ideas to help my 6 year old WANT to learn to read - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 20 Old 06-17-2009, 07:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a 6 year old son. He's AMAZING and VERY bright. He's done so well in kindergarten- during our first parent/teacher review his teacher grabbed my knee and said "you have a very special boy, I have no doubt that he's going to be someone very important and talented when he grows up". He's artisticly inclined. He's emotionaly WAY beyond his years. He was born at 33 weeks and has not suffered an ounce of lag in his development. He enjoys learning number things. He wants to PLAY physical hard play ALL THE TIME. He doesn't like his dad or I to teach him anything (I swear he's ALWAYS doubted everything we tell him anyway!!). I know for a fact that other kids in his class read. And read well. And write well. ALthough his teacher has assured me that she knows he'll get it "in his own time" (this is how he gets everything, he refused to color at all until he was 4 because he said he HATED how bad his coloring looked before that?!). But, I think he should be on top of this. I know his feelings are hurt when his friends read things for him. I want him to conquer this. How can I get him to sit for a moment each day and work with me on letters and writing and reading? Any ideas?
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#2 of 20 Old 06-17-2009, 08:22 AM
 
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It sounds like your son falls on the typical-to-gifted range of development. I think his teacher is right. He'll get it in his own time. He may well be one of those kids who just won't read until it clicks, then progresses very rapidly.

To work on it now, I suggest a combination of playing games and bribery. Reading isolated words might seem boring and frustrating, for example, if a child is simply presented with a list, as in many phonics programs.

The Concentration Game has proved a good way for me to get DD to practice. Other games that have helped include board games such as Spelling Bee Bingo, Boggle, Jr., and Scrabble Jr.

Another option is bribery. The reward for reading, say, a chapter book, is a good story. The reward for reading an interesting nonfiction book is the neat things you've learned from it. There's not much intrinsic reward in reading a basic phonics reader. They may be cute or a little funny, but mostly they're boring. My DD has responded well this summer to having to do half the reading herself for the Summer Reading Program at the library. She knows she has to read a phonics reader for every other book; I read to her for the other half. Since she really likes getting the prizes, this has motivated her.

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#3 of 20 Old 06-17-2009, 09:18 AM
 
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I would go to a developmental optometrist and make sure he gets a clean bill of health before trying to work with him. Perhaps he is resistant because of a tracking, convergence or processing issue.
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#4 of 20 Old 06-17-2009, 09:39 AM
 
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I was like this as a child. My sister and I both tested "gifted" on every test available. She could read well before she was 3, and I didn't show ANY interest in reading until the summer before 3rd grade! By the end of the summer I had read all of the Little House on the Prairie series (including the later, more advanced books) to give you an idea of how quickly I progressed once I actually showed any interest. And I now have a MA in Library Science

I think the most important thing is for you to just keep reading out loud to him, whenever possible. Expose him to books, but don't push. Kids like this tend to sink in their heels when the very fine line between encouragement and pushing is breached. And it's very easy for them to see encouragement as pushing. Eventually something will catch his eye, and he'll decide that he simply MUST read it, and he'll sit down, and he'll get it. That's the trick: he really has to want to read something, and decide that he can't wait until bedtime, or that he can read faster to himself than you can out loud.

Take him to the library once a week and let him pick out 2 books a week Really stress the "let." It might go against all of your parenting instincts (assuming you normally allow him to take out anything he wants), but to push him to really examine books, stress how he's allowed to take out two books and only two books, and what a great privilege this is. I mean, don't go into overkill or he'll see that you're trying to manipulate him, but just be firm: "You may pick out two books to take home. Oh, you've found three? Can you decide which one you want to leave here, and we'll get it next week?" Give this a shot for a few weeks, and see if he really starts carefully examining the books: the pictures on the cover, and pictures inside, the length, if he recognizes any words. This doesn't work for all kids, but for some kids it really does allow them to carefully consider each book they handle until they find one that really sparks their interest.

Something else to keep in mind: my parents always suspected that part of my problem was that I just didn't "get" phonics. By the time I was in school, whole word instruction was completely discredited, and my parents were very knowledgeable about educational trends and fully supported the research that a phonics based curriculum was best. But I just DIDN'T GET IT. For years. Finally they started to do some whole word drills with me, and I "got" that. I think that most schools find a balance between phonics and whole word instruction these days, because it's obvious that while most kids learn better with phonics, some are like me and need the whole word immersion.

