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#1 of 43 Old 03-05-2013, 12:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello Everyone,

 

This is my first year homeschooling my three children.  My oldest is a girl in 4th grade, she's coming along pretty well.  My son is 7 and in 1st grade.  At the beginning of the year he was not reading AT ALL.  I'm personally pretty laid back about it or at least was when he was in kindergarden.  The hard part about him not reading is that I have to pretty much do EVERYTHING with him during our schooling hours (its like I am his private one on one tutor which does not leave a lot of time for his older sister or younger sister who is 4 and I am VERY laid back about preschool- oh and I'm having another child this fall!) . I have worked and worked and worked with him on his reading-it is VERY VERY slow.  He is now probably what a kindergarden level would be (3 letter words).  Part of the state requirements for homeschooling is they have to take a standardize test.  I just got the pre-test and there is NO WAY he can do the reading section on even close...... I'm stressed out now and wondering if he would be better if he was in school.  We are in part homeschooling because of him (I've always wanted to homeschool and he is very shy and HATES HATES school) but I am now second questioning my decision.  I don't know how he could be better with the reading in school since he would not have been getting one on one-but he has not progressed like I had hoped-I am beginning to wonder if there is a learning disability.  I would LOVE any suggestions or advice........

 

 

thanks!

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#2 of 43 Old 03-05-2013, 01:03 PM
 
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We did not fully unschool, so hopefully others will chime in with their experiences of children learning to read at an older age.  

 

While I personally trust each child's ability to learn in their own time, we live in a culture heavy with negative judgements if a child doesn't follow some prescribes expectation of learning certain things at a certain age.  Once children approach age 7,8,9 I have seen them become so aware of their own difference (like not reading) that they internalize the judgement that says they are not smart.  So for the sake of your son's self esteem, I would try to find some way of tapping into his innate interest in learning and make sure that connects with reading so he feels good about his reading ability by the time he starts becoming awakened to his own abilities compared with his peers.  (unless he's one of those children who would not make negative self judgements . . .then yay!!)

 

I am curious about some things:

- does your son WANT to read?

I found readiness and desire to learn to be very important.  If he doesn't want to do his own reading, it might be useful to find out why.

 

- does he like to write or draw?

If yes, I would stick with exploring the shapes and sounds of letters.  Not the letter names but the sounds.  And maybe how the sound of each letter feels to your son. 

 

- is there anything he is particularly interested in right now that reading could be folded in to?

Maybe reading him stories about rocks or dancing or planets and then identifying sounds of some of the letters he sees on the page.

 

- does he have any internal barriers that he has created which makes reading stressful?

My daughter often refused to write.  It turned out that she did not want to write a word unless her letters looked as perfectly as she imagined them, and only if she knew the correct spelling.  No patience with her 6 year old hands which needed a lot of practice before those letters were as beautiful as she wanted them to be.  She would rather not write than go through the process of perfecting her handwriting.  

 

We pulled out daughter from the neighborhood school at the end of 1st grade and started homeschooling.  I soon found out that they did not teach letter sounds (phonics), but taught the memorization of whole words.  This was a huge challenge for me to undo because dd was reading but she could only read words she has memorized.  She would guess or skip words she didn't know and would not sound out unfamiliar words.  The trouble is that she had memorized so many words that there was little patience on her part in starting over with phonics.  I ended up working with the rules of spelling and that helped her reading.  This article was a great resource that I pulled from and made age-appropriate experiential lessons from:  http://www.lewrockwell.com/taylor/taylor79.html

 

Many blessings on your homeschooling adventure!

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#3 of 43 Old 03-05-2013, 01:31 PM
 
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I know plenty of unschooled kids who became great readers later than would have been expected in school. They just weren't wired to learn to read early. Around age 8-10 it clicked for them.

 

It seems to me there are three main issues for you. 

 

First, you need to make sure there aren't any red flags for learning problems. Lack of developmental readiness is a perfectly good reason to lag in reading skills at age 7, but there are other possibilities that it would be worth ruling out as best you can. Have his vision screened by a developmental optometrist. Look for red flags concerning left-right confusion beyond what's considered normal at age 7 (some is normal!), mirror-writing, lack of phonemic awareness (does he recognize that 'fur' and 'fox' both start with the 'f' sound, and that 'mush' and 'fresh' both end with 'sh'?), that sort of thing.

 

Next, you need to investigate exactly what standardized testing means for homeschoolers in your state. Where I live kids who are not yet reading can have accommodations (someone reading aloud, scribing answers) during testing. Most placing requiring testing do not expect kids to achieve a certain standard or else stop homeschooling -- they only need to show improvement from year to year "commensurate with ability." Meaning if your child is achieving at an early KG level in 1st grade, and a late KG level in 2nd grade, that's progress and that's fine!

 

Finally, you would probably benefit from exploring alternative ways of learning for later-readers. Waldorf-inspired homeschooling might be worth investigating, since it tends to delay reading instruction until age 7 or 8 on purpose. The kids I know who were not reading at age 8 or 9 were busy learning amazing things from handicrafts, audiobooks, documentary video series, hobbies, physical activities, Suzuki music instruction, animal husbandry, art, theatre, 3-D construction toys, song and readalouds. If you're not opposed to them on philosophical or practical grounds, there are some amazing software suites and apps that work in the way of "assistive technology" .... freeware which will scribe your dictated words, games which help kids learn math, languages, critical thinking and problem-solving through visual menus rather than text. If you find you're spending your days spoon-feeding him a curricular approach that assumes he's reading independently, I would begin to look for alternative modes of learning for those things so that he can be more independent, learn more freely in ways that suit him, and so that you have more time to be available to your other children. 

