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My 7 year old nonreader...

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

My 7 year old daughter is always guessing at words and refusing to look and sound out the letters. At the end of Kindergarten her teacher told me she was at the beginning of the 1st grade level for reading...... I'm at a loss as to why then she struggles sooo much and gives up over simple unpressured reading time at home.  It is always a chore to help her read.  We can guarantee whining, tears, frustration, and my patience running on empty over "Can you name these shapes?"  It takes her 10 minutes or more to read 4 pages of " GO DOG GO."  I have even had HER pick the book so she feels better about the reading time. It doesn't work.  I tried the suggestions my friend on facebook have given me and still she is a blank slate.  I think this year for school I will have her tested for dyslexia, and anything else they can to help her. 

post #2 of 19
I am a Waldorf parent so keep that in mind. Seven is young to begin reading. I understand that it is the norm in public school but I think some children just aren't ready. It doesn't mean there is anything "wrong", it just means they aren't ready yet. If I were you, I would back off on the reading and just read to her. Take the pressure completely off the both of you and see what happens.
post #3 of 19
I got my DD excited about reading by allowing her to stay up half an hour later but only if she was reading in her bed. On the weekends I let her stay up later with the same conditions. For a long time she would bring an enormous pile of picture books to her bed and look at the pictures but she eventually started reading them. Fun books like Clifford, Henry and Midge, Fox in Love, and Dr. Seuss held a lot more interest than traditional beginning readers. She also read Barbie and Princess books to herself and they were very motivational because I didn't read books like that.
post #4 of 19

Carewmom hug2.gifwe struggled with reading with dd1 at age 7. It took PERSISTENCE and TIME. In the end I had a chat with her teacher and we got her books that were at her reading level which was at the lower end of normal for her age. (shrugging) I used to move through those crying, whiney, complainey times with my daughter by telling her she didn't have to enjoy it, but she had to do it anyway (and we're talking pushing through a normal level of frustration). In the end she felt better about herself when she got an assignment or work done, even though it was really hard. We had to work through those complaints and tears, and get it done anyway.

 

Your daughter may have a developmental shift in--I don't know--half a year, a year, where she shows more readiness to read.

 

Another thing that helped over here was getting a few Activity Books which she had to read and write in (4 pages each night she had no homework, and even now through the summer) so that she is reading and writing.

 

I have also been bringing her to a tutor one night a week to read with her and it's working wonders. Somehow she's more focused and willing to try with a tutor.

 

Good luck working through this with your daughter. I know what a concern it can be, you worry about your daughter, you love her, and you want to figure out how to help her. Best wishes!
 

post #5 of 19

She's really too young to worry about reading skills yet. Pretty much all children are dyslexic at that age. I had the same worries with my DD, now age 8.5, and took her to a developmental ophthalmologist and reading tutor who specialized in dyslexia, and was told that they don't even diagnose dyslexia before age 8. Your child is very likely within the range of complete normalcy.

 

BUT if you want to worry, like I did, then if she is not sounding out words and is taking a guess at the word mainly by just looking at the first letter, then she needs to back up and go back to making sure those letter sounds are well-known. Play three-letter blending games using words easy to decode. Start where she is at, and she's not at Go Dog Go. Starfall Speedway is one game we used that focused on letter sounds. There's also some PC games that focus on phonemes, Reading Eggs was one we used. Forget about making her read books... maybe books are too intimidating right now... one three letter word written on a piece of paper is much less intimidating.

 

But, having the benefit of hindsight, what I would have done if I had it to do over again is not worry about it. Just read to her every night any book she chooses, and if she doesn't choose, find picture books you'll think she'll like. It will come. I think forcing them before they're interested actually delays the process and develops some resistance to reading.

post #6 of 19

Have you tried having her eye's checked I had problems reading as a kid because my astigmatism would mess with how i'd see the page at certain distances and the summer reading programs are good ways to have you children read more they can earn prizes by reading certain number's of books.

