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Teaching my stuggling son to read. Any tips

(31 Posts)
BlackL Fri 26-Aug-11 16:48:18

Can anyone give me any further tips in helping my son to read? He is going into year 3 and still at the begining of level 2! Even level one oxford reading tree is difficult for him. He made very little progress last year at school.
We have been working hard over the summer holidays, however one day he will know the word and stare blankly at it the next. Doesnt seem to matter what time is put into it, we still have so little sucess. He mixes letters round alot too. (on/no, was/saw) reversals with writing too. He misreads letters even tho he knows his letters well.
We have worked hard on phonics and he knows all the sounds. We also read every day (I read one and then he would read one) Blending seems to be the biggest problem. We read signs when out and about, play sound games, etc

We are going to see a b optrometrist, to rule out vision problems.
I have tried google, but there is so much different advice out there its hard to know wheres best to start. I have subscribed with reading eggs and education city and we work through jolly phonics worksheets/cd rom.
Memory in general isnt bad, he remembers what he reads, its just so hard for him to read the words. I do have concerns for dyslexia but i know its too soon. I just want to help him read but no matter what I do, doesnt seem to help sad

Any advice or personal experiences would be great.

Jesusgirl Fri 26-Aug-11 17:47:02

I'll be watching this thread very closely. My niece is the same and like you my sister and I are thinking towards dyslexia as well.

She knows her letter sounds but like your ds, blending is a huge problem. When we seem to have made some progress one day, we find she has forgotten by the next day.

I'm sorry I don't have any advise but hopefully someone will come along and offer some useful advise we both can usesmile

HotSummerNights Fri 26-Aug-11 17:55:23

My DS has the same problem, and I find that flash cards work well with him.

He also has a learning support teacher at school, and has come on brilliantly. Ask your sons teacher if he can have extra support.

LIZS Fri 26-Aug-11 17:57:40

Definitely already not too early for a Dyslexia assessment and perhaps consider Auditory Processing Disorder if he confuses phonics sounds and transposes letters. What are school doing iwth him , at very least he should be on School Action, have some small group or one-to-one work on a reading system like Toe by Toe and the SENCO may be able to access assessements for him.

IndigoBell Fri 26-Aug-11 19:47:13

Do you mean level 2 of ORT?

What were his NC levels?

tessofthedurbeville Fri 26-Aug-11 19:54:48

Definitely not too early for a diagnosis of problems - need to get an Educational Physcologist's assessment of him which will highlight the areas of specific learning difficulties. Toe by Toe is a great support if he is dyslexic and will help with his reading. Good idea to get eyes checked but need to check his tracking as well as long/short sightedness etc.

maizieD Fri 26-Aug-11 21:22:54

We have worked hard on phonics and he knows all the sounds. We also read every day (I read one and then he would read one) Blending seems to be the biggest problem.

Can you explain a little more about his blending difficulties? It could be that a slightly different blending technique may help.

I'm afraid that ORT books at the lower levels are the worst thing possible for children who are struggling. They are not designed for practising phonic skills but for learning words as 'wholes' by constant repetiton of 'look & say'. Consequently they contain words which are far too 'difficult' and which are not related to any systematic phonics programme.

I agree that further investigation is probably called for, but in the meantime I would suggest that you have a look at the BRI books

Most children can retain words as 'sight' words with only a few repetitons of sounding out and blending them, but some children need far more repetitions; the BRI books offer the finely graded intensive practice these children need.

He mixes letters round alot too. (on/no, was/saw) reversals with writing too.

It is more than likely that he has not had sufficient practice in left to right decoding all through words to have developed strong eye tracking muscles (though there may a a physical difficulty, so investigation by a behavioural optometrist is a good idea). Left to right tracking is a learned skill and if (as I suspect) he is not being taught this consistently in school it is understandable that he has difficulties in this area. Does he get very tired and start rubbing his eyes when reading? I have worked with children who are exhausted after reading one sentence, but as their tracking muscles get stronger this improves.

