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getting nervous

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 

I have a son who will be 7 in November and is showing no interest at all in learning to read or write. He can write his name in capital letters. Anything other than that he will NOT do. He does however like to say the ABC's skipping a few here and their. He does not recognize letters, he does love to count and i hear him counting to himself through out the day.

I am worried that he show's no interest in wanting to do anything schoolish at all.

My 3yo is showing a huge interest in learning to read, he sounds out letter sounds and loves startfall.

I am also concerned about what family will say about him. We have been out of the USA for quite sometime and we are planning a return in the next few months. I really do want to work with him more, but he refuses all my attempts.

Am i doing something wrong?

Have I not done enough?

 

 

post #2 of 41

Sounds like you have a normal boy to me!

 

My oldest son will be 9 this month, and is just really starting to get the hang of reading. He's not reading books yet, but is starting to understand decoding words more. We practice together, and he is slowly getting the hang of the concepts of it. I believe he will really grasp reading when it seems to be something he truly has a need to do.

 

When he was 5-7, he loved numbers, recognized them easily, would add up and subtract and even multiply numbers in his head, of his own volition, occasionally asking me or my husband questions about numbers. He could write his name, like your son, but beyond that, had little interest in reading. His brother who is turning 7 this year is the same way--I believe boys more than girls tend to be later readers, but this is just a hypothesis. BUT the thing hardly anyone talks about is what boys are really GOOD at: numbers, for instance, or creative play, or building Lego and other inventions, and exploring the outdoors.

 

Something that helped me understand my son better was reading about Raymond and Dorothy Moore's research about reading and that for many children left to learn to read on their own timetable, learning to read at age 8-10 was common. There are actually physical reasons why some children read later than others. The research I have found by looking online is that there is no difference in reading level between early readers and 'late' readers, which is a big comfort to me, being the parent of two children who would be considered 'late readers'.

 

My belief is that children learn best when they have that desire within them, and then they follow it. It wouldn't do much good to try to force something he is not interested in or ready of, yk? If he is not ready right now, you could be patient and continue reading aloud to him, asking him what he wants to learn about, and that way, when he shows more signs of being ready to read, you'll be right there to assist him. 


Edited by greenthumb3 - 10/5/11 at 4:36pm
post #3 of 41

I don't think it's interesting to look back and judge a parent of a 7yo for their educational practices.  It sounds like your ds is giving you some feedback, at this point, that some intervention is warranted.  It is concerning that your ds can't recognize all 26 letters at this point.  It wouldn't hurt to step up his exposure to print. 

 

Strategy is tricky with a resistant kid.  You could encourage him to "help" his younger brother play some of the starfall games, or show his brother some alphabet toys (books, blocks, what have you).  

 

I know that not everyone is a fan of direct instruction for reluctant learners, but I think sitting down with a child and letting him know that you know this is hard for him and it's time to work through it can be a really loving, caring thing to do.  If you take this approach, he might appreciate workbooks and flash cards because they look more "mature" than baby books and toys with the alphabet all over them.  

 

Whatever you decide to do, reading aloud to him is going to be important for the next several years.  There's no point learning to read if you don't know for certain that books have neat things in them.  Set aside some time where you read to him.  Pick a book to start, and then let him choose between a couple when you finish it.  Read short books first, that you can finish in one session, and work up to longer books that take a week or a month of daily reading.  Comics can be a great place to start with boys in this age group.  Reading aloud can make a HUGE difference in motivation.  Boysread.org has a bunch of suggestions.

post #4 of 41

As a parent of three boys, with experience in unschooling, I don't find it concerning or alarming or any of those matching adjectives that he is not interested in reading. Some kids are at that age, and some kids aren't, and unless a person has actual real-life experience in unschooling or homeschooling with a relaxed attitude, it's pretty hard to understand WHY people might think that way. Or understand why it might not be such a cause for panic or alarm or worry. Consideration? Research to understand? Sure. 

post #5 of 41

If a child isn't reading at age 7, I agree that it isn't necessarily a big deal.  I'm more concerned about this situation because this child does not yet recognize letters and a younger sibling in the same environment is developing increasing confidence with letter-recognition and other pre-reading skills.  I'm concerned that as the younger child continues to develop in this area, the older child's confidence will suffer and motivation to learn to read may suffer as a result.  

