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Homework: Tips needed from parents with older kids. Ds resistant (and possible dyslexic)

(28 Posts)
ZombieWhirl Thu 06-Oct-11 09:52:09

Ds has just started reception, I want to help him with his letters / numbers at home but he's quite resistant. I'd like to set off on the right foot so does anyone have any hard earned tips to help me?

It's complicated by the fact that his FAB teacher has already mentioned that he thinks Ds might be Ds is quite defensive about learning letters / numbers already. I don't want to make this worse, but I think he's going to struggle more if we don't support him at home too.

I'd tried the sparklebox Web site and printed off a bingo game. That was great but ds only wanted to play it once.

We read everyday but he has no interest in looking at the words.......

I just really don't want to fuck it up in the first year and make homework a battle.

any help please?

dolfrog Thu 06-Oct-11 17:52:55


At this age these issues can still be part of the natural development process, we all develop different cognitive skills and abilities until the so called age of maturity between the ages of 6 - 8 years old, after which any remaining issues tend to be considered as a clinically diagnosable disability.

Dyslexia is a man made problem or a social construct, which is language dependent. There are three cognitive subtypes of developmental dyslexia, auditory, visual, and attentional. Which means that an auditory processing disorder (listening disability), visual processing disorder, an attentional disorder, or any combination of the three could cause the dyslexic symptom. So may be you could try investigating some of these types of issues which could still be part of his natural development.
Developmental Dyslexia has a genetic origin so any family history of these issues could help provide some earlier indication of any later to be identified disabilities.

ArfurBrain Thu 06-Oct-11 17:59:19

my son has auditroy dyslexia and dysgraphia. It ain't easy. It runs in our family. Ds has leaned many coping strategies and is considred very able at school (but can't write) But he is a teen.

Your lad is still very young. In reception they are laying foundations for learning, not neccessarily sittting down and doing writing etc. My advice would be do not push it this year. You risk turning him off school.
Big up the things he IS good at - or even just enjoys; whether it's art or imagination or counting or lego or junk modeeling or whatever!

He is also very young to be 'diagnosed' and many children - particularly boys - are resistant to letters/writing etc in reception.

Let him learn through play, do not formalise it.

Save your energy for the future, you will need it if it does turn out he has a specific learning difficulty.

ArfurBrain Thu 06-Oct-11 18:00:11

it's great that you read with him, let him enjoy the story, talk to hoim about pictures, what can he see, what is happening, what MIGHT happen next etc.

ArfurBrain Thu 06-Oct-11 18:02:52

sorry, stuff keeps occurring to me.

If you MUST attempt to try numbers/letter work, keep it short and positive. 5 minutes and enjoyment will work more than 15 minutes when he is tired and stroppy and dispiritied.
Stop on a high note.
Use play doh, pastry, sand, different materials to form shapes of letters. let him draw with his finger on steamed up windows or glass for example.

CecilyP Thu 06-Oct-11 18:21:23

I would second Arfur's advice. It is very early days yet. Too much pressure and you risk putting him off completely. You would be better reading to him (to enjoy the story, not to look at the words) talking with him, encouraging him to draw, and counting real objects, rather than learning numbers. Doing the normal things that 4-5 year olds like, in fact.

I am wondering why a reception teacher would think he might be dyslexic or why you think he is going to struggle.

dolfrog Thu 06-Oct-11 19:21:16

All dyslexics, need to find out what is causing their dyslexia.
Dyslexia is shared symptom of many clinically diagnosable conditions, and all of these conditions have more severe symptoms that the dyslexic symptom.

I was diagnosed as being dyslexic late in life, and only began to fully understand why after I was diagnosed as having Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) as the underlying cause of my dyslexic symptom. APD has many more issues than dyslexia which is a comparatively minor issue. All the other possible underlying cognitive cause of the dyslexic symptom also have their own more serious sets of issues. Have a look at my Dyslexia research paper collection web page for more information, especially the Jyväskylä University collection

ZombieWhirl Thu 06-Oct-11 20:07:53

Thank you for your replies, I will try to answer all the questions.

dolfrog I am 'severely' dyslexic, so are my sisters and my father appears to be (but hasn't been tested). However Ds' teacher didn't know this when he mentioned it to me. My problems are with auditory processing in fact, and I have been reading some things recently that have been like a light bulb going off with regards to ds' behaviour.

ceilyP I think the teacher thought about dyslexia as Ds has good vocal skills, i.e. he reached his Early Learning Goals for speaking skills at the end of Nursery last year (same school). Also he loves learning stuff. But just not letters. And he made a comment to the teacher along of the lines of 'sometime I just don't recognise the letters, they get jumbled up'. Not much to go on but I think the teacher's probably right.