For writing, it is possible that he has not been taught to break words into their individual sounds and write down the letters for each sound in the sequence that they come in the word. If he's trying to remember a whole string of letters without much understanding of how the letters and sounds are connected then he is much more likely to jumble them up!

I'm sure I don't have to say that you have to be very patient with a child who has difficulties; give lots of praise and encouragement but play down errors. Always ask the child to go back and try an incorrectly read word again (because it is important to be consolidating correct responses, not allowing incorrect ones to become embedded) but don't make out it's a big deal...

coccyx Fri 26-Aug-11 22:14:51

we have just started Readingeggs and has helped my year 1 daughter tremendously. had a look as someone on here mentioned they had a free trial!

BlackL Fri 26-Aug-11 22:54:02

Hotsummersnight & lizs- Spoke to school at end of term and due to CUTS they have withdrawn the reading recovery support. To top it off, they no longer have a teachers assistant in yr 3 which isnt good considering amount of assistance hes needed last 2 yrs!
He has been put on to step 1 action plan at the end of the school year, which does not include reading help as they are focussing on other issues first (visual schedules and exercises to help with pencil control. Will speak to them in sept/oct again, however as above spending cuts not going to help matters. I will speak to teacher next week to see what they will be doing to help with the reading.
Indigobell - not sure what NC level he is at. He was on PM level 2 when he finished year 2. At home he struggles with ORT level one. He enjoys project X and I find these alot better as they are more repetitive and lower levels seem more phonic based. Also use ORT phonics, read write inc and tons more. Funny, a struggling reader that has his own personal library and hates reading lol (im an impulsive buyer lol)
tessofthedurbeville - School advise me they have 3 referals a yr for an educational phycologist. They advise if he gets an external diagnois this will help move him up the list! I find this very frustrating. My friends son was in nursery and already been assessed by Ed Phys! Support already in place for this year and no diagnois! Just help where needed. Dont understand how procedures can be so different.
maizied - Thanks for the advice. Will have a look at BRI books! Totally agree with you on the ORT. Unfortunaly I got a full collection of them before I realised! Ref the blending, for example he would read tap, sound each letter individually and then say pan. if I sound it out for him, he gets the word. its like its hard to do reading, sounding and working it out too difficult, but just listening he gets it?
He does rub his eyes alot actually.
I took DS to the B optromerist today and your right! He does have tracking problems! In your experience could tracking problems be the reason for these reading problems? I didnt get a chance to talk about the results much as we went over time and he had another appointment waiting, but we will be starting vision therapy We are to work rotations to help smooth efficient effortless eye movements, peripheral saccades. He also has retined reflexes. (ATNR, TLR, STNR and moro, knew this anyway, but he confirmed this) Also his glasses were not centered properly! (thankfully they were a new pair, so he hasnt been struggling too long with them) So ive been sent back to spec savers to sort his lenses out!) Poor thing, no wonder hes having such a time of it. sad

I dont know whether i should step back a bit and let school work with him and just stick with homework. He is getting fed up now and I worry I may do more harm if I am contantly coaxing him into it. (blackmail works a treat but hes still reluctant) My biggest worry is, I sat back year 1 and 2 and seen little improvement and worry he will be left behind if I dont keep at it (confused)

wow really went into one there!
Thanks everyone for all your advice smile

maizieD Fri 26-Aug-11 23:46:53

Hmm. I wouldn't mourn the loss of Reading Recovery. It is a dreadful intervention, 'look & say', using picture 'clues', guessing words from context & pictures and lip service to phonics. He's well out of that!