 

Then there's the reading. I'm no expert on teaching reading, as my kids learned early and naturally. If you decide to pursue that aggressively at this age, rather than waiting for a bit more maturity and motivation, I would encourage you to look for ways to work with him that he finds enjoyable, even if it means you feel like you are moving back to basics for a time. 

 

Good luck!

 

Miranda

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#4 of 43 Old 03-05-2013, 10:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by katy1844 View Post

 

My son is 7 and in 1st grade.  At the beginning of the year he was not reading AT ALL.  I'm personally pretty laid back about it or at least was when he was in kindergarden.  The hard part about him not reading is that I have to pretty much do EVERYTHING with him during our schooling hours (its like I am his private one on one tutor which does not leave a lot of time for his older sister or younger sister who is 4 and I am VERY laid back about preschool- oh and I'm having another child this fall!) . I have worked and worked and worked with him on his reading-it is VERY VERY slow.  He is now probably what a kindergarden level would be (3 letter words).  Part of the state requirements for homeschooling is they have to take a standardize test.  I just got the pre-test and there is NO WAY he can do the reading section on even close...... I'm stressed out now and wondering if he would be better if he was in school.  We are in part homeschooling because of him (I've always wanted to homeschool and he is very shy and HATES HATES school) but I am now second questioning my decision.  I don't know how he could be better with the reading in school since he would not have been getting one on one-but he has not progressed like I had hoped-I am beginning to wonder if there is a learning disability.  I would LOVE any suggestions or advice........

 

I'll be the odd one out. I see red flags in your post. For starters, you are homeschooling him in part because school wasn't going well for him. Alone, that wouldn't be a big deal (lots of people homeschool for the same reason) but he isn't thriving at home, either. Neither school nor home seem to work for him. Is he happy places outside of home that aren't school? Does he have friends and mix with his peers?

 

He is unable to work independently.

 

He is 7 and you have spent a lot of time working on reading. If he were 4 or 5, my guess would be that he isn't developmental ready, but 7 is generally old enough for kids to learn to read when they are taught.

 

Also, you are spending so much time attempting to teach him that you aren't able to spend much time with your older or younger child, and he is still progressing very slowly. He is getting a lot of help and attention right at his level, but he isn't catching on.

 

I think there is enough there to warrant an eval and finding out what is going on for him. He could have a learning disability or other special needs and waiting for a few years to see if he magically "gets it" at some point could simple mean delaying getting him solid help that works for him.

 

You are right that he might not be any further along if he attended school. I don't know how the schools work where you live, but here he would be in small pull out programs for extra help and he would be tested to see if there was a reason he wasn't catching on. Although he might not be further along, they would be working with him to figure out *why* he wasn't learning like the other children.

 

My advice is to get more information about how his brain works and how he learns -- enlist the help of experts, figure out what is going on for him. I see that as more fundamental than the school/homeschool question.

 

BTW, how is he doing with handwriting and math?

 

Also, is there an option out of standardized testing for homeschooling where you live? A portfolio review?


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#5 of 43 Old 03-05-2013, 11:07 PM
 
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Let's stick with the legalities, for now. What state are you in? Then we can determine if you really *need* to have him tested this year.

A word about testing, schools generally look at the test results from test to test to confirm that learning is taking place. For first grade, it is probably a baseline test. It's doubtful there will be any problems, regardless of how well he does. Your nerves, however, are no doubt being frayed by the worry. So, we'll take a look at the laws, and see what's what.

As for the rest, relax. My son needed a lot of involvement from me at that age, too. Ten years later, he's quite capable of working independently, and setting his own goals. These things often work out.
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#6 of 43 Old 03-05-2013, 11:33 PM
 
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I think the red flag for me is simply that there are three kids in the family and a disproportionate amount of time is going on this one thing for this one kid. If everyone is happy with this and can cope, great. But if not, I'd have a think about it.

 

TBH, I'd say what you are describing at 7 is very, very normal, especially for boys. I actually know boys of 9,10 who are not reading but, as Miranda says, they are heavily engaged in other stuff. 

 

HOWEVER-because I'm guessing you're worrying about learning issues, specifically possibly dyslexia. My son, now 9, did struggle with reading and tbh the only reason we didn't get an assessment for him was that there wasn't much point-what would it tell us? We knew he struggled and we could figure out ways to help him (but we did also have many, many family members with dyslexia and a dyslexia assesor in the family). Its hard to explain but there is a real difference in the way a dyslexic struggles, and the way a kid who just isn't at a point of wanting.being cognitively ready to read struggles. The best way I can explain it is that for dyslexics, there are blocks, there are things which they just cannot remember and these are things that "ought" to be laughably easy for them. I had a kid who could do all sorts of maths but struggled to remember how to write numbers. I'm in two minds about whether, if you think you have a kid with dyslexia or similar, you should teach them to read, but I can down on the side of doing so (but late, and gently) after doing a lot of reading. The argument is basically that this isn't a case of a kid becoming developmentally ready, they will always find this hard, so the best thing is early intervention resulting in those extra years of practice. Its very child dependent, really, I had a kid whose self esteem was being shredded by his inability to read. You have an older child too, from what you've posted-you might be able to think back on how she learnt to read to think whether there really does seem to be something up. 

