1st grader struggling in public school - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 11-10-2008, 01:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a 1st grader who is struggling with memorizing words, spelling and just reading in general. The school started with bringing home and memorizing words in the 1st weeks of kindergarten, something that many other schools around here don't start as early. So now here we are in 1st grade, spelling tests, words to memorize every week and it keeps getting more difficult. The teacher put him in "title one" an extra reading program and now he is starting to feel like he is behind and being made aware of the "problem."

At this point, I'm not sure what to do. We spend over an hour doing homework and reviewing stuff, reading, etc.. every single night during the week. I've thought about homeschooling, or an alternative type of school for next year though not much is available. I'm just getting fed up with how the kids have to think alike, learn alike and such but I guess that is what public schoo is.

Frustrated, please offer suggestions. Thanks so much.

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#2 of 18 Old 11-10-2008, 03:07 PM
 
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When something is not working for our child, we need to take whatever action we can.

If you are considering hsing, come post on the hsing board.
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#3 of 18 Old 11-11-2008, 02:25 AM
 
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i would first rule out any learning disability or vision problem with a detailed check.

if he is the youngest compare him with your other boys and their personality.

you always have the option of hsing or alternative school. but in the meantime do everything to make sure its just a readiness issue and nothing else.

have you tried other resources.

for instance when i found my dd having issues with reading (different than ur son's) i signed her up for 20 lessons from www.headsprout.com to see how she liked them since she was a whole language learner and needed help with phonics. she needed help with thinking in phonics style and it has helped her tremendously.

she plays on spellcity.com and she has improved a lot more.

the thing i learnt with her is she is a perfectionist. she wont do something unless she is certain she can do it well. plus i have found the computer is a great learning tool for her. she had it in her to do it - she just needed the confidence push. she was more open to learning reading with a computer program rather than a book. now that she is reading well she no longer reads on teh computer. she reads books all the time. and is willing to try.

also with my dd i found - it wasnt the time you spent studying that mattered. but more how you spent the time and the fun you had.

she recently got a small whiteboard with coloured pens. she loves that thing and will write and practise as play rather than looking at it as homework. she writes - makes mistakes. i dont point them out unless she asks me if that is how it is spelt. she plays teacher student game where i am the student and i make the mistakes she and her class makes.

also do you volunteer? i volunteer a lot so i know exactly whats going on in class as well as what my dd is doing in school. it could be tough for you if you have two younger ones.

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#4 of 18 Old 11-11-2008, 03:05 AM
 
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I second meemee about volunteering. I did that last year and it helped to see how he was learning in the classroom situation.

If you're interested in homeschooling, like UUMom suggested, check out and ask questions on the homeschooling forum here. There's a wealth of information and you can get ideas and see if it's something you want to pursue.

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#5 of 18 Old 11-11-2008, 07:56 AM
 
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That is a frustrating situation.

I tutored 2 first grade girls one year whose mother thought their reading and spelling were not up to where they should be. She was right, but I think the most important thing is to re-teach everything and see if the child is missing something.

I found the problem early on with both girls - they were both saying the short "a" sound and the short "e" sound as the same exact sound. I then gave them a book to read that had simple phonetic words in it. When they got to a word that had either an "a" or an "e" sound, they sometimes struggled.

After they practiced that one skill, their reading improved a million percent.

I agree with the vision and learning disabilities tests. I think these are really helpful and will either bring to light some problems or exclude some problems. Either way, you'll be one step closer to a solution.

Make sure your son realizes that if he's not as strong in reading, it is OK. He's strong in other areas that other children are not. Everyone needs extra help with things - it might even help to tell him things you need help with that not everyone needs help with.
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#6 of 18 Old 11-11-2008, 12:56 PM
 
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Is he struggling only with sight words, or with sight words AND decoding? does he know all the letter sounds? blends? (/fr/ in frozen) can he blend sounds and take them apart? (i.e. ask him to take apart the sounds he hears in "cats" and see if he can hear 4 distinct sounds all on his own)

what type of reading program does the school do? what type of reading work do you do at home?
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#7 of 18 Old 11-11-2008, 03:16 PM
 
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I second meemee about volunteering. I did that last year and it helped to see how he was learning in the classroom situation.
ditto. I volunteered last year when my children were in a school outside the home (I H/S now). It sounds like your child just isn't ready to learn the material. Not all children learn the same things at the same time unfortunately.

