me.
I think you and your daughter might feel better if you spent more time with families whose children had learned to read at a variety of ages, or are learning to read at a variety of ages. Her crisis of confidence is happening because some people around her are overemphasising the importance of early reading. Maybe society at large is to blame. In many circles, reading is considered the litmus test of education for young children. People worry excessively that a child will "fall behind" and never catch up, and are not prepared to wait until the child is developmentally ready. This is giving her a distorted idea of what is "normal" and necessary.
My older dd's experience of learning to read was somewhat similar to that of your daughter. Reading didn't come easily to her. She was keenly aware of others' abilities in relation to her own, and this was hard for her. She decided to learn to read at 6.5 and the impetus was always from her rather than me.
There were two differences, however. First, my dd is not what I would call "oppositional"; in fact she used to be rather too compliant for her own good - I don't know whether that is at all relevant. Second, although she was keenly aware of some friends who had been reading fluently years earlier than herself, she also had friends who found reading more of a struggle than she did. So she felt herself to be on a spectrum of reading abilities rather than at an extreme.
She slogged along at it from age 6.5 to 9, never giving up but making very slow progress. She could decode easy words, but it was a big effort. She found it tiring, lost her place whenever there was much text on a page, and said the text was too small. The simple stories she could manage were not interesting enough to quench her thirst. The stories she yearned to read took forever to plough through, and she lost heart within a few pages.
Around her ninth birthday it all fell into place and she began to read entire books in an afternoon. Within a year, she could read as well as the average child of her age. Looking back, it seems clear to me that she was not actually ready for reading until the age of nine, and most of the effort she expended before then was as useful as trying to teach a two month old baby to walk.
I wish she had felt able to wait until an age when reading would come easily. But that was never going to happen in her case. An awareness of other people's expectations ensured that she felt under pressure to try to master reading at an early age. From the time she was four, relatives had been dropping hints in her presence and asking outright whether it wasn't high time she learned to read. And of course she very much wanted to read.
For some reason her self-confidence didn't take too big a hit. Maybe it was my constant reassurance that she'd do it when the time was right. Maybe it was being around other home ed kids who also couldn't read yet. I am convinced that being at school during these years would have been a demoralising experience: the numbered stages of books which would make it so easy to compare herself with the child sitting next to her, the assessments and "extra help" she might have received, the fact of being presented with written instructions which she could not understand... being subjected to all this on a daily basis would confirm that yes, life is all about being able to read and no, she was not a success.
If you and your daughter want some reassurance that she IS making good progress in learning to read right now, I recommend Jim Trelease's excellent book "The Read-Aloud Handbook". Ignore the odd title; this is no plodding users' manual. The book is a very persuasive argument for reading aloud to children. Doing so exposes them to complex grammar, a range of vocabulary they wouldn't encounter anywhere else, a vast amount of general knowledge, and most importantly the great pleasure of books. These are all tools which your daughter will bring to bear on the task of learning to read. Decoding words is only a part of the reading process. If the time isn't yet right for your daughter to decode, then she is doing a very sensible thing in choosing to put that on the back burner while concentrating her attention on acquiring all the other pieces of the reading puzzle, namely the skills she will gain by listening to you and to audiobooks.
And if your courage needs bolstering further, try asking around on all the home ed lists you can find. Ask whether anyone has a child who is not very disabled who has reached adulthood functionally illiterate. Ask whether anyone has even heard of that happening. In all the many discussions I have had, and heard, and read in the last ten years I have yet to hear of such a thing happening. It is true that children often learn to read far later than reading is taught at school, even well into their teens. Admittedly, in our society this would test the nerve of any parent. But as far as I know, they always do learn to read. And, unlike at school, the age at which HE children master reading seems to have little correlation with their academic success. It is remarkable how much we fear the prospect of our children not learning to read, considering that it is a vanishingly rare occurrence.
Thank you for taking the time to write that. I am going to print it off and read it every time I need to feel better about her not reading
You are right about needing to surround ourselves with more children like her who do not read yet, Im sure that would help.
I find comments from relatives very tiring and Im sure some of it has filtered down to her.
I agree with everything you have said, I guess its just harder in practice & you do think, what if my kid IS the one who doesnt read!
My DD is funny, she will do what other adults tell her to do, just not what I tell her:D
I will get that book, it sounds perfect. I have noticed that when DD recites stuff for writing that she use excellent language skills etc which must come from all the reading we do together.
Recently she has been sitting in bed with her beloved chapter books, trying so hard to read them and then pretending she can and saying she doesnt need to learn anymore, she can already read. I find it a bit sad but I do think youre right that its a lot to do with her comparing herself to other children.
Thank you again.
That's a brilliant post, Saracen.
Your poor DD, homeed, it sounds like she's really down about this. Maybe it would do both of you some good to just take a breat for a bit and take the pressure off? Maybe you could concentrate on doing some things that she is good at for a while to build her confidence up a bit. I know if I feel intimidated by something I will make all kinds of excuses not to do it.