 

OTOH, my dad didn't learnt to read til he was 9 or 10. No one taught him (inner London school in the 1950s). And one day he picked up some adult book on sea adventures and just got on with it. Now in his 60s he earns a living partly from selling books, and selects clothing mainly on the basis of whether it has a pocket big enough to accomodate a paperback. 

 

Its impossible to tell from a post whether a kid has issues or not. What I'd say, just based on what you've written, is that he is making progress but slow progress. My son had enormous problems with stuff like CVC words, but otoh he was interested in poetry from a young age, got rhyming words and so on and had no problems with things like i spy. That in and of itself was a bit of a concern, iirc. As I say, the red flag for learning issues to me is not really being late in developing, but developing normally, its when development is asynchronous and this is causing problems. I think my advice would be to leave it a little longer. Especially if he seems to be more a maths/sciency brained kid, 7 is really not old enough for concern. Its the age around which I think many kids' reading seems to switch on, so you could easily still find him reading by the end of the year. 

 

I'll be honest too. I tend to see very slow but steady, and "normal" progress as a possible sign that there is nothing wrong but a kid just isn't quite ready for something. 9/10 with these things if you leave them a little longer, then they will learn this stuff much more easily and without a fuss. 

 

Oh and yeah agree, switch curriculum. There's no point using a curriculum designed for readers if you don't have one. Or maybe even just ditch the curriculum completely. I've never found anything that even looked like it might accomodate my kids at their varying levels and interests. We just use books for math up to the end of Singapore and that's about it.

 

The only reason I can think of to seek an assessment is to get you out of these state standardised tests. I know nothing about them, I'm in the UK where we have nothing like that at all. But there are usually loopholes to these things. Perhaps if you are happy to reveal your location, someone on here might be able to tell you more? 


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#7 of 43 Old 03-06-2013, 07:42 AM
 
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Originally Posted by pek64 View Post

Let's stick with the legalities, for now. What state are you in? Then we can determine if you really *need* to have him tested this year.

A word about testing, schools generally look at the test results from test to test to confirm that learning is taking place. For first grade, it is probably a baseline test. It's doubtful there will be any problems, regardless of how well he does. Your nerves, however, are no doubt being frayed by the worry. So, we'll take a look at the laws, and see what's what.

As for the rest, relax. My son needed a lot of involvement from me at that age, too. Ten years later, he's quite capable of working independently, and setting his own goals. These things often work out.

ITA. It's doubtful your eligibility to continue homeschooling will be determined solely on the first standardized test your ds ever takes. There will be schooled kids taking that test who cannot read at all. 

 

Also, my son was more of a sight reader. When he started to read, after age 8, between 8 1/2 and 9 1/2, he did much better with more complicated and varied sentences than with early readers where everything looks the same. All the words are the same length and frequently have the same vowel in the center, ie "The fat cat sat on the mat." Until age 8 1/2, he was building up his sight word vocabulary by having me read to him and by playing (noneducational) video games of his choosing. He was still very dependent at age 7. But I did look closely and think about all the possibilities (dyslexia, etc). I wasn't just blithely not thinking about it and assuming he needed more time/maturity. But it did turn out that that was all it was.

 

I don't think waiting another year to worry will hurt. Maybe your older dd can read stories to your ds? I remember my mom paying us a nickel a book to read to the younger kids. The older kids got practice reading and the younger kids got read to which helped their reading skills, as well. Win/win. 


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#8 of 43 Old 03-06-2013, 07:57 AM
 
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I agree, find out about what is expected from test results, and relax.  You need a reason to relax.  That is going to help everybody.

 

When his curriculum centers around needing to read, that cant be very encouraging for kids.  Wow!  I need help with everything, when really it is just one thing.  I agree with Miranda, find ways to teach the other subjects without needing to read.

 

My only original suggestion is --The Electric Company!!  We are deeply in love with this right now (the original series) .  We borrowed a boxed set from the library and now we are watching the episodes available on hulu.  It has made such a difference with both of my girls.  DD1, 8yo, is a competent reader who tends to read by sight, and it has helped her conquer sounding words out.  For emergent reader dd2, 6.5yo, this show has put it all together for her.  (She spent a good chunk of the day plodding through her stack of Ladybug magazines from the library-- methodically sounding words out, asking for help about every other word!)

 

It's a question of taste, for sure, but the songs and the silliness are so much fun.  We haven't checked out the new series yet, but that one is available on pbskids.org.


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#9 of 43 Old 03-06-2013, 10:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much for the advice/help everyone!  I just switched reading materials, I am now using explore the code.  I started with the first book in the series-so far it's been VERY easy for him (and I think it has really helped make him feel better that some reading is easy lol!).  His reading has been VERY different from my older child which is one of the reasons I have worried there might be something else going on.  He still has trouble remembering the difference between B and P sound and I have to remind him which letter is a b vs a d etc.  He also has a slight development speech issue (wondering if that's also part of the puzzle).

 

In his kindergarden they only did sight words, so it has been a big change going to phonics we are not doing sight words at home but I am wondering now if i should do a little.  On the other hand he seems a natural with math, we went through 1st grade math then second (twice) and he was getting so bored were now onto 3rd grade concepts, although he does still write some of the numbers backwards.  I have spoken with a reading specialist and she said a lot of these things are still developmentally ok at this age.  Again when there are word problems I read them to him and he figures them out in his head.  