I don't want to label ds tho just coz I have an issue. He is a summer born boy and is always going to be behind the others. But it's the anger we get about letters, it's out of proportion.

ArthurBrain We go encourage lots of Lego etc. And I am going to get some card templates for making playdough letters. Thanks for your posts. Very interesting to read about dysgraphia. I have been reading information for ds and found out lots of things that have explained why I find certain things hard.

I guess it's that I think if we can help him a bit at this stage, even if it's 2 mins a night then it might help him keep up with the other children. This is important to him as he's used to things being easy for him to do and understand. It's like he's hit a brick wall and doesn't know how to deal with it so just gets cross.

sorry for the essay.

So 2mins a night.
Playdough / different medium for learning letters....

any others?

seeker Thu 06-Oct-11 20:15:31

I was going to say to read to him lots and lots and lots and lots- but is that hard for you? If it is, can you so on else who can? Make sure he sees lots of people ( particularly men) reading for pleasure.

Don't try ton help him learn stuff formally, but use squishy to write on the bathroom wall. Buy some letter biscuit cutters and make name biscuits for everyone in the family. Write postcards to grandma- he dictates, someone else writes. A thing you can think of to make letters andnwriting a normal part of life.

seeker Thu 06-Oct-11 20:16:19

Squishy? Squishy soap is what I was trying to say!

seeker Thu 06-Oct-11 20:21:50

Squirty soap! I give up!!!!!

BOOareHaunting Thu 06-Oct-11 20:38:36

I have visual processing dyslexia, my DS was picked up as possibly mildly dyslexic in year R (they didn't know I was). I think he may have auditory processing dyslexia having read the information above.

He was resistant to reading/ writing out of school until... well now actually having just started year 4 and juniors.

I seem to have sussed it with smiley faces. If he does some number and/or literacy he gets a smiley face. If he gets 10 in a week he gets a small reward.

What I would say is start small - so even f he sits and does 3 letter sounds and points out 3 numbers give him his 2 smilies. Build up the expectations as he see's what doing it does and he becomes more willing.

I'm afraid my forcefulness probably put DS off at first until he refused to read at home. sad 2 months after not mentioning it at all he started to ask me.

Good luck.

BOOareHaunting Thu 06-Oct-11 20:40:08

year 3. grin

CecilyP Thu 06-Oct-11 20:51:37

Zombie, I can understand you being worried about dyslexia with there being so much of it in your family. However, I still can't understand the teacher mentioning it. Your DS has only had 4 weeks of his first term in reception. Surely it can't be at all unusual for verbally articulate little boys, who have just turned 4 and love learning, not to recognise letters, or have any particular interest in them, for that matter. That all takes time, even for children with absolutely no hint of dyslexia.

I would also follow seeker's advice and make reading and writing a normal part of life and getting him to dictate is a good idea. Playing games like snakes and ladders is good. Even junior scrabble, if you can face it, (nothing like the grown up game) is a fun, low pressure way of introducing letters.

IndigoBell Thu 06-Oct-11 20:56:52

Game Goo


ZombieWhirl Thu 06-Oct-11 21:08:48

thank you for extra replies!

dolfrog I will look at your site! Thanks - loads of info on there. Haven't I seen your name on name site about Auditory issues? Got to the site through an old mn thread.

seeker reading isn't hard for me, both dh and I read a lot and there are lots of books about. But it's funny you say about making it normal.....writing is hard for me and I only ever write birthday cards etc. Ds doesn't see me write. In fact I don't really ever write, it's all on the computer, coz of my dyslexia....hmmmmm! Lightbulb!

Boo I will try the smiley faces.

cecilyP You are right, Ds' Teacher didn't say to me "I think your ds is dyslexic". He introduced a conversation about Ds being resistant to letters and mentioned the jumbled up comment and then looked at me and said something like "and I wondered if ....' then I said 'ummm I'm dyslexic'. Then we talked about it. Arrrghhhhh I led it him on.

has anyone heard of the book 'Toe by Toe'? I am wondering if it's worth trying. It seems to do well to help slow readers catc up. But ds isn't slow yet

ZombieWhirl Thu 06-Oct-11 21:21:02

and thank you BOO for the warning. If I suggest doing letters ds gets quite resistant. Over the summer I tried to introduce letters to no avail, then in the first week at school Ds learnt four letters.

I was VV chuffed but now he's stopped again and won't talk about it. Hence my interest in homework.

Also I should say it's not about ds learning to read. One day he will read, that's fine. We are not in a hurry. But it's about the engagement with school. I don't want him to be turned off learning as he's behind the other kids. At the moment he is so interested in everything. But he has a quick temper and is V stubborn. Without careful handling I can see him deciding that 'school is rubbish' and we'll be stuck with that attitude forever. He is quite an extreme child.

