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  1. #1

    Default Reading difficulties in 2nd grader

    My son is 7.5, always been homeschooled, and struggles with reading.

    He does understand the basics. Knows the letters, the basic phonics rules, will sound things out. But it's soooo painful and soooo slow for him. Like, several minutes per sentence, at least, and is pretty tired after only a handful of sentences, complaining about any word that doesn't perfectly follow the simple phonics rules.

    He's been able to sound out words like "cat" since he was 3, and picks up all other academic stuff super easily, so I was expecting a faster improvement.

    Yet, he can rhyme, and does understand phonics, so I'm guessing he can't be dyslexic. But it does run in his family.

    We've been child-led, so I'm sure he hasn't practiced nearly as much as a school kid. Maybe that's all it is? But every time I watch him try to read it's so painful to watch, and he's so clearly hating the process. I'm not sure what the best way forward is.

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  3. #2

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    You say "child-led", but does that include any phonics/reading program at all? Important info if you'd like some suggestions.
    Homeschooling two sons (13 and 15) from day one. Atheist.
    Eclectic, Slackschooler covering 8th and 10th grades this year.

  4. #3

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    My son sounds quite similar to yours in terms of reading skills. My son also gets hung up on exceptions to rules. We've found that Logic of English Foundations works well for him because there are fewer exceptions to the phonics rules using its approach. For example, he learns all of the various sounds each phonogram (letter or combination of letters) can make right from the get-go, so when they make different sounds they aren't exceptions. It also teaches the conditions under which phonograms make the various different sounds.
    Leila: Freelance writer, wife, mom, student
    Kiddo: 6 years old, loves Lego, vehicles, cats, and music

  5. #4

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    Ill pipe in with the suggestion to investigate whether he has a vision issue. Because you describe "fatigue"...
    Its not as though he has to be blind or cross-eyed... and sometimes seeing a vision therapist can clear the underlying problem you werent even aware of.
    Homeschooling DS10, DS4.

    Atheist.

  6. #5
    Senior Member Arrived TFZ's Avatar
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    If he is not dyslexic and it is not his vision - two things that could quite possibly be an issue - then he probably just needs consistent, direct instruction. Hardly any kids will learn to read by watching and listening only. It's not something that most people can just pick up on their own.

    Investigate phonics programs - I would suggest Hooked on Phonics as a good place to begin. They might even have one at your library. Check their website to see what level to start with. You may want to look for a program that is flexible with not too many components since you said he is a fast learner generally. We use Explode the Code, too, which would pair nicely with HoP.

    Slow reading - that means he's lacking fluency. He might be able to sound out words and read some sight words, but the automaticity is not there. Google sight words or dolch words and start working on those (separately from a phonics program, although whatever program you pick will include sight word practice). You can play card games, make a poster or a tree with them on it, tape them to the ceiling, read a list and race the clock, practice flash cards, etc. etc. Make a notebook and work on 1 word a day - one that he doesn't already know, so you may not have to start with "a" "an" or "the." And go from there. The majority of words we read are included in the list of sight words. Knowing those automatically will improve his speed significantly.

    The tired feeling may be a manifestation of frustration in trying to read words/sentences that are beyond his level. Try backing up to easier material to work on his speed and confidence. If it's taking him longer than 7 seconds to read a sentence, he will most definitely be frustrated because his working memory won't be able to retain what he just read. In other words, he doesn't remember how the sentence began by the time he gets to the end of it.

    A lot of early instruction materials may seem annoyingly babyish to a 2nd grader because they are designed for Kindergarten. This may be hard for both of you to tolerate because so much of his education has been interest-led. From what you've said on the forum here and before, though, I think that issue that is popping up is that his interest in science/math has outpaced his interest in learning to read. I would encourage you to search out materials that are on his reading level. Ask your library about finding easy readers that match his interests. Mo Willams is great for some humorous reading.

    ETA: I have a lot of advice because I've taught a lot of kids to read - my background is a 1st/2nd grade teacher. Sight words are the first form of intervention for struggling readers - in addition to a solid and consistent phonics program. Some people may disagree with me, but I can tell you that it works.
    Last edited by TFZ; 10-05-2016 at 04:01 PM.
    Life, Laughs, Homeschool, and Planners: SomeRandomLady.com
    DS5 ecclectically homeschooling kindergartenish, DD3 and DS1 underfoot
    Reflections on Our Kindergarten Year

  7. #6

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    No official reading program (though I'm not against trying one), but all the instruction he's had (from me) is phonics-based, and he seems to like it when things follow the rules. So we've been through all the simple rules and lots of the less simple ones. He's also played a few phonics-based tablet games. I'd love if there was some way for him to improve that he didn't hate doing. He knows he needs to read eventually, and is willing to work some for that reason, but if it wasn't such an unpleasant task I expect I could get more work out of him.

    He has a 5 year old sister who doesn't do as well with the rules and can't read anything complicated, but her combination of guessing and remembering and sounding out leads to a much more fluent reading of simple sentences. My son has zero fluency for anything.