 

He LOVES homescholing for the most part (never wants to go back to school), although he would rather spend the day building forts and playing with his sisters.  Even as a toddler he hated reading time, I have spent hours cuddling on the couch with his sisters reading books and he has NEVER enjoyed it, always wants to be moving.  He does like puzzles and blocks but for the most part is not crazy about sedately activities-he's not too interested in the TV either not that were a big TV family either.  I have taken him to the library and chosen books I thought he would enjoy (star wars etc) to read to him and unless its bedtime he's not really interested.  

 

I am *trying* not to worry about the test. I am in VA and I'm not too sure what the schools will say if he bombs the test, frankly I don't really care - I am more worried that I am somehow failing him.  Does that make sense?  I'm torn between being relaxed and giving him more time and worried that I am being too relaxed  :-0!  Truthfully I took him to a reading specialist paid the $$ and she spent 30 minutes doing exactly what I am doing all day?!?!   I've been told he is to young to be tested for dyslexia..... should I find another reading specialist?

 

We do almost nothing on the computer-so I would love any suggestions of sights/programs.  I would like to figure out more independent work for him so I can spend more time with his sisters.  The girls aren't feeling the lack of attention at the moment but as their work becomes more challenging I will need to spend more time with them.

 

Thanks again this has been a lifesaver!!

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#10 of 43 Old 03-06-2013, 11:20 AM
 
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When my son was young we used Reader Rabbit Leapfrog software on occasion. He enjoyed the early ones. It came in handy when I wanted to make dinner at adult speed. I didn't like relying on them too much. He didn't care for ones that had shooting, falling rocks or bombs going off.

I checked nhen.org and found that vahomeschoolers.org is your best source for homeschooling info specific to your state. According to both sites, you have the option to have an evaluation done by someone with a teaching license instead of a standardized test. Also, I didn't see any restrictions for who would have to administer the test, if you choose that route. If you give the test, you can make conditions as close to ideal as is possible. That should help him do better. There is a third option of education being provided by a full time tutor -- which can be the parent. So, if you happen to have a VA teaching license, you can get a pass on the testing or evaluation.

I don't know why you switched him from sight reading to phonetics. I and my son are both sight readers. I hope you don't have the mistaken idea that sight readers find it difficult to get along in the adult world. If your child was not having difficulty reading by sight, then I would recommend going back to that.

Most importantly, I recommend reading *to* your children. Be enthusiastic and really perform! Instill the attitude of reading as a pleasure. And give those seeds time to sprout and take root.

Edited to add that I just saw the part about him not liking to sit with you while you read. I skimmed your post the first time to find out if you mentioned your state. Anyway, my son used to act out the story while I read. It still instilled a love of stories, which led to reading. And I used to read from the Baby Blues and For Better Or For Worse comic books. That he would sit for, so he could see the pictures. I would point to each box as I read, so he could follow the action. That was how he actually learned, by the way.
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#11 of 43 Old 03-06-2013, 02:26 PM
 
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Hmm interesting that you've been told he's too young to be tested for dyslexia. The thing about dyslexia is that its not a learnt thing, its a brain wiring thing, so my understanding is that it would show up, yes. But the only reason to get an assessment IMO at this age is to access teaching strategies that will help him. We didn't get our son assessed because we didn't need to in order to get the strategies we needed. 

ReadingEggs is a site that a lot of people swear by. Never worked for mine (books were better, I think it was too decontextualised for them), but I know other kids who its got reading.

 

Far more than reading or not reading, I'd be looking for ways to get him exposed to books. Fair enough he won't sit to listen to a story-but can you not just read to him while he plays with Lego etc?  Or get a couple of really great audiobooks-I've never met a kid who wasn't pulled in by an amazing audiobook. Just to say too, in case dyslexia is the issue. Its far more of a problem when a kid is tired. Whereas I zone out and relax with a book, for my son reading is much harder when he is sleepy, so that's when good audiobooks really do come into their own. I was absolutely determined that even if he never learnt to read he'd know the good books. I read him a lot but there are only so many hours in the day and that's where audiobooks were great.

 

oh fwiw b q etc confusion is still normal at this age, actually its not unusual even in fluent readers. My oldest still confuses them and my own 7 year old, who is reading fluently, "proper books" still occasionally confuses them if you ask her to point them out. Its not just b q confusion with dyslexics, its kind of a general visual sequencing issue going on (depending on the kid). But its also possible for a kid without problems to confuse them, just because they do actually all look the same and they are still figuring out what the rules are with letters.

 

Oh one small thing that got my boy reading was the kindle with speech enabled. Now the speech on there is so bad, you would not want to listen to a whole books that way. But it allowed him to listen to a word without coming to us for help, and made a massive difference to him.


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#12 of 43 Old 03-09-2013, 10:40 PM
 
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Just want to chime in a reason for testing that I haven't seen mentioned, only that it will give a label and what's the point? When we had our daughter tested by a dyslexia specialist she tried various things with her including specially coloured lenses and papers which can help certain dyslexics a lot. Unfortunately that didn't help dd and she is quite severely dyslexic. She was also 7 before she could sound out CVC words but I just thought she would come along when she was ready. Well she has never been ready. I really wish I had got her tested sooner because as she gets older (11) and wants to join things we have been able to put this down on the join up forms to be sure she isn't called upon to read. She is going to a camp in a week and a notebook and pencil are required but I know she won’t be asked to do what she can't and feel embarrassed in the group. The labels at least help promote understanding from others.
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#13 of 43 Old 03-10-2013, 12:26 AM
 
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joeandsarah I think that's a really good point actually, people are much more understanding if you can add a label. Which is downright sad.