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#5 of 20 Old 06-17-2009, 09:54 AM
 
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Have you come across the Starfall site? www.starfall.com

My ds hated it, lol, but many kids like it. If your ds is a bit of a perfectionist (sounds like it), he might not want to try to read something until he is sure he knows it. Starfall could be helpful because it takes you out of the teaching equation. I think there is another computer based reading program or site called readingeggs or something. I'm not familiar with it, not having wanted to try a pay site/program.

My ds didn't start reading until after he turned 7. He mostly has been learning by increasing his sight words (ones he needs to play fun computer games) and by my reading Calvin and Hobbes (comic strip style reading) to him. I point at the frame I'm reading sometimes. One day, ds just started pointing out words he knew. Then he started asking me what other words were. I'm guessing he thought he knew them but wanted me to confirm first because of his perfectionist tendencies.

He is a visual spatial learner so his learning to read style is a bit different than the typical phonics based approach. VS learners tend to start to read a bit later and learn more through sight words than sounding things out and blending.

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#6 of 20 Old 06-17-2009, 10:16 AM
 
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I would go to a developmental optometrist and make sure he gets a clean bill of health before trying to work with him. Perhaps he is resistant because of a tracking, convergence or processing issue.
Yep. This is a good idea. If they can't find anything wrong, then you know it's just a matter of time with the right encouragement. But if there is something going on with his vision, then no matter what you do or how ready he is, it's going to be a struggle for him. Vision is more than being able to read an eye chart --

http://www.visionandlearning.org/whatisvision08.html

http://covd.org/Home/Parents/Signsan...0/Default.aspx

http://www.optometrists.org/public_eye_care.html

Laura - Mom to ds (10) and dd (7) "Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life." Brian Andreas.

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#7 of 20 Old 06-17-2009, 11:20 AM
 
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he refused to color at all until he was 4 because he said he HATED how bad his coloring looked before that?!). But, I think he should be on top of this.
This sounds like my dd She doesn't do anything until she is sure she can do it well. She is a perfectionist!

What do you mean by "he should be on top of this"? He's only 6. He is still young for reading, frankly, although I understand that many of his peers read well. He isn't old enough to be a "late" reader.

My best idea to help a child WANT to learn to read, is to read to your child. Read, read, read together, and continue to foster the love of books. The desire to read independently will grow. Frankly, he probably already wants to learn to read, but doesn't want to be a "reading learner". He might want to skip right to "reader".

My dd, in fact, pretty much did just that. She didn't want to read "baby books" (as she called early readers), so she pretty much didn't (she did briefly during a library summer program, but hated every minute of it, lol). By the time she was 7.5, she was reading easy chapter books (more acceptable to her). Her reading exploded from 7.5-8.5 (now), and she is well "ahead" in reading. Considering my dd's personality, and the way it all worked out, I'm really glad I didn't push it when she was younger.
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#8 of 20 Old 06-17-2009, 12:54 PM
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The "Elephant and Piggie" books got my son excited about reading.

http://www.amazon.com/There-Bird-You...ref=pd_sim_b_5



He also likes Goosebumps.......that's another fun series (especially for boys.)

And yeah, reading should never be "work," and it definitely shouldn't be "table work." It should be let's go to the library, let's go to the bookstore, let's sit down with this fun new book I found and see what the story is, etc.
Immerse him in reading and he'll want it for himself.

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#9 of 20 Old 06-17-2009, 12:56 PM
 
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My dd, who is a bit older than yours was never a voracious reader like my older child. She would read, and her reading level was fine, but unlike myself and my other child, she would never read just for fun. She always acted like reading was this huge job or chore to get over with.
I think that it's important, not only to be a good reader, but to use reading as something to enjoy, as well as be able to read in public places like airports, on a plane. It's a valuable lifelong skill and it shouldn't be dreaded.
I always encouraged all kinds of reading and quickly got over that the kids have to read something of "value" - if they wanted to read captain underpants or junie b ( both of them, pure drivel with no redeeming qualities) I would let them- just to encourage reading for fun first, then quality later. If I wasn't such a good reader of Mad magazines and trashy romance novels I enjoyed for fun, I may have never been able to endure some the assigned reading in college. It was boring, and irrelevant to me, but since I was such a good reader, I could read fast, and absorb what I needed to. Many people couldn't and just took the F.

