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Need suggestions for struggling reader


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Hi,

 

I am in need of help with my 9 year old son. He has struggled with reading since the beginning, and it isn't getting better. I am at a loss for what else to do or try. He was taught all his blends, etc. and can do them just fine. His problem, or one of them, is putting what he knows to use when reading books. Can you please take a look at this video and tell me what you think of his reading and what I need to focus on with him? (FYI: This recording is his 3rd time reading the page.) Thank you.

 

 

 

Link: https://vimeo.com/69400770

 

Password: 4000

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What book is he reading there? It's too difficult for him.

 

I'm not totally sure where he is with phonics. Blends are fairly early on. He's got all of phonics?

 

Can he do Funnix 2? It's all on the computer. It will take him through later phonics and build up his reading with decodable selections. If he has the phonics down cold, so much the better. This will provide him with some nice, sequential selections to progress through, and he won't be overwhelmed. It sounds like he's struggling and you're struggling and I'll bet he could use some affirming work, you know?

 

At least with my daughter, once she's finished phonics, I have her read aloud to me through readers, rather than from trade books. I leave books like the one he's reading for her own independent reading, which is generally less difficult than what she's reading to me. Readers provide very short selections and increase incrementally in difficulty.

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What book is he reading there? It's too difficult for him.

 

I know the book. It is a modern classic, "Frindle" by Andrew Clements.

 

I don't feel qualified to evaluate the problem. How does he do with easier fare?

 

Bill

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I know the book. It is a modern classic, "Frindle" by Andrew Clements.

 

 

Ah, that would explain it then. DD is on a strike of sorts and has been refusing to read any book for pleasure if it has a boy on the cover.

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Ah, that would explain it then. DD is on a strike of sorts and has been refusing to read any book for pleasure if it has a boy on the cover.

 

 

Frindle, I'm not ashamed to say, moved me to tears. It is a stunningly beautiful children's book.

 

A must read!

 

Bill

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None of which helps the OP (though I will research the book). I couldn't watch the video as my internet is on a phone which doesn't support flash but I am bumping in the hope you get more replies.

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I think he is reading well, decoding words well. Guessing at words like Eighteen and saying Eighty is common. Anyway, I would back up and work on fluency. That means working on easier readers, and maybe reading them more than once, or working on a high frequency list of words ( I don't really care for lists, but would rather use lower level readers ). It takes time after learning to decode to commit words to memory so that they are read easily.

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What sort of child is your boy? (note-I couldn't watch the video, it said the form session has expired).

 

Children are diverse in the way of reading and vary so widely. People also get unrealistic expectations in their mind regarding their children due to traversing forums like this (where someones 3yo is reading the original non-translated version of the bible, or something equally off the charts). This in turn can make someone rather paranoid "but my 4yo doesn't even know his letters! aaah!". Since I can't view the video, I am just putting this disclaimer paragraph here, since it could be something that the child is just not ready for, and perhaps needs a break from.

 

Now that I have said that:

 

1. I assume this is reading outloud, yes? There are two skills, reading quietly and reading outloud. Often a child can read completely fine to themselves, which uses one part of the brain, but then us (the parents), teachers and others, want to "test" our childs reading ability, then our child tries to read aloud, using a seperate part of the brain, and fails. Now there are multiple reasons why the child can fail "outloud" reading, but just because they cannot read perfectly outloud, does not mean they cannot read perfectly fine to themselves.

 

a) So following this thought, if this is the case, perhaps backing off the outloud reading, just letting the child have quiet time reading to themselves instead. If you need to test their comprehension/retention/reading, you can get them to write out a sentence/paragraph/essay (whereever they are upto reading & writing wise) regarding the book they just read, or get something like Mccall-Crabs, let them read the stories to themselves, then ask them the comprehension questions. Have a complete break from it, and bring "Reading aloud" back later on, but work at something way below their "reading quietly" level, so they can concentrate on step by step and build up their outloud reading skills, this also eases them in. If its just that they are on different skill levels with the two skills, reading outloud for this child could be akin to letting the child play in the baseball game without every having played baseball before, they need to start at the basics, practice and slowly build up their skills. Reading aloud is not a skill that comes naturally to everyone.

