Learning difficulties

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Jul 1, 2012.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Okay, now I've stopped worrying about Pup, I can go back to worrying about J :)
    On Friday he received his end of year evaluation... ridiculous, really, to start all this at his age but it's society that wants it that way, so... what can you do? Anyway, to my thinking, this does indicate that he probably is going to have learning difficulties and difficulties learning to read and write. There are loads of targets that the child is ideally to have met and these are all graded - acquired, on the way to being acquired, and not acquired. I know J is bright but there seem to be problems. One of the targets is to recognise and write most of the letters of the alphabet. For this the teacher has said it is on the way to being acquired, as she has for "relating sounds to letters". In hand she has written "few letters are recognised, particularly in joined up writing." He also has problems with time relationships (I know this from home) - identifying time in the day, the week and the year and with recognising numbers.
    Well, the teacher will undoubtedly play the "all is fine" card but to me this spells the likelihood of some 'dys' problem. I do know that most kids of his age recognise all the letters of the alphabet and can write them. I haven't been in any way working with him on this at home because I believe that if there is no problem, reading and writing will come in their own time.
    He is the youngest in his class and will be six in December. They don't start teaching reading and writing until the next academic year, when the child is six or nearing six. A few already do begin to read before, of course.
    What do you think?
  2. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    If their own report says that he isn't able to do these things, how can they possibly say that everything is fine? That makes absolutely NO sense to me. Their own report contradicts that. Have you ever had his eyes checked? If the letters and numbers are blurred (poor vision) or if he sees them backwards (dyslexia), it could be a huge thing that can be worked on.
  3. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Well, it isn't that he isn't able to do them at all but that he is slower than the others at doing them... and then the teacher says (quite rightly, I am sure), that in her experience, children have very different rhythms at learning how to read and write. She says that the real deadline for this is actually the end of the second year, when the child is 7 or 8. She is right but... a child of J's intelligence "should" be recognising all the letters by now. But he is slow to learn them, very slow really. I am going to be swimming in the dark again, to create a nice mix of metaphors. Don't know where to begin with dys things and there's no-one on hand at the moment to point the way.
    by the way, J has had really thorough eye tests and there's nothing wrong.
    PS - I suppose what I am "after" is to have a sense of how normal this is at this stage and whether I should be taking it seriously and start pushing to get evaluations for learning difficulties.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2012
  4. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Malika~ My Duckie was in much the same boat as your J. Her birthday is in January. She did a two year pre-k starting at 3.5 years and started kindergarten at 5.5 years. She, however, was among the oldest starting kindergarten since her birthday fell after the cut-off. I do believe that your J is in a fairly precarious position as a boy and being the youngest as boys often aren't as ready maturity-wise to settle down in a classroom setting and this is further worsened by him being the youngest student. Have you considered holding him back this year or next? It may help him catch up at a pace more comfortable for him.

    Duckie started kindergarten recognising only 18 of 26 letters, iffy on some of the shapes and barely able to print her first name (remember, this is after two years at pre-k). Her kindergarten teacher was not concerned because Duckie was able to sit and remember to raise her hand and stay in line when necessary so she felt that Duckie would pick up on the academics (remember, she's the oldest child in her class). I ***think*** that J may possibly be a little too busy or distracted right now and requires a little time and maturity to settle down for the business of reading and writing.

    Here are some of the things we did to encourage Duckie to use and recognize her letters and numbers:

    We read, spelled and counted everything we could, then had Duckie repeat it. She wanted three cookies? Fine, but she had to repeat "c-o-o-k-i-e" and count out "1-2-3" as they were dished out.

    She had a fine motor delay so we used thick crayons or washable (thick) markers when possible because it was easier for her to grip. We also made it fun to "write": we'd use our fingers to etch out letters in the bubbles of her bath, spray them out with aerosol whipped cream or shaving cream and etch them using sticks in sand, mud and dirt. Sidewalk chalk was our friend.

    We sang and memorized The Alphabet Song and kept a print out of the alphabet in upper and lower case letters handy. We used these to sing to a letter she wasn't sure of when she came across it in text.

    We praised her greatly when she got it right and encouraged her mightily when she did not. Our motto became "If other kids can do it, so can Duckie."

    We read stories to her every night and attended story times at the library regularly. We let her catch us reading often to stress its importance and keep her interested.

