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Do I need reassurance or to take action with a DS struggling in reception?

(37 Posts)
hopingImneurotic Wed 22-May-13 15:47:40

Dear all, I have been lurking here for a long time, looking for reassurance about my son. He's currently in Reception, aged 5 in May, and seems absolutely allergic to reading and writing. This is new for us, because our older daughters always just sort of got on with it, although they may have found going through the reading levels boring. He, on the other hand, just doesn't seem able to take it in. He knows his phonic alphabet, and can blend simple three letter words like b-e-d, always sounding it out however many times these words are repeated. Anything more complicated baffles or panics him. His teacher asked us to try and get him to learn some sight words. We spent a long time on "the" and "and", and practising them daily. His memory can't seem to retain it. He still can't produce them on sight - he will sound out a-n-d and the is a problem. He shows zero interest in reading, never, for example, pointing letters out on cereal packets etc. He will never write except when forced to by at school, when it's basically incomprehensible. He is on level 1plus for reading books. The rest of the class is also learning numbers 11-20, he finds these almost impossible to learn. Not surprisingly getting him to do any practise at home is a real struggle. The teacher does not seem at all worried, despite him being very much at the lower end of the class.

I'd like to know whether we should be keeping our eyes out for potential learning disorders, or whether as a relatively young boy, this is totally normal? I'd particularly like to hear from people who have had a child like this or known one as they get older? And should I be practising more with him (we struggle painfully and resentfully through a few very simple "cat on the mat" sentences a day) or should I back off and let him go his own way? Any advice gratefully received.

Shakey1500 Wed 22-May-13 15:52:23

I think you should ease up. He's still so young!

When you say "we struggle painfully and resentfully" that screams that all your concerns are probably radiating outwards from you. It should all be fun at this stage. Put fun back into it and do nothing that you feel you "ought" to be doing. I'm positive it will just click for him in his own time smile

hopingImneurotic Wed 22-May-13 16:00:36

Thanks Shakey. He is not interested or motivated to do anything that is vaguely school-ish, but I'm just not sure if that will suddenly click, or not really!? (he is by personality an endearing scatterbrain, can't imagine him changing). I think maybe I need to understand the male brain more (!)

Shakey1500 Wed 22-May-13 16:03:28

Well good luck with that (understanding the male brain) wink !

I found with DS (he's 5 almost 6) that if I mentioned things more matter of fact/as we went along he was much more engaged. Rather than a "right, we are going to do some reading and writing now..." etc

ReallyTired Wed 22-May-13 16:09:01

You are right. He is very little and boys take longer to develop. I think the important thing is to keep his confidence up and look at ways of promoting his self esteem. Does he have any extra curricular activites? Maybe if he is good at football then he will less bad about being weak academically.

The fact that he can sound out is really positive. I don't think it matters too much that he can't yet say words instantly. Rather than getting him to read book he might be better at practicing sounding words. He could eventually learn to sound out words in his head.

With the counting I think a lot is practice. Learning to count actual objects is a greater challenge than reciting numbers up to 20.

Prehaps you should have a meeting with the teacher to allay any fears you have or if there is a problem ask for an IEP to be drawn up to help your son. You can ask what type of help that you as a parent can best give him.

mintyneb Wed 22-May-13 16:28:24

you could be describing my DD (now 6 and in yr 1) with regards to reading and writing. At no point in reception did I ever see her try and write words at home. Yes, she did plenty of 'writing' but it was always streams of squiggles across the page.

As for reading, she would read her school books as required but generally under duress and finished the year on Red books (no idea what level that was but essentially it was one band up from where she started!)

In year 1 she showed no more enthusiasm for reading and I would say its only in the last few weeks that she's actually started to show some enjoyment for books. She's also started writing proper sentences at home but wouldn't sit down and write a whole page - she would far rather be doing something else!

Whether she's 'normal' or not for this point in yr I've no idea but just wanted to let you know you are not alone...and I don't think its anything to do with being a boy or girl (in my experience anyway!!)

hopingImneurotic Wed 22-May-13 16:34:07

Thanks Minty, I'm not used to it, as my other children were keen to learn this stuff. Whereas with my son's type of child, it's so hard to get the balance right between letting him be himself and letting him drift. Thank you for letting me know I'm not alone!

mintyneb Wed 22-May-13 16:37:07

but who's to say I should be making more of a fuss?! She's my first one through the system so have nothing to compare her with. At least its half term next we so we can all switch off to the worries of school :-)

leeloo1 Wed 22-May-13 16:37:16

Can he recognise his own name? Or does he need to sound that out too?

I'd say being able to recognise letters and sound out words is definitely positive - its just that the blending bit isn't clicking for him. I have a DS the same age and in the car we play sounding out games so I say c-a-t and he has to say cat, then I say dog and he has to say d-o-g. Doing something similar with your son will let you know if he can 'hear' how the sounds blend into words (without the pressure of the word/book to look at).

Re writing, how is your DS' motor control. Can he hold the pencil properly? make confident marks (e.g. apply appropriate pressure)? draw?