 

2) There could be many other problems at play here (but see "a)" first, as most problems are just something similar to this, among them could be something like dyslexia, or eye problems, but we'll get to those in a second. First I want to ask about what sort of son you have. Forget about the reading for a second, what does he like to do, what sort of person is he? Is he very logical (as logical as little boys can be anyway) always curious, wanting to know "why?". If this is the case, he could be tripping without having the "why's", some children need more then general phonics & sight programs out there. If he is this sort of child, then perhaps he could benefit from something like the Logic of English, Spell to Write and Read, or the Writing Road to Reading. These will give him the rules to apply to spelling & reading which some children need to fall back on when reading.

 

3) Since I can't see the video, I'll have to ask, does he stutter when he's reading? It could be he has too much on his shoulders and is too stressed, lower the books he's reading outloud, sit beside him (have arm arm around him, let him know everything is okay, no matter what), and just patiently help him. Don't ask him to re-sound out the words, back up or say it again, repeat that part, etc. Just give him the answer. If he's stuck on sounding out "a-a-" just tell him the word is "and" and let him continue. Build up his confidence, let him know there are no "wrongs" when reading outloud, that if he's stuck, you will help. Give him lots of hugs.

 

4) Another problem he could have is dyslexia, some forms are very mild and unnoticeable elsewise. It could be his eyes jump when slowing down to read (thus could be a difference when reading quietly and reading outloud, I have actually noticed this in a number of people with dyslexia, they can reading somewhat (comprehension varies) in quiet reading as I believe they do some form of sight or speed/scan reading, this may miss certain words, but get the gist of the page. When they read outloud, this slows down their reading, and they have to concentrate on individual words, then they have problems with page movement, words/letters get mixed up in their head. Something like All about spelling could help with this, or on a higher level, Barton. Dyslexia could also include quiet reading of course, and be noticeable in other areas, I am just explaining sometimes, mild forms of dyslexia only show up in one or two small areas.

 

5) Another problem actually related to the one above could be tracking. This could happen with outloud & quiet reading, as the jitterings vary, but the child could have problems not being able to track from left to right. A simple test for this, is obviously to sit in front of the child and get the child to watch your finger. Move it very slowly back and forth from one side to the other. Start very slo and move faster and faster. When your doing this (especially with the slow movements) keep an eye on his face. Notice whether his eyes jump or jitter when tracking the movement of your finger. Also keep an eye on the rest of the face, sometimes jitters or jumps show up in minute facial tics instead (tics can also be a sign of stress). Visual tracking problems could be a symptom of dyslexia or something else, but can also be from things like too much TV/computer/screens etc. There are exercises on the web for helping with tracking.

 

6) Have you asked him what the problem is? Nicely and gently of course, lol. If you go in and say "Whats *your* problem?" he's like to crumple. :closedeyes: But have you just sat down with him and listened? Maybe the book is too hard, perhaps the words jump, perhaps he needs water whilst he's drinking. Maybe he's afraid of "letting you down" and this makes him stressed which in turn causes him to stumble when reading. Or perhaps he doesn't like the book choices and is trying to stay awake :laugh: Sometimes all we need to find the answer or at least be able to head in the right direction is to listen to the child.

 

Feel free to ignore what I have said. I haven't seen the video (was it a limited time link?), and I do not know your son or you, so am just offering several "opinions" out of what is possibly hundreds of possibilities. :blush:

 

I hope you find the answer :grouphug:

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I watched the first part of the video. The book he's reading is listed as grade 5 on the AR reading list. I think overall he's doing well. I would suggest going down a few levels to work on fluency. Another reason to lower the book level is to continue to boost his confidence.