 

I think it's best to face these potentials head on.  I think it's healthier to have a frank conversation where a parent says, "Hey, your brother is just getting into this and you haven't been as interested, but it's an important skill, so let's do some work on it now," than to wait for the natural arrival of motivation in a kid who may be in the process of deciding that reading is way too hard for him and comparing himself to his younger brother is increasingly embarrassing and maybe he just shouldn't bother.  

 

It's great that he's interested in numbers.  Reading is really important too - you find a lot of people who read late but knowledge of numbers without literacy does not work out well in the world.  Seven is an entirely reasonable age to work on letter recognition and be read to by a parent for 30 minutes - an hour a day.

post #6 of 41

I guess I am the voice of dissent here.  If a 7 year old isn't reading, that's one thing.  Not knowing all of his letters (either verbally or visually) is another. 

 

I would really recommend getting his vision tested.  That's a first step, and it would be the first step an educator or physician would recommend.  This is likely not the advice you wanted, but it's the advice I'm giving since you asked.

 

If there isn't a visual or hearing issue, it may just be a matter of readiness and exposure to a different kind of instruction than you've used thus far.  I don't mean it has to be from a different person or a school, just a different approach.  Just a thought.

 

Good luck with your son!

post #7 of 41

Sitting a child down for forced reading sessions, and for work with flashcards and workbooks he's not interested in, doesn't sound very unschoolish to me.  WHY is it so disconcerting that he doesn't know all his letters at age 7?  Not having an interest in something isn't the same as having a difficulty in that area.  OP, if your gut tells you he just isn't interested, then I would go with that.  If, on the other hand, he seems interested but lacking in confidence, that's another story, and some additional guidance might be helpful.

 

Because there are so few unschoolers out there, it's hard for people to imagine how things might look--how much variation there might be in the age at which different kids learn letters, begin to read, etc.--if all children were allowed to direct their own learning..

 

I agree that it is important to model reading for pleasure, to have a house full of interesting reading material, to visit libraries and such, but if one is already doing this, that seems like enough.

 

As far as being concerned about a younger sibling "passing up" an older sibling, my experience is that unschooled kids tend not to be so bothered by this sort of thing, probably because they grow up in an environment where widely different interests and skill levels are embraced and accepted without judgement.  For example, my eight-year-old son has little interest in learning to swim underwater, and isn't bothered in the least that his six-year-old sister is becoming quite a good swimmer.  Some people also expressed concern that he "still" didn't know how to ride a bike without training wheels, as if he COULDN"T do it or something.  We knew he just wasn't interested, and guess what?  When he had the chance to go trail riding with his scout troop, he mastered riding a bike in less than a week.  Being physcially adventurous just isn't his thing.

 

I recently found it helpful to re-read Allison McKee's Homeschooling Our Children, Unschooling Ourselves because she talks at length about how she dealt with her fears when her kids weren't reaching some "milestone."  And guess what?  Her kids turned out great!

post #8 of 41

Just wanted to add:

 

About the vision testing, that is a good idea for all kids.  I think my kids all had their vision tested as part of their well-child visits when they were five or six.

post #9 of 41

I don't think this is a big deal.  Writing:  my 6.5 daughter struggles with writing.  It is hard work, her muscle coordination is not as breezy as it was for me or is for our 5yo.  She, too writes her name in only block letters.  Reading has to come first before writing.  Does he draw?  

 

You cannot say definitively how learning clicks.  I could totally believe that a child could eventually learn whole words without breaking them down into each part.  I mean, when you read you say a sound associated with a letter.  That a letter would have a name in addition to it is completely irrelevant to learning to read.  I mean, "double-u"?   "A" only sometimes sounds like that.  My oldest completely skipped the sounding-out stage and dove into word recognition while my youngest painstakingly sounds....out......every......letter......  (She is just beginning.)  Does he like being read to?  (Don't make it a lesson, don't ask him to read, don't run your fingers under the words, just read!)  Does he like to play games?  Play Monopoly and he'll start some word association, even if you read the cards for him.  Battleship?  "A-8"!  

