Jul 06, 2011
A little over two years ago, I posted a journal with concerns about my son's reading skills and progression. He was in preschool and 4½ years old at the time, being taught the basics of reading such as recognizing letters, short vowel sounds, consonent blends, and phonetically sounding out three letter words and sight words. At his preschool, they taught this by activity teaching (games, drawing pictures, etc) and worksheets and booklets that took probably a total of 30-45 minutes, in intervals, throughout the day. Looking back at my journal from two years ago, here were some of my concerns and frustrations:
- He seems to see lower-case b, d, p, and q as the same. He even confuses their sounds....This also *sometimes* happens in differentiating lower-case a (written the "rounded way"), c, g, and h, but he's better at not mixing these letters up as much. Others he has trouble differentiating are k and x, and m and n. I realize this may be common for children learning to read...how long does it take before they are able to definitely differentiate these letters and sounds?
- Working with putting his phonetics together to say a monosyllabic three or four letter word has been extremely frustrating for me. He knows all the sounds of the letters, and quite a few blends (when he's not confusing the b and d sounds, etc, anyway). But he *never* wants to finish sounding out a word--he always says the first two sounds and then starts throwing guesses for the word out there that have those first two sounds, expecting one of them to be verified as the correct word for him.
Fast forward two years and a few months later to today. He will be seven years old in November and starts 1st grade the first week of August.
- He has learned to read fairly well, but he's still struggling with these exact same issues, and a few others. He still confuses the lowercase b, d, p, q, m, and n practically each time he tries to read them.
- He is ALWAYS (no exaggeration) writing numbers and letters backwards, even if I have him write them repeatedly--a few minutes later, he writes them backwards again. The main letters and numbers he writes backwards are 3, 5, 6, 7, G, D, S, b, and d.
- He consistently reads short words backwards, particularly on, no, was, saw, bed, now, won (and confuses now and won with own), to name a few.
- He still "shuts down" when I ask him to sound out a word, even if it's a word he knows. He just starts throwing words out there, sometimes nonsense words, based on the sound of the first letter of the word, or the illustration he sees, hoping he'll eventually get the right word, instead of making any effort to sound out the word. He does this with words that are 2-5 letters long and I know he knows the words if he would only READ them--they're sight words or words that are easily sounded out if the effort is put forth. If I cut him off from guessing and tell him to look at the letters and make the sounds to figure out the word, he gets EXTREMELY frustrated and starts shouting more guesses, still not making the effort to use phonetics.
This is a frustrating battle that he and I fight each time I sit him down to practice reading each day. I try to stay very calm and take things one letter at a time, one word at a time, but getting him to cooperate and make any effort to read...you'd think I was threatening to rip his fingernails out or something!
Another concern is his handwriting. It's not illegible, but it's sloppy--it seems he puts about the same amount of effort into writing as he does reading. His letters are consistently over or undersized, sinking below the line or floating above it, and he doesn't complete writing letters like a (written the "rounded way"), b, d, g, h, n, p, and y.
I actually didn't have a concern about his writing until a couple of weeks before he graduated kindergarten. I was invited to a Mother's Day morning event, and the kids had made cards and drawings for their moms. The cards had notes written by the kids. I could barely read what my son wrote and had to ask him what he wrote--his words were all over the place and his spelling made no sense based on how he speaks (which is how they taught them to write; phonetically). I will admit I looked at the other kids' cards displayed around his table (he had a small class of 12 other kids), every single card that was within my vision, which was probably 10 out of the 12 other students, and every single one of them had nice, neat handwriting, and recognizable words. Yet my son's writing looked like he started kindergarten a week ago. I felt a bit irritated with the teacher at that moment because I had raised concerns to her a couple of times over the course of the year about his behavior and lack of focus, and her feedback was not at all concerned--she seemed to have excuses at the drop of a hat--"It's not just him, it's all the kids--we've been rained in for recess alot and they have too much pent up energy," and "He is making progress."
Well, he may have made progress, but for as much money as I paid for him to be in that private school, in a small class, maybe I expected too much...but noticing that nearly every single student in his class seemed to have advanced much better than he did as far as handwriting and writing phoenetically made me irritated.
Another issue is his reading comprehension. He could ace the reading tests in kindergarten if I read him the books sent home--he's got an exceptionally good memory. But toward the last month and a half of his kindergarten year, I was making him read more of the books on his own, and helping him along the way with words--needless to say, I generally read most of the books. However, the more I demanded him to read on his own, the more his reading comprehension test scores dropped. The last four tests he took before the school year was out, he failed completely. These were simple books with simple words and the stories were very short. I could have him read the book on his own three or four times (as recommended before testing) and it would seem he'd have the book memorized, review it with him in the car on the way to school, and he'd still score badly or fail the test. Yet if I read him the book three times, reviewed it with him, and sent him to test--he'd ace it.
