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8yo struggling with reading - ideas needed

(29 Posts)
Brokenwardrobe Thu 03-Dec-15 20:16:09

Ds is 8. He has always been an avid consumer of stories read to him, but an extremely reluctant reader.

Trying to get him to do his daily reading at home is so challenging, it has caused so many problems and arguments over the years.

It has got to the point that it is now affecting his ability to do his schoolwork. We have a sticker chart for reading and rewards for when he does do it but still only manage to average 2 times a week. He will not read with his school books, but chooses his little brothers books with few words, although he'll read a few of them at a time. When he chooses to read it goes 'OK' but if I try to make him it goes very badly, usually ending in horrible behaviour on his part.

I wonder if he may be dyslexic, but his teacher last year didn't think so. Meeting with current teacher on Monday about it. He fairly often reads words backwards, or gets eg. d and p mixed up. I don't know how to help him. Any ideas would be gratefully received.

Slowjog Thu 03-Dec-15 20:51:21

I'd investigate it. Also has he has his eyes tested?

Cressandra Thu 03-Dec-15 21:13:44

My DD did the backwards thing for ages then one day it all seemed to click. She was younger than 8 though. Eye test is a great idea.

Would he share the reading? I struggle to get my Y2 to read his school books too but he will take turns reading general library books so we mainly just do that.

Brokenwardrobe Thu 03-Dec-15 21:34:17

Haven't had eyes tested for over a year, so will do that. Will also try shared reading.

Everytimeref Thu 03-Dec-15 21:36:45

I encouraged my dyslexic son to read by buying books on audio and in hardback and got him to "read" the book whilst listen to the book. Now he is a avid reader.

maizieD Thu 03-Dec-15 22:56:10

How was he taught initially? Phonics or a mixture of whole words, phonics and guessing? How does he approach working out unfamiliar words?

Reluctance to read is very often a sign of inability to read.

Brokenwardrobe Thu 03-Dec-15 23:25:19

everytime that's a great idea to try

maizie he was taught phonics alone as far as I know. I notice that he guesses words quite a bit. He also struggles with remembering a word he's just read, for example if an unfamiliar name comes up in a few sentences in a row he will forget it from one sentence to the next, and may successfully sound it out the first time but fail to do so subsequently. He does have a tendency to rush and skip words or just get them wrong through rushing. I really don't know if his problem is a lack of application, a lack of ability, a lack of confidence, all 3 or something else (ie. Dyslexia).

maizieD Thu 03-Dec-15 23:42:58

I really don't know if his problem is a lack of application, a lack of ability, a lack of confidence, all 3 or something else

Perhaps you could just ask him!

'Forgetting' an unfamiliar word that he has only sounded & blended once is not at all uncommon. He just has to keep sounding and blending it until he has it in long term memory. Maybe he doesn't relish the work involved in this.. Guessing is also easier than sounding out and blending..

It does sound as though he's rushing to get through a not very enjoyable chore; guessing etc to get it over and done with. It may be that he's been told to read faster at school (because 'fluency' seems to be flavour of the month among some teachers at the moment) and just can't do it.

But I would, seriously, ask him how he feels about reading.

GiddyOnZackHunt Thu 03-Dec-15 23:50:25

Would he read comics? Or annuals for something he likes? It might not be 'school' reading but it is reading.

Brokenwardrobe Fri 04-Dec-15 07:20:45

maizie he is not very forthcoming when asked, I do try :/

Brokenwardrobe Fri 04-Dec-15 07:21:39

giddy tried comics, he thinks they're 'stupid'

Iliketeaagain Fri 04-Dec-15 07:25:16

Is there anything non-fiction that he's really interested in? My nephew was just as you described and he was really interested in how computers work - so that's what he read rather than stories (simplified books from the kids non-fiction section in the library to begin with)

Cedar03 Fri 04-Dec-15 09:52:59

Find a book that he really enjoys you reading to him - or read a book that is aimed at a younger child - and share the reading by reading one word at a time each. I think it is normal for children to be reluctant to make the effort to read when it is a good story to read to them but that they will struggle to read themselves. So starting with a picture book without too many words isn't a bad idea. And some of them have quite a lot of good words in them because they are designed to be read aloud by an adult. I'm thinking of things like Shirley Hughes Alfie books. (My daughter is 8 and spent quite a bit of time over the summer rereading lots of her old picture books).

My daughter loves reading to herself but she will skip words and rush them when she doesn't recognise them when she's asked to read aloud. And she gets irritated when I make her go back and work the word out. And she also fails to remember a word she's just read. (This is one of the things that is so irritating when you're helping a child learn to read because you can't understand why they can't remember it as they've just read it).

ViewFromThe4thFloor Fri 04-Dec-15 10:31:24

I think if he has problems with reading (such as dyslexia) the school will (a) recognise it and (b) do something about it. So see how the meeting with them goes. If they don't think it's those then it's about reading at home in which case you've got a lot of scope to do something about it.

"Trying to get him to do his daily reading at home is so challenging, it has caused so many problems and arguments over the years. " and "When he chooses to read it goes 'OK' but if I try to make him it goes very badly, usually ending in horrible behaviour on his part. "

Whatever else you do, stop forcing him to read because evidently it's making it worse.

I recently watched Neil Griffiths (author and expert on child reading) do a demonstration of what it was like to read with a reluctant child. It was hammed up a bit but it was realistic and very telling. It's hard to put it to words. Imagine something you don't like doing (say having root canal treatment), now imagine that the person who is supposed to care for you more than anyone in the whole world makes you do that every night. And imagine that they get stressy and cross when you show even the slightest reluctance. And that they have come to dread the whole thing because they know in advance it's going to be a bloody nightmare. Now, do you want to do it?