    It worked. :)

    She actually read The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore at a library story time in late December of her kindergarten year. Six months of hitting the problem hard not only caught her up but pushed her pretty far ahead. While I wouldn't necessarily expect these results from every child, I do think it would definitely help lessen the gap he's fallen into this year.
  5. I would agree with TeDo that you should have his eyes checked asap. My daughter has vision issues. She would be able to read ok for a little while but then letters would blur. She has a lazy left eye but it wasn't visible because it doesn't turn in or out. That said she wasn't using the eye AT ALL when we finally had her tested. The initial eye tests were difficult because the eye doctor thought she was goofing around. Finally, we had the drops put in her eyes and then the doctor can tell without input from the child what the necessary prescription is. With a lot of patching she now uses that eye but her vision is still quite poor in that eye. The sooner this is caught the better.

    Also, my daughter had the problem with differentiating time as well. She would say things like we'll do that tomorrow or next month and not realize how far apart those things were. She will still sometimes say things like that should take a half hour or 6 hours. Not to worry you but she does have significant dyscalculia and is 3+ grade levels behind. The huge issue with dyscalculia is the understanding of the concept. What are numbers, what do they mean, the why behind formulas, that kind of thing. For example, daughter can do long division but if you give her a problem that needs division to solve she can not figure out which operation to do.

    That is not to say that at his young age this isn't something that he will figure out but I think you need to be aware that although they are intelligent (daughter is) they can still have Learning Disability (LD)'s. Spend some time playing with manipulatives and making up fun word problems and trying to get him to figure out how to do those things. One of the best things I use with daughter is money. She grasps the concepts being taught is I can use money to help her figure things out.
  6. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    Malika, as you know I am dealing with this as well. My first thought would be: is J interested in learning the alphabet and numbers? If is NOT interested at all, then I would honestly not worry about it at his age. On the hand, I would be concerned if expressed a clear desire to learn but just can't really do it (or limited ability to do it).
    At did not know any of the letters when I entered cp, despite working on it every day in maternelle. But I had no interest in it what so ever. My mother did not teach me either. But yet, I never had any learning issues and actually turned out to be an excellent student throuhout my school career.
    I do get worried about V because he WANTS to learn but has a hard time remembering. Although he knows almost all of his letters now. But it took a lot of work, one on one teaching and a special method using different modalities (writing, touching, seeing and signing).
    So my question to you: how motivated is J and how many different teaching method has he been exposed to?
    Although it is a bit too early to know about any learning disability, I would say it is a reasonable assumption if J wants to learn, a lot of techniques have been tried and the succes is limited or laborious.
  7. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    I concur with checking his eyes and if there's a developmental vision specialist, see that person. My babyboy had glasses since K but it wasn't until grade 4 that we realized he had a convergence problem AND needed bifocals. 9 months of vision therapy and the right glasses turned a child who would scream and throw books across the room into a voracious reader.

    My D was in the gifted K class but was about the 3rd youngest of 28 kids. She knew the letters but didn't know how to read. I thought she did but that was only because she had such a good memory that she could fool us on books she already knew. She finally learned to read in grade 3 because she was annoyed at being put in the slow group and asked her teacher how to get out of it.

    Oldest boy learned how to read at 3 but we didn't realize it until K when he brought home a book and read it to us. It was well above grade level and he said his teacher had read it to him and he memorized it. Teacher said she did not read it to him and sent home another book he'd never seen before. He was and is an amazing reader but dropped out of college after one semester while my D, who strugged much more with reading, is an honor student in college.

    All kids learn at different speeds. Reversals are common until about grade 3. However, that does not mean I think you should ignore it till then. My PC16 was diagnosed with dyslexia at age 4, by my mother in law of all people who commented one day that easy child's homework looked just like H's. H was diagnosed with dyslexia in graduate school. Just recently, babyboy was diagnosed as dyslexic. It wasn't until we dealt with his visual issues that his dyslexia emerged. His is also much less severe than easy child's and he managed to get by on his smarts till 7th grade when the writing demands increase exponentially.

    I agree with ktlc about trying different methods of reading instruction. I don't know if you have Orton-Gillingham or Wilson in France, but both methods were used with my easy child and he reads well above grade level with excellent comprehension, though he does read very slowly. These methods were so successful that my school district now incorporates elements of them into the regular reading curriculum.