With the blending, try 'progressive' blending. Instead of decoding all through the word and trying to put it all together at the end do it bit by bit. So, for 'tap' sound out the /t/, then the /a/ and then blend them, when that is secure, add the /p/ on the end. Also, you could try getting him to lengthen each sound slightly and kind of 'slide' it into the next one, instead of the rather staccato 'robot talk' which seems to be taught. (I must confess that I find it a bit odd that any child can discern the final word after they've done it in 'robot talk', but it seems to work most of the time... ).
Saying the consonant sounds very quietly may also help as it helps to reduce the addition of a distorting /uh/ on the end of them. if you've just said /tuh/ /a/ /puh/ it's not surprising that it isn't recognisable as 'tap'! Strictly speaking, consonants don't have any sound value, they are just combinations of mouth shapes and controlled airflow which make a framework for the vowel sounds.

I think that someone else mentioned auditory processing difficulties. That's another avenue which could be worth pursuing.

I think tracking problems are vastly underestimated. How can a child possibly read smoothly and fluently when they can't follow the text properly! And if they are taught to look for picture clues, beginning and end 'sounds' and 'words within words' then they're never going to learn to track consistently from L to R.

BlackL Sat 27-Aug-11 00:20:56

Hi Maizied
Thanks for the reply grin
I think i will keep your opinion on reading recovery close to my heart! It will make it easier to accept its absence (grin)
Progressive blending sounds promising! I will def give that a go.
Is it common for a 6 yr old to read a word correctly on one page and look at it blankly the next page? I can get my head round it!
Tracking problems starting to make sense now. Would explain why he finds it a bit easier reading a word on a card rather than a sentence. I wonder if it may be an idea to cut a hole in a bit of card as a window? or maybe that wouldnt be a good idea as he needs to learn to track?? (confused)
Ref the Auditory processing. Its on my list! Im going to go for AIT after xmas. I was shocked at how many words he mis heard on an auditory processing test indigobell has on her website! Its killing me to wait, but i dont want to overload the poor chap.

IndigoBell Sat 27-Aug-11 09:50:06


Maizie is right about reading recovery teachers. I know 2 personally - and would not ask them to help my DD.

From our PM it sounds like you're doing everything right.

Currently you are doing:
* Vision Therapy
* Retained Reflex Therapy
* Write from the start.

That's a lot to be doing at once. I'd keep on with them and for the moment stop doing reading and writing.

At XMAS you're going to do AIT. You know he's got a hearing problem, and that AIT will fix it. So I wouldn't do any more reading stuff untill after you have done AIT. He just can't quite hear well enough at the moment.

After AIT he should be in a much better place to learn to read. So I'd start again then at the very beginning. He should be a very different boy with his hearing and his vision fixed, and his retained reflexes half way fixed.

As you know there are loads and loads of programs you can do with him after XMAS. My 2 current favourite ones are Dancing Bears for reading and Hornet Literacy Primer for spelling (it is designed for kids with auditory problems)

So I would probably start with Dancing Bears after XMAS. And later if you need to, do Hornet Literacy Primer.

I prefer Dancing Bears over Toe by toe (although they are both very similar programmes) because Dancing Bears has a timed element, whereas toe by toe doesn't, and in dancing bears you also get to read sentences and stories as well as words, whereas toe by toe is all words.

In the mean time to help with his tracking problems you can use what dancing bears call a cursor. Cut out a corner of a business card. Then just reveal one sound at a time when reading, and move the card across the word as he reads each sound. (Does that make sense?)

I certainly know how hard it is to be patient smile But all I can say is that once you've fixed the underlying problems it all comes together very fast. DD was almost as bad as your DS (although she could blend better). In March she did AIT - and by July she'd learnt to read. (Well almost) (With us doign 10 mins learn to read each night). But she still couldn't write. So in July we started teaching her to write - and now she can write!

So she's going to go into Y4 almost caught up with her peers. And at the start of Y3 she was on level 1 books. (A 1c in reading and writing)

Good luck. smile

maizieD Sat 27-Aug-11 11:01:10

Is it common for a 6 yr old to read a word correctly on one page and look at it blankly the next page? I can get my head round it!