How about some poetry for reading aloud? The rhythms and rhymes might help to make different phonic sounds click.
Not a HEder but have a child who took a while to click with reading and a second one who looks as if he is going to be the same. One thing that was recommended to me was audio books so they can listen to the story when they want. DS1 liked the ones where he could also follow the book, the story made a sound when it was time to turn the page so he didn't get lost. Both DS1 and DS2 use the text to speech function on my Kindle to get books read to them too, it automatically turns the page.
Wow Saracen, that was such an inspiring post.
Homeedmama, I just wanted to say my ds is a similar age to your dd, and also desperate to read, also partly due to pressure from family members (grrr). We did reading eggs, and didn't seem to be getting anywhere, and he would also pore over chapter books and pretend to read them.
Then a HE friend recommended this book and we're 3/4 of the way through and everything is suddenly falling into place. The first chapter is all 'at' & 'cat' so ds was pleased, as he could already read those words, & it gave him confidence. We've gone at his pace and had a couple of months off recently as he was fed up of it, but he asked to start up again, and has suddenly started reading all the signs to me when we're out & about.
Doesn't sound like it would necessarily be something your dd would want to do at this stage, but I thought I'd mention it for future reference. Wishing you well.
Thanks for the ideas guys! Poetry would probably appeal to her actually. She does listen to audiobooks, but hadnt thought to give her the book to read a long with it, I will see if they have those ones in the library.
The book, 20 easy lessons looks good, I will certainly bear it in mind for when shes ready to give things another go.
Thank you x
Also bear in mind that my DS1 was in school, having regular phonics lessons etc and he just didn't click with reading until he was around 7.5. So if any well meaning people say "if she was in school..." the truth is that no school can really get a child reading as opposed to mechanically sounding out, until that child's brain is ready to read.
hi - not a home eder, but we lived overseas when ds was young and so I homeschooled for reception and Y1
I did conventional schooling, but my ds was very slow to read. All through reception, Y1 and back in the uk Y2, he plodded at reading, sounding out every word. he would read 'can' on page one. He would read C-A-N - can. then on next page same word, and he would never remember it from first page, but sound it out again.
I really thought he had a reading problem.
Then in Y3, something clicked, suddenly his reading took off and he started devouring books. He is now 10 and reads 2-4 full length chapter books (like charlie and the chocolate factory) per week. (he would read more, but we don't let him read until midnight every night!)
So i guess what I am saying is that sometimes the penny drops very late, even if they have had every teaching method thrown at them.
It was only later that I looked back and realised that he was very typical of a lot of boys I met while teaching, they didn't engage with reading until age 7 or 8 and then suddenly it made sense. I have always thought we taught reading too young in the UK, and that so many kids end up failing for 2-3 years because they aren't ready. I had just never applied it to my own son, and I wish I had, it would have saved us both a lot of heartache.
Oh good, I'm very glad it helped!
I wish I could wave a magic wand and give all children the experience which my second daughter is having.
She's coming up for seven. She can recognise some letters but can't read at all. She doesn't think this is an issue, and has not bothered to try to read yet. She knows she will read some day. No one has ever asked her whether she can read or why she can't read. A few people recently have assumed she could, and have had to be told that she can't, but if they were shocked they kept it to themselves very well.
It must be said that she is far less socially aware than her big sister was, and this naturally helps to insulate her from other people's harsh judgements. But she is also lucky enough to associate mainly with people who accept that all children learn in their own way and who feel there is no hurry - or who are polite enough to keep quiet if they think she's dreadfully far behind.
In all aspects of her life she blithely assumes that nothing is wrong with who she is or what she is able to do. This confidence and contentment seems fairly common among the younger siblings in HE families.
I'm sure some people would read the above and say I am sheltering her and mollycoddling her and doing her no favours. But I think a little boat needs a harbour. And I'm simple-minded enough to think that her happiness is proof that this approach is right for her.
In a way it is a pity that other children have the good social radar which enables them to sense others' expectations about when they should learn to read. It's also unfortunate that many children spend so much time in the company of people who are in the habit of constantly measuring children against others of the same age. So I don't intend this post to be a practical suggestion of any sort, just an observation. In an ideal environment, it isn't inevitable that learning to read later than average should hurt a child's self-esteem.
Try looking at Reading Magic by Mem Fox. It has some brilliant advice. Saying that, it does suggest some simple structured input, which may not suit an 'unschooled' approach.
Thanks again everyone! Sorry Im not replying to all your lovely supportive comments individually, but I have read and thought about all the comments made. I really appreciate the stories of your own children, its giving me so much confidence to know that my DD isnt alone. I hope it will give me the confidence to continue to let her learn at her pace, which is what I dearly want. I suppose with your first born there is always more pressure somehow.
Today my DD told me she will read when she is 8. Its funny, I kind of believe her! She knows herself very well, and I guess she is telling me she is just not ready atm.
homeedmama children learn at their own pace. ds learned to read when he was motivated about a story in book and he read only the books he loved. He learned by listening, hands on, talking about the story or a theme he had in mind, and by observing.
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