Advanced search

What's causing 11yo fear of reading?

(14 Posts)
ItsRainingOutside Fri 22-Feb-13 17:40:34

My dd is in Year 7 and ever since I can remember, she has been completely disinterested in reading, particularly for English classes but really in any subject or walk of life where reading texts is unavoidable. She says all books are "boring" and the only books ever to engross her are The Hunger Games which she absolutely adored. Despite my encouragement and help, she resolutely refuses to pick up another book, ever.

Her primary teacher told me that one problem she has is she always has to understand every word she reads and if she comes across something she doesn't know, it blocks her from continuing.

This is now causing issues in senior school and despite the efforts of her extremely patient English teacher and several meetings between us, we have collectively been unable to resolve the problem which I know will affect her later in life. Her teacher is very frustrated because apparently dd "just gets everything" without real effort but is reluctant to prove it.

She is extremely hormonal and is in fact having a period every two weeks resulting in her becoming uncharacteristically headstrong with her teacher and I and to be honest we're at a loss what to do.

I should say, she is naturally bright and excels at all scientific and mathematically based subjects but hates the humanities such as history, RE as there's lots of reading!! Her test results are testament to the fact her attainment is excellent but her effort is lacking. She never, ever revises for a test but always comes out with acceptably good results.

The only thing holding her back from moving into the top set for all her subjects is the endorsement from her English teacher which she won't give until things improve. I would have thought this would be a great incentive for her to be in a class with the top 20% of her year but all I get from her is she's ok where she is.

I should say, I'm definitely not a pushy parent and believe in kids being happy at school, not just focused on academic attainment. All I want is for her to overcome this fear of reading, find some books she will enjoy and push herself to do her best.

lljkk Sat 23-Feb-13 14:26:18

Period every 2 weeks? Have you asked GP about that. I think she might be good candidate for the Pill.

Does she read magazines?

Madmog Sat 23-Feb-13 17:34:51

I know you are concerned from the point of view of getting on it school which is a hard one, but perhaps you could build reading up in other ways without pressure. As llykk asked, does she enjoy magazines - there isn't much choice at her age, but a magazine is something she can pick up for a short time and just pick out what she chooses - there maybe a science one for kids, teenage one on makeup/fashion or my 11 year old daughter picks pieces out from my Essentials magazine. As she's interested in science, it might be worth investing in some science books for general reference - if she enjoys science she may well be more willing to have patience picking up new words in that regard. Sounds like she is bright anyway - being in the second set is still a good place to be. If Maths and Scientific subjects are her thing, they do go well together from the point of view of being accurate and recording things.

It may also be that without realizing it, she's still feeling the pressure of moving up to another school. She maybe happy in her presents sets as she feels comfortable and theres no undue pressure. I feel my daughter is still having to get used to thinking for herself more and she's still forgetting to take homework in. My daughter and her lovely friends are constantly falling out which is something they never did before, could be hormonal, down to pressure or they are trying to find their niche and prove themselves.

Hopefully her periods will settle down. I can remember mine were every two weeks lasting 8-9 days at her age for a few months.

ItsRainingOutside Sun 24-Feb-13 00:43:23

Thanks ever so much for your comments. I'm hoping her period issue settles down without any medical intervention as I know there are potential side effects of putting her on the pill from a young age. If it persists for more than a few months, I'll take her to the doctors. She had precocious puberty from the age of 4 and was told she had some small cysts on her ovaries which would probably go away in time. It's possible they haven't and what she's experiencing is PCOS so I will get it checked out if things don't change.

She won't read magazines of any description (boring). I asked her to choose one article from the newspaper every day, something that interests her - celebrity gossip, anything. She says if she needs to know anything about current affairs then she'll hear it on the news.

