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Why is my 5 year old not "getting" reading or writing

(77 Posts)
ThoseFemalesAreStrongAsHell Tue 19-Sep-17 13:59:57

Its really stressing me out sad.

Hes a bright boy with an amazing memory but hes still on reception level reading with all of his peers miles ahead. Hes left handed but his writing is messy and he just doesnt get it.

We read together every night but like i said hes got a good memory so the first time we read a book he wont know any words and ill help and the next he'll know the words 'read' them but its actually just him remembering from the day before. I just dont know where im going wrong.sad

ThoseFemalesAreStrongAsHell Tue 19-Sep-17 14:01:20

We have all the reading and writing aids etc but he just seems to be so behind

GrockleBocs Tue 19-Sep-17 14:06:05

My ds just wasn't bothered until halfway through Y1. Capable but just not interested. Then he decided he was bothered and off he went.

2ducks2ducklings Tue 19-Sep-17 14:10:52

My son was completely uninterested in reading and was behind. He couldn't grasp words that his peers could and wasn't on the same reading level. It drove me crazy.
But
All of a sudden it just clicked. He is in line with targets and his writing work has been much praised by his teachers over the last couple of years.
Sometimes, they just have to get there in their own time.

TobysToblerone Tue 19-Sep-17 14:12:59

You could be describing by DS (now 7) - also left handed & used to be very good at memorising his books! We thought things were ok with his reading & writing in reception to be honest (1st child so no one to compare with) & school hadn't raised any concerns but then when he moved school in year 1 it soon became clear he was way behind all his peers. I think it just takes longer for some children for it to click. He failed his phonics test at the end of year 1 but when in year 2 suddenly came in in leaps & bounds. He ended up being given the above expectation in reading at the end of year 2 (his comprehension is really good) and although he might be a book band or two behind some of his class now I certainly don't worry like I used to.

Sorry, that's a bit of a ramble but I just wanted to say that even if children don't take to reading immediately they do generally get there in the end when it clicks. He still struggles a bit with his writing but I can see improvement now and have more faith that he will get there now.

Try not to worry too much, I know it's hard not to think they'll be behind forever

ErrolTheDragon Tue 19-Sep-17 14:25:41

Literacy seems to be something that 'clicks' at a variable age, and the UK education system is badly designed in relation to this fact. Like you, I was worried when my DD seemed behind her peers through KS1 - I'd been able to read before starting school. DH, who is normally the worrier, was unfazed, because he'd been exactly the same...and we have an identical pair of degrees to each other. Reading didn't really click for DD until year 3, and then she was off... one of the ones who got to grammar school, next week she'll be starting an engineering degree at Cambridge.

If he's bright, he'll get it. Obviously in due course you may want to check for dyslexia but (I think) its a bit too early to tell.

In retrospect, I wish I'd been more relaxed about it, and the school 'book challenge' didn't help, turned reading into a chore rather than a pleasure. One thing I think I got right was to read to her a lot - her comprehension was excellent.

catkind Tue 19-Sep-17 16:27:19

We read together every night but like i said hes got a good memory so the first time we read a book he wont know any words and ill help and the next he'll know the words 'read' them but its actually just him remembering from the day before. I just dont know where im going wrong.
OK, how do you help him exactly? I ask because you talk about "knowing" words rather than sounding them out. It's really important to emphasise sounding out the word one letter/sound at a time. Don't encourage him to remember the word from yesterday at all, unless he immediately knows it encourage him to sound it out again. If re-reading books is resulting in too much remembering/guessing even without your encouragement, it might be better to read different books every day rather than the same one again. Once they're correctly sounding out words and getting plenty of practice at it, at some point it usually seems to just click and they take off.

catkind Tue 19-Sep-17 16:29:10

(Not a teacher but a volunteer helper in year 1, so I get to see lots of kids at this stage.)

amousehaseatenmypaddlingpool Tue 19-Sep-17 16:30:13

As my MIL likes to remind me, DH was utterly useless at school until he was 7. He's very much the opposite of useless now grin

We have friends abroad who haven't even tried to teach their children to read until 6/7.