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#8 of 18 Old 11-11-2008, 06:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh thank you to all for responding with great ideas and suggestions. I will find out about volunteering for sure and have checked out some of the help websites mentioned.

We work hard at studying for spelling tests, rarely does he get them all correct. For learning words, he does much better with flash cards, is good at sounding them out and decoding. However, when the words are put all together in a sentence or book, he seems over whelmed and gets frustrated with it. By the end of the page, he obviously has a hard time comprehending it all.

I don't think he has any sort of learning disability at all, but instead is just not ready for such forceful learning like he is getting at school. The words get harder each week and they are expected to keep up the pace and build, build, build. His teacher is also not the warmest of adults and I do think her method/personality or whatever may be contributing in a negative way. Since he was a baby, I've noticed that many things for him take longer but once he gets it, he has it down. I'm hoping that things will click with all this stuff soon.

In the mean time, I need to stop comparing him to my middle child who is and always has been an advance natural reader. I think his strong point will be math. The stuff they are doing in 1st grade seems so easy for him, so we are building his confidence with numbers! I just don't want him to get all down with the reading, or end up not liking to read because of not being able to keep up the pace in class. My interest really is NOT to home school him at all, but if that is what needs to be done, then I'll do that. By the end of the year, I would just hate to move him into 2nd grade if he has struggled with reading though!

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#9 of 18 Old 11-12-2008, 01:34 AM
 
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Our son, 1st grade, age 6, is having difficulties too in reading and spelling (and handwriting) he is a little math whiz though and loves math : (okay I'm probably stretching the whiz part but it comes easy and natural for him and he *enjoys* math)

I have tried to do things where I take his spelling words and come up with math stuff... like he has to do addition problems to get a number that corresponds with a letter that he fills in the blank with to make the word.

I have also started where he 'writes' his spelling words 3-5-10 times (depends on the day or his intrest level) on the computer. I set up a simple excel sheet and he has to type instead of write. he gets the practice in on how they are spelled (it probably hurts his handwriting skills, but something I'm okay with for now...there is just so many hours in the day.)

What about transcribing the words from his story to the computer. A sentence to each page of a word doc, I know the pictures are great but I'm finding my guy is too busy looking at the picture to look at the words, I understand he's looking for clues, but too many times he's just reading me the picture instead of the actual words.
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#10 of 18 Old 11-12-2008, 02:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We also started having him type the spelling words on the computer. I'm surprised the teacher doesn't make them write the missed words 5 or 10 times, so we do that at home on paper as well. He has been having fun making sentences and such on the computer though.

The idea of getting a white board to write words like someone suggested is a good one. Last year, I made bingo cards with words they were learning.

Thanks for relating math with the words to encourage learning. What great info.

Shay

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#11 of 18 Old 11-12-2008, 09:33 AM
 
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My DS is also in 1st grade, so I know where you're coming from. One of the things his teacher does to help them learn their words is to make "sailboats" with each word. For instance, if the spelling word is clock, he would write:
c
cl
clo
cloc
clock

So it makes the shape of a sailboat . DS loves doing these and they've really helped. We also do all our spelling practice on the whiteboard with a dry erase marker.