Another thing I found, is that if I read the books with my kids- they get more excited. This only works if you pick a series, we used Little house on the prairie, but you can choose any set of books that has a continuing story line. If we were BOTH reading the books, then it was easy to talk about the charcters and plot line togther, and encourage more reading, becuase we had to find out what happened next to the charcter ( would the indians get them, would they survive the long winter, How would Mary survive being blind? )

Lastly, and most recently, the biggest draw for my reluctant reader has been, surprisingly, Twilight- both the movie and the books. She was feeling completely left out that everyone was talking about it, and she had only seen the movie. Her friends even, and especially myself and my older child were analyzing the book vs the movie and had extensive dicusssions about plot and chracter, and she would ask questions ( did Victoria die?? Who is Jane? ) and we would say " hey ya gotta read the book and find out" and she did. The curiosity got the best of her because we were always just raving how wonderful the books were, and she was missing out. I've heard similar stories from other parents of reluctant readers, kids talk obsessively about Harry Potter, and reluctant readers become voracious ones after one Harry Potter book.

Good luck, it will come, but I've found you have to make the books and reading a part of your daily life, and read the same books with the kids.
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#10 of 20 Old 06-17-2009, 01:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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WOW! THank you all so very very much! There's a ton of great ideas I'll go thru after work. You all are really wonderful.

who ever said "maybe he doesn't want to be a reading learner, maybe he wants to be a reader" sums him up in EVERYTHING he does. He does not want to go thru the outward learning process, ever. He didn't crawl- he walked. He didn't color until he could do a masterpiece. He didn't SPEAK more than 2 words until he was over two years old... and when he did speak- it was a sentence!!! As a baby/infant I couldn't put him down. ever. he wouldn't be contained in ANYTHING- no stroller no swing no crib... he would cry until he passed out- really! Perfectionist to a teeeee! Still, to this day, he'll work hard on a painting or drawing or building blocks only to FREAK OUT at the last minute that he did something wrong and DESTROY his entire project! He has also always been a dictator to play with. Meaning that, if he wants to play an imaginary game with us (blocks or soldiers are vet you know what I mean) we have NO say in how it plays out. He tells us what to say, where to move, etc. He's not so fun to play with! I think he's going to be a great director one day!
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#11 of 20 Old 06-17-2009, 10:03 PM
 
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Most kids are NOT reading at the end of K. Really. Learning to read is a 1st grade skill.

Personally, what I would do is read aloud to him books that HE finds interesting. Above all, reading should be a time for you to connect and for him to be intellectually interested.

I have a bright child who could read a bit when he entered first grade, but had a major panic attack/meltdown when the school told him that he had to read aloud to his parents for 20 minutes every day. He claimed he couldn't read because he "couldn't read every word". He didn't want to have to work or get things wrong. So, we started with him reading for 5 minutes and us for 15, and gradually got up to him reading aloud for 15 minutes. We also had him read things that were far below his reading level to boost his confidence.

He's going into 3rd grade now, and something clicked for him in 2nd grade. Actually, I think when he got above a 3rd grade reading level reading was relatively easy. He's reading at a 4th-5th grade level now. I didn't realize just how well ds could read until we read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this winter. He was so fascinated that he couldn't stop when I'd read our two chapters out loud. So, he kept reading after he went to bed.

So, be realistic. He will want to read if reading is not stressful. But it may take a couple of years before he gets it, and there's nothing wrong with that.

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#12 of 20 Old 06-17-2009, 11:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just so everyone knows, we do not stress him out about it. It hurts MY feelings when HIS feelings are obviously jilted because his friends read signs and words on the tv and lots of things and he cannot. SO, I SEE his desire to GET IT and want to help him get there- but very much so on HIS terms!: I'm pretty use to how he is and how he succeeds- I KNOW that he isn't going to try/participate in the learning of reading until he's GOT IT DOWN--- I just want to give him the tools to GET IT in his own head, at least. And I just don't know how to do that!

So thanks so much guys, very very useful advice!!
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#13 of 20 Old 06-17-2009, 11:32 PM
 
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He sounds a lot like my 6 year old. To keep my son interested, we read books together about his special interests, which right now are penguins and volcanoes. He will choose a book about volcanoes as his before bed reading. On the plus side, he does have both penguin and volcano now as sight words.

