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Teaching reading; kid hates correction


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#1 HTRMom

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 04:16 PM

My son is 3.5. He loves books and letters. A couple months ago I bought 100EL and Phonics Pathways. I just wanted to offer them to him as a possible activity and go on as he liked, or stop if he didn't.

What I've learned is that he can't stand being corrected. With the primer, if he either says something wrong or he doesn't know, he gets upset, stops trying, and never wants to open the book again. He's been going through a coloring book and he loved it until I made the mistake of telling him to try to stay in the lines better. Now it's been weeks and he won't even look at it.

I don't care if he's just not ready to read until he's six. But I'm thinking this aspect of his personality may not change by then, or ever. Is there a way to teach reading without quizzing and correcting? I guess this will come up with most school subjects. Is this just something I should make him keep doing until he gets past it? My husband also refuses to do anything he's not great at.

#2 Spudater

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 04:50 PM

At his age I'd just let it go, I wouldn't make it a character training issue.

My oldest was very much like this. But, the positive side of her strong-willed independence is that she is very internally motivated about things that matter to her. How this has looked with her:

We pretty much unschooled until 4th grade except math because the battle of wills was not worth it and because she learned so much independently.

Curriculum aimed at the child has worked way better for us than teacher-intensive stuff.

Over time she has mellowed and matured a lot, but it's still a process and important to go gently. I can sympathize with my dd as a fellow perfectionist. It is very anxiety-inducing to have to do something you aren't good at. (Lol, maybe why being a mom is so hard for me!). I can share my own experiences with her and how I missed out on some awesome things bc I was afraid to challenge myself. It might be useful to you to look into perfectionism in gifted children.

But, this is only based on my small experience of my own life and dd, so ymmv. :)
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#3 OneStepAtATime

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 05:03 PM

I'd back off, too.  Don't make this a character thing.  He isn't even 4.  Not every child is even remotely ready for instruction in reading and coloring at that age.  Being resistant to correction at 3.5 in coloring and reading skills does not mean that your child has character flaws that will make it impossible to teach him later.  

 

FWIW, my daughter's idea of coloring at that age was to rapidly scribble across the page and be done with it.  She had NO desire to be corrected on her coloring because coloring was just for fun.  It really upset her greatly to be corrected on something like that.  It caused anxiety (although I did not immediately recognize that it was anxiety that was one of the issues) and frustration and it shut her down. I backed off and made DH back off, too.  She was a pretty stubborn and strong willed child in general but I found if I was willing to give her space, work on things as a team, not try to make everything a lesson, she was a lot more willing to put in effort on things and was actually great at problem solving on her own if I would just give her the space.  

 

Fast forward to now.  She is a very studious student, works incredibly hard, respects her on-line teachers, works well with me on academics, and is a very talented artist and does amazing drawings and paintings in her spare time.  Its her way of relaxing.  She took years to learn to read, too.  But she reads well now and enjoys it.  She is a joy to teach.  (And yes, she is still pretty stubborn, but in a good way.  :) )


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#4 HTRMom

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 05:32 PM

To be clear, I think of this as a character trait, not a character flaw. I kind of think that most effective character training occurs in the first six years. After that, it's harder to change. But forcing him to do a preschool primer is probably not the best way to teach him that learning new things can be fun!

I don't think he is going to grow up with any bad qualities regarding this. I'm just hoping to start figuring out the best way to work with him and help him learn.


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#5 Spudater

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 05:58 PM

To be clear, I think of this as a character trait, not a character flaw. I kind of think that most effective character training occurs in the first six years. After that, it's harder to change. But forcing him to do a preschool primer is probably not the best way to teach him that learning new things can be fun!

I don't think he is going to grow up with any bad qualities regarding this. I'm just hoping to start figuring out the best way to work with him and help him learn.


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I'm confused. If it's just a character trait and not a flaw why would you need to train or change it?

