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  1. #1

    Default Question about reading

    I have some questions about reading for elementary. I am trying to figure out if there is a reading issue to deal with or if DS just needs time.

    DS9 would be entering the 4th grade level this fall. He can read, he comprehends what he reads. He just doesn't like to read. He says that it is hard for him to read and enjoy the story at the same time.

    I am of two minds about this. One is to just let him be. He might get it eventually. The other is that he needs to read regularly.

    I have thought about using some reading comprehension workbooks for daily reading practice. I don't want a curriculum or anything too laborious and I don't want to use whole novels. He listens to audiobook regularly, so he is getting all of the benefits of reading, except for the actual decoding. I don't want to kill the love of stories. The workbooks have short excerpts and a Q&A activity at the end.

    While I have been doing some research on reading fluency, I am wondering how others have addressed this issue. (Of if some of the former teachers out there have some ideas).
    A mama who teaches college writing, as well as help her 11-year-old in
    choosing his own life adventure. Using Global Village School to support our desire to develop a sense of social justice and global awareness.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Arrived TFZ's Avatar
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    How is his fluency? Can he quickly read the dolch/sight word list? If he's focused on decoding words in a sentence it will interfere with his reading comprehension. How is his listening comprehension? Do you see a big difference between what he understands/remembers when listening to a read-aloud than what he comprehends when reading on his own (normal, often listening comprehension is 2 years ahead)? Is he squinting? Have you noticed that he is losing skills at all, staying the same, or just making slower progress than the average beginning 4th grader?

    Okay, don't answer all that for me. Just questions to think about to figure out where he's at. Okay, so here's the interventions we'd be working on if he was in school: Three parts - assessing what level he's reading on currently, providing remedial instruction in phonics and fluency (and comprehension if his listening comprehension is also low), and assessing progress to determine if he is learning.

    Even though comprehension is the issue, it likely isn't the main cause. If he can read and likes to listen to read-alouds, can retell a story, remembers details, etc. it sounds like the root of the issue is going to be lack of fluency - lack of fluency is basically an inability to decode words quickly. So that's the reasoning to always going back to those sight words (can be up to 90% of his reading material) and phonics skills (to be able to read the other 10% of words).

    (1) If he's not reading at the 4th grade level, you'll have to go backwards and figure out where he's at. What level books is he comfortable reading fluently and understanding? Meet him there with his reading material. If it's a 2nd grade level, so be it. Don't frustrate him by pushing him to read books above his comprehension level. Continue reading aloud to him - all the books he's unable to read on his own.

    (2) Assess his sight word knowledge and fluency (hand-in-hand). You can find fluency passages online to determine how many words correct per minute he can read (WCPM). Start here. If he is decoding hard-to-sound-out sight words while he's reading it will impede his fluency and cause the exact frustration you're mentioning - focused on decoding rather than fluently reading and understanding.

    (3) Figure out an appropriate phonics level for him and begin remediation. I know you guys love to game school. There are tons of phonics (and sight words) games for kids out there. Start wherever he's at and build those foundational skills.

    (4) Make some notes about where he is in fluency and phonics and track his progress over a period of time. Once a month or every two weeks. You will be able to see in a few months if he is making progress, staying the same, or moving backward. If you see he's staying in the same place over months or moving backward, it could be a sign that something else is going on.
    Some ideas for assessments - you can find online assessments for fluency and phonics, use whatever materials you're working on and note his success with independent practice on a worksheet, test, or quiz), or use on-level reading material and note his frustration level and fluency progress.

    Continue to work on comprehension skills through read-alouds - asking and answering questions, retelling details, summarizing a story, making a prediction, making an inference, etc, and be sure to be really consistent with whatever form(s) of intervention you choose. You will see his progress (or lack of) over the course of 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, but you have to be consistent with instruction - or you won't know if he's not making progress because of some hidden disability or because of inconsistent instruction, kwim?

    That's my 75 cents Sorry if this is disjointed. I have three kids trollling me this morning. They're being extra screamy. Gah!
    I'm a work-at-home mom to three, homeschool enthusiast, and avid planner fueled by lattes and Florida sunshine. My oldest is 6 and is a fircond grader (that's somewhere between first and second, naturally), my preschooler just told me she wants to learn how to read, and my toddler is a force of nature.

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  4. #3

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    Mariam, hugs. Your ds sounds like my dd at that age. And my freaking out about lack of reading comprehension and fluency is exactly why we started homeschooling. Of course TFZ is all over this issue...! Teachers College at Columbia has a bunch of assessments and implementation tests that you might look into. In fact, a lot of their site is worth poking around.