    There's also the possibility that he just isn't ready to read. My difficult child, who has the highest IQ of all of my kids and no Learning Disability (LD)'s, would not read anything other than math word problems until 3rd grade. Then, he decided he wanted to see a new movie based on a book (Holes) and he wanted to go with oldest boy, who was in 7th grade, without parents. I told him he had to read the book first and tell me about it. He did. The funny part was when he got home he said that he liked the book better!

    I am only telling you about all of my kids so you can see that even amongst biological siblings raised in the same home and attending the same schools there are wide variations in reading.
  8. lovelyboy

    lovelyboy Member

    Tiredmommy....thanx for your encouraging post!
    Malika.....we have similar problem with our youngest one at the moment! I notice your son's birthday is only in December, mine is end of November.....Maybe it's not a bad idea to keep him a year behind in his grade?
    My little one is also struggling to sit still, concentrate, follow the class routine, exct.

    But my son also struggles plenty with fine motor....he has started identifying his colours and shapes now. We had him tested by the Occupational Therapist (OT) and ST and he has huge sensory disfunction and great speech delay...both in his mother tongue and second language( unfortunatly his schooling language).

    He is starting to make plenty of friends. There was this stress from the teachers side, because she was trying to get him ready for grade 0, but we have decided to let him repeat grade 00.....and since then the teacher is more relaxed, she is trying to make his schooling a positive experience and now my son is more relaxed, says he loves his teacher and his school, where in the past he didnt want to go to school, and the funny thing is, he is starting to improve plenty!

    I even took him to the psychiatrist, because of speech delay and ' being in his own imaginary world' sometimes....we even did an EEG....end result: He has Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) and Auditory Processing Disorders (APD) and bottom line.....his brain is still maturing.....The only thing at the moment that he needs, is TIME to mature and plenty of stimulation!

    So we read, talk, explain, encourage and put all kinds of educational things up on the fridge!
    The one thing, one of the moms told me that made sence to me was: If you dont keep him a year behind...he is always going to be the kid that is trying to catch up with the rest....maybe the one getting into trouble for not sitting still, or being picked on....her son is the oldest in his class......and loves it! :) He feels like the ' big brother'.....