I understand what you mean about early character training, but developmental maturity has to come into it, too. For example, if he played with a different child at playgroup each week you wouldn't worry that he might have a roving eye as a married man. ( silly extreme example). Imo, his mental ability to understand enough to be interested in these things has gotten ahead of his emotional ability to sit still and persevere and receive criticism, etc. I mean, up until now you probably never told him how he could "be better," right? It was more along the lines of, sorry you can't wear flip flops in winter or no hitting? That's a lot easier, or at least a very different thing to take than trying hard to do something and being told, well, ok, but not quite. I mean, at least for myself, a black-and-white screw up, like missing an appointment, would be far less distressing tha, say, making someone a homecooked meal and having them say, "some of this is good, but these spices are not right."
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#6 HTRMom

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 06:02 PM

I guess I think "dislikes being wrong" is a neutral trait and "refuses to do activities imperfectly" is a bad behavior? Maybe I don't know what I think!

Ok. That makes sense about maturity. I'll just put these things away for now. I know I'm just excited to teach him things, but that doesn't mean I need to push him.


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#7 OneStepAtATime

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 06:18 PM

 

I'm confused. If it's just a character trait and not a flaw why would you need to train or change it?

I understand what you mean about early character training, but developmental maturity has to come into it, too. For example, if he played with a different child at playgroup each week you wouldn't worry that he might have a roving eye as a married man. ( silly extreme example). Imo, his mental ability to understand enough to be interested in these things has gotten ahead of his emotional ability to sit still and persevere and receive criticism, etc. I mean, up until now you probably never told him how he could "be better," right? It was more along the lines of, sorry you can't wear flip flops in winter or no hitting? That's a lot easier, or at least a very different thing to take than trying hard to do something and being told, well, ok, but not quite. I mean, at least for myself, a black-and-white screw up, like missing an appointment, would be far less distressing tha, say, making someone a homecooked meal and having them say, "some of this is good, but these spices are not right."

Agreed.  There are developmental and maturity considerations here.  A lot of 3.5 year olds don't have the motor coordination to color within the lines, at least not without extreme effort.  At this age I think it is more important to nurture a love of learning and experimentation.  I think it can be detrimental to send a message that only the right kind of coloring is worthwhile (or the right kind of whatever in general).  

 

Same with reading.  His desire to do something may be ahead of his capability of doing something to your expectations.  That doesn't mean correcting him will help or that his negative reaction to being corrected is inappropriate and needs to be dealt with.

 

I do think that character training is beneficial starting at a young age.  The tricky part is tweaking out what is something that needs some guidance from the parent and what is something the parent needs to leave alone while they give the child time to mature.  And what that guidance should look like if there is guidance needed (and goodness knows little ones need a lot of supportive guidance in a lot of areas).

 

I also agree about the viewpoint.  For instance, I remember working hard to help my parents find a missing animal.  We were combing the fields.  I was the one who located the pet and returned it home.  I was proud of myself.  Once my dad got back to the house, he thanked me for finding the pet but criticized me for how I was searching (not in a grid pattern) and for not immediately informing him instead of taking the pet home first.  I was really hurt.  I thought I had made the best decision so the pet wouldn't escape again.  His criticism made me feel like helping was a waste of time and my efforts were unappreciated and the fact that I actually found the pet and brought it home was irrelevant because I hadn't done it exactly the way my dad thought I should.  I decided the next time the pet got out Dad could find it on his own.  I didn't want that feeling of being a failure again.  Was my reaction entirely rational?  No.  But I was young and what I needed was my dad to recognize my efforts and my success, not be a perfectionist on execution.  

 

The times I was the least likely to try something again was when I got "That's great but...".  The times I was willing to work even harder, try even more, perfect what I was doing to a greater degree, and wanted to please my parents/teachers the most, was when I got "hey that's awesome, want to do some more?".

 

I hope that makes sense.  I'm not sure I'm explaining myself well.  

 

Best wishes.

 

ETA: We crossposted.  Feel free to ignore my really long post...  :)


Edited by OneStepAtATime, 11 May 2017 - 06:20 PM.

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#8 Spudater

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 06:23 PM

I guess I think "dislikes being wrong" is a neutral trait and "refuses to do activities imperfectly" is a bad behavior? Maybe I don't know what I think!

Ok. That makes sense about maturity. I'll just put these things away for now. I know I'm just excited to teach him things, but that doesn't mean I need to push him.