  8. #7

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    I second the Hooked on Phonics suggestion And a lot of consistent practice to boot...

    I get it, my first son was quick and eager to put in the effort to learn to read. Second son....not so much. It was a personality issue. He wasn't lazy, he just wanted to get right to reading things that were interesting to him, and that was frustrating because it wasn't magically happening. He didn't want to accept that it was going to require quite a bit of effort.

    I am always one for choosing your battles, but, like brushing teeth, him working hard to learn to read was one that was non-negotiable. IMO. We had a lot of, "remember when you learned to ride a bike and fell down a lot?" kind of talks....

    HOP was a great, step by step program. It's not entertainment, but some parts of learning aren't necessarily fun.....just necessary.

    It will get better, just keep plugging away. Keep reminding him that it will get better, and be sure to point out progress Keep searching out books that he will enjoy too.

    You may very well look back on this time as being more about lessons of perseverance.....than lessons of phonics.

    And by the way, my son reads a lot now. At 13 he spends about two hours a day reading for enjoyment.

    Follow TFZ's above direction....she's got it goin' on!...and best of luck!
    Last edited by muddylilly; 10-05-2016 at 04:47 PM.
    Homeschooling two sons (13 and 15) from day one. Atheist.
    Eclectic, Slackschooler covering 8th and 10th grades this year.

  9. #8

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    My oldest - like his dad - likes rules and consistency, and I remember his frustration that reading wasnt following those rules.

    We got through it with a lot of commiserating about how messed up spelling was, and a lot of "ok, the word doesnt make sense that way, try making the vowel make its other sound".

    We used BOB books then Explode the Code. Just like for math, having a scope and sequence laid out us helped. For my little one, we are dabbling with HOP. I dont think it matters which one a person uses, but having the progression laid out by people who have taught it and researched it is a valuable boon.
    Homeschooling DS10, DS4.

    Atheist.

  10. #9

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    Thank you -- all of you -- for all the advice

    Quote Originally Posted by TFZ View Post
    Hardly any kids will learn to read by watching and listening only. It's not something that most people can just pick up on their own.

    Slow reading - that means he's lacking fluency. He might be able to sound out words and read some sight words, but the automaticity is not there. Google sight words or dolch words and start working on those

    If it's taking him longer than 7 seconds to read a sentence, he will most definitely be frustrated because his working memory won't be able to retain what he just read. In other words, he doesn't remember how the sentence began by the time he gets to the end of it.

    I would encourage you to search out materials that are on his reading level. Ask your library about finding easy readers that match his interests. Mo Willams is great for some humorous reading.
    Lots of good thoughts here. Going through point by point, because it helps me think it through, and might help you guys help me.

    "Picking it up on their own" -- I was a kid who picked up reading on my own, but I never expected that of my kids (though I hoped!). His experience is somewhere between those of school kids (lots of direct instruction from very young) and hands off. I didn't insist he read in K, but I have explained phonics rules for years, and encouraged him to work on reading stuff using those rules.

    Fluency -- Absolutely this is his huge problem, and what I think we most need to work on. I'll try the sight words thing. As for working memory, I think his is pretty good (he'll do stuff like 36x36 in his head and keep track of all the pieces). So when he reads super slowly, he'll go back and re-state the sentence at regular speed when he's done. He does remember, but I sure see why it's frustrating.

    Materials on his reading level that he likes -- How I would love to find this. Any subject he really likes he knows too much for the early readers. Even stuff like Mo Willems -- he's such a slow reader that I think he's too frustrated to really appreciate the humor when he finally gets to the end. Yet he thinks if he knows all the words it's too easy.

    As for buckling down and just doing it -- he gets that. He'll say, sadly "I know it will be fun to know how to read, but I really don't like learning to read," and then he'll try. He doesn't tantrum about it or anything. He's old enough now to understand he needs to learn, and will work on it when I nudge him, but he's obviously suffering through, and I do want to find some way that's a little easier on us both.

  11. #10

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    I think the vision issue is worth checking out. I agree that it sounds like it's not dyslexia, though it can be stealthy...

    However, 7 is still pretty young. And he's making progress. And he hasn't had a consistent, incremental program. So, that would seem to be the very obvious first step. Get a solid incremental program with lots of practice and do it for at least six months and see where you stand then.

    I'm not big on HOP, but it's fine. All About Reading and Logic of English are a bit more intensive. Progressive Phonics is a good free one. You could also start with Nora Gaydos readers or BOB books or the like. Some people like Explode the Code workbooks for kids like this who know a little phonics and reading but need to go back over and really solidify skills and understanding. You would need to couple that with reading practice since there's not any really built in. But there's no right answer. Just pick something and really do it.
    Disclaimer: Everything I'm saying is just my own opinion, based on my own experiences teaching and with my own kids and my own life. You should just ignore me if I'm annoying you. I don't mind.

    But if I don't annoy you, feel free to visit my blog:
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Reading difficulties in 2nd grader