 

That said though if I were in a situation where this could come up and be an issue I'd just have a quiet word with the leaders and/or put it down-eg dyslexia-awaiting assessment (like in 2025). I'd go so far as to say he hadn't been assessed but that we were pretty sure that that was what was going on, and could they just be aware of it. Yeah they'd probably mark me down as a fussy homeschooling mother but that's ok. TBH any camp I'd be happy to send my kid to would probably be one where they were ok sorts of people anyway, so I wouldn't expect a problem. 


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#14 of 43 Old 03-10-2013, 10:45 AM
 
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Katy, are you still planning to use the standardized test, or are you considering an evaluation?
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#15 of 43 Old 03-10-2013, 12:33 PM
 
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Starfall is a good site.

 

I have always found it easier to listen if I am able to draw. I never required my dd to sit still when I read aloud to her as long as she stayed in the room and was quiet. Maybe your ds could do something quiet while you read aloud. Or try audio books and a print version he can look at while you do something with another child for 20 minutes.

 

If your ds is making progress I don't know that I would be concerned at this time. I would pay more attention to that area but not worry yet.

It looks like for VA you have choices in assesment. Maybe another approach like an evaluation from a licensed teacher would be better. Maybe a written report from the reading specialist would suffice. http://heav.org/testing/   http://heav.org/testing/counselors-testers-and-tutors/

 

Have you considered simply saying that he is a grade lower for the purposes of testing so he is starting the testing process at a more appropriate reading level for him? If you know he is probably at a K reading level why test him at a 1st grade level to start with? That isn't really an accurate measure of the level he has been working at. Isn't it up to you to say grade level he is in in your homeschool? Grade levels are kind of meaningless and I wouldn't attatch any significance to the rest of his life by saying he is at a lower grade level for testing this year.

 

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What if I make a mistake and misjudge my child and start him off at the wrong academic level?

You may determine your child’s grade level at any time during his homeschooling career. You always have the option of adapting your curriculum and course of study to reflect your child’s changing needs. You also have the option of having your child repeat or skip a grade if needed.

from http://vahomeschoolers.org/guide/kindergarten-options/

 

If you are considering putting any of your children in school, why not consider your children who need less one-on-one help so you can devote your time to your ds who does need that help?


Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)

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#16 of 43 Old 03-10-2013, 02:55 PM
 
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Just wanted to add my short story...My 7 year old son was slow on learning to read.  Our phonics instruction was a nightmare.  I'd been working with him since he was 5.  But I finally let myself relax, give up the phonics for awhile, read more TO him, and get him to the library regularly.  That did the trick.  He's been finding things he's interested in and actually WANTS to read and his fluency has soared.

 

He seems to do better with the sight word approach over phonics.


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#17 of 43 Old 03-10-2013, 08:47 PM
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I have always found it easier to listen if I am able to draw. I never required my dd to sit still when I read aloud to her as long as she stayed in the room and was quiet. Maybe your ds could do something quiet while you read aloud. Or try audio books and a print version he can look at while you do something with another child for 20 minutes.

 

My dd will often play with legos, draw, finger knit, or other quiet activity while I read.  She is also usually able to pay better attention to the story when her hands are busy with something else.  

ETC is a sound program.  Use it while it works for you/him.  There are some sight words within it so if he can't figure out the sentences, you might have to teach a sight word.  Sight words can also be taugh through games: bingo, go fish, etc.  So, you can do both if you wish.  Also, once he gets through book 2, you can look at Beyond the Code.  There are four books and they work with the ETC books.  They have short stories, comprehension questions, and word attack skills.  We really enjoyed them.  I think book one is at the same level as book 2 of ETC.    

 

Regarding sight words vs phonics. . . that is debated.  Most people recommend OG (orton-gillinham) based programs for dyslexics, and there is research to back that up.  OG programs are phonics based.  At the same time, many dyslexics find it easier to remember the whole word.  That is why many aren't diagnosed until 3rd/4th grade because the words are getting to be too long or their memory bank too ful.  They start guessing more and more, and then it is discovered that the child can't decode words at all.  So, while I realize that some people truly seem to learn through a sight word approach, these kids are somehow picking up a form of decoding strategy for longer & new words.  This may be a combination of phonics and chunking or something else, but they do develop a strategy for new material.  A dyslexic child often won't develop a strategy on their own.  This is why phonics is explicitly taught.  It gives them a strategy to use when everything else fails.  

 

Seven is not to young to diagnose dyslexia, but it also doesn't mean he needs to be tested.  

 

Amy


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#18 of 43 Old 03-11-2013, 10:30 PM
 
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I haven't read the responses, so I hope this is still helpful. I actually came here to tell everyone about this game so I will share this with you here as well.

 

My son is 7. We follow a child-led philosophy for homeschooling. However, I have been ringing my hands about his reading. (He doesn't really do cvc.) He's the kind of kid that if you were to mildly encourage something he would stop doing it for a couple years. Still, I've been trying to find something to encourage his own discovery of reading.