post #7 of 19

I was a teacher in the 6 to 8 years age group before I retired. In my experience the faster a child is given help, the better it is, not only for their reading but also for their self esteem.  In the early grades, the emphasis is on learning to read. After 2nd grade, children need to be able to read in order to complete their schoolwork. In kindergarten she would have learnt by memorising the words. However, this strategy is letting her down now as there are too many words to remember. She will be finding school very difficult and exhausting. I find some of the responses you have received  difficult to understand! The problem is not going to go away. That has never happened in all my years of teaching! There is no need to panic but you do need to ensure that your daughter's difficulties are addressed sooner rather than later. Talk to the school as soon as possible. In the meantime, if it is the school holidays for you, you can help her at home in the following ways

 

The first thing to do is to have her eyesight tested as she is growing and this is an age when glasses may first be needed. Then read to her so that she learns that reading books is worthwhile and fun. Rhyming books are especially good as often children who struggle to read have difficulty distinguishing sounds, especially the vowel sounds. I know that dyslexia is thought to be all about seeing the words, but now we know it is more about hearing the sounds. Practise listening for the vowel sounds in words e.g. which (vowel) sound can you hear in the word run? Play "I spy" games with the letter sounds. Play oral memory games. With the important sight words, you could play games such as concentration (memory), snap and happy families.

 

If she was in my class, I would start right back at the beginning and ensure she learnt the sounds one by one. I used an Australian reading program called the Fitzroy Readers and I trained the parents so that they could help their children. I supervised it, mostly to ensure that each sound was learnt properly before moving on. 

 

It is up to you whether you wish to practise reading with her over the holidays. She may benefit from a rest from formal reading and the activities mentioned above would be enough. On the other hand, she will not be so tired during the holidays so a half hour each day may work wonders. However, it is important to use a phonics based program so that she can learn to make sense of it all, one sound at a time. Do not use just any old book.

 

When she is back at school and practising her reading at home, try to work with her in the morning before school. She will be much too tired when she has finished the school day. Do less during the week but more, say two sessions a day at the week end. Continue to read to her, more than you expect her to read to you to keep motivating her. Reading such not be just a chore!  

 

Lastly, make sure she does not judge herself only on her ability to read. Encourage her to find activities she enjoys, such as sport, art, baking, playing with friend, whatever. Praise her for her efforts  rather than her achievements. 

 

I recommend an Australian site called SPELD which will give you a lot of information on dyslexia and how to overcome reading difficulties. It even has a training program for parents. I hope I have been helpful. Good luck.

post #8 of 19

I think you need to consider WHY she's struggling.  Obviously if she has issues with her vision that needs to be addressed, but otherwise, I have a couple of suggestions.  

1- She may not like phonics - I know that's how reading is taught in schools, but I don't think it works for all kids.  Try reading with sight words.  My ds1 really started reading this way, and has refused to sound out words.  If he doesn't know a word, he will say he doesn't know it.  After a couple of times running across it, he learns it...and now more and more he's actually trying to read words he's never read before.  And now the phonics rules make sense to him...although consider a simple word like "read" - is it read present tense or past tense? Really depends on context and no phonics rules will help you.  

2- Give her access on her own to some websites and let her spend time on her own there ... so it's not another reading task you're forcing on her.  Starfall is the best (and they teach phonics), then there is ReadingEggs and ABC Mouse.  It doesn't even have to be specifically reading oriented as long as the child needs to read to navigate...kids will pick up what they need and that will give them confidence to read more.

3- Play board games if she likes them.  We play Monopoly etc...where ds reads his own "Chance" or "Community Chest" cards (I help w/unfamiliar words).  We also play and make our own MadLibs.  Ds LOVES MadLibs and it's a way to show kids that silly word games are fun.  I don't know how many times I had to explain what an adjective or noun etc. is before he got it, and really the point is to play word games, not to make your kid memorize things that may not me meaningful yet.  Anyway, he likes to re-read the ones we've filled out over and over.

4- Write letters from mythical beings.  Dh used to send ds letters from pirates, telling him where to find treasure...sometimes with a map of our place and sometimes in words.  Ds loved those.  I would write ds silly notes on index cards, sometimes printing them, sometimes using his stickers - things like "Don't use up all the parmesan cheese" during dinner or "Don't read this or I will tickle you" - that was a good way to introduce new words to him too.  