    With my kiddo, time helped, as well as an insistence that she does workbook-y reading comprehension things. Math word problems workbooks were useful (Scholastic puts out quite a few). Doing these things were "filler" for her 4th grade year, and she was of an age where she liked workbooks, so what the hell I thought, throw a few workbooks and pencils at her.
    Last edited by fastweedpuller; 07-26-2017 at 08:58 AM. Reason: forgot the link duh
    Eclectically homeschooling 8th grade dd, who likes science as much as art...

  5. #4

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    I vote to make him read. And specifically to make him read aloud. It doesn't have to be a lot. Just a little a day. It can be things he chooses. I would just be relentless about it. But in a nice way.

    What did you do for phonics? Doing a program like Logic of English or All About Spelling can help with reading decoding skills too.

    Around that age, I had one of my boys do a really cheap Scholastic Dollar Days book about summarizing and main ideas. It was beyond simple, but it helped something about reading click for him - like, he would read and be able to tell me things about what he read, but he couldn't figure out what the most important things were. Like, in a page about trees, he'd tell me about squirrels because there was a half a sentence aside about squirrels. That kind of thing. This helped that click and it then helped him tackle harder things, at least in nonfiction.
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  6. #5

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    Thanks everyone for all of the great ideas and questions. I am going to answer them all TMZ. LOL!

    Quote Originally Posted by TFZ View Post
    it sounds like the root of the issue is going to be lack of fluency - lack of fluency is basically an inability to decode words quickly. So that's the reasoning to always going back to those sight words (can be up to 90% of his reading material) and phonics skills (to be able to read the other 10% of words).
    I think this is it. I think it is simply a lack of fluency.

    Quote Originally Posted by farrarwilliams View Post
    Around that age, I had one of my boys do a really cheap Scholastic Dollar Days book about summarizing and main ideas. It was beyond simple, but it helped something about reading click for him -
    This is a good idea.


    Last year, I downloaded all of the DOLCH sight words and made up flash cards. I wanted to see where he was at. He had about 90+% of them down, with no hesitation. He is really good with memorizing the word on sight. In fact, I thought he could read better than he could at a young age because it would memorize words so quickly. I'll pull those out again to see where he is at.

    He didn't understand phonics at all when we started in K/1st grade. I used Explode the Code and have started and stopped it a few times. I have started it up again this summer. He doesn't mind it. I am also using the Mr. Thorne Phonics videos on YouTube. They are great for reinforcing sounds. I have a few phonics games that I think I will pull out too. I am seriously thinking about starting over with ETC. We have started and stopped it a number of times. DS actually asked if we could start over. I might just do that.

    I am experimenting now with the daily reading comprehension worksheets. There is short paragraph and questions to answer. I started at the first grade book to see where he is at. It is too simple, but maybe that is what he needs to build up his confidence. Fortunately he is not too insulted with too easy of a read.

    While he can read at higher levels, these easier reads might help me assess his ability and at the same time build his confidence. He is reading things all the time, signs, instructions on video and board games. He is regularly stating, my reading is getting better isn’t it? So I know he wants it to be better.

    Thanks again. This helped me a lot, as I was trying to figure out a strategy to approach this.
    A mama who teaches college writing, as well as help her 11-year-old in
    choosing his own life adventure. Using Global Village School to support our desire to develop a sense of social justice and global awareness.

  7. #6

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    There are *very* few actual sight words in English. Most of the words on the Dolch list are very easily decoded with good phonics skills.

    The Phonics Page has a breakdown about this:
    Sight Words

    Basically... you never did a phonics program. He may not know how to sound words out, especially longer multi-syllable words. I think that's the obvious answer. I would stop spending time on a strategy that requires memorizing every word individually. English has piles of exceptions, but it's not Chinese. You can learn to sound it out and with the exception of a handful of words, nearly all of them follow a pattern (going the other direction is harder because there are often multiple patterns/phonograms to choose from for the same word - thanks to our mixed language heritage and late haphazard standardization systems). There are a handful of learning disabilities that make sight words the only real option for some kids, but these are not common. Most dyslexic kids benefit more from doing phonics, for example. Especially if you run into issues, which is basically what has happened.

    Testing him on the Dolch words will not tell you if he can decode. Test him on nonsense words instead. Something like this:
    NewElizabethian
    If he is just completely lost. You've got your answer. He can't decode. If he aces it, then maybe I'm wrong. Maybe he just needs more reading practice.