I wouldn't worry to much OP, although obviously it's easier said than done flowers

MrsPworkingmummy Tue 19-Sep-17 16:50:13

I feel your pain! I'm Head of English in a secondary school and love reading, have read to my daughter since she was born and her room is packed with books...Despite this, she has shown little interest and would never pick up a book to read for pleasure. She'd much rather be playing in the garden, colouring in or doing things that aren't reading or writing (which she says are boring). At the end of reception, she achieved working 'at' expected for reading. She's just started Y1 and is still bringing home 'pink' banded books to read which is the bottom one on the scheme the school use (they're level 1+).
It's so hard as I think government expectations in KS1 are extremely high - particularly in comparison to other countries such as Finland or Sweden where children aren't taught to read until age 7. However, as I lead English in a secondary school, I see kids who can't read properly from age 11-16 and it terrifies me how weak they are! I would hate my daughter to be placed in a set with those children (even though they are lovely in many ways). All I want is for my daughter to enjoy school at this age, but I sometimes feel KS1 is completely uninspiring. If they're turned off school now, what are they going to be like in KS3, 4 and 5??
I've tried a sticker chart etc and although she knows basic phonics, my daughter still gets stuck on many words. On one hand I think, she's only 5, but on the other, I know the challenge of what's to come so I'm determined she's got to nail it.

ThoseFemalesAreStrongAsHell Tue 19-Sep-17 17:11:42

catkind we'll read the words together and sound them out and the next day with the same book he will be sounding out the words. But hes just repeating what we did the day before, give him the same word in a different context other than the book we are reading he has no/little clue.

I think its going into the school in the morning seeing them all writing in their jotters and I can see hes no where near that level. MrsPworkingmummy I totally understand. I love reading and always have done and hes the opposite despite that ive always pushed reading

catkind Tue 19-Sep-17 17:34:32

Ah okay, so actually he can't sound out words himself yet? None at all, or is it just particular words that cause difficulty? And where does he get stuck, can he look at the letters and say the sounds individually? What if you say the sounds for him, can he blend it then?

MrsPworkingmummy Tue 19-Sep-17 18:53:57

@ThoseFemalesAreStrongAsHell Don't get me started on my daughter's writing hmm. To me, she is definetly behind on that too. Gets letters around the wrong way, doesn't write on the line and doesn't leave finger spaces either.

womaninatightspot Tue 19-Sep-17 19:01:12

I'll add to the my DS1 was five, left handed and just didn't get reading or writing. I'm an avid reader and we have a houseful of books. He did an excellent line in memorisation too. Something his teachers were always keen to mention was his excellent vocabulary so when it did click for him (not till 6.5) he really seemed to progress quickly.

Dinosauratemydaffodils Tue 19-Sep-17 19:02:49

In my case, I couldn't do the sounding out. It just made no sense to me whatsoever. I switched schools (and country) at six and by seven, it all fell into place. By ten I was switching dust jackets on my Mother's books to read Jilly Cooper and I read Literature at University.

The phrase "sounding out" sends shivers down my spine still.

AlphaStation Tue 19-Sep-17 19:07:49

In some countries children don't learn to read until age six or seven. I couldn't read or write at five (nor did I have to learn it). Maybe he'll catch up in a few months time?

TableMirror Tue 19-Sep-17 19:12:04

My sibling hated reading and refused to do.

They now have a degree in English and do a lot of proof reading and writing for their job!

AppleAndBlackberry Tue 19-Sep-17 19:12:40

Could it be dyslexia? I read with a little boy in DD's class with dyslexia and he hadn't got the hang of blending because he couldn't distinguish the individual letters so he was doing a mixture of guessing and remembering. Our school screens all the children in year R so he got diagnosed quite early, does yours do this?

ThoseFemalesAreStrongAsHell Tue 19-Sep-17 22:08:19

catkind he can sound words out, infact he is brilliant at sounding them out but cannot actually see a word together and read it. Iyswim?

MrsP same here, as i mentioned he is left handed but his writing is not neat or finger spaces at all.