5- Penpals.  I posted on my facebook page and found 2 penpals for ds, one who is his age and one who's a year older.  That was to encourage ds to write...and it's helped.  They send each other little things and write a line or 2.  More importantly, ds has noticed how the older boy has nicer handwriting and his letters are easier to read...so there's more motivation for him to write neater.

6- Write books together with your kid.  Dh started out by writing most of the book and having ds illustrate it, but ds has read and reread those books a million times and is very proud of it.  

Sometimes what kids can read (their reading ability) is really boring for them, so we read harder books together - and I read one line or one paragraph and let ds read one line.  That way we read a fun story together, and he only reads a part, so he doesn't get tired.

post #9 of 19
Good advice in here. I'm a teacher too, and I have to say, don't wait 'til 8! Most kids by 8 are way behind and most never catch up. It's so sad. Only thing I would add to all these excellent tips is to get ahold of the Read Aloud Handbook. It's full of great tips for struggling readers. Good luck!
post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by sageowl View Post

Good advice in here. I'm a teacher too, and I have to say, don't wait 'til 8! Most kids by 8 are way behind and most never catch up. It's so sad. 

This might be true for kids in school, I don't know, but since my experience in homeschooling, I can tell you this is not because of the child.  Many children, when given a chance can and do pick up reading at later ages and thrive.  I see and hear about it frequently in homeschooling.  Not so much need or pressure to be at a similar level to peers.

 

But, this is not about homeschooling, so I'll get to why I posted.  My (homeschooled) daughter was very much a sight reader.  She would read the first 2 or 3 letters and guess according to the context.  She would melt when she tried to sound out something (we are unschoolers, so this was reading together, not lessons, and her tears were from her own frustration because she was choosing to try.)  Her zeal to read came and went along with her level of frustration.

 

Two things really helped her to have patience with phonetic pronunciation.  The first was learning a little Spanish.  What a relief to find that "a" is always pronounced "a", "ch" was always pronounced "ch".  We read some really fun English/Spanish books ("Perros!  Perros!" was her favorite.)  It really gave her confidence to tackle English a bit more.  English is such a bear.  Reading programs try to categorize sounds as best they can, but the fact is that English still has a lot of memorization, and applying phonetics to it can be overwhelming to anyone let alone a 7yo (one recent book on the history of English spelling called modern English the most "Chinese" of Indo-European languages).  Spanish helped catapult her out of her "Phonic Funk".  Any rigidly phonetic language will do (like German, probably not French).

 

The next thing was comics, especially Garfield, which is heavy with onomatopoeia.  At first, I would read the words and she loved to read the sounds like "ACK!"  "AIEEEE!" "AAAARG!" and "SPLORT!" which beg to be sounded out patiently.

 

So, that's my homeschooling experience with a phonetic-reluctant reader.  She is 8.5yo now, and reads admirably well (and, incidentally, reads Garfield all by herself), at least as well as her peers.  She enjoys it, she enjoys her skills, but she does not choose to sit and read as a pastime in and of itself.  It doesn't seem to be holding her back any, though.  She is just not showing signs of being a voracious, recreational reader.

 

ETA: LOVE the game-card suggestion.  DD always loved to do this, too, and would read her sister's as well, until dd2 started to read and wouldn't let her.

 

Ooh ooh!  And third thing, almost forgot it's been so long-- secret code puzzles.  Often sight-leaning readers have a hard time focussing on one letter or group of letters.  These puzzles really force them to take it one at a time.  Our favorite are the ones with jokes, but I would also make up phrases and puzzles at home with a simple number-letter grid.  Something like, "MY FAVORITE FARM ANIMAL IS A HORSE".

post #11 of 19
My dd1 would really fight lots of at home reading practice because she never liked it. She DID like writing, so she'd sit in bed and write with me at bedtime - making grocery lists, or letters to fairies, or pictures that said 'too momm' or had a few words. And sure, her spelling wasn't very good without additional reading practice, but she still improved and enjoyed it much more. Being read to was always much more important to her (even now when she can read much more herself).

I'd also have her sort kitchen things and help me by having to identify words on things (ie. the one that says b-e-a-n or similar). And sought out starfall computer games and other fun stuff like many pp's mentioned.

