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Excellent comprehension but has difficulty with fluency and decoding

(8 Posts)
barefootcook Fri 05-Jun-15 09:05:39

My DS's teacher says that he struggles with decoding words (especially medial vowels) and fluency,yet his comprehension is excellent. I would have thought that if you stumbled over words you would be distracted from the meaning.Can any one explain how this is possible and if it is an indication of a reading problem? He is 6 years old.

PotatoesNotProzac Fri 05-Jun-15 10:27:55

Of course it's an indication of a reading problem. Whether the reading problem is just that he's inexperienced and needs more practice, or whether it's that he's been taught to guess, or whether it's something else is impossible to tell from the information you've provided.

It's possible to have good comprehension because he's guessing correctly. What he's thinking in his head isn't what he's saying out loud. ie he's saying got but he's realised it's actually goat.

How hard are the books he's reading?

How has he been taught to read? ie pure phonics, mixed strategies, something else?

This is an easier problem to solve than the other way round (reading fluently and not understanding what you've read). So I wouldn't panic at all......

barefootcook Sat 06-Jun-15 09:21:17

Thank you for replying potato. I meant to say a SERIOUS problem! We are in New Zealand so the level may not mean a lot to you but DS is on level 14. He has been taught to read with phonics but they are encouraged to look at the pictures for clues which would help his comprehension. She really didn't say too much more apart from encouraging him to read more fluently by reading easier books, not dwelling too much on minor errors ( he is too caught up on perfection) and not pointing at the words as he reads. Do you have any more suggestions? Thanks again.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sat 06-Jun-15 10:37:35

If he's been taught to use picture cues, then he's been taught using mixed methods rather than phonics (phonics in this context being shorthand for phonics only).

I agree with Potatoes that this is potentially the easier of the two situations to sort out. I think the class teacher is going completely the wrong way about trying to solve it. Ignoring small errors is probably part of the reason he got into this situation in the first place. If he's having an issue with decoding, then accuracy should always be what you tackle before fluency.

If he's struggling with medial vowels, has he had a hearing test to rule out hearing issues?

PotatoesNotProzac Sat 06-Jun-15 12:22:09

No idea why she recommends not pointing at the words! If it helps him he most certainly should.

NZ isn't into pure phonics.

Does he read single words more accurately than sentences?

If he can read single words accurately than it's a different problem / solution to him not.

barefootcook Sun 07-Jun-15 09:50:27

Thanks for your interest and input- much appreciated. I listened to DS read this afternoon and it does seem that he has difficulty with some sounds such as ph and ee. I think his hearing is okay as it was checked when he was 4. As for the finger pointing, he didn't do it today and says he doesn't really need to now. I didn't notice a drop in accuracy without it. I have emailed his teacher and asked if she can reassess him in about a month. In the mean time we will revise all the sounds that he appears to have trouble with. He is fine with the single letter sounds so will just look at the double ones. I will also step up the reading at home. If the teacher doesn't see an improvement then I will get his hearing checked again and see if we can get him some extra help. In answer to your question potatoes- he is probably slightly better with single words. Do you think this would be a reasonable plan for starters? If you have any other suggestions, please let me know.

ReallyTired Mon 08-Jun-15 14:10:18

If a child cannot decode words then he has no hope of comprehending text. I imagine that your son is an expert at using picture clues, but would be fluxed if he had to understand text with no pictures to help him.

The good news is that he is still really young. I suggest you get some decodable text and get him to practice his blending. This website has loads of good advice.

Something like Dancing bears would help your son get to grips with phonics.

My daughter's school used the material in reception with excellent results.

You can look at the books to see if the approach appeals to you and there is a page for buying from New Zealand. There are other programmes, but I am not sure how affordable it is to get them to New Zealand. I have no idea what decodable readers are available in New Zealand as I live in England.

Is a good website, but very american.

barefootcook Tue 09-Jun-15 09:14:31

Thank you Really Tired- you could be right. I have been helping him with a few sounds and he seems to be getting it now. I will give him until the end of the term (in four weeks time) and if there has been no improvement then will get his ears checked and try the Dancing Bears that you mentioned.

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