Happy Reading 😀

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I watched the video and think he is reading well, except for fluency. To work on that I would read more often with him popcorn style (taking turns). Let him choose the books. Even if he prefers picture books, they are often times a much higher reading level than beginning chapter books.

I love your bookmark for him, but he seems to be jumping all over the page with it. In order to become more fluent, he will have to start tracking the words in advance, before he reads them out loud. You can't raise your voice for a question, if you don't see the question mark at the end of the sentence. Slowly get him used to using his finger instead of a bookmark, or use your own finger at first. Also use your finger when you read to him, so he can track the words as you're reading.

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Thank you all for the comments. Yes the book is Frindle, sorry I forgot to list it. I did pick a book at the top of his level to work with him this summer as a challenge. But honestly, he reads the same at lower levels. It could be a level one and he would stumble and keep forgetting the same word over and over. If I give him a bunch of flash cards with high level words, or phrases, he flies through them. For some reason when it is reading from a book it changes everything. I've asked him questions like, "Do the words look funny, or backwards, etc." Trying to see if something is different in the books but he said no. He is a very distracted, busy, boy. He is constantly wanted to move. He has to stand up to read and I usually have to hold his reading strip because he wants to be moving his hands. He gets bored. He does not like to read. I do assign him lower books of interest to read on his own, but he sees it as a chore. Honestly, I feel like pulling my hair out when reading with him, and I hate that. He is so sweet and I feel like he knows he isn't doing it good and he knows I am tense when he reads. His brother who is a year older and his sister who is 3 years younger are reading at higher levels than him now. (He could care less that his sister reads better than him) I want him to catch up.

 

FYI: The reading strip was purchased at a Teacher Store.

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Thank you all for the comments. Yes the book is Frindle, sorry I forgot to list it. I did pick a book at the top of his level to work with him this summer as a challenge. But honestly, he reads the same at lower levels. It could be a level one and he would stumble and keep forgetting the same word over and over. If I give him a bunch of flash cards with high level words, or phrases, he flies through them. For some reason when it is reading from a book it changes everything. I've asked him questions like, "Do the words look funny, or backwards, etc." Trying to see if something is different in the books but he said no. He is a very distracted, busy, boy. He is constantly wanted to move. He has to stand up to read and I usually have to hold his reading strip because he wants to be moving his hands. He gets bored. He does not like to read. I do assign him lower books of interest to read on his own, but he sees it as a chore. Honestly, I feel like pulling my hair out when reading with him, and I hate that. He is so sweet and I feel like he knows he isn't doing it good and he knows I am tense when he reads. His brother who is a year older and his sister who is 3 years younger are reading at higher levels than him now. (He could care less that his sister reads better than him) I want him to catch up.

 

FYI: The reading strip was purchased at a Teacher Store.

 

Again, I will preface my comments by claiming no great expertise on dealing with reading problems, or any learning issues that may or may not be an issue here. We have plenty of highly knowledge posters on this forum on these areas, I am not one of them.

 

That said, a few comments leaped out. One was saying he does fine with flash cards. That is not necessarily "reading," as much as regognizing words by their shapes. It is potentially the whole "sight-words vs phonics" conundrum personified. How does he do with phonics? Shoring that up would be my first semi-educated guess (assuming no vision or learning issues).

 

Two, I have a wiggle worm too. I find a good dose of exercise prior to reading helpful. Something to consider.

 

Three. Him sensing you are tensing up is worrisome. I understand how difficult it is to see ones child struggle, but you need to work on your response. You know this.

 

My first thoughts (and others may have better ideas) would be to make sure the phonics skills are there. Even if it means going back. And to use more graded readers to see if he can get back some confidence.

 

And maybe others will have more insight of whether he would benefit from an evaluation.

 

All the best,

 

Bill

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Has he had a Developmental Optometrist eye exam? That would be my first step probably - go to COVD.org to find a doctor near you. This exam will look to see if there are vision related issues that are not "eyesight".