Books on cd( where she can follow along while being read to) are another idea. She may need lots more exposure to any reading material to build up confidence to try more reading herself, and that's a good way to do that.
post #12 of 19

My dd is about the same age and reads pretty good. I'd suggest the StarFall website to help her read. I'm pretty sure it's free. They have sentences or whole stories and the words are read out for you. The child can read along.

post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

Two things really helped her to have patience with phonetic pronunciation.  The first was learning a little Spanish.  What a relief to find that "a" is always pronounced "a", "ch" was always pronounced "ch".  We read some really fun English/Spanish books ("Perros!  Perros!" was her favorite.)  It really gave her confidence to tackle English a bit more.  English is such a bear.  

 

I'd been thinking about this with my 7 year old, too.  

post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neera View Post

My dd is about the same age Iand reads pretty good. I'd suggest the StarFall website to help her read. I'm pretty sure it's free. They have sentences or whole stories and the words are read out for you. The child can read along.

I second this suggestion...My little one will be 6 next month and is still stuggling also..Someone suggested this same site and she LOVES it....I just walk away and let her play but I am seeing a change for the better...It is a cute site with lots of games and they help them with sounds and reading...Most of it is free...

post #15 of 19

You must feel so sad to see your daughter feeling so upset over reading. hug2.gif I think this is one of the most upsetting outcomes of enforced early teaching when it comes to reading. Children are ready to read at enormously different ages ranging from about 2 to about 14, and setting such a generic level on it inevitably brings tears and frustration all round.

 

It's hard to know what to advise as my son is autonomously educated (unschooled). He's never had a formal reading lesson in his life but at age 8 he now reads above his age level and is reading 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' for fun. His 9 year old friend is just beginning to piece together words, as are a couple of his 7 year old friends. I know a home educated boy who didn't read until 14 but went on to study at Oxford University and is exceptionally bright. My overwhelming feeling is that reading should be a pleasure. If you've got to the point where reading equates with tears and upset then you can't be on a good track for her to ever take pleasure in reading. Sadly, so many school children are put off before they even get a chance to enjoy it. So often the books are mind numbingly dull which doesn't help. My son never used phonics, and never spelled out words. He pretty much went straight into reading snippets of the Narnia series because they were interesting to him, having observed, and pieced together enough information from all the questions he'd asked.

 

Is there any way that reading can become a pleasure again? Can you just snuggle up and read to her and take off the pressure for her to actually read for a while? Can you make sure that the books you do read are inspiring and interesting to her? (Who would want to read 'Go dog go?' seriously, I think I'd cry! lol) My friend had a daughter who has a reading level years above her age and she used to find the school books so annoying and dull that she would cry and refuse to read them. I think the material does make a huge difference. If you have no choice but to read what the school provides, at least add in some interesting stuff too. (which you may well be doing) She seems so young for this level of pressure. Steiner schools don't even begin reading or writing until age 7. If a child just isn't ready I think it's like pushing a heavy truck up a steep hill single handed. Once she is ready it will be like free wheeling down the hill on the other side. Unless of course she does have dyslexia or something else holding her back in which case I'm sure you'd find out ways to help her. Hope reading becomes something happy for you both again soon. smile.gif

post #16 of 19

I just happened to see this post and wanted to reply - when I was little I didn't really learn to read until 4th grade.  It was a combination of bad eyesight and dyslexia.  I REALLY wish someone had helped me know what was going on so I would highly recommend that you have her checked out, eyes and maybe further evaluation for dyslexia or other learning differences.  I know some kids just start to read on their own (which is what I did), but many years of painful embarrassment and fear of school could have been avoided with just a little help.

 

Also, if it makes you feel more relaxed, I turned from a non-reader into a voracious reader once I really learned how and now have a PhD and teach at a university, so being dyslexic or even just a late reader doesn't necessarily mean anything long term :)

post #17 of 19

I just saw this thread too and wanted to reply. Yes, it's quite possible that your daughter is on her own timetable for reading, doesn't like the material she's supposed to read for school, or something else along those lines. It's also possible that she has a vision issue. It's also possible that she has dyslexia. From my experience, I will tell you that schools usually won't test for dyslexia until a child is three grade levels behind in reading. If your daughter is going into first or second grade, this isn't even possible. This causes all kinds of problems, but I digress. By all means, push for the school to do some kind of testing if her reading doesn't improve early in the school year. Also, please visit the website www.brightsolutions.us. Among other things, you can find a list of symptoms of dyslexia there. If none of them (or almost none) seem to fit your daughter, then you can concentrate on other things.