    But yes, I do agree with you...its rediculous how much presure the schools put on kids, especially in private schools!
  9. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks for all your input. Just to reiterate: J has been tested by a specialist eye doctor and there is nothing wrong with his eyes. To answer your question, ktllc, J has shown NO interest in knowing what the letters are or in trying to read. If he had, I probably would have helped him at home. He's a very physical, probably visual child... he is bright and has a phenomenal memory for some things - but not for this. He seems quite slow about some things, I don't mean that judgementally, obviously. For example, he was really slow in learning colours, days of the week, numbers, etc. Though actual mathematical exercises, when there is a visual support, he is good at.
    I don't want him to repeat the year. Firstly because it would mean him being with the Dragon Lady teacher some more and that's not a good idea and also because we should "save up" the possibility of repeating a year in case he does need it later.
    Just to be clear: I am not in any way worried that a child can't read at 5 or 6, I don't need to push or hurry the process; I just want to know whether there is something going on with J that means he will have real problems at any age.
  10. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    I don't think it is possible to know it at his age.
    I'm actually with you on not holding him back this year. The French systems works in "blocks": grande maternelle, cp and ce1 being the first block of elementary school. That is 3 years, and as you know, the school will not get worried about his reading/emerging reading skills untill the last year of the block. This system of block is about 12 years old and was put in place with the knowledge that kids develop at a very different pace in the early years of school. A ggod school will have a strong partnership between teachers who teach those 3 years in order to offer a continuity for the children. They are supposed to follow the same plan. Of course, reality and theory sometimes differ greatly and some teachers are still "stuck" in the old yearly curriculum.
    I understand how frustrated you are from not having clear answers...
    If J has no interest in letters, maybe just leave it alone for the summer. You could also ask him if he'd like to work on it with you before cp and then follow his lead. You can also work on sight words, J can "read" to you the books that he is familiar with, he can retell the stories, try to memorize paragraphs of a book, etc... But I sense you already do all those things already. How does he do on those skills? Any difficulties? All of it being early reading skills.
  11. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Lol, of course another complication is that most of the books I read J are in English and I don't want to complicate things for him by teaching him English sounds to letters... The teacher says his French vocabulary needs work so probably I should be reading French books to him. If only I didn't dislike the sound of myself reading French :)
    I do like the way the teaching of reading and writing is taken slowly in France - in the UK, they now kind of "hothouse" kids from age 4, which I think is pointless and probably counter-productive. And, yes, the teacher has said just what you say, ktllc, that the target is to read by the end of CE1, not before.
    A staggering proportion of ADHD kids seem to have learning difficulties, however. And as usual, the teacher gives a really mixed message about J. In her little report she said first that he had had a very good year and made so much progress, also that there was no doubt he could do good work if he chose (oh god, all those school cliches coming out...) and then that it was this huge, continual challenge for J to concentrate and be disciplined!! She did write it in two different pens, though, so perhaps the second bit was written when she was particularly fed up with him :)
    I just can't imagine J reading, somehow. I don't know why I feel like this. Hard to put my finger on it but I sense something is amiss is some way. Hope I'm wrong!
  12. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    The dual-language situation does complicate things. Friends of ours (English-speaking) had their kids in French Immersion... and the school insisted that NO reading at home be done in English until after 4th grade. (They could read out loud to the kids as long as the kids couldn't see the book.) Yes, you probably should be reading French books to J... either that or pay some nice well-spoken patient teenager to come read to J.
  13. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Well, at the moment J really doesn't much associate the spoken word with the written - he's not at all curious to see what words look like, etc. So when I read aloud to him, he doesn't see the words. I really haven't pushed any of this at all, since he has shown no interest. I've found a computer game in French to learn letters of the alphabet. He loves using the computer and might enjoy that.
    I will start reading to him in French: not being a native speaker, I just can't get those pure vowel sounds :)
  14. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Does he write at all? Scribble?
    I started with-ABC and played Sesame Street for the kids and they loved it. Is there an equivalent cartoon for kids in France?
    After ABC, I skipped the alphabet and went directly to the first letter of their names.
    After that, it just came in its own time.
    Wish I had something else to offer.
  15. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    He writes without writing, if you see what I mean... they have done a lot of copying out individual letters and words, in joined-up writing. So he writes, really quite beautifully actually, without understanding any of it. He might recognise a handful of letters and their sounds, and that's it.
    Reading and writing are clearly not connected to intelligence per se. But J has had some peculiarities from the beginning - took him ages to learn colours, he has difficulty learning numbers, days of the week, lots of little things.
  16. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    How good is J at telling stories?
    There are books out there that tell a story in pictures... NO words (or just a punch-line on the last page).
    One example is "Good Dog, Carl"
    The intent of the book is that the parent and child look at it together, and one - or both - "reads" the story by making up whatever they want about the pictures. It builds the concept of "story" and "sequence" and other basic skills.

    From there, specific reading sequence books exist - and they are usually only available in schools. At first, the words are just one-word sentences. Either all verbs, or all nouns. Later, verbs on some pages, nouns on others. It is a VERY slow build. Here, these are used for intensive reading intervention... with good success. Not sure if they exist in French, though.
  17. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    J is very good at telling stories, sequencing, etc from visual cues. Also just telling a story in general. It's one of the things that would make people think he is "bright". One step further on, to a book with just one word on each page, where he cannot yet do well, yes, that's a good idea - they must exist in French, I would think. If there are visual clues for him, everything gets easier.
  18. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    You may have to make your own... It's harder coming up with the ideas, than doing the work. Things like: a book about a bike. Page 1, the whole bike (word - bike), then wheel, seat, pedal, handlebar, fender...

    Version two would be the verbs... sit, ride, steer, brake...

    Or find an English set and see if your publisher can get rights to publish it in French - and you'd be glad to translate, of course... <wink>
  19. lovelyboy

    lovelyboy Member

    We have the same problem! My son is Afrikaans at home and English at school....His ST said we are only aloud to speek Afrikaans to him at home! But I am very tempted to teach him his colours and counting and shapes in English, because thats the language he gets tested in and the language concepts that will determan if he goes to grade 0!!!! She did later said....ok, books may be in English, because then he knows its the book that is in English....the concepts and context....and he may watch English dvd's! Very confusing because the ST at another school said, if your child attends an English school, you need to teach him everything in English, from day 1!!!????
  20. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    That is confusing, lovelyboy! People almost always seem to agree (when they have a view on the subject) that the home language should be the same as the school language when the child is learning to read.