~~Kristina~~ Mama to DS(10/30/01), DD1(VBAC 3/28/04) and DD2(HBAC 5/21/06)
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#12 of 18 Old 11-12-2008, 10:35 AM
 
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Ohhh I like the sailboat idea! I'm going to have to try that. Thanks for the tip. That's the greatest thing about this board, someone else asks a question and other folks benefit from people answering!
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#13 of 18 Old 11-12-2008, 11:26 AM
 
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hi,
i'm pretty sure your state has k12 (http://www.k12.com/ha/). i think you also have a connections academy in the works (www.connectionsacademy.com). anyway, these are virtual public schools where your child would still be enrolled but would be learning at home. it might be a route worth investigating if homeschooling seems overwhelming & your current situation isn't working. anyway... it's an option you might be interested in??? hugs to you.

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#14 of 18 Old 11-12-2008, 11:31 AM
 
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Originally Posted by shay View Post
We also started having him type the spelling words on the computer.


www.spellingcity.com is the best!!!!


also, we use www.readingeggs.com and it is my child's favorite. we homeschool, but i really don't think this program would feel like extra work to a child in school at all. it is very fun!! it cost money, but it's been well worth the $45!! www.starfall.com is good and popular too - it's free.

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#15 of 18 Old 11-12-2008, 01:31 PM
 
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Are you familiar with Dr Moore's research? Basically, it says that reading shouldn't be introduced until closer to 8+ years of age, but that by waiting that long, the process is very quick and easy because they are ready, able, etc. So instead of struggling from age 5-8 to get it, they basically waltz in at age 8 and within a short time, can master all of it. (Of course, after planning to just wait, i have a kid who is desperate at age 4 to read and write....LOL!) It's sort of the same concept as learning to walk...you can "practice walk" with your baby starting at 4 months old....but they still aren't going to walk until they are ready and developmentally able...which, let's say is 13 months old. so..you spent 9 months working and getting upset and frustrated, whereas, you could have just waited until the kid was 13 months and the walking would have happened anyway. does that make sense?

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#16 of 18 Old 11-12-2008, 02:42 PM
 
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Kids come into first grade at all different reading levels. And they learn to read at all different speeds. Are all the kids in your ds's class expected to read the same thing at the same time? Or are they broken into smaller reading groups? In my ds's public school each child reads at their own speed. They have their own bag of books at their level. They are broken into reading groups with students of similar ability. The reading groups are always changing as the children change. The teacher also works one on one with the students. There are reading specialists that work with kids that need some extra help. Parent volunteers come in every day to read one on one with kids. All the kids feel good about the leel they are at and are never made to feel like they are behind. It is good to see that the teacher is giving him some extra help if he needs it, but he shouldn't be made to feel like it is a problem. Set up a conference with the teacher. Tell her your concerns and find out what she is doing to help. Your ds will learn to read at his own speed. There is no need to rush him so he "keeps up" with other kids in his class.

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#17 of 18 Old 11-13-2008, 05:27 PM
 
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I had one who struggled in first grade, the upside was that 2nd grade was her favorite year, a dream year.

Anyway, my dd did best to get a ball and bounce once for each letter of the word, or jump each letter, like with a jump rope etc, she was not the type who learned best sitting down.
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#18 of 18 Old 11-15-2008, 03:19 AM
 
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In the case of your son, if you have the time (I am saying that because I know how hard it can be to carry out ideas!) I would highly suggest that you write, write, and write some more with him. Don't make him write. Have him tell you stories, lists, letters (to people, not of the alphabet), or anything else that is meaningful. You type it on the computer for him in LARGE font but not all caps-- stick to the rules-- maybe something like Century Gothic font to start. He can read back what you've written (and write what he says EXACTLY-- don't correct or edit), and illustrate when he wants. Print out his pages, put them in a three ring binder, and now he has a collection of things he can read.

I find it very different when children are reading what is meaningful and what comes from THEM. They take ownership of the process. Reading isn't scary or stressful-- it is actually interesting and exciting!

As for a learning disability-- if you haven't had a thorough vision exam (not just checking for 20/20 vision, but for other issues) you can't know. My oldest DD is a very strong reader, but we found out that SHE had vision issues and we had to go to vision therapy. It helped. I do think you should start with that, as they seem fairly common.

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