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Ten Year Old Son Needs Reading Help

By Heather Idoni

Added Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 10 No 12 February 12, 2009
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2009 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

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Helpful Tip
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Reader Question
-- 10 Year Old with Reading Difficulty
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Coupon Code = LoveToHomeschool
The code is good until February 27, 2009.
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"I came across this site today and was so excited about printing
the resources for my boys. We all know some of the challenges in
schooling them and are always looking for new things to keep them
focused. There are some great math resources and there are other
subjects, too." -- Roxy

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I have a son who is 10, reading at 1st-2nd grade level. I feel
at times I may be giving him too many phonics and reading rules
to help him 'catch-up' to his 2 older sisters in school. Even
though I know that we are not competing in a public school system,
I think he feels pressure from his sisters (although they really
don't say anything negative toward him and his reading level). It
seems our learning has turned into just reading, math and writing,
with no time for all the other interesting and fun ways to learn
about all of God's creation. He is a very bright child and is
mature for his age. I did homeschool his 2 older siblings and the
2 middle ones opted for the public system. Now they are both
involved in sports so they enjoy the public school. John (at home)
is my youngest, and I think he feels left out at times. We also,
in the last 5 years, have had a lot of financial stress due to my
husband's health and 2 house moves. Any ideas would be welcomed.
Thanks." -- Lynn

Our Readers' Responses

"Lynn -- A couple of free library resources: Strategies That
Work, Mosaic of Thought, Comprehension Connections, 7 Keys to
Comprehension -- all resource books on how to teach comprehension
strategies. If you google 'guided reading' there many, many
helps in this area." -- Andra


"Hi Lynn -- Back of off the phonics and reading rules.I hated
phonics as a child and what the heck were reading rules? As I
remember, I was read to a lot by my Mom and older brother and
lived in an information rich environment.I learned to read
without those things; I struggled with them them in school.I
became a fluent reader and now, as an adult, I teach myself
everything that I am interested in through reasearch and reading.
That said, my son was an early quick learner of reading with me
duplicating my home atmosphere as a child. My daughter is a
slower learner of it and so I panicked and thought 'Oh, I better
help her with phonics'. After several lessons of this she
proclaimed, 'I hate learing to read!' Whoa!!! I was shocked and
realized that I better back off. We are back to just that learning
rich environment now, and though ahe is learning at a very slow
pace, she is learning.Children have developemental stages they
go through and we have to be patient for them to arrive. I like
to compare it to cogs on a wheel that have to be ready to meet --
and no matter how we try to muscle them togehter, they are not
going to meet until they are ready!She is 9 1/2 and just now
her cogs are beginning to meet. So no more frustration and no
more pain -- I let her go at her own pace and follow the cues.

As far as pressure from his sisters, maybe you should have a talk
with him about how he feels with this. If it's just the sibling
rivalry, there isn't much you can do but encourage him and reassure
him. Grab a unit study on something he has an interest in. There
are lots of free ones on HomeschoolShare.com.

If you have a local homeschool group, get involved in it. Ours
offers lots of field trips and things to get involved in. Or just
find another like-minded homeschooling family and plan activites
together. We have so many resources as homeschoolers -- you just
have to find them! If you are needing free ideas for curriculum,
do a search on 'free homeschool lessons' and see what you come up
with! You can do it -- just try some different things for him!"
-- Sandy


"Maybe the phonetic approach to reading is not going to work so
well for your child. Try focusing more on sight words. Some kids
simply do not sound out words phonetically.

Get a lot of note cards, find reading material that he is interested
in, and write down each new word that he comes across. Then, use
the cards to play games with such as memory (make two) or build
sentences with the sight words. You can also make sight phrases or

My son is partially deaf and so phonetics do not work so well for
him. We focus on sight words. You can build a huge vocabulary of
sight words without the painful task of sounding out the words.
Do not get me wrong, phonemic awareness is helpful, but a 'whole
language' approach is as well. Also, with the sight words you
can begin to build books and his writing skills will improve.
My mother-in-law is a special ed reading specialist and she teaches
sight words -- she is very well respected in her field and has
taught me how to deal with a child who simply cannot sound out
the words. Also, play some games with him such as Scrabble, and
allow him to use his cards to find the words. Make it fun, focus
on his interests, and let go of phonics and rules for a while.
You will see a huge leap in ability."