 

Well, I found it. It's a computer game that he loves and I think is brilliant. He asks to do it several times a day. In about a week he's been on the program 12 hours and 42 minutes. (I just looked at his online record.) My four year old is also using it, though she started doing it independently later than he did (mainly she watches her brother play.) So far she has been read two of the books and to my delight had 100% in comprehension.

 

Essentially you are on Ooka Island and the robot takes you from game to game. You have to play the games it takes you to (though after "reading" a new book you get 8 minutes of free play. You read a book after every 20 minutes of play.) The program responds to how well your child does. So my son is going full force ahead. Our 4 year old had to repeat several parts until she mastered them, though they move from game to game so much I don't think she realized she was repeating. There's a lot of "speed" in the games--mountain climbing then skateboarding down the mountain, riding on jet skis, going down a mine shaft in a cart that jumps tracks, etc. Then there's the flying pigs that fall into the lake if you select the correct sound, and the cakes that fall in the recycling bin if you choose the wrong sound.

 

One of my favorite games is a load of stuff has fallen into a river. You have to hear the two sounds to figure out which item they are indicating then click on the item before it goes over the waterfall. So, you will hear, "J  EEP" and have to click on the jeep. I think one of the things about phonics that can be overwhelming is to try and make sense of a string of sounds. Even my 4 year old is quickly figuring out this game. (I am in no way interested in my 4 year old learning to read. However, she likes the game so I stay out of her way with it.)

 

Anyway, it's on special at the homeschooler buyers co-op. If you call the ooka island company directly you can get a two week free trial. You download the program then have internet connection for maintaining the stats and such. It's a HUGE program, 2 gig, so we had to get the free disk mailed to us (we live in the mountains and have satellite internet with only 15 g per month of data.)

 

There is a small demo on the co-op page but there is a much better one at the company website.

 

Here is a link to the co-op page (with a good discount. $40 for one child $52 for up to 4 kids.) https://www.homeschoolbuyersco-op.org/ooka-island/?source=98770 Disclaimer, if you use this link I get points for the co-op though I won't know who is buying using my link.

 

Here is a link to the website video tour: http://ookaisland.com/video-tour/

 

Like I said, our son has been totally against learning to read. With this game he is mastering concepts he balked at before. At the rate he's going he is on the fast track to reading and he doesn't even know it.


Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and tomato free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.

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#19 of 43 Old 03-13-2013, 02:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Ladies,

 

Thank you so much for all the advice!  My husband really wanted to do the standardized testing not just for the state requirements but for his own piece of mind.  Regardless of what the results were he wanted to see where the children fall, so we ended up doing the CAT test last weekend.  It was HORRIBLE.  My 9yr old had no problem plowed through the test in half the test time she could use and wasn't stressed at all.  This is a HUGE improvement from last year in the public schools she was very stressed about all tests.

 

My poor 7yr old was miserable.  He had no problem with the math, science or social studies, but the reading was a FREAKING nightmare.  It was WAY WAY over his level after the first reading section and there were THREE reading sections he was in tears-I felt HORRIBLEgreensad.gif.  I keep trying to tell him it didn't matter to just make the best guess he could and that it doesn't matter if the answer is right or not.  By the end of the day-I was a freaking mess just felt like bursting in tears, my husband was ALL stressed out stating that obviously he now needs to take a firmer stand and "work" on his reading with him every night.  Which is the LAST thing we need to do, my husband works 14-15 hour days and is not only exhausted but not very patient by the end of the day and my 7yr old does the best work in the mornings, not to mention we are spending HOURS on his reading he does not need to spend more time.  I've been all over the place the last few days, consulted with some reading specialist's and consulted with some local homeschooling friends and have calmed down some wink1.gif.  


I've decided not to do added work right now, he IS progressing I am going to look into other options with the reading, (Sundaycrepes thanks for the game suggestion!) try more hands on reading/phonics things like making words with wickie sticks etc, I am also going to try some of the suggestions here, actual all of the suggestions I am desperate!  If anyone has any other ideas please share, thanks again!!

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#20 of 43 Old 03-13-2013, 03:12 PM
 
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For your dh's sake, record every minute your ds spends reading, whether it is online, or looking at magazines or reading instructions or signs.  My math-saavy girls turned to absolute goo this last week figuring out how much 3 boxes of Girl Scout cookies cost while we sold them at our booths.  Putting kids on the spot makes every piece of knowledge drain out of reach (heck, that's true for me, too!  And I'm sure most other adults as well).  Record as well the amount of time you are spending not only in reading instruction, but any other subject that requires any reading at all.


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#21 of 43 Old 03-13-2013, 07:22 PM
 
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  Even as a toddler he hated reading time, I have spent hours cuddling on the couch with his sisters reading books and he has NEVER enjoyed it, always wants to be moving.  He does like puzzles and blocks but for the most part is not crazy about sedately activities-he's not too interested in the TV either not that were a big TV family either.  I have taken him to the library and chosen books I thought he would enjoy (star wars etc) to read to him and unless its bedtime he's not really interested.  

 

 

He sounds a lot like my DD, who is 8. She also had a mild speech delay when she was little (but tested at age level by age 3).

 

My DD is also very active and does not like sedentary activities.

 

At age 7, I wouldn't worry about his reading. It sounds like he's just not interested because it requires sitting still and focusing on something that is horribly boring to him right now. I'd try to find as much time to read to him as possible. For DD, I read to her while she was swinging on the swing, in the bathtub, books on CD in the car, and before bed when she was tired enough to hold still. I had to be open to times when it would work for her.