 

Sometimes it's just the right books.  I checked out the graphic novel "Perseus and Medusa" for dd1 and that finally pushed her to read.  Garfield books are great, too.  She reads mostly by word recognition and has been impatient sounding out words, but she worked beautifully figuring out "Sploit!"  and "Fwump!"  Of course, this was after she had found some confidence reading.  She still loves to be read to--really big books like The Hobbit and LOTR.  We just found a copy of the full Beowulf story and is begging for me to read it to her.  We just finished the Twelve Labors of Hercules.  That is the only "lesson" she has ever had.

 

You could argue about this until the sun supernovas and still not agree about anything.  What does your heart say?  As for your family, if they are the understanding sort you could say quietly and privately that he's having trouble with his reading skills, but he'd love to talk your ear off about numbers.

post #10 of 41
Thread Starter 

Ya know the more replies i read the more i realize he can do, he loves banana grams and puts all sorts of "words" together. He speaks 2 languages, spanish and english and has never been to school. He learned spanish from friends and cousins. He's taught himself how to ride a bike...we never stood behind him and held the seat. He got on the bike and just rode away.

He loves to be read to, we do not live in America thus no libraries, so when we do come across a book, we absorb it to it's fullest.

He can play high level gaming and does so with word or symbol recognition.

He loves to watch videos on you tube about all subjects and can most days find the videos that interest him.

I do think that he is unsure about his capabilities, he will ask repeatedly about certain things. So he maybe lacking his confidence about what he does know.

However my 17 year old can read and write, he was schooled and didnt start to really read until he was about 11-12. When it clicked he couldnt put a book down.

His writing is the same way, he was slow to pick it up and still he is not a fan of writing.

This has helped me, that's what were here for...support and i am very thankful that i can come to a forum and was able to get all angles of the triangle of life.

 

 

post #11 of 41
So, I only read in this forum occasionally because I have a toddler, but am interested in learning about all different choices about how to educate our children (which we will choose based on their needs).

Im I reading correctly that a child who is not reading is playing high level gaming? Why would a parent allow their child to play high level gaming when they cant read yet? Most high level gaming has words to go along with the game, so the boy is just getting by on symbols? To me, it seems like that seems like a lot hours playing video games that could be spent encouraging them to care about books, pen and paper. It seems like a lot of gaming and not a lot of learning, but maybe I have just misunderstood what unschooling is altogether.

I know kids read at different ages, but I cant imagine what person I would be if I had missed out on 3- 4 years of reading during the 7-11 age group. That was the time that I really developed a love for books, because I was too old for a lot of toys and not old enough for a lot of unsupervised social time.
post #12 of 41

I haven't read the whole thread yet but really wanted to say yay to this "BUT the thing hardly anyone talks about is what boys are really GOOD at: numbers, for instance, or creative play, or building Lego and other inventions, and exploring the outdoors."

 

So incredibly true. SO incredibly true I could almost cry.

 

And just quickly, if it helps, my just-8 year old was not reading much at all until pretty recently, he didn't have the patience or inclination to read a whole fiction book (although he would read non-fiction). Anyway, today he is sick and has just read (and understood) a long fiction book aimed at the 12+ age range in terms of language (kind of a fairy tale thing). No problems with any words, that I can see. It does happen. I assure you I'd given up hope.

 

All I can say we did, aside from checking he had basic phonics knowledge (eg what letter was which) , and making time for him to read to us from time to time (car journeys are good for this), was to read to him, every single day, stuff beyond his level and we'll carry on with that.

post #13 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Luckiestgirl View Post

Sitting a child down for forced reading sessions, and for work with flashcards and workbooks he's not interested in, doesn't sound very unschoolish to me. 



It doesn't need to be sitting him down with flashcards. There is a whole world of ways to teach between doing nothing and using flashcards. And there is also a whole range of personalities between kids who'll go out and invent the wheel off their own bat and kids who'll spend twelve years playing WoW. After all, we spend tens of thousands of years as illiterate manual laborers, so it's not surprising that many people have no innate drive to learn everything the world has to offer. As the person responsible for preparing these kids for life, you need to find the right kind of instruction for their personality.