Experiment with different approaches. If he enjoys your reading to him, do that more and get him to contribute by asking questions as you read, or getting him to read bits, from a single word and work up. Try making lists together, or making games/challenges out of reading words (who can find the longest word) etc. Let him read the simplest of books if he wants to. Don't push him to read harder stuff. He'll read loads of level-appropriate stuff at school. Do anything to just get him more comfortable with the idea of words on paper at home.

Promise yourself that you won't get cross, moan, look at the clock, plead, or any other such thing. I know it's hard (first hand experience) but it is in your power to try some different things. Good luck!

Cedar03 Fri 04-Dec-15 11:16:45

View that's a very good way of thinking about making children do something that they hate every single day.

OP we have a card game version of Boggle where you start with a four letter word such as PLAY and then put other cards on top to change the word to something else. So could become PLAN. The word is only ever four letters long. You're supposed to play it quickly against each other but we play it slowly taking turns. You could try this as a way of building up familiarity with reading short words. Or you could try Bananagrams which is like a free form version of Scrabble. Again, we've generally played this slowly and given our 8 year old help although recently we're giving less help because she keeps winning and my H is getting competitive smile

mrsmortis Fri 04-Dec-15 12:39:49

My nephew (7) was a reluctant reader and my mum got him a readingeggspress subscription online. It's been a real gateway to reading for him. It's just been the last couple of months but it's made a huge difference. It's weird how much impact earning imaginary currency can have... It's carried out of the online world too. He's been getting the Junior Times and reading that for example. And all in just a couple of months.

Cressandra Fri 04-Dec-15 17:30:14

Whereas my 2 thought readingeggspress was really boring. It's nice to hear it works for others though.

View that's a brilliant post. If the book is too easy it's still worth doing, it builds confidence and enjoyment of reading. And as I said on a similar thread recently, my children picked up an awful lot from watching me read with pointy finger under the words, then pointing to the words while I read them, without having the chore and risk of failure that comes with being expected to read your guided reading book out loud cover to cover. You can make the odd mistake or move on to asking them to read all the main character's names or the 'the's to draw them in. It works best with large books with big writing too. I only started doing it because DS point blank refused to read to me, but we kept it up when I realised how much he was picking up. He liked it because he thought he was getting a day off from reading! It's not ideal, they do need to read too but I think it helped him learn while also taking the pressure off him.

Brokenwardrobe Fri 04-Dec-15 20:24:53

Thank you all, some great ideas.

Whatever else you do, stop forcing him to read because evidently it's making it worse.

I know it is, that's the trouble, but his teacher is asking me frequently about how much reading he's doing at home and saying he needs to do more. I had stepped back from it having realised the negative impact it was having on our relationship, but I think I need to find more creative and positive ways of helping/inspiring him.

We did manage to read from a children's encyclopaedia this morning, about bees, and he was actually interested, so maybe for the moment more factual stuff is the way forward.

We had enthusiasm for readingeggs for a few weeks last year but the it tailed off (after free trial had run out and I'd bought subscription, grr).

Thank you for all input. I'll read and digest.

I just never expected to be in this situation. He has always loved stories and been read to loads from a young age, I read as much as possible, his dad reads newspapers a lot, his nanna is an author fgs. Feel like I've failed him. sad (over-dramatic I know, but it is how I feel) he is the eldest of 4 and I do struggle to find enough time to help him with schoolwork.

mrsmortis Fri 04-Dec-15 21:11:20

If you struggle to find time for him, maybe he'd react well to you reading a story together if it guaranteed him time with just you, no interruptions.

Go to the library and let him pick a book to read together. And then find 5 mins a day (after the others have gone to bed since he's the oldest?) to read together. Not him reading to you necessarily, but you sharing the book. Maybe you can get him to read a paragraph for every page you read. But it shouldn't be about you forcing him to read, but rather about enjoying the book together.

Gingernut81 Fri 04-Dec-15 22:43:04

I've often found that reluctant boys prefer non fiction books - children in my class used to love reading Guinness book of records or ripleys believe it or not books. There's lots to read but it's all in small, bite size amounts and children especially love the gory/weird facts. The fact that there are pictures makes them want to find out about them too.
I've also found Horrible History books go down well with boys - again for the gory details as well as the humour. David Walliams books are popular amongst the kids in my class too.

I agree with a previous poster about getting him to follow a story cd, he's having to keep up and follow the text but not having to read out loud sometimes tricks them in to thinking they aren't readinggrin

Geraniumred Fri 04-Dec-15 22:49:47

Reading your posts makes me wonder if your ds does have a specific difficulty with one or more aspects of reading. Not necessarily dyslexia, but if there is a particular pattern of weaknesses then it could be holding up his enjoyment of reading. Hopefully the class teacher will be able to tell you more, but it does sound as though he could do with someone to pin point what his actual difficulties are and suggest some good strategies.

maizieD Fri 04-Dec-15 23:03:52

I agree very much with Geranuimred. I hope his current teacher is a bit more aware and helpful than the last one.

Brokenwardrobe Sat 05-Dec-15 20:23:13

geraniumred and maizie would it be the teacher who would be able to pinpoint what the problem is? When we spoke about it at parents evening she just said more practice at home. He is doing phonics outside of class (because most of them are past phonics now) and some other supported reading in school.

We stalled with the encyclopaedia again today.

Brokenwardrobe Sat 05-Dec-15 20:24:54

mrsmortis and gingernut good ideas, thanks.

PurpleGreenAvocado Sat 05-Dec-15 20:27:02

As well as a sight test get his visual tracking checked, dd had problems with that but once resolved she caught up with her peers.

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