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You can always put them where he can reach them. :). He may want to look at them on his own or bring them to you and work for a while then stop then start then stop.
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#9 Tanaqui

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 07:16 PM

Everybody has given you wonderful advice, and I don't want to sound like I disagree.

 

However, in case you want to feel like you're "doing something" on either the reading or the correction fronts, I do have some specific examples. They won't do any harm, and may well help :)

 

1. Right now, you and dad should be working on phonemic awareness with the kiddo. Play games at dinner and breakfast and in the car that involve rhyming or thinking of words that start with the same sound.

 

2. You should also be working on working memory! Singing songs, reciting nursery rhymes, playing games that involve memory, all this will help him when he is ready to learn to read.

 

3. And you want to help him develop his fine motor skills. Drawing and coloring with small crayons, making snakes with playdough, using tweezers to sort buttons into different muffin tins, using chopsticks to eat popcorn - all this helps him develop hand strength and the tripod grip he'll need to write. (You can google "montessori prewriting" or "occupational therapy prewriting" for more ideas. My pro tip? When you're at McDonald's or anywhere that has a charity box, hand him a bunch of coins and let him put them in one by one. Keeps him busy, and engages those same fine motor skills - plus, you're modeling charity! You can do this at home with a piggy bank if you like as well.)

 

Of course, the most important thing to do is to continue to read to him every day, and speak to him using a broad vocabulary, and do interesting and engaging things. You know, the sort of thing you and his dad already do! Every time you go to the zoo, or to the movies, every time you make slime or bake cookies, every time you talk about why it rains - you're helping him build up background knowledge that will help him learn to read, and then just plain help him learn. It's a funny thing. The more you know, the easier it is to learn more, and that's true even for little kids.

 

As for his frustration at being corrected, the single most important thing you can do here is model good behavior. When you play games as a family, and the cards aren't going your way, tell him that it's frustrating but you'll keep trying because it wouldn't be fun if you won all the time. If you make a silly mistake, talk to him about how annoying it is, but how you know if you do it again, you'll eventually get it right.

 

And then if you notice that he's improving - mention it! Casually point out things like "Wow, just a few months ago you had to go up the steps one step at a time, but now you just charge up them - you really worked hard at that" or "I saw that you fell down when you tried to climb that wall earlier, but now you made it. Isn't the view up here awesome? It was really worth doing it again!" or whatever. This sounds silly, but it's a lot better than you getting frustrated at his own frustration.


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#10 AimeeM

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 08:37 PM

Praise him at least twice as much as you correct him -- and if he corrects what he's doing when told to, really make a big deal out of it.

 

With that said, I have a kid like that. At 8, it's his personality. He needs to learn how to read. He is just really, really sensitive in general, though, and cries when he gets anything incorrect. At this point, I've said, "Stop crying and let's try this again," and "Now, look how well you did! I knew you could do it! What a great job!" I always try to follow up criticism with praise for the effort, even if the result still isn't perfect. I'm not going to NOT correct his phonics -- that's a great way, in my opinion, to lead to awful reading habits. 

 

At 3.5, though? I wouldn't even teach the reading unless he specifically asked for it. I would still correct, even if he asked to do it, because I don't want to see bad habits that have to be "fixed" later, but it would be more in passing. I wouldn't criticize coloring at all.


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#11 okbud

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 08:45 PM

One of mine was and still is like that and yes, his papa is too and I think it's hardwired.

The thing about backing off isn't that he'll be open to criticism later (ha nope), it's that six year olds are easier to reason with than 3 year olds. You don't have to like it but you do have to do it and anything worth doing is worth doing well... Is a lot for a three year old. Is a lot for a six year old too, but you can kind of trick them into thinking it's their marvelous idea.
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#12 MotherGoose

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 08:54 PM

If he were my child, I would stop anything that even looked like "teaching reading." I would continue to read books out loud to him, and to casually remark about how these letters say this. Three times a day, or something, "oh look, the c and a and t blend together and say cat!" Or wherever he is with It. I'd never ask him to read anything. Give it six months. I expect that things will change.