 

Some things that could be fun are filling a tray with sand and tracing letters, making letters out of playdough or bread dough or pancake batter. Cutting paper letters out and sticking things that start with that sound on them. Having a letter of the week and really focussing on that letter. You could pretend it's for your two year old's benefit and have the seven year old do the crafts and activities as well if he's embarrassed that he is so behind. How is his phonemic awareness? That's a very important literacy skill, too. We play with rhymes and jokey words a lot in our house. I'm not big on learning letters before you're close to five, but understanding sounds and hearing those sounds in language is something they need to learn over time.

 

I think that video games and unschooling are pretty much atithetical to each other. To develop a spirit of discovery and follow interests that teach you about the world you need to not have that massive time and attention suck and deficits in attention span that video games offer. It's like trying to get a child to eat normal food for dinner when they have McDonalds for lunch every day.

post #14 of 41

 

 

ok i think this is a valid question. One thing I'd point out is that we don't know how much time the OPs son spends gaming. It might be a few times a month at a friend's house. Its not necessarily every day. My 8 year old does not use computers much recreationally, however if he is at a friend's house the I'm not going to stop him playing a computer game, assuming its not inappropriate.

 

But to answer the question, I think one reason homeschooler often do allow*** unlimited computer use, even when there is no reading, is that computers and reading are not, in all people's mind, opposed. Kids who use computers heavily do also often read heavily, both are quite sedentary, cerebral pursuits. Computer games often tie into novels, fantasy writing, etc.Waldorf thinking, for example, discourages not just computer use but also reading before age 7.  They are similar things, in some people's minds.

 

I encourage reading and discourage computer use for other reasons than a sense that they are mutually exclusive. I do think that computer games offer little, not just educationally but generally, for life, and certainly at this age. I think computer games are far more commercialised than your average book, and I don't like that. I dislike the images and the easy gratification of computer games. Interestingly, my partner, who is a computer scientist and has written games, is incredibly anti our kids having much screen time. The only time my 8 year old spends on a computer really is when he is programming one, he doesn't play any games except those he's written himself.
 

Just one more thing. I too had a great childhood spent reading. However my brother, who didn't learn to read til he was 9 (severely dyslexic), also had a great childhood. Just not reading books. He had a great childhood taking apart every single electrical item that anyone threw out (kind of suprised he survived really), he has (predictably) ended up an electrical engineer, while I have ended up with a totally useless degree in ancient languages/literature, now scrabbling to educate myself a bit in the sciences. He also now reads to the point where, tbh, it is borderline antisocial ;-). Just saying that there are different ways to a happy adulthood. My dp, a highly gifted child who graduated from our equivalent of Yale with a first in math, holds a doctorate, etc, again did not read much as a child. Boys often don't want to spend those years 7-11 reading, in the same way that a lot of girls do, even if they can. I am finally starting to make peace with this, but I think we must, as mothers, continually remind ourselves that our boys-and indeed our girls-are NOT us, they have their own paths, and they have a right to walk them without criticism. 

 

***I know that radical unschoolers are often happy for their children to use the computer freely because they feel that their children have a right to do so if that is what they want. I'm talking about less radical unschoolers and run of the mill homeschooler.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adaline'sMama View Post

So, I only read in this forum occasionally because I have a toddler, but am interested in learning about all different choices about how to educate our children (which we will choose based on their needs).
Im I reading correctly that a child who is not reading is playing high level gaming? Why would a parent allow their child to play high level gaming when they cant read yet? Most high level gaming has words to go along with the game, so the boy is just getting by on symbols? To me, it seems like that seems like a lot hours playing video games that could be spent encouraging them to care about books, pen and paper. It seems like a lot of gaming and not a lot of learning, but maybe I have just misunderstood what unschooling is altogether.
I know kids read at different ages, but I cant imagine what person I would be if I had missed out on 3- 4 years of reading during the 7-11 age group. That was the time that I really developed a love for books, because I was too old for a lot of toys and not old enough for a lot of unsupervised social time.