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#14 of 20 Old 06-17-2009, 11:53 PM
 
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I just want to give him the tools to GET IT in his own head, at least. And I just don't know how to do that!
A lot of it is just natural development. It clicks when it clicks, you know? I understand that it can be frustrating for the child who *wants to be a reader*, though (dd was the same).

There was a point when I asked my dd (who was frustrated with her reading level, but very resistant to practicing or accepting help from me) "what can I do that would help you?" And she asked me to make a chart of the vowels and their sounds. It was just what she needed at that point, so it helped....but it didn't lead to fluent reading. It just helped her over her current obstacle. Maybe try asking him what would help him most?

But, as others have said, and as was true in my experience with dd, it is very normal for reading to really *click* after age 7 or so.
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#15 of 20 Old 06-18-2009, 12:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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He sounds a lot like my 6 year old. To keep my son interested, we read books together about his special interests, which right now are penguins and volcanoes. He will choose a book about volcanoes as his before bed reading. On the plus side, he does have both penguin and volcano now as sight words.
yep, that's my son! The other day he wanted to bring home a book on inner ear infections (i work at a clinic) for his bedtime book- really!

Tonight he had his Daddy read him a book of jokes. and the night the night before it was a book on martin luther king, jr.

Kids are so funny!
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#16 of 20 Old 06-18-2009, 01:13 AM
 
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KimL, go with what you see happening.

My son is 8 years old. He sounds a lot like your precis of your son. I think, though, that my son has the benefit of being the third kid in our family. He is not loved less, but he is given his space to be his own person.

We signed papers this week, recognizing a learning diablity and asking to have him be given special accomodation in the education system.

Still, he has to do certain things that are age appropriate and that are not related to his learning disability. If he has trouble reading, what does that matter about picking up his laundry or doing his dishes?

My son is lucky. Our friend is his teacher, and she will be his teacher next year for the third year in a row. She has made a special commitment to help him through his primary years. Few kids get this kind of help. In my 13 years with the education system, my son is the only person I've ever seen get this kind of help. Our friend is an amazing teacher and an amazing friend.
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#17 of 20 Old 06-18-2009, 11:06 AM
 
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You have already received some wonderful advice. I just want to stress on the fact that among confirmed gifted children, only 50% read precociously. It has something to do with neurological, vision development, personality and interest. Suggesting that he is not ready is not in any way hinting he is not as bright as you think he is.

As some PP said the best thing to do is to read to him and with him. Given how he has always been with other milestones, I'm sure he will fly once he starts. You could probably let him choose: if he doesn't want to sit down and learn, he has to accept the fact he is not reading as his friend, OR he can motivates himself to spend 10 min a day learning. I guess he is mature enough to understand this choice.

Good luck!
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#18 of 20 Old 06-18-2009, 12:22 PM
 
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I told some parents at my school not to rule out books on tape as a way to get the child interested in harder books and stories. For example, some kids like to listen to Harry Potter on tape before bed. It is very enticing because the story is awesome and its above their level. Something to aspire to reading one day.

A lot of times parents go overboard wanting the kid to read for themselves all the time. Books on tape, reading to them, etc. can also stimulate a love for books and reading.

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#19 of 20 Old 06-18-2009, 12:56 PM
 
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I think the most important thing is for you to just keep reading out loud to him, whenever possible. Expose him to books, but don't push.
I agree wholeheartedly. There is absolutely no reason a six-year-old (or his parents) should feel he should be reading unless the motivation is coming from the child himself. Sure, some of his kindy classmates may be reading. Good for them. That is no reason to try to teach your boy before he is ready.

I was an early reader and had to adjust my expectations big-time when my son (who adored books and being read to) simply wasn't ready to read in kindergarten, like I was. I didn't want to turn him off reading, so I backed off and let him go his own way. He started reading fluently at the end of 2nd grade and now (age 9) stays up late with his flashlight in bed with a book just like I did.
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#20 of 20 Old 06-18-2009, 02:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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we do read all the time. ALL the time! He actually has several books that he likes to "read" to us... meaning he confidently has memorized all the words! His favorite book this week is that wonderful Jamie lee curtis book "is there really a human race"- he can recite it while jumping on one foot (we know because he DID!!)! haha.
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