"Hi Lynn! The first thing I would do is have his vision checked,
preferably with a behavioral optometrist who will work with the
vision problem instead of just slapping some glasses on him. My
child's vision was a factor in poor reading. Through glasses and
therapy we have seen big improvements.

Secondly, maybe he just needs a break from all the phonics rules
and tedious school work. Since you are not able to do all the 'fun'
stuff like Science and History, perhaps you can ease up on the other
subjects for a little while and let him have fun with experiments or
history projects. Let him have some fun developing a love of learning;
then maybe he will be more responsive to the other subjects.

For example, say you are studying about China. Do any projects at
his age level, but go to the library and get an easy book like 'The
Story About Ping' to do as part of your study. Read it along with
him -- just enjoy the story. We always switch paragraphs or pages so
it isn't too stressful. There are easy reader books on many subjects,
science included -- ask your librarian.

I think if he develops confidence by loving learning and having fun
with hands-on projects, he will start to feel better about what he
CAN do and he can show off his cool projects to his siblings!" -- Chris


"My son just turned 11 and he too is reading at the same level
as your son. I think the pressure for homeschoolers to be ahead
of public school kids is enormous. My son just wasn't ready to
read until recently. He would always forget sounds and mix up
letters and vowels. I am now using Alpha Phonics, and once he
gets through ten lessons or so I make up a sheet of sentences
using the words that he has trouble remembering over and over.
He can now read through that sheet of paper with no mistakes, so
I move through more lessons and then do the same thing again. I
have found that he is now reading signs on trucks that go by, or
in magazines, etc. -- and just last night he came and read a whole
book to me without me even asking him to! Spend just a little
time each day in reading, spelling, math and writing and then let
the rest of the day be filled with field trips, outdoor exploration,
art and other things that he is interested in. Try to stay away
from computer, video games and TV -- I think it really hurts their
progress. It is so hard not to compare our kids to other kids,
whether it is our own or their friend; it is a battle that I fight
almost every week. Read books that encourage you (such as books
by Dr. Raymond Moore) and stay away from books about what your
child should know when. You are his mother and you know what is
best for him. Get him involved in sports or some activity that he
can do. Sit with him some night and ask him how he feels about
school, and ask him if there is anything that he would like to do
(karate, baseball). I find that if I go in and sit with my boys
at night that they are much more willing to talk and tell me what
is on their mind. After that you can decide where to go from there."
-- Shelley


"Lynn, it is very common for boys to read later than girls. My
son started reading at 9. I would suggest that you abandon grade
level perceptions, let John read books that interest him, but don't
require much. If you cultivate in him a love for books, he'll
become a good reader. I hope you're still reading to him. You
have to make time for the interesting and the fun.Taking nature
walks and keeping a nature journal might be something that would
benefit John. He would be outside, and could draw pictures and
record what he sees. At times he would have to look up something,
which would require him to read. I do believe that phonics is the
best way to teach reading, but even a good phonics approach can do
harm if a child is expected to do it before he's ready. From the
public schools, we have learned to focus on a child's weakness.
Instead, we should start with their strengths. Eventually the weak
areas will improve because of the child's progress in other areas,
and because of his increase in confidence. ~~ Mary Beth


"First relax –- all kids learn at different rates – especially
some boys. My oldest son, now 17, was reading complete chapter
books by 1st grade, but my daughter didn't want anything to do with
reading until she hit 8; my youngest boys – now at 12 and 13 - are
capable of reading whatever they need, but it was like pulling teeth
to get them started. The 13 year old can read college level books
with understanding and ease this year, but a yearand a half ago I
wouldn't have believed it possible.

I don't know how much older your son's sisters are, but be sure to
compliment him in the areas he does excel.

My youngest ones didn’t care for reading until they decided (both
about age 11) that it was a skill they wanted. Before that (though
capable, intelligent, and able), until there is a reason to use it,
it was not a desired skill (by them). We used Phonic Pathways to
be sure they knew how to read, but until the younger boys decided
that reading was interesting, it was tough. The comic book Bible
and Tin Tin books were what finally got them more interested. We
also had abridged versions of other classics for them, but their
interest just didn't spark. Once it finally did, they took off.