    However, I've got a hunch that you might be describing the 4th grade slump. Are you familiar with the 4th grade slump? It's what happens when a child who never really learned to sound words out (aka decode) because they have just been memorizing nearly everything hits books hard enough to stump them. Kids who learned to decode (either because they were taught it or because it came to them intuitively) power through that and read the words with their decoding skills. Kids who have been getting by on Dolch words and context and memorization find it's suddenly not enough.

    If you decide you need a phonics program, I'd do All About Spelling or Logic of English. ETC is also technically an O-G program, but it's so light. And you tried it previously and it didn't click, even if it was a long time ago. If you need a cheaper option, How to Teach Spelling is also O-G and all in one volume. And Spalding is more like AAS/LOE but much less expensive.
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  8. #7

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    Update -

    In case anyone is interested, here is what we ended up doing. I assessed his reading and figured he was around a 2nd to 3rd grade level. I purchased Evan-Moor's 3rd grade Daily Phonics and Daily Reading Comprehension Workbooks. I wasn't sure exactly how easy or hard they would be for him. I use them daily. These have been working great. I was correct about his level - he is what would generally be considered at 3rd grade. He can read easily, with few questions. He can answer the reading comprehension without problems (when he isn't rushing. )

    I have him read a book of his choice daily. Also we listen to audio books and we have reading in the evenings. I have purchased the Epic book app and he has been using it for more reading. He is finding things he likes.

    Things I have learned:

    I was more worried then I needed to be, but I also needed to make sure he was reading more regularly.

    His reading has improved exponentially with daily reading. (That is so duh, but it was good to see.)

    He mixes up the vowel sounds when he needs to figure out the letter, this is what causes the most problems, but I think it is an auditory issue. I have the same thing. (We can't tell the difference between i/e or e/a or u/o. For example, I thought pin and pen were pronounced the some until I was almost an adult.) But this is an auditory issue and makes it difficult when he needs to spell a word. He can read them just fine.

    As a result of the mix-up, I am working on spelling. Just learning remembering how to spell words. So I have a strange process with the phonics workbook, but he is remembering how to spell words. So there is that.

    Since we are doing 3rd grade work and he would be a 4th grader, I consider that he is doing fine.
    A mama who teaches college writing, as well as help her 11-year-old in
    choosing his own life adventure. Using Global Village School to support our desire to develop a sense of social justice and global awareness.

  9. #8

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    Pen and pin ARE pronounced the same in many English dialects - more notably in the American south. Just sayin. It's not incorrect. Or an auditory issue per se... it's just a case of language moving apart from spelling (something that's crazy common in English - I mean, none of us are saying the gh anymore either... and only a few of us are saying the "l" in walk and talk... it's just a thing).

    Thanks for the update! I'm glad things are going so well! Sometimes when kids have issues at this age, it's time for an intervention. But for him, it sounds like you just needed to up the practice and direct instruction, which is great - and always the first thing to try. Yay.
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  10. #9

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    Have you had his eyes checked? There are a number of things that could make it "hard" to read with eye issues.

    1. What he is reading is blurry. Solution, glasses.
    2. What he is reading takes concentration to get it to stay still or look "normal." Solution: Vision therapy.

    I would probe a little more into what makes it hard. "What are the letters doing when you look at them?" Answer should be a strange look and saying "they are sitting there." If he says they are moving, then consider a developmental optometrist or some vision therapy exercises at home.

    Ask if the letter look clearer when larger than when smaller. Honestly, as I am getting older and resisting glasses...it is HARD to read small print. I try anyhow but am learning to put my pride away and take out the glasses.

    There are some vision issues that make it hard to see vertical lines. A kid at the daycare/afterschool program I worked at had this issue. The owner of the daycare, her husband was an optometrist and did a free exam and discovered this. Solution was glasses.

  11. #10

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    The next thought is to make sure he is reading things that are interesting to him. About this age, my older son came to me and said "I don't want to read these fairy tale things anymore. I want to read things that are true." (He was reading a story about William Tell.) So, while my heart broke that he didn't like the things I loved, we read biographies and autobiographies and history and science (and I explained that William Tell WAS a real person.) He liked those a LOT better, and eventually came back to the fiction, fantasy and science fiction that I love. After my son said this, I remembered all the non-fiction books that my husband said he had loved as a kid. Guess the apple did not fall far from the tree. I think this is a common thing for boys.

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