 

However, I need to make it clear that whoever said that kids can't be diagnosed for dyslexia until the age of 8 was seriously misinformed. My son was formally diagnosed at 6 (by an outside evaluator - the school wouldn't do a thing), and signs of dyslexia can show up in preschool age kids. No, pretty much all kids are not "dyslexic" at a young age. Almost all kids display some of the stereotypical signs of dyslexia (like letter reversals) until about halfway through first grade, but that doesn't mean all kids are dyslexic for awhile. That's ridiculous. Dyslexia is a learning difference. It affects the way the brain processes language. It actually comes with gifts as well as difficulties.

 

Your daughter very well may not be dyslexic. Dyslexia affects approximately 20% of the population (about 50/50 male and female, despite popular report). Please don't do as some of the posters have told you and just relax and wait for her to read on her own timetable. Learn about dyslexia. Get her eyes checked. And, while you're doing that, try to find books that interest her both at her reading level and to read aloud. You may find that none of the possibly diagnoses fit and all she needs is more practice and some reading material she enjoys. But you'll kick yourself if you find out when she's 12 and still struggling that you could have helped her five years ago.

post #18 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by kentuckymom View Post

 Please don't do as some of the posters have told you and just relax and wait for her to read on her own timetable. Learn about dyslexia. Get her eyes checked. And, while you're doing that, try to find books that interest her both at her reading level and to read aloud. You may find that none of the possibly diagnoses fit and all she needs is more practice and some reading material she enjoys. But you'll kick yourself if you find out when she's 12 and still struggling that you could have helped her five years ago.

I didn't notice that anyone suggested "waiting", meaning "do nothing".  (I might be speaking for myself, but....) I think those of us homeschooling and Waldorf-ing and posting here have recognized that a school environment is not going to allow that to happen easily anyhow.  In other settings, giving a little more space and freedom often ends up accelerating the process after a time, or at least it reduces any anxiety that can and does build up for both parents and children when reading delays reach into 2nd grade (or pressure is put on earlier than that).  For parents and Waldorf instructors, we don't get to pass off the kids at the end of the grade.  Their troubles now are our troubles for the duration.  It also affords us (homeschoolers at least) a little bit of luxury to let little brains do their thing, if that's all that is between them and reading.  Another huge difference is that I imagine dyslexia is easier to fly under the official school radar than it is when parents are the teachers.  We can afford to relax and wait.  But wait does not necessarily mean "do nothing".

 

For me, I wanted to counter the statement in an earlier post that "Most kids by 8 are way behind and most never catch up. It's so sad. "  I think that was a thoroughly disheartening thought, and I wanted to make assure the OP that it is not necessarily true.  Kids can and do catch up (all the time, especially in HS settings) but if their parents don't relax if the school doesn't relax then that very well could be a self-fulfilling truth.  I give this advice to HSing parents all the time, but parents of schoolers are actually in more "danger" of fulfilling that statement due to the added stress of things like grades and peer pressure and the need for close academic parity.

 

So, perhaps saying "relax" isn't as good as saying DON'T PANIC!!!!  Follow the thread of possible dyslexia and visions problems, keep aware of any potential problem that is going to unfairly handicap her including stressful expectations coming from all sides that if she doesn't resolve this by X time, then she is never going to catch up.  DO something, but.... DON'T PANIC!

post #19 of 19

Our 7 yo homeschooled and until very recently a complete non-reader LOVES the Bob books I picked up at Costco this summer.  I thought the beginning ones might be insultingly simple but he was delighted with them because HE COULD READ THEM!!  They progress in order and he just devoured the first set and we're on to the second set.  He is by no means fluently reading but it's a great start.  Instead of reading being "too hard" or "boring" he's now so proud he can read a little.

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