I worry about him. I dont want to make my worries obvious to him but I do. I hope like most of the posters on here he grasps it thanks so much for replyingflowers

catkind Tue 19-Sep-17 22:36:08

Hmm, not sure if I've understood properly. So he can look at the page and say the letter sounds c-a-t but can't yet blend to "cat" for example?

Lndnmummy Tue 19-Sep-17 22:44:02

My son is on red as well and in year 1. I was very worried about it until I went to see the teacher last week. She said not to compare him and keep practicing the sounds and the rest will come. She said that there seemed to be a gap in his knowledge frm reception and we worked out a plan to sort that out. They started to give him easier books as well (the red ones) so that he could build his confidence by getting his fluency. I also play little games with him. I.e. Can you see the s u n or can you see the r ai n etc.

In a week his willingness to try has really improved. Perhaps bring it down a notch, go over the phonics and do very simple books to build his confidence?

ThoseFemalesAreStrongAsHell Tue 19-Sep-17 23:06:04

catkind exactly that. So I will say to him, how do you spell from and he will sound out f r o m in phonics and ill think yes hes cracked it. But if we look at the word from he doesnt know what it says. He is brilliant at sounding out the words but when looking at them written down he doesnt. Iyswim?

Lndnmummy thankyou that makes me feel better. I work during the week so havent had time to see the teacher (which makes me feel worse)! But i am off tomorrow so will have a chat.

catkind Wed 20-Sep-17 00:06:58

Got you. So he can segment (separate a word into individual sounds) but not yet blend (run together individual sounds to make the word). It's more an aural thing, hearing not seeing really. I got some great tips from MN when I was doing this stuff with DS, which also seem to work really well with the kids I volunteer with.

If they can't blend when they're saying the letters, try saying the letters back for them to listen. That sometimes helps on its own. And if that isn't enough, you can model blending yourself by gradually saying the sounds faster and closer together. So
MMmm. aaaaa. nnnn.
Mmmmaaaannnn.
MMaann.
Man!
With pauses to see when they pick it up. They have to hear it eventually as after a certain point you're just saying the word itself slowly.

You can also get the child to echo you as you speed up the sounds, so they find themselves saying the word.

Generally soft consonant sounds are easier than hard ones, so start with something like "man" rather than "cat". A slight emphasis on the first sound can also help it sound more immediately like the word. M-a-n, C-a-t.

Anything you haven't already tried there? Hope you have a helpful chat with teacher tomorrow.

brilliotic Wed 20-Sep-17 10:24:47

In addition to catkind's excellent advice, you can try blending 'through' the word. Makes most difference with longer words, but helps with CVC words too.

So
MMMM aaaa nnnn
mmmmaaaaaa nnn
ma n
(so, have blended first too sounds together but not last one yet)
then
mma nnnn
maaannn
man
(so now you've blended ma and n together to make man)

I'd experiment a bit to see if he can blend at all when there is no distraction from letters. So purely oral. If he CAN do that, but can't apply it to printed letters, you have a different issue on hand (different strategies needed to address) than if he CAN'T do that yet. Sometimes the children can blend orally but seem to lose that ability when their eyes are looking at letters on a page. (Could be distraction; mental overload from trying to do multiple processes - decoding the letters into sounds, blending the sounds into a block of several sounds together, and transforming that block of sounds into a 'word' with meaning - all the same time; some kind of mental block which stops them from realising it is the same thing as blending orally which they can do; ...) In which case you can try having them look at the printed word, sound out the letters, then remove the paper and have them say the sounds they just read from memory, and blend it orally.
But if they can't blend orally at all yet, I'd focus on that initially. Remove the 'decoding letters into sounds' step for now and simply practise blending. So e.g. 'bring me the /c/ /ar/ please' ... 'do you want a /s/ /w/ /ee/ /t/?'
Seeing as you say he is good at segmenting (he can tell which sounds make up a word) you could make it into a game, where you challenge each other to find out what you are talking about.

ThoseFemalesAreStrongAsHell Wed 20-Sep-17 10:27:07

Thanks so, so, much for your fantastic adviceflowers.

I will put them into practice. Thank you again you have been so helpful

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