I'm reading a business book on motivation at the moment which is written in the form of a conversation between the two authors. The "chapters' are very short - between two and four pages. The writing is large and the book is relatively "thin". All things she puts up as obstacles to reading. I've said we should each choose one of the authors and read their part and discuss what they meant in a lighthearted way. That caused yet another argument. I read her a quote from the book "If you lick the lollypop of mediocrity, you'll suck all your life" and explained to her what that meant. She said she's fine being average, mediocre and isn't meant to be good at anything which I find extremely frustrating. I know perhaps it's just her age and the stage she's going through but I'm fearful that if she lets opportunities pass her by that this adversely affects her as an adult. I'm a single-parent, she's my only child and she has no real contact with her father. The result is all my focus is on her in terms of my expectations and perhaps I'm at fault and should ease off and let her find her own path. Very hard to do though when you can see such potential in someone but they refuse to believe in themselves.

MrsShrek3 Sun 24-Feb-13 07:22:51

Have you tried reading to her much? if so, does she enjoy it? We have a hugely dyslexic ds, who we still read to most evenings so that he can access age appropriate stuff without the obstacle of actually reading - we also use audiobooks on his mp3 and he loves all of it. He's also Y7. It's allowed him to love books rather than fear them and will tackle texts, particularly non-fiction, that are tecnhically way out of his comfort (and ability) zone because he's not afraid to.

Has your dd been screened for difficulties? Many children who aren't diagnosable as dyslexic per se have issues with tracking, decoding, memory, or comprehension and it would be worth investigating what her issues actually are, whether entirely motivational? my hunch would be that they're perhaps not all owing to the can't-be-bothered or perfectionist traits you describe. I wonder whether having to know what every word means is an assimilation she's come up with iyswim. Many intelligent children can hide a significant difficulty because of the strategies that they work out for themselves to get round the issue, and don't realise that this isn't actually how everyone else does it.

PeriPathetic Sun 24-Feb-13 07:36:15

"Many children who aren't diagnosable as dyslexic per se have issues with tracking, decoding, memory, or comprehension and it would be worth investigating what her issues actually are, whether entirely motivational?"

^^ This!
My 11 year old is the same. Refuses to read books but pretends she does. If pressured, she says they're boring and makes all kinds of excuses. She does read things on iPad but they're fanfic so not high literature by any means.

However, last week she had a short test for a new school and they said her comprehension "wasn't as they would expect" and hinted at some possible problem. We have no access to help here, so hope the new school will help her out.

MrsShrek3 Sun 24-Feb-13 07:45:15

Peri, just saying that there are a whole raft of other conditions and difficulties, some fit into the dyslexia profile and others are harder to hunt out, but still are a big issue iyswim. Many mainstream teachers tend to be less aware of the individual difficulties unless they stack up and become very obvious dyslexia and some don't even recognise that It gets trickier in high schools because each subject teacher sees less of the child, although it does seem that they're somewhat "on the ball" in this case.

Startail Sun 24-Feb-13 08:16:48

I'm puzzled by what do the school mean by not reading.

I don't think my two DDs ever read anything more taxing than the minimum research off the web to do their homework.
They don't read history books or RE books.

My top set Y7 refuses to read anything vaguely resembling literature, a bit of Jackie W and Twilight.

My dyslexic DD2 never has her nose out of a book, but again it's twilight, Eragon, hunger games.

Until she started GCSE it wasn't literature, strangely she loves Shakespeare, which I don't get at all. She hates of mice and men.

The only non essential, non trashy for fun reading either of them do is DD1 picks up my new scientist occasionally.

This and my DM's Daily Mail was the only non spy thriller reading I ever did.

Does anyone have a DC who reads anything vaguely worthy except to get marks??

