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If you worry your Reception child is struggling to read - just some personal advice...

(20 Posts)
Bambismum Tue 02-Dec-14 15:04:12

Hello. I'm posting this because I had a lot of ideas, help and support from Mn-etters when I was worried about my son towards the end of Reception. For a long time I've wanted to come back on here to share what I've learned in order to help anyone who was like me. A recap: my son spent AGES learning his letter sounds, and forgetting them again. By the end of Reception he could do a bit of basic C-A-T but was finding the going very hard. That's when I turned to Mumsnet. Was he just a later born boy? Or should I be concerned? Opinion divided right down the middle.

But the most useful advice I got was to get his eyes tested, which I did at the start of September Y1. I would recommend this to anyone as a first step. He had passed school eye tests and I had no doubt his eyes were fine. But the excellent optician diagnosed severe convergence insufficiency, which we were referred to Moorfields for. We spend the rest of Y1 treating it under their supervision and a private behavioural optometrist, and it's now gone. I had hoped that would be the last of it, but the underlying reading difficulty remained, although now it was a lot less tiring for him to try (he used to find looking at the text physically painful).

So - second Mumsnet tip: Dancing Bears. We started this in the Spring of Year 1, and I have to say, whatever problems he had with reading, Dancing Bears targeted precisely. Repetition, drilling in phonics sounds. It was exactly what he needed and we are still doing it most days when we can, for ten minutes. To anyone in our position, I had been put off Dancing Bears by the idea that it was somehow for people older than my son. You can start it actually as young as you like. It's very boring, but it gets them to read right - no guessing. If I was doing it all again now, I'd wish to have started him on Bear Necessities back in Reception.

He is now in Y2 and his reading is miraculously at average level. From where he was even at the end of Y1, I never thought we'd get to that. I hope this is a positive post and I'm just writing it in the spirit of paying it forward. By the way, I'm glad I listened to the "get on it" camp - I think we'd still be very much struggling if we hadn't intervened. I think you know deep down when things just aren't right. He's still struggling a bit tbh - but it's a journey of sorts and, anyway, I'll stop now, because this is sort of a thank you letter to everyone out there.

beautifulgirls Tue 02-Dec-14 15:51:43

What a lovely post. So glad to hear that there is a positive change for your son and that advice you got here helped with that. Long may it continue both for your family and others. smile I know for different things that I have asked about in the past MN has come good with advice and ideas too.

DancingDinosaur Tue 02-Dec-14 15:54:57

Sounds good. Thanks for the dancing bears tip. I'll look into that for my ds.

Ferguson Wed 03-Dec-14 16:50:42

But it also seems VERY expensive.

In MN Books Reviews, search on Phonics, and you should find all you need there.

mrz Wed 03-Dec-14 18:07:48

I'm afraid I must disagree with Ferguson ... The phonic dictionary is very useful for children but the Bear necessities ( or dancing bears )programmes are so much more comprehensive. They provide a systematic structure that is easy to follow (even if you are a complete phonics novice) and ten minutes a day really can make a huge difference for struggling readers. It can be a great intervention for school or/and home.

PeanutButterOnly Wed 03-Dec-14 21:59:23

Hi this is really great advice on the reading side. I'm wondering, does anyone have any similar success stories of intervention for children similar age who are ok at phonics wrt reading but falling behind with the basics of writing? Ds is Aug born in yr 1 and he struggles to form letters correctly and has fallen behind. He is by comparison good with phonic knowledge and blending. TIA

NumptyNu Wed 03-Dec-14 22:50:21

What is Dancing Bears exactly?

Iggi999 Wed 03-Dec-14 23:16:44

I'd really like to know more about it too (is it books you buy? Something on the internet?) I've had a google but no obvious links.

Mashabell Thu 04-Dec-14 06:26:09


By googling Dancing Bear phonics I found this:

LynetteScavo Thu 04-Dec-14 06:49:53

I think having eyes checked by a behavioural optometrist is a great idea...dd doesn't need glasses for vision but has bifocals with tinted lenses...definitely make a huge difference.
Not cheap but value for money.

maizieD Thu 04-Dec-14 08:45:25

If people are worried about the cost of Dancing Bears they could take a look at Phonics International or BRI, at Piper Books (sorry, don't have that URL by heart)

Iggi999 Thu 04-Dec-14 13:26:51

Thanks Mashabel.
(and yes Maizie they do look dear! Will look at both.)

pyrrah Thu 04-Dec-14 14:21:19

On the convergence issue, have they suggested using coloured films over the words?

I have major issues with convergence which makes words look almost 3-D. I've found using an e-reader with the background set to grey to reduce contrast helps as well as using a blue gel sheet over the page.

mrz Fri 05-Dec-14 06:25:37

Bear Necessities costs £16 ... Expensive?

kilmuir Fri 05-Dec-14 13:03:36

£16 seems very reasonable

Iggi999 Fri 05-Dec-14 13:22:27

it says you need the starter pack, which is £75...

DazzleU Fri 05-Dec-14 13:49:51

With DS I just did A1 Bear Necessities A1 and most of A2 - he was in yr 1 by then but we started last term of reception as he really struggled and didn't get phonics at all.

Like OP I'm glad we didn't wait - as I think he issues would only have gotten worse and as it was getting him to engage with school work was already starting to be an issue. Reading was being dismissed as too hard and not for him - since yr 2 he squirrels away to read for pleasure.

By end of year 1 his reading had massively taken off. So while some DC might need all the books some like mine might just need to do a few. Eldest in yr 2 at time just did fast track A/B - then the concern were more about her spelling.

In fact with the apple and pears - where you need both a teachers copy and a work book - the fastest we've managed to go through a book is 9 months. So haven't bought the £100 pack but just what we've needed at the time.

I'm not sure what the bearing away started pack is - or what it contains don't remember it being there so must be newish. We found the Bear Necessities at age 4 that is £16 for each book.

If he'd struggles a bit less with the basic phonics or we'd started in yr 1 not when he was still 4 I would probably have done book A instead - same things but goes a quicker pace.

DazzleU Fri 05-Dec-14 13:50:45

We found the Bear Necessities enough at age 4 that is £16 for each book.

mrz Fri 05-Dec-14 16:35:13

You don't for Bear Necessities Igbo

CastlesInTheSand Fri 05-Dec-14 21:45:59

Pyrrah - for convergence issues have you tried engaging eyes? After playing engaging eyes for a few months you won't need coloured overlays etc anymore.

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