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DD (5) really struggling with literacy

(28 Posts)
yawningbear Mon 24-Mar-14 10:54:54

I posted here a while ago, when DD who is in P1 ( similar to Reception, we are in Scotland) was really struggling to learn her sounds. Eventually after much work she got them but now they have moved onto digraphs which we have had to give up on just now as they were so confusing for her. She struggles to sound out simple words and reverses many letters and numbers when copying them out. She also struggles a lot with numeracy.

At parents evening, her teacher said Dd is really struggling with the mechanics, and that there appears to be some kind of block to her learning but that it is too soon to know exactly what that block is. She did say that it is not to do with her cognitive ability. Socially and emotionally she has no difficulties at all although I am worried about the potential impact on her self esteem. She has additional learning support 3 x a week and they are going to give individualised homework as she cannot keep up with the class homework. The school and teachers are great but I am struggling to know how to best try and help DD.

Ferguson Mon 24-Mar-14 18:53:28

If children have never been exposed to using phonics or to much counting, before starting in school, it will take longer for them to 'get it'. Children who have done some of these things in nursery or pre-school will have an advantage.

Some Cbeebies programmes, such as Alphablocks, can help with understanding and learning.

If she has all her individual sounds securely learnt, it shouldn't be too big a step to start putting two sounds together. I don't know if the Scots accent makes these things more difficult for children, but there obviously is a difference in pronunciation 'south of the border'.

If you look in the MN book reviews, 'Children's educational books and courses' the Oxford Phonics Spelling Dictionary would probably be useful, as it gives lots of hints on learning sounds.

For numeracy, do lots of counting and grouping objects, Lego, dolls, biscuits etc. Gaining an understanding of the 'number of things' is more important than just being able to write numerals correctly, and that can be a later stage.

For writing letters and numbers, have lots of paper and chunky pens, or a white board and 'dry wipe' pens that rub off easily. Or do large 'finger writing' in a thin layer of sand or flour on a tray.

Try and keep things 'fun' and relaxed, and avoid 'hard work'. Give plenty of praise.

columngollum Mon 24-Mar-14 19:11:37

How does she get on with children's picture books of cat, with cat written underneath it, dog, with a dog, a pig and so on...

PastSellByDate Mon 24-Mar-14 20:57:03

Hi yawning bear

Not sure if anyone has (or even I have) suggested that you try OXFORD OWL: - it's entirely free - there are all sorts of resources for early learning in maths & reading, advice on how to support learning these early skills and ideas on things you can do at home.

Alphablocks still has episodes available on CBEEBIES: - the catchy songs really help hammer home how to blend. This came out when DD1 was in Y2 and still desperately struggling to sound out words. DD2's Year R teacher recommended this to parents - and DD1 instantly responded to it. Fortunately, because she had a younger sister, she could just claim she was watching them for her sister - but these silly little cartoons about the sounds letters make together and individually really helped her make sense of the written word on the page. If you click 'watch' at the top - there are tons of episodes (you can select the letter/ sound).

At some point I stumbled across this - trying to help a foreign friend who didn't know how to teach her daughter English sounds: - I thought the poster with pictures of things like blocks (for BL) or a flag for (FL) really made a lot of sense (rather wished I'd known about it earlier for DD1).


yawningbear Mon 24-Mar-14 23:33:03

Thanks for the replies. No scots accent I am afraid and she did go to Nursery/pre-school. I am very much of the view that young children should learn through play so have never forced anything but just tried to have fun with it. It however has become really obvious that it is just something that she struggles with, not just the blending but even retaining the basic sounds. For some things she has the memory of an elephant, for this she doses not.

Will check out the website links, thanks very much, she does love alphablocks & numberjacks confused

yawningbear Mon 24-Mar-14 23:39:40

The charts & games on Pininterest look great, thanks very much Past.

columngollum Tue 25-Mar-14 09:43:48

If phonics does work in the end, then great. But I wouldn't keep banging away at it for the sake of banging away at it, if it obviously isn't working.

emmaMBC Tue 25-Mar-14 10:33:48

Little and often is the key, but you know what - phonics just doesn't work for everyone.

Have a read of this from Michael Rosen

housebox Tue 25-Mar-14 14:42:22

We had similar problems with DD in reception - she knew her letter sounds but just didn't get reading at all. So we did the following:

Used flashcards to help her learn the 100 most frequently used words. She learnt these by sight. I think that if you know these you can read around 50% of any text so it really helped her and gave her confidence.

Practice practice practice! We read everyday with DD religiously. This really helps her get familiar with the text. The peter and jane books were great to help her learn frequently used words and we liked the songbirds books for learning to blend simple words.

Read to them. Again read everyday to your child. Also try to read good quality literature that helps them learn vocabulary, sentence structure etc, it's good to role model reading to them and gives them a love of literature.