 

DD responded well to acting out scripts, acting out a part of the book I was reading to her while she was on the trampoline... anything that could make it active for her. If you can modify some of his reading activities so that they are more active - such as having to jump from the letter that makes the "puh" sound to the letter that makes the "buh" sound on a chalked grid on the sidewalk - that would help. When we are doing sight words, DD likes a game where I hold up two sight word cards and she has to touch her toe to the right one while swinging forward on the swing, and I make it playful by pulling it ouf of her reach at the last minute or moving it to the side suddenly. She'll ask, "can we do sight words now?" I was ecstatic to find a reading activity that she actually wanted to do.

 

DD requires one-on-one attention to develop her reading skills. Its not really possible to get around that for her. I don't think its unusual that he would also need this.

 

DD is just past 8 and is now reading at low second grade level. She started making huge progess when she turned 8. She was barely reading at kindergarten level when she was 7.

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#22 of 43 Old 03-14-2013, 05:15 PM
 
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Finland doesn't even start school until age 7 and within three years they have the highest literacy rate in Europe. I think pushing kids does more trauma.

 

Try the game I mentioned and read to him. Most of the unschooling moms said their kids taught themselves to read around 7 or 8 (sometimes later.) I understand we have a cultural push to want our kids to read earlier, but I hear so many stories of kids who had the love of reading drained out of them because of that.


Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and tomato free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.

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#23 of 43 Old 03-14-2013, 06:11 PM
 
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Take a deep breath! First, the CAT doesn't have to be done all in one day. Do only one section of reading each day, with a couple of days in between. And all of you should keep in mind that this is a baseline test. Also, until you get the results back, you don't know how he compares with his peers, which is what it's all about. Have you sent the test back to be scored? If no, consider retesting breaking up the test. Also, I've read a suggestion where a boy got to take the test while sitting on the stairs, and moved up a step after each question. It helped him be able to focus.

It seems to me that phonics are confusing your son, and you didn't give him any time to get back into sight mode before unfairly throwing a test at him. Why was there such a rush? You have plenty of time before the school needs either a test or evaluation.

I hope you are not going to make any rash decisions as a result of this *one* test experience. Your son deserves a chance, and hasn't really gotten one, yet.
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#24 of 43 Old 03-15-2013, 01:32 AM
 
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"Most of the unschooling moms said their kids taught themselves to read around 7 or 8 (sometimes later.)"]

 

 

FWIW, I think for boys the average seems to be actually later. Among the kids I know, I think 9-11 would be normal. By which I mean, normal. These kids are then functionally literate.


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#25 of 43 Old 03-15-2013, 01:55 AM
 
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What kinds of books are you reading with your son?  I think boys prefer more adventure and scary stories.  My son loves loves Captain Underpants, Ricky and his Mighty Robot, and various scary books.  He definitely sits for longer to listen to those books.  Some other things we've done to encourage reading:

my dh made a book together with ds about monster bugs...dh wrote the story spread over many pages, and ds drew pictures on every page.  Ds loves to read this "book" over and over.  And this is a special activity for them to do together, also.  If your dh wants to work on reading with your ds, he can do something like this.

- ds got a "letter" from a pirate (dh) with instructions on finding treasure (a few m&m's) in the house.  This is also a good way to practice map reading skills.  

- I ask him to teach letters to his younger brother and he will read to his younger brother.  I've leave books I want ds1 to read by ds2's bed.  He's more likely to pick those up there than by his own bed.

- I used to write all kinds of "secret" messages on notecards - mostly very silly things that when he figured out what they said, he'd laugh - like "don't read this note or I will tickle you".  He loved these little notes he'd get, and he still likes to make his own cards and play mailman.  

 

FWIW, my son learned to read by sight.  I really feel that learning phonics first is so hard, as there are more exceptions than rules in English.  Like "read" present tense and "read" past tense.  I think a lot of "phonics" can be picked up by reading lots and lots...you begin to see patterns.  But everything depends on the kid...some kids love memorizing rules, and some don't.  I started out showing my son 2 letter words like "go" and telling him that would be his word to read in whatever story we were reading.  He progressed pretty rapidly that way.  I do tell him sometimes rules like that "ph" makes an "f" sound, if he gets a new word wrong.  

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#26 of 43 Old 03-16-2013, 07:16 PM
 
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FWIW, my son learned to read by sight.  I really feel that learning phonics first is so hard, as there are more exceptions than rules in English.  Like "read" present tense and "read" past tense.  I think a lot of "phonics" can be picked up by reading lots and lots...you begin to see patterns.  But everything depends on the kid...some kids love memorizing rules, and some don't.  I started out showing my son 2 letter words like "go" and telling him that would be his word to read in whatever story we were reading.  He progressed pretty rapidly that way.  I do tell him sometimes rules like that "ph" makes an "f" sound, if he gets a new word wrong.  

I have had one of each-- a sight reader and another that was naturally drawn to sounding words out.  Both ways have their disadvantages and both are working on balancing their reading skills.  I am talking with them about the inconsistencies of English quite a lot, and I try to treat it lightly.  It is a living history-- invaders, conquerors, fashion, class differences, and regional dialects, migrations, standardization (somewhat-- it was never standardized the way German was).....  I also like to point out that the language evolved centuries before most people were able to write it, and so that can make for funny spellings as well.  Throw in bucketloads of foreign words from a once-French-speaking ruling class, Spanish from the New World, a countless other foreign influences, and English is something of a mess-- but they can and will understand it every bit as much as they learned to speak it.