 

post #15 of 41

I really do agree with this. Our approach, for our son, has been to make sure he has basic skills with an aim of letting him unschool from around age 11. (I know this will seem Very Wrong to some of you and I apologise for this ;-)

 

I think that video games and unschooling are pretty much atithetical to each other. To develop a spirit of discovery and follow interests that teach you about the world you need to not have that massive time and attention suck and deficits in attention span that video games offer. It's like trying to get a child to eat normal food for dinner when they have McDonalds for lunch every day.



 

post #16 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post

 

 

ok i think this is a valid question. One thing I'd point out is that we don't know how much time the OPs son spends gaming. It might be a few times a month at a friend's house.
 



 


You are right. I just assumed it was a long amount of time if he can play high level gaming that he must have spent a lot of time getting there. However, we dont really know what the OP considers to be "high level" and if these are educational computer games or video games.

I hope my kids take things apart and write their own video games at 8! That is amazing.
post #17 of 41
Thread Starter 

He went through periods of spending several days in a row days gaming, he gets the hang of certain ideas really quickly and other things...it takes forever. He spent periods of time playing out side and periods of time watching movies, and periods of time learning spanish. He goes through time spans of involvement in one particular idea or area and it changes after a few days.

We live on the beach, we have gone out to the beach and drew letters in the sand, cut out letters, i even started Teach Your child to read in 100 easy lessons, he wants to "get it" but he gets frustrated and needs to get up and move. We've done the play dough and even made homemade dough, we do science activities with Usborne books. He just doesnt want to do anything schoolish at all.

I didnt mention and i guess i should of that we did send him to a private school in Mexico for 2 weeks and he became so frustrated that he refused to continue to go to school. The teachers did not work with him at all. They expected him to already "know" everything. It really took a hit on his self esteem.

I go from feeling like a complete failure of a mother to thinking...maybe if i get a program..like Sonlight...and really really work with him he may come around. I just dont know what to do.

 

 

post #18 of 41
Thread Starter 

High level gaming is keeping up with my 17 year old at playing Halo Reach on xbox live!

post #19 of 41
Quote:

Originally Posted by Mamato3wild ponnie View Post i even started Teach Your child to read in 100 easy lessons, he wants to "get it" but he gets frustrated and needs to get up and move.

 

I go from feeling like a complete failure of a mother to thinking...maybe if i get a program..like Sonlight...and really really work with him he may come around. I just dont know what to do.

 

 


You already have a program, you just need to use it. Have you tried five minute stints, like the 100 easy lessons is set up into? Do the five minutes, then get up and move, then do five more minutes. Then do some moving incorporating the things he needs to learn.

 

I'd also get rid of the video games. Nothing seems fun compared to them, you're fighting a losing battle there.

 

post #20 of 41
Quote:

Originally Posted by Luckiestgirl View Post

 

WHY is it so disconcerting that he doesn't know all his letters at age 7?  Not having an interest in something isn't the same as having a difficulty in that area.  OP, if your gut tells you he just isn't interested, then I would go with that.  If, on the other hand, he seems interested but lacking in confidence, that's another story, and some additional guidance might be helpful.

 

 



I don't know about this.  I think that very, very often, what appears to be a lack of interest really is a lack of confidence or a reluctance to try for fear of failing.  Many children resist what is hard for them, and usually they need some guidance and support to work through this.  There are many ways you could provide this guidance without making it unpleasant or too "schoolish."  

 

Another thing to think about:  children for whom reading doesn't come easily often lack phonological awareness -- that is, the understanding of how sounds work together to form words and the ability to identify and manipulate sounds within words.  People who have strong phonological awareness typically learn to read easily; those who don't tend to struggle, and poor phonological awareness is a hallmark sign of dyslexia (I'm not at all suggesting your son is dyslexic.)  So, this means that lot of the foundation for literacy development is oral, which is why practicing things like rhyming, clapping syllables, changing around the sounds within words will develop those pre-reading skills that aid in reading development.  The best part is that these activities are really easy to do informally and children usually like them.  

 

If you want to pursue this, you might want to learn more about phonological (or phonemic) awareness.  Here are a few good links for you:

 

http://phonologicalawareness.org/

http://www.speechlanguage-resources.com/phonemic-awareness-activities.html

http://teams.lacoe.edu/documentation/classrooms/patti/k-1/activities/phonemic.html

http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/543

 

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