#13 OneStepAtATime

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 10:00 PM

FWIW, I am an avid reader.  I've been reading since I was little bitty.  I have always loved books and always will.  But I don't remember my mom or dad correcting me on my early reading skills.  What I do remember is a lot of cuddles and a lot of Mom reading to me and of me sitting in her lap with her arms around me as she held the book in front of us both and reading to me.  And me "reading" with her, and her gentle kisses on my cheek as I tried to read like her and her words of encouragement.  I associated reading with fun word games and love from my mother and father and cuddles.  I associated reading with being a big person and with laughter and comfort.  I associated reading with getting to go to the library to pick out a special book just for my mother to read to me.  I saw my parents reading books and magazines and newspapers.  I saw them value reading for themselves, too.  I wanted to be like them so I emulated them.  And I looked forward to being cuddled as we read and I looked forward to acting out different parts from books and playing games based on the books they read to me.  I was surrounded by books.  Slowly, over time, the reading skills gelled.  I was reading long before I hit kinder but I wasn't pressured to learn. 

 

But I was raised in an era when kids were not expected to read by 4 or 5.  If they did, great.  That's awesome.  But there was no pressure to teach phonics or drill or correct at 3 or 4 or really even a young 5.  Just read to them.  Read with them.  Surround them with a reading rich environment.  And I thrived.

 

That isn't to say that kids that are ready shouldn't be taught.  And for some kids picking up reading is going to take a lot of targeted instruction instead of just casual exposure (unlike me, my kids needed targeted instruction).  What I'm saying is I think inspiring a love of reading, a life long desire to read, and helping those pre-reading skills to develop may be more likely to occur if those early pre-reading and early reading years are filled with lots of positives and joys and encouragement and daily exposure to a rich world of words and concepts and stories without a lot of pressure.  I think it is far more likely to occur with that than any sort of correction/instruction in those really early days.  


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#14 Tanaqui

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 11:52 PM

But I was raised in an era when kids were not expected to read by 4 or 5. If they did, great. That's awesome. But there was no pressure to teach phonics or drill or correct at 3 or 4 or really even a young 5. Just read to them. Read with them. Surround them with a reading rich environment. And I thrived.

 

You know, when Marie Curie learned to read at a young age, her parents actually stopped her from reading. They thought reading too early might be harmful to her development! I'm not sure I agree, but it doesn't seem to have harmed her any :)

 


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#15 OneStepAtATime

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 11:54 PM

You know, when Marie Curie learned to read at a young age, her parents actually stopped her from reading. They thought reading too early might be harmful to her development! I'm not sure I agree, but it doesn't seem to have harmed her any :)

I didn't know that!  Huh.  I'm not sure I agree either, but that's interesting!  :)



#16 HTRMom

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 12:03 AM

Thanks, everyone! We do a ton of reading together. That's why he's loved books since he was crawling. Luckily his discomfort with the primer has not bled into his feelings about other books, because I don't quiz him when we're reading together.

I think we're doing well with the things mentioned. He has an excellent song/poem memory. I have a few Montessori books and we do lots of activities like that, with the fine motor and sensorial activities. And his primary interest in life is building, with trains and duplos and Lincoln logs.

How do you work on working memory? Like the flip-the-tile game?

I have been trying to let him correct me occasionally, like when I put the toy in the wrong bin or say the wrong child's name. But he's so matter of fact about it. "You did it wrong, Mommy. You shouldn't do that. Fix it." I do tell him often, "you're learning that! Look how much you've learned!" That's a very motivating phrase for him overall.

That makes sense about the reasoning older child. I'm sure soon he will say "teach me to read," especially if I drop hints that he will be reading someday by himself, when he's big.

I really appreciate everyone's insight. I'm sorry I can't do multi-quote from my phone.
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#17 OneStepAtATime

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 12:07 AM

Well dang, I'm impressed.  I wish I had a good memory for poems!  I love certain types of poems but it takes me for.e.ver. to memorize one.  Kuddos to him (and you :) ).  



#18 Tanaqui

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 02:47 AM

How do you work on working memory? Like the flip-the-tile game?

 

Definitely! Memory is a good game, we liked to play Froggie Boogie at that age, or Sherlock (a bit harder!)