He's been out of school since May 25, and he had a recommended reading list and book list sent home for the summer, encouraging parents to work with their children each day for short periods of time to keep them up to par before returning to school for the next grade level, because without practicing their reading and writing for 2½-3 months has statistically shown regression of up to three or more months by the time they start the next grade level. So, I bought him a first grade workbook and have him do 3-6 pages each day, I get him library books and have him read one or two a day, I make him flash cards from the list of 1,000 words that were sent home in one of his school packets (I make a set each day), I have him write in his journal about once a week which only has to be 2-4 sentences written phoenetically, and I read to him every night from a devotional book, Harry Potter, and library books...you know, ALL those things that parents are encouraged to do. I make sure we do it. Education is held in extremely high regards in my family, so instead of just blowing off all the recommendations and letting my kid have a completely carefree summer of nothing but fun and boredom, then sending him back to school regressed three or more months, I'm enforcing about 30-50 minutes of schoolwork and reading a day and making sure to read to him each night before bed.
But it's a battle and I'm getting really concerned as to why this is such a challenge for him.
I am so frustrated, wondering if he's stuck, wondering if there's something wrong...I've had concerns about his extremely active behavior and reading/comprehension skills since he's been about two years old. I don't want to seem like I'm TRYING to find something wrong with my son, but something just seems off and has for awhile, and the only reason I haven't pursued testing is because nothing seems quite "bad enough" according to most other people who say he's acting like a normal boy his age should. I don't want to seem like I'm not practical with my expectations of him because I feel like I am well within my bounds of expectations. I am not an overbearing, overachieving, ultra competitive mother. I just want my child to be at ease learning, and it seems more difficult for him than it should be.
I've looked up signs of dyslexia and here are the symptoms he shows:
-Appears bright, highly intelligent, and articulate but unable to read, write, or spell at grade level. (he is at grade level, but barely, and it didn't come with ease)
-Isn't "behind enough" or "bad enough" to be helped in the school setting.
-Hides or covers up weaknesses with ingenious compensatory strategies; easily frustrated and emotional about school reading or testing.
-Talented in art, **drama**, music, sports, **mechanics**, **story-telling**, sales, business, designing, **building**, or engineering. (the ** are where my son's talents lie)
-Seems to "Zone out" or daydream often; gets lost easily or loses track of time.
-Difficulty sustaining attention; seems "hyper" or "daydreamer."
-Learns best through hands-on experience, demonstrations, experimentation, observation, and visual aids.
-Confused by letters, numbers, words, sequences, or verbal explanations.
-Reading or writing shows repetitions, additions, transpositions, omissions, substitutions, and reversals in letters, numbers and/or words.
-Reads and rereads with little comprehension.
-Spells phonetically and inconsistently.
-Has extended hearing; hears things not said or apparent to others; easily distracted by sounds.
-Trouble with writing or copying; pencil grip is unusual; **handwriting varies or is illegible.**
-Has difficulty telling time, managing time, learning sequenced information or tasks, or being on time.
-Computing math shows dependence on finger counting and other tricks; knows answers, but can't do it on paper.
-Excellent long-term memory for experiences, locations, and faces.
-**Extremely disorderly** or compulsively orderly.
-Can be **class clown,** trouble-maker, or too quiet.
-Had unusually **early** or late developmental stages (**talking,** crawling, walking, tying shoes). (My son was speaking two-word sentences by 8 months old).
-Strong sense of justice; emotionally sensitive; strives for perfection.
-Mistakes and symptoms increase dramatically with confusion, time pressure, emotional stress, or poor health.
This site in particular had much more information, SO MUCH of which applies to my son--it's amazing.
So I'm just wondering--are my expectations for my son's academics, especially over the summertime, way too high? Am I creating a problem for my son and myself because I'm not being realistic that he's just a 6½ year old boy?
Or should I get him tested for dyslexia as soon as possible? Especially before school starts...or should I wait and see if his new teacher has any concerns to tell me? (although I haven't gotten any concerns from the last two years of teachers he's had--all of whom maintained "he's right where he should be" academically, even through all the concerns I've expressed. I DO NOT expect my son to be at the top of his class at each grade level, as lovely as that would be, but good grief, I don't want him struggling just to meet minimum requirements and that be good enough for the teachers to pass him).