Consider an online programme. We did teach your monster to read which is free. You can also usually get free trials on Reading Eggs which I know some people love - although personally I didn't find it as good.

Don't get too hung up on phonics. It just doesn't work for everyone. DD wouldn't know a split digraph if it big her on the bottom but she can read words with them in such as make, take, snake etc as she remember the 'ake' sound and then blends with the start letter (at least I think that is how she is doing it!).

Anway it has taken about 6 months of solid effort but now her reading is really good even though at one point it all felt very helpless. Don't give up!!

(also it's always worth getting sight and hearing checked too just in case it is a physical thing)

maizieD Tue 25-Mar-14 16:02:59

If she struggles to associate a 'sound' with a letter or letters how is she going to remember a complex string of letters (i.e a whole word)?

I agree that she possibly has a problem but I think that persisting with learning the letter/sound correspondences until she can respond automatically is worth doing. It is still quite early days; too early to be abandoning phonics in favour of a more difficult task (i.e learning words as 'wholes')

Try the BRI books from here:

They work in a slightly different way from 'conventional' phonics but are excellent for children who struggle. Takes it very slowly with lots of overlearning. And it is perfectly OK to use them alongside a phonics programme.

columngollum Tue 25-Mar-14 16:12:31

Normally the picture of a dog or cat is a clue.

maizieD Tue 25-Mar-14 16:26:48

That's 'reading' the picture, not the words.

columngollum Tue 25-Mar-14 16:38:27

Reading the picture doesn't make any sense. You can't read pictures.

If you mean that it's being reminded of what that word means by a picture, then, yes. Sure. Later on you get the word without the picture.

Even later it's whole sentences with no pictures from word recognition.

LindyHemming Tue 25-Mar-14 18:47:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

columngollum Tue 25-Mar-14 18:51:02

Pen and paper, printed on a card, printed on paper, printed in a book. It's just a word. There's no special technique.

LindyHemming Tue 25-Mar-14 18:52:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

maizieD Tue 25-Mar-14 19:28:27

Can you not read pictures, cg? Don't you know that that's another sort of literacy?

But how can you read the word with no picture, if you've previously relied on picture clues?

I wouldn't look for a rational answer, Euphemia sad

columngollum Tue 25-Mar-14 19:32:49

You recognise the word.

Recognising things isn't new. People recognise familiar things all the time, their front doors, their keys, their mobile phones, all sorts of things.

Try it some time. It even works with words!

Who would have thought it?!

Badvoc Tue 25-Mar-14 19:39:35

Check out bear neccessities by sound foundation.
By far the best programme for struggling readers.
Good luck

LindyHemming Tue 25-Mar-14 21:43:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

columngollum Tue 25-Mar-14 22:09:21

Well, Euphemia, what happened when you showed Hamish the word with the picture beside the same word without the picture? Could he tell that it was the same word? If he can't, then you're probably better off banging away at phonics even if it isn't working. If all else fails there is always prayer.

LindyHemming Tue 25-Mar-14 22:26:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mrsjavierbardem Tue 25-Mar-14 22:32:14

I had a slow reader and a quick reader but with the former I did very little prep for phonics and the latter I used letters around the house from a really young age and letters in the bath and it was all very fun and no stress.
By the time ds (the former) got to school I had done so little that he quickly felt behind and then psychologically it seemed to take the fun out of it.
I now think, I just needed to somehow get the fun back in, it's still early days, but they do pick up parental worry like highly specialised satellites and that can just heap on the pressure. I've seen this twice with the children of friends. Bright, able kids who just locked horns with mother who was anxious and radiating stress ( I did that too btw!)

I think the key is fun and it is about every day consistency and using whatever bribes it takes, do x and you can have y.
if the parent can manage to keep it light, then even a resistant child should be able to be won over if the bribe is good.

Also my fast reader has had a much more confident, experienced early learning environment run by a real enthusiast for phonics who has done everything slowly, properly, consistently and full of fun. I think this has made a real difference for dd, the confident teaching of phonics is better than a mishmash taught by teachers who don't do it full on, in my experience any way.

Don't give up because it is early days but I know how easy it is to feel really disheartened and left behind!

columngollum Tue 25-Mar-14 22:33:48

No, indeed. Pictures are best for nouns. But I'm not talking about guessing any more than pictorial alphabet posters are about guessing. They're merely illustrations. (Sometimes they have alphabets in the corner with no pictures too.)

With several nouns and some prepositions learned by sight (I have no pictures for prepositions.) then several more or less simple sentences can be read without pictures.

columngollum Tue 25-Mar-14 22:39:39

Initially I've used the same verbs too and they also had no pictures. The (albeit very limited number of verbs) had to be learned entirely by sight.

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