 

Can he read without the guide? My DD with tracking issues needed the guide like that (to the poster that asked, I got mine at the HS Convention, and similar ones at Lakeshore Learning) or she was all over the place.

 

Can you share what phonics he has used - and to what level? That will let the gurus help you out there.

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Be careful with the behavioural optometry. A great deal of what they do is considered more "alternative" than science-based, and it's expensive. Just so you know going in.

 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19154276?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_SingleItemSupl.Pubmed_Discovery_RA&linkpos=5&log$=relatedreviews&logdbfrom=pubmed

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I have a wiggly 7 y/o DD who loathes to read.She has to move all the time. :) I do the following prior to reading: NO TV or games 30 mins before she is to RA to me. I have a mini exercise trampoline in my house that we use to get some of the energy out before reading. When we read she will sit on her exercise ball so she can bounce while reading OR she will hang off the couch holding herself up with her hands [i am holding the book, and it provides the deep sensory her body needs so she can focus] or she lays flat on the floor. This is part of her "sensory diet".

 

We are still working on Phonics mastery and fluency. If she is getting frustrated or I find myself getting frustrated we back off and read easier books.

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There are definitely some red flags for dyslexia. I suggest you visit www.brightsolutions.us where you can either read or watch videos regarding dyslexia. From there, if you think dyslexia may be the problem, you have a few options. The owner of the website, Susan Barton, is one of the most well-informed, passionate individuals working in this field. You could call her if you have questions you wish to discuss with her (she often answers the phone herself and she doesn't charge a fee), you could visit her other website and have your son take the student screening to see whether he might need some work on phonemic awareness before re-starting phonics, you could ask Susan for a list of dyslexia testers in your area and have an evaluationby one, and/or you could obtain a comprehensive educational evaluation by a neuropsychologist or educational psychologist.

 

Personally, we had comprehensive education evaluations for two of our kids. They gave us some more fine-tuned information than I could assess from my own reading and observation; but by and large, I had figured out my kids and had a plan before the evaluation, and the evaluation changed none of that. If I had it to do over, I'd go for the more targeted dyslexia evaluation. After reading the information at the above websites, you may have a good feel for which type of evaluation (if either) may be more valuable for you.

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Watching this video my first thought was that the book is too difficult for him. He seems tense when reading it - holding his hands in a way that shows that he is not finding this reading pleasurable and he is not relaxed. So therefore he needs to drop down to a level that is easier purely to build the phonics skills - he seems to know how to sound out words reasonably well but should not need to have to sound out as many as he is having to work on in that video. I would also hugely advise a return to books that have much larger print whatever the level of the reading.

 

Fluency training needs to be done with books even easier - so drop a couple of levels for instruction and then drop a level or two more when trying to help with fluency. Then he needs to read the book/passage a few times to improve fluency - at his age he might like to read song lyrics to help with fluency - songs he knows initially and then ones you play for him only once before getting him to read the lyrics - a song has a rhythm to it that helps with fluency and leads to early success.

 

Because he is so distractable I might try an overhead projector type things where you can flash words big on a wall and get him to read it while standing and moving and see if this is better - sure he cannot read books this way, but it may tell you something about how he works and you can see if moving while reading improves things - if the words are big enough he should not lose his place and he would be able to act out what he is reading at the same time - try plays that are easy to read for this too as it also helps fluency.

 

Can he read silently? Perhaps before reading aloud get him to read the section silently to himself once or twice before he reads it aloud to you - this is also to help his confidence and to decrease your worry as after two readings he should already be more fluent when he reads aloud to you.

 

I agree that you should possibly get his vision checked just to rule that in or out.

 

There are some companies that write second grade readers that put phrases that should be read together on a single line and start a new line at the next phrase which naturally leads to better reading because the children pause at the correct place to get to the new line - for his confidence I would suggest getting one of these too so that he can hear more natural sounding reading and be successful at it before expecting that in reading that does not separate phrases for them.

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