If you are concerned then speak to the school and ask if they think he would benefit from being assessed.

hopingImneurotic Wed 22-May-13 16:43:50

Thanks Leeloo....yes, he can blend, he typically says "b-e-d, BED" (after about three minutes per word of me trying to direct his eyes to the page). He can hold the pencil properly, and draw. At the parents evening, his teacher said reception was essentially about play, and he was too young to draw any conclusions on. Which I see as good advice on the one hand, on the other it's hard not to be wondering how to approach things at home.

hopingImneurotic Wed 22-May-13 16:55:40

Minty - oh god I'm the last person to know whether to make a fuss or not. As you can tell. There seem such opposed camps, the don't fret look at Sweden, they start formal learning too young camp. Then the er, actually that doesn't sound too good maybe you need to do more at home people. Between all that you have no idea whether your child will spontaneously spring into learning without any help on your part, or alternatively whether your intervention will just make things worse. I don't sound like this to anyone else, just to make it clear - just confide in MN.

leeloo1 Wed 22-May-13 17:30:41

The problem is that reception is largely about learning through play... then children get to Y1 and are (often) expected to sit down and work more formally and if they aren't reading at some level then they begin to get left behind.

Its great that he can blend and hold a pencil well though - v positive signs that he'll get there in the end!

If I was you I'd keep practicing the blending - with and without books/words - as the more he does it the quicker and easier he'll find it. Make it into a game - 10 words blended in 2 minutes for a sticker/smartie etc.

Re writing can you do 1 word (or even a letter) a day, where you focus on forming it correctly. Or when he draws a picture help him to sound out and label something in it. Does he see you (or his older siblings) writing? It might help if he does, so he can see the point to it.

There are definite stages to writing though - its been a while since I've looked at the document, but from recollection it goes through scribbles, making definite marks that don't resemble letters, using a mix of letters (often from their name) and own symbols, then slowly using more phonetic/learned letters and words.

I've just realised I never commented on the maths side of things - playing shops (where you/he make price labels to use), looking at numbers on buses, houses, recipes, prices in shops are all good ways to help him recognise numbers - and see a purpose to doing so. Also counting every time you go up and downstairs should help him get confidently to 13/14 at least. smile

Good luck.

CalicoRose Wed 22-May-13 17:34:58

Teacher not being concerned is normal. They're never worried about your child doing badly. To them 'someone has to be bottom of the class'

Teachers never worry about kids making poor academic progress.

Reading and writing doesn't 'just ckick' for all kids. 20% leave Y6 without being able to read well.

hopingImneurotic Wed 22-May-13 17:42:33

Thanks Leeloo. And CalicoRose, yes, this is what I suspect in my more doubtful hours too. His class is a inner london state primary, with quite a few english as a second language kids. He's kind of down there with them, which I see as a problem, but I wonder if to the teacher's eyes there all just a group. I imagine the english as second language kids will at some point leapfrog him, on current rates of progress.

ninah Wed 22-May-13 17:50:19

what a load of crap calicorose
teachers do worry, I promise you. Apart from anything else they have to account for lack of progress. Most teachers do their job because they want children to learn. It's certainly not for the cash or the work life balance.

CalicoRose Wed 22-May-13 17:58:52

Are you a teacher Ninah? How many parents have you said 'I'm worried' to.

And is that the same number of kids in your class who are doing badly?

Or are all the kids in your class doing fine.....

Phoebe47 Wed 22-May-13 17:59:33

Rubbish CalicoRose! Teachers are concerned about the children they teach (the vast majority anyway). They want them to make the best progress they can. For some children starting school is hard work and the fact that they don't take off in Yr.R does not mean they are doomed forever to be struggling. hoping - if your son can blend and hold a pencil and draw he has made a start and he is one of the younger children in the class (May birthday) so is doing quite well I think. Remember, some of the children will be 8 months older than him and it does make a difference at this age.

Phoebe47 Wed 22-May-13 18:02:14

CalicoRose - you are obviously very bitter about teachers.

CalicoRose Wed 22-May-13 18:16:04

I sure am bitter - 'the best progress they can' says it all.

They don't care if they achieve as long as everyone tried really hard.

If a child doesn't learn it's never ever the teachers fault.

hopingImneurotic Wed 22-May-13 18:19:41

Well, I'd love it if my son tried really hard! CalicoRose are you speaking from personal experience?

ninah Wed 22-May-13 18:22:11

there a number with additional support of various kinds, and I liaise with parents regularly about their progress. All my children are making progress, some exceptional progress. There is one dc who is not interested in writing. We have tried a number of things, currently the parents are writing stories at home for the whole class and the dc is presenting them. This dc does keep me awake at night, yes.

crazycrofter Wed 22-May-13 18:22:45

Hi, my son was the same - August birthday. His school were relaxed though and after a few weeks of trying to get him to learn sight words and blend letters in the January term with no success, I backed off. After Easter sometime I noticed he could finally sound out simple words like bed and he made some more progress over the summer holidays but he was still 'below average' on entry to year one.

He is now in year two and last week he brought home his year one literacy work. September - pretty much incomprehensible writing, just lots of letters, very little phonic understanding. By April he was writing in full sentences, most words spelled correctly, punctuation etc - the progress was really rapid! Now he is on top table for literacy and maths!

Hope that helps!

CalicoRose Wed 22-May-13 18:32:41

I am speaking from personal experience. I know there are 10 kids in Y6 who are unable to read and 4 in Y5.

I have has lots of 'progress meetings' with teachers. Although only if I ask for them. I've always been told not to worry. I've always been told DD is making progress.

Their defn of progress is certainly different to mine.

If your child has 'additional needs' - ie struggles to learn - you are well and truly buggered.

hopingImneurotic Wed 22-May-13 18:33:07

crazycrofter, thank you, that's the kind of story I like to hear. I admire the way you held your nerve!

CalicoRose Wed 22-May-13 18:34:33

a rushed parents meeting twice a year is considered 'regular liasing'

If I make enough of a fuss I even get to see an IEP

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