Sounds like you are getting him the correct skills; now to find
something that interests him. Once you do, it is amazing how quickly
he will progress." -- Lucinda in MN


"Our experience has been a mix of school and homeschool as well
due to the death of my first husband at age 39. I had my three
oldest in Christian school for one year and then the oldest two
both attended a year and a half when I got remarried. We went
to a homeschool conference and felt that they all should come home
and I have not regretted that decision, although we had to detox
for a while. I felt like we were divided as a family having some
of the kids at school, some at home, etc., and that dividing us
only served to bring tension to the family. One thing to think
about is why am I homeschooling? Is that for our family as a whole
or do I believe in what the public educational system is imparting
to my children? I hope it helps you to get together on this;
discuss it with your husband and see where the family's vision
lies." -- Amanda


"Lynn -- My second child (daughter) was not reading fluently until
about 12 years of age, so I read to her and picked books that were
really interesting. I didn't stop trying to get her interested,
so we kept getting tons of library books at her reading level and
above. I was worried too, but in my research I found comforting
words from people in the home school community who basically said
to relax -- because eventually (in their experience) whatever
developmentally wasn't there would be (barring eye problems like
dyslexia, etc.) So I tried to stop worrying and passing on my worry
to her. I just continued on as I had been and low and behold around
12 she picked up a series of books that she was really interested
in -- and boom! She was off. She advanced rapidly until she was
reading and comprehending very well. She started reading her text-
books by herself and only asking now and then what the author was
getting at. Now she reads scriptural and in depth books and there
is no looking back. So my advice from my experience is to stop
worrying, surround him with books of things he is interested in,
read, read, read to him (and your whole family). If you're worried
about his eyes, get them checked out to remove that anxiety and in
time he will read at his level and beyond." -- Helen


"Lynn -- Have you ever checked into dyslexia? My daughter wasn't
reading, although she is smart. Her sister was reading at age three,
so I knew it probably wasn't something I was (or wasn't) doing. I
heard a specialist in dyslexia speak, and I immediately knew that was
it. I was just so relieved to know it was something we could work on.
To check out the warning signs, go to http://www.bartonreading.com

Good luck!" -- Joan


"Lynn -- First, I would suggest that you stop the phonics for a
while. A lot of the phonics can be learned just by reading together.
Try getting 15-20 books on his reading level (or just slightly
above) from the library. Place them in a basket for him to pick
from during 'reading time' with you. And, don't do anything other
than just read with him for his reading lesson for a while. My
son progressed from first grade reading to third grade reading in
a year of doing this. I had my son read 3 books a day. If they
were long or more difficult than usual, I would read a page, then
he would read a page, and so on. But he learned to love reading
because he got to pick out what he wanted to read every day. Be
sure to switch out the old books with new ones.

To get out of feeling like you do nothing other than reading, writing,
and math, be sure to pick up readers with science, history, or other
interests. There are some really neat readers for second-graders
with those things.

I hope it goes well for your son. I suspect it will since he has a
mother who is thoughtful about teaching him well, and in a fun way."
-- Diana


"I have an 11-year-old who is not a fluent reader. I have also
felt at times that all we do is reading (we also use a rule-based
program due to his dyslexia), spelling and math. In order to
try to keep up with his peers in the 'content areas', I do a lot
of reading aloud. This requires time, but I keep reminding myself
it is just for a season.

I try to allow my son time and resources to pursue his interests
and hobbies, choose books from the library with lots of illustrations
(like Dorling-Kindersley), and we check out audio books frequently."

-- Jenn

Answer our NEW Question

"My 11 year old daughter has been in public education all of her
life. She has always struggled in math and I finally figured out
she has discalculia. It's an inability to calculate in her head
and she can't memorize any math facts. She can get math one day
and the next day she's lost again. I am pulling her out of school
to teach her at home, but first I would like to research how to
help her. Any suggestions? -- Shelly


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Please send your answer to: mailto:HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

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