 

I am reminded that my job in a minute is to look up why "knee" has a "k" in it.  It can be a lot of fun if you can get past the frustration.


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#27 of 43 Old 03-17-2013, 12:03 AM
 
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yes the history of English is fascinating. Even prior to Norman rule, English was not a standardised language but in fact many local languages were still spoken. We have a few of those left-Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Irish, Cornish-and they influenced and lent words to English too. As well as French, Latin also influenced English a lot, mainly during Roman rule (while French is a Latinate language there are some differences). There were strong Germanic/Scandinavian influences from the Vikings. This is something my kids find fascinating too-you can have a lot of great conversations about history, politics, geography arising from why we use certain words.

 

English really is an incredibly old mish-mash of languages, and it does make it hard to learn to read for our kids, I guess. I live in a bilingual area with Welsh, a Celtic-Latinate language, being the other official language and my understanding is that Welsh, which has been fairly recently standardised and is a religiously phonetic language as a result is straightforward to learn to read, and that the question of sight words vs phonetic readers does not really occur to the same extent. Even though Welsh has these famously long and unpronounceable words, which change spelling according to what other word is in the sentence, its actually straightforward if you understand the simple rules. As an adult I had no serious problems learning to read or speak Welsh, because its straightforward. You could not say that of English!


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#28 of 43 Old 03-18-2013, 06:14 AM
 
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Finland doesn't even start school until age 7 and within three years they have the highest literacy rate in Europe. I think pushing kids does more trauma.

 

Try the game I mentioned and read to him. Most of the unschooling moms said their kids taught themselves to read around 7 or 8 (sometimes later.) I understand we have a cultural push to want our kids to read earlier, but I hear so many stories of kids who had the love of reading drained out of them because of that.

Actually that's a popular misconception.

Most Finnish children already have some literacy skills before attending school and the Finnish language is a relatively straightforward language and not as complicated like English.

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#29 of 43 Old 03-18-2013, 07:41 AM
 
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"Most Finnish children already have some literacy skills before attending school and the Finnish language is a relatively straightforward language and not as complicated like English."

 

Yes, I'd agree with that. I'm not so familiar with Finnish but based on what I know of Swedish and German, two other countries where they don't teach til later, the languages tend to be extremely phonetic with easy to follow rules. Which means that if you can speak the language you can generally write it. I've taught English as a Foreign Language and writing English is a whole other ballgame. Students from countries I've always thought of as having hard languages to read and write (eg Arabic, with its complex grammar/syntax, or Chinese where intonation is so important) just thought English ridiculously hard. Spelling problems just don't crop up in other languages in the same way. 

 

HOWEVER the strong, albeit anecdotal (I believe), evidence is that even when English speaking children learn to read English late, they do absolutely fine so long as they were not previously in a situation where not reading/writing put them at a disadvantage. So in a Waldorf/not-pushing early academics homeschooling or Waldorf setting there is no negative outcome, only positives, because no instruction at all is being given in a way that the child can't access it. At the same time the child is building skills that they are in a much better developmental situation to assimilate-listening, story progression, grammar and syntax. And because they are then taught later, there is less likely to be a sense of incompetancy relating to reading.

 

My only hesitation is where there might be dyslexia. I'm still on the fence about whether early intervention is beneficial for dyslexia. I'd love to decide that it wasn't necessary to intervene for dyslexia but I also know that it wasn't something I was prepared to take any risks with, (to my own ex-unschooling surprise and chagrin)


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#30 of 43 Old 03-18-2013, 05:53 PM
 
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Yes, I'd agree with that. I'm not so familiar with Finnish but based on what I know of Swedish and German, two other countries where they don't teach til later, the languages tend to be extremely phonetic with easy to follow rules. Which means that if you can speak the language you can generally write it. 

 

My only hesitation is where there might be dyslexia. I'm still on the fence about whether early intervention is beneficial for dyslexia. I'd love to decide that it wasn't necessary to intervene for dyslexia but I also know that it wasn't something I was prepared to take any risks with, (to my own ex-unschooling surprise and chagrin)

 

Interesting about the phonetic qualities of language.

 

Regarding the dyslexia, our 4 year old has a speech delay. I was very concerned about her having dyslexia. When she was three she started asking to play a game that we ultimately do in a way to connect letters with phonetic sounds. Pretty basic but she loves it. She is now playing the Ooka Island game I mentioned. She loves to watch her brother play. Her scores when she plays by herself our in the 50% to 70% range. My guess is that's standard for many 4 year olds. I'm in no hurry for her to read, but I think her early exposure to phonics, at her own direction, is benefiting her. I'd think a child with possible dyslexia might do well playing these types of games. No pressure, just fun, and they get early exposure in a no pressure way. I know very little about dyslexia so perhaps I'm totally off-base there, but intuitively that makes a lot of sense to me.

 

Another thing that is helping us when she plays these games is her comprehension scores. Because of her speech delay it's sometimes hard to tell which dots she connects, so to speak. However, she is scoring around 100% on comprehension when she plays by herself. When there is a lot of activity in the room her score drops dramatically. It is encouraging to see how well she comprehends stuff even if her discussions about it are limited.


Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and tomato free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.

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