 

Or you can play games at dinner - you can have everybody but one person close their eyes while that one person moves, removes, or adds an item to the table, and then everybody else has to figure out what was changed, that's a game that lasts a while.

 

Heck, even just playing pretend helps improve memory.

 


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#19 fralala

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 05:08 AM

To be clear, I think of this as a character trait, not a character flaw. I kind of think that most effective character training occurs in the first six years. After that, it's harder to change. But forcing him to do a preschool primer is probably not the best way to teach him that learning new things can be fun!

I don't think he is going to grow up with any bad qualities regarding this. I'm just hoping to start figuring out the best way to work with him and help him learn.


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I wholeheartedly agree that there are things you can and should do starting from infancy to help kids succeed as learners-- and honestly, isn't inability to take criticism extremely unhelpful when it comes to succeeding at anything? Everybody makes mistakes.

 

This is one of the reasons I work really hard on mindset from the time my kids are little. I talk about the mistakes I make or made on the path to learning. I point out when making a mistake actually helped me improve or get even better. My oldest is especially like this, although I would say that dislike of being told you've made a mistake is quite a human thing (especially at 3.5!). I've made a special effort NOT to praise when she (or now my other kids) get the right answer, or do things the right way. I praise the effort, and especially when they make a mistake, I am enthusiastic. With coloring, I would never praise coloring in between the lines, but I might say, "Wow, you are being really diligent. That is a detailed and complex coloring page with lots of different areas to color in, and I noticed you picked a different color for each area. You didn't get mad and give up when your colors went outside the lines. You are hard at work."

 

I also think it's important never to praise something or act excited when something comes easily to my child, rather than praising the things that our child seems to be able to do without much work.

 

So there are absolutely things you can do now, and while you're wisely backing off on the reading instruction-- and I understand eagerness to teach kids to read; reading is a wonderful gift we give our kids!-- when you finally are doing formal school, any effort you've put into giving your child the overwhelming impression that what matters to you is diligence and effort regardless of result-- and that in fact mistakes that are the fruit of effort interest and excite you, because they are evidence that a brain is stretching and growing-- does pay off.


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#20 HTRMom

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 07:41 AM

Well dang, I'm impressed. I wish I had a good memory for poems! I love certain types of poems but it takes me for.e.ver. to memorize one. Kuddos to him (and you :) ).


I have an innate ability to put songs and poems I've heard a few times into long-term memory. I wonder if it's genetic. But I'm terrible at memorizing other things, like lists of vocabulary.
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#21 nwahomeschoolmom

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 10:45 PM

I know what are you saying...my son gets this way sometimes too.  We started reading instruction when my son was just over 4 years old (he was ready.).  At first, I would only correct him when we were doing our "formal school time" (very short) and the rest of the day was normal.  So even now, I will only correct him usually during our formal school time and the rest of the day I do so very sparingly....I try to say "What was that?" as much as possible because when he goes back to the word he usually gets it right the next time and probably blames it on my hearing.   So all that to say, its much less of a problem now...I think at the beginning his confidence was built by only being corrected during our short school time while he could apply what he was learning in his own time and know that (at the beginning of his learning) I wouldn't be correcting him much.  Kind of like "inventive spelling"...as the child learns they will self-correct.  So...I would think that if your son can't handle correction during a short 10 minute lesson he is probably not ready for anything formal yet...3.5 is pretty young for that...I think he will give you the signs that he is ready to learn more.

 

Also, a few times during this past "school year" my husband and I have had to remind our son (due to him shutting down a little) that learning is hard and that if we are not making mistakes, we're not learning.  Mistakes are part of learning, etc, etc.  My husband gives examples about making mistakes at work and learning through them...So it seems that now my son gets it that learning entails making mistakes, but it took some time to get there.  We started some formal school with my son at 4 because he was an only child at the time (Baby due in 4 months) and I considered it an "antidote to spoiling"...

 

When he was 3.5 what I would do was print tons of worksheets from like education.com etc. and have them in a big stack and just let him pick what he wanted to do, for as little or much as he wanted to do including tons of connect the dots and mazes, plus some early phonics.  Eventually it became a habit and he looked forward to it on hot afternoons and eventually we were ready to start real "school."