My goodness, yes. I have 12y olds who do it! Don't worry about it. Just get him to sound out and blend it again (and again and again, whenever he's blank about it, however many repetitions it takes for it to become automatically read). You may find that he appears to be secure with a word for a while, but suddenly has a 'blank' moment with it. There is nothing you can do about this, it's just a result of whatever processing difficulty he has. Just sound out and blend and move on. You will find that the more he reads, the fewer these 'lapses' are.

I think that children sometimes get very worried by the fact that they don't instantly 'know' a word and lose confidence. So long as they have sounding out and blending as a fall back strategy and you make it perfectly clear that this is an intelligent thing to do, they will be able to read confidently and independently, even if less fluently than some of their peers. It is the reading which is most important, not the reading speed.

There is a theory that slow processing of individual words means that children won't 'comprehend' what they are reading. I have never found this to be so. In my experience, so long as the words they read are in their spoken vocabulary, children have no problem with comprehension, however slowly they have read the text. This is not a mainstream view, though, so you will probably encounter comments like 'reads so slowly he can't understand what he's reading because all his processing is concentrated on sounding out and blending'. Ignore them! (unless you are worried about his understanding of what he reads because your concern will be based on your own intimate knowledge of him, not a parrotted theory)

mrz Sat 27-Aug-11 12:45:26

There is a theory that slow processing of individual words means that children won't 'comprehend' what they are reading.
which is interesting as comprehension difficulties often accompany hyperlexia

maizieD Sat 27-Aug-11 14:40:46

I've worked with lots of children who decode very slowly, mrz, either because they aren't skilled at it or because they have very real processing difficulties, but I have never had to work with a hyperlexic. Have you ever encountered any?

How do you tell the difference between a 'hyperlexic' and a child with very good decoding skills but but very poor vocabulary?

mrz Sat 27-Aug-11 17:23:52

My son has been described as hyperlexic -as I've said before he just started reading at around 18 months with no instruction and seems to be able to read any word without thinking about it. He certainly doesn't use phonics because he doesn't know GPCs. If you showed him a letter he couldn't tell you the sound but it you show him a word he reads it. My son had/has good comprehension however and is not literal. He can't spell ...
I've taught a couple of children (both ASD) who seem to have this ability with word ... I was going to say recognition but it's more than that because they can read words they have never encountered before.

turkeyboots Sat 27-Aug-11 17:39:28

Most of my family had difficulty learning to read. One thing that helped me and my sister was to not read school books. Sister finally cracked reading on Steven kings "the stand"! My cousin was taught to read out of car manuals. Maybe give him a break and then try a book or magazine on a subject he likes?

MandJane Sun 28-Aug-11 03:57:42

There is also the Reading Reflex, I have the same problem with my 6 year old so am looking for some tips. I have just signed him up for a 12 month Reading Eggs subscription. He gets given the ORT books from school but this is not enough, he needs phonics instruction.

IndigoBell Sun 28-Aug-11 06:46:00

MandJane Dancing Bears is a very easy to use synthetic phonics designed for parents to do, every day, for 10 minutes with their child. It's very easy to use.

It sounds like exactly the kind of thing you need.

Mashabell Sun 28-Aug-11 11:04:01

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

Feenie Sun 28-Aug-11 11:22:20

Not one page, but very reliable reference chart here.

Mashabell Sun 28-Aug-11 11:41:03

A six page chart instead of one page, and much of it unreliable because it does not tell anyone when, for example oo is as in boot or as in foot.

Children have to link those differences to small groups of words, such as
'soon, moon, spoon', 'book, look, took'.

Feenie Sun 28-Aug-11 12:15:15

Yes. That would be part of learning to read, Masha. smile

And I did say in wasn't one page. Nevertheless, many teachers and parents find it useful, since everything is in one place.

mrz Sun 28-Aug-11 12:28:14

I find the Phonics International overview extremely useful but this is more condensed.

Feenie Sun 28-Aug-11 12:30:41

Ooh, hadn't seen that one, mrz, I like that too. smile

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