Notmyidea Sun 24-Feb-13 09:23:54

Regarding the periods, I understand your hesitating to involve the medics, but in the meantime get her to take a teen vitamin and mineral supplement to help her cope with the blood loss. It could make a big difference to her mood.
I say she's not too old to have you hear her read regularly if it's a problem and it's worth putting your foot down. Take turns choosing the books, then you can focus on things that are relevant to the curriculum and hopefully she'll find fiction she enjoys. Find a way of rewarding the effort of doing this to lessen the battles. I also agree wholeheartedly with the posters who say get her screened for difficulties. If any are found though, they are likely to come with solutions that children resist; coloured shields, glasses, reading practise...
It's what you do with that information that will make a difference, and being prepared to work with school and be firm at home.
Children are scared of reading because they are scared of making mistakes. At the same time as insisting this is done you need to be a safe person to be wrong around. Praise her for having a go at unfamiliar text and for self-correcting.

frazzledbutcalm Mon 25-Feb-13 06:47:14

OP - my dd is almost exactly like yours! Her periods were every 2 weeks, lasting an average of 10-11 days. She now takes mefanmic acid during period. 3 times each day, they lessen the blood loss. She's now only bleeding for 4-5 days!! And they have settled to usually every 28 days ish.

Reading - Dd used to read but now doesn't. To cut a long story short, we think she may be dyslexic (big may), school won't test her, GP won't test her, so I've now got to ring school nurse and see if they'll refer her. She says books are boring, she can't understand them, they make no sense. The words are all blurry apart from the immediate ones she's reading. She takes forever to read just basic passages.

It might be worth you getting her tested for dyslexia, at least then you can rule it out, or know what you're dealing with.

ItsRainingOutside Tue 26-Feb-13 08:36:21

Thanks everyone. DD doesn't seem to have any problems reading (just her desire to read). She seems to cope well with difficult text (although her comprehension of the vocabulary is hit and miss). As I said in my OP, she did read the Hunger Games - all three books - very quickly and couldn't get enough of them. She's started reading them again just to get me off her back!

I think the idea of her listening to talking books is a great idea from the point of view of exposing her to vocabulary. I'm going to a parent evening tomorrow and will ask the SEN co-ordinator if it's worth testing her.

She's gone more than a week without a period and thankfully her skin has cleared up considerably. I'm going to keep my eye on this as really don't want to put her on the pill. I will, however, have her take a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement so thanks for that.

Andro Tue 26-Feb-13 12:21:46

She hates of mice and men.

Sorry about the side track, but I had to pick up on this. I wouldn't blame ANYONE for hating this book, especially if they're remotely sensitive. John Steinbeck is a brilliant author, but his ability to project image and emotion can make Of Mice and Men in particular a harrowing read - it was required reading when I was at school and the imagery gave me nightmares for weeks.

I can (and could) read the gruesome murder novels, but even now if the emotional projection is too real I have to stop. I read a lot of fantasy based fiction because however strong the emotion and imagery is for me, the fact that it's based on 'vampires' or 'aliens' or 'on another planet' means that the character remain characters...they don't become real to me.

If your DD is very pictorial and/or sensitive to the emotions of characters she may be running into similar problems and hence tending towards the fantasy genre. There are also worse things she could read than New Scientist!

I personally loved Jane Austen - particularly Pride and Prejudice from being about 11 (if she has any interest in the BBC adaptation it might be a route to encouraging her to read the book) - and quite a few other classics. I wouldn't encourage Charles Dickens though, he's another author who can convey image and emotions a bit too well for comfort.

ItsRainingOutside Fri 01-Mar-13 14:23:16

Thought I'd update you to close this post off. Met with the English teacher at Parents evening and she was able tease out of DD what her issue was. She apparently likes reading when the story is being read to her and she follows the words in the book. Teacher has promised to do more of that with the class. DD has promised to read 6 chapters of any book before she determines it's not for her. If she reads no more than 6 chapters of any book, ever, then that's progress. Interestingly last week, DD wrote a piece about her first week in senior school which was deemed so eloquent and mature that her teacher asked the school's marketing director to review it as potential content for the school brochure. I'm convinced there's nothing wrong with her reading/writing ability, just her desire to do it.

Thanks everyone for your very useful and thought-provoking comments.

MrsShrek3 Fri 01-Mar-13 15:27:41

thanks for the update. fascinating stuff smile

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: