family on my back about reading - help! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 12-27-2010, 07:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello all you wise women,


It's been a long time since I posted on this board and being here again has inspired me to read through this whole forum - it's chalk-full of ideas and opinions.

 

So... my MIL is a school teacher who specializes in working with kids with disabilities (behaviour/academic) and her specialty is teaching kids to read. Just my luck, huh? You can imagine how much it bugs her that my 8 yo boy is not yet tearing through novels on his own. He has always LOVED being read to and we do that a lot - we also have a great selection of audio books that we play in the car all the time. I know that unschooled kids often read a bit later and when they do they soar. I'm not worried, but all the grandparents are (everyone is divorced and re-married so there are many grandparents who contribute their well-meaning advice). They don't go on and on about it necessarily, but they bring it up pretty much every time we see any of them (which is often enough) and it does get to me and I suppose I'd be lying if I said it didn't sometimes spark a seed of doubt in my mind. 

 

My real concern though, is that they are very likely making similar comments to him, directly. He is smart and knows when an adult is anxious about his progress (I know because he is very much the type of learner who will immediately drop something he was enjoying if he senses the smallest amount of pressure). Because of this my husband and I have been super careful about what we say in front of him about his reading and we reassure him that he's doing really great and that it will come in all due time (I like to remind all these other doubters that he CAN read! He just gets intimidated by large amounts of text and will read very poorly if asked/forced to read out loud - especially if he senses pressure - so obviously they think his level is even lower than it actually is). 

 

My ILs and parents all know exactly how I feel about the issue but I can't control what is said to him behind my back. And I know they are not evil - they likely don't perceive their words and/or encouragement as pressuring but I know them well and I'm sure this is what's happening and surely it's hindering his progress.

 

The only "teachy" thing we've done with reading which works for a few days on and off, is this: I read to him every night as part of our bedtime routine regardless of how much he will read on his own - but for every page that he reads from a book of his choice, he gets one "point" and he keeps track of how many he has earned. He then 'cashes them in' in exchange for extra pages that I read to him (you know, when it's time to turn off the light and they say "Just ONE more page, please!???" - this is when he can cash them in). I figure this is a win-win.

 

Thoughts? Thank you for reading through all that!

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#2 of 8 Old 12-27-2010, 08:58 PM
 
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Quote:

My real concern though, is that they are very likely making similar comments to him, directly.

 


Could you ask him what he thinks when they say such things and if needed, gently explain to him why they are saying this and offer any support he may need to be confident in his own skills and talents, in the area of reading and otherwise.  Or without referring to them, make it a hypothetical question - "some people might say ..."

It is also likely that if he is hearing negative comments about his reading, he might not be hearing positive comments about the other things that he is doing, and might not recognize their value.  So I would support his enthusiasm for those.  

Thirdly - listening to stories is also precious and valuable, and not only a second-best to reading them oneself.  In fact, it is a great luxury and all the imagination one can do while listening is also enriching and skill-building (if these are the perceived goals of reading).

I don't think anyone doubts that he will read - as you say, he is already doing it.

This brings me to your point-system which as you might have guessed, troubles me.  Why?  Is it something that he finds fun?  Do you think it has helped him?  Do you think he thinks so?  See, the thing is, that if on the one hand you want him not to be bothered by comments of others, and on the other hand you introduce this point system, the latter may trump the former.


no longer momsling.GIF or ecbaby2.gif orfly-by-nursing1.gif ... dd is going on 10 (!) how was I to know there was a homeschool going on?

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#3 of 8 Old 12-29-2010, 08:00 AM
 
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What's going on now is just going to teach him that reading is a laborious chore that you "have to" do to get to fun stuff.

 

Apples to Apples Junior and Cranium Cadoo are both really fun games that require that all the players read their own cards. If you think that he's not reading a lot because he needs more practice to make reading easy enough to be fun, playing games like that (again, just to emphasize, the games are AWESOME in their own right) would help matters.

 

Also, he has chances to get his own books, or magazines, or manuals on stuff he's working on? It can be hard for us novel readers to realize that not everyone likes reading the same way we do and that it's okay.

 

And if your voice wears out reading as much as he wants at bedtime, how about books on tape?

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#4 of 8 Old 12-29-2010, 07:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I like your idea of using a hypothetical question.

 

To be honest I'm not sure how I feel about the point system either. It isn't forced on him at all - I was straight with him and simply said it could be a fun way to encourage him to practice more often. Even thought I don't doubt that his reading will come along on its own, I do remind him from time to time that the more often he practices the faster it will come. But... with no pressure. I would never force him to read.

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#5 of 8 Old 12-29-2010, 08:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post

What's going on now is just going to teach him that reading is a laborious chore that you "have to" do to get to fun stuff.

 

Do you mean the "point system" I described? I do read out loud to him anyway, whether he has earned points or not. The points just get him extra pages read. I should point out, we also read together randomly throughout the day as well, depending of course on the day.

 


He absolutely gets to chose his own reading material. We read Calvin and Hobbes together, Garfield, TinTin, etc. He will read cards when playing board games with little difficulty. He's just hesitant to read a whole book, or even a whole page of a book, unless it's a really beginner book (Elephant and Piggie series are his favourite - he reads them out loud to his brother). Which is why I thought trying our little system might encourage him to give it a stab (again, not forced - I offered up the idea and he was psyched about it). He choses Dr.Seuss level books pretty much and reads as many pages as he wants.

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#6 of 8 Old 12-29-2010, 08:18 PM
 
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my dd was like that i knew she could read but she was unsure of her self and hide it alot. i told everyone to back off not to talk to her at all about reading. that she knew how and was just not sure of herself. she is like this with other "learning stuff". i said for her to progress and become sure of herself she didnt need to be pressured, told she was behind or treated like she was stupid. i made sure that everyone knew that if she felt pressure she would buck against it and stop doing it and i wanted her to learn it so for everyone to leave her alone about school stuff. this seemed to work well with my family once they understood that she was learning just not at the same pace as schooled kids. we unschool/very relaxed schooling(by the childs choice).

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#7 of 8 Old 12-30-2010, 10:39 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vegetalien View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post

What's going on now is just going to teach him that reading is a laborious chore that you "have to" do to get to fun stuff.

 

Do you mean the "point system" I described? I do read out loud to him anyway, whether he has earned points or not. The points just get him extra pages read. I should point out, we also read together randomly throughout the day as well, depending of course on the day.


That's awesome. I was more concerned about what your mom's lectures layered onto the point system would do. If she weren't saying anything to him, then the point system would be totally your fun family thing. If you weren't doing a fun family point system, then her lectures could be dismissed as her own opinion. But the combination of the two and it's more like there's outside pressure to do the points game.

 

But as it is, your ds is enjoying the points game and only doing it as much as he feels like.

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#8 of 8 Old 01-01-2011, 09:37 PM
 
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My eldest, 8 yo ds, does not read independently.

 

My Mom (his grandma) is his scout leader and she gets nervous for him when there is an activity where reading is involved. He just tells people that he can't read (which is not entirely true, he can read most letters and a few words) because he can't read up to others' expectations. My Mom asked me about this and I replied that he is learning to read (true) and gets more nervous about it when he is in groups (also true). My Mom and I then talked about how learning at home is different than at school--reading at school is necessary b/c that is primarily the vehicle for teaching--worksheets, reading logs, etc. At home, there are all kinds of avenues of learning that do not rely on reading so the child can still be learning even if not reading independently. I also mention research and other children who read later than is considered "the norm" (8-10) who quickly catch up to peers in reading level when they do get the hang of it. So, late-reading really is not a big deal.

 

My mom then said since I seemed to be confident about it and it didn't seem to bother my son, she wouldn't worry either. (she also asked if it was okay if she voiced her worries to me and I assured her it's fine! I told her I understand as it's different b/c I am with him and know what he is learning and it can be harder when you are not 'in the loop'. I want to keep the line of communication open between us).

 

My advice? Find your confidence. And then share that with others. And ultimately, it doesn't matter who knows what about education--this is your child and you know them best--you are the expert! (even if you don't always feel like it--that's ok--we all feel that way sometimes--it's how you present yourself to others who want to tell you how to do it that counts). Thank others for their input and then change the subject, if need be.

 

I also coached my son when ppl started asking him if he knew how to read to say "Yes, I am learning to read and sometimes I need help" instead of "No". I did this so he could navigate social situations away from home in a way that was more helpful for him.

 

I did mention to him that it really is not anyone's business if he can read (or spell or do math etc). That's important to me, that he knows his learning and his thoughts are his own--no adult owns the right to know those things--he doesn't have to feel obligated to respond to any question he is not comfortable with. I did tell him he could ask them "Can you?" back if they asked him if he could read, b/c that's what *I* would say, but sarcasm is pretty much a foreign thing to him right now. wink1.gif

 

Sometimes he does say no. If it became a problem and he told me he was bothered by someone asking him, I would tell them to talk to me about what he is learning and direct any concerns to me and not to him. They should understand that request.

 

And what's the worst that happens if they ask and he says, "I can't read." Well...then they'd know. Okay. So he's 8 and doesn't read independently. Not an emergency. It opens a dialogue and gives you a chance to talk about the normalcy of learning at home and the difference between how children in a school environment "show knowledge" (notice how I did not say learning there? big difference) versus how children who learn at home actually "learn", albeit at their own pace.


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