BOOareHaunting Thu 06-Oct-11 21:56:00

DS wouldn't talk about letters either. I 'tricked' him into it.

So for example when he had to do M. I would write mummy and say 'oh silly me, I can't think of the first letter sound, DS please help me' He would say 'mmm'. So I knew he knew it iyswim. works for mst letters when you include daddy, nanny, grandad, aunts uncles the family pet! etc.

My DS is a late aug born baby too - if it's any consolation!

IndigoBell Thu 06-Oct-11 22:14:00

Don't do toe by toe. He's too young for it.

Bear Necessities would be more suitable for him than toe by toe, because of his age.

TastyMuffins Thu 06-Oct-11 22:27:43

My DS is in year 2 and is currently being assessed for dyslexia, his father has some difficulties that were never properly diagnosed so I was always aware there might be some difficulty.

In reception my DS was pretty disinterested in doing his homework. It used to drive me up the wall, he would do scribbles in his book or very quick, very messy letters. His aim was to get it over and done with ASAP and there was no desire to learn or pride in what he did. I stopped pushing him and if he didn't do it that was fine. Teacher would write lots of nice comments in his book like 'has tried very hard to make the letter shapes' if DS had made marks on the page but I can honestly say there was no trying hard that I could see!

By himself he has now developed great enthusiasm for homework. Most evenings he gets it out as soon as he gets home. He loves the spelling tests and getting a score, so far has been getting 9 or 10 out of 10. He gets £1 for 10 out of 10. My DS loves having a score, there were no scores or grades for anything at his school in reception and year one beyond the attendance mark. He also has a male teacher who he admires very much and I think this helps.

CecilyP Thu 06-Oct-11 23:10:28

Yes, I have heard of Toe by Toe. It is not suitable for a 4 year old.

You say that you don't want him turned off learning as he is behind the other kids, but is he actually behind? Does the concept of 'behind' even apply in the first term of reception. Or is he very much at the level of the other children who are young in year?

ArfurBrain Fri 07-Oct-11 09:56:39

zombie - please, i understand your concersn, lord knows I have been there, but reception is TOO YOUNG for all this. if you push him, he will resist and then you risk losing all engagement with schoo and learning.
When he is 7, they can assess him, and then you can look at appropriate help and support. Yoiu cannot 'cure' him of this by attacking it when he is young.
You do not even know if he is dyslexic yet...let him enjoy reception year and if you are still concerned at his progresss - or lack of it in year 1, then go back to school.
Boys are OFTEN resistant to learning in reception.

ZombieWhirl Fri 07-Oct-11 10:34:44

arfurbrain LOL I just 'got' your nickname. Thank you for that. Right I AM CHILLING! I'll talk to dh and see what he says re;homework, he's more sensible than me. We have a parents meeting with the school in a couple of week and I'll just leave it until then to see what the teacher says. You are right, I am trying to cure it. Looking back school was hellish for me because of things associated with my dyslexia and I am trying to avoid the same happening to ds. But I can't fix it for him, he has to learn himself. <<repeat 500 times>>.

cecilyP No, he's probably not behind everyone at all, but he will shortly be behind his two best friends and he's used to keeping up with them. It's fine. I will chill and not nose about what happens in school and let the teacher keep him engaged. At home we can do the fine motor skills practice, writing and letters by stealth and see how we get on.

IdnigoBell thanks V much for the links and the bear necessities suggestion. I'll have a look.

Thanks everyone, it has been quite emotional for me as my relationship with school and learning was quite complicated. Urgh. But it's not about me! Chill woman chill!

sarahfreck Fri 07-Oct-11 10:58:27

Oooh - Toe by toe would really not be suitable. I think it is more for children of 9 plus.
At this stage I'd just do lots of fun games and activities.
Some fun ideas here - ignore the bits about needing OT assessment as that was for a much older child!

ArfurBrain Fri 07-Oct-11 11:02:28

It IS emotional when you are worrying about your child at school. You are possibly reacting a little to the whole ''my baby's gone to school'' bit? And yes, if you had issues and problems at school, it is easy to be triggered bhy those.
So be kind to yourself and, as you say, chill brew. Seriously, you will need all your emotional and physical strength for possible battles later on.

I spend a couple of days a month in tears over DS on average, with one thing or another. This week was a (new) teacher shouting at him over his 'presentation'. LAst week I cried because it took us 2 hours to do a piece of homework which I reckon would have taken a non SLD Yr9 20-30minutes.
good luck, and maybe, just maybe, your son won't have SLD....
never good to let him compare himself against others, everyone works at different pace and some children steadily plod up the ladder and others get stuck on a rung then sprint up 6 at a time.

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