Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Sep 20, 2012.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    As I've said before, J is just not ready for or interested in reading. Is this because of a learning disability or just because he isn't ready? He doesn't know all the alphabet - knows about a dozen letters, at most - and is jut very resistant to working on them at home. I've tried choosing a letter and writing it up big, thinking of words it begins with, sticking a piece of paper onto objects at home with the first letter written on (of the word in French, obviously), making the letter with our bodies - he likes that best, thinks its funny - and playing alphabet games on the computer. He does not WANT to do any of it and as soon as I start, will begin groaning, not listening, start covering his ears or scrawling pictures, playing with his toys.
    Forcing it just seems pointless and counter=productive. But he is in a system where he is now learning to read... not a good fit.
    I had an interview with his new, male, class teacher the other day, about this and about his ADHD and possibility of a learning disorder. He seems open and sympathetic, though knowing nothing of ADHD and never having taught an ADHD child. He seems in agreement with the idea of going slow and not pushing it... but it means J will get left further and further behind.
    Any ideas or inspirations?
  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I dont think this has anything to do with ADHD because both my kids with ADHD learned to read just fine. In fact, we didnt even work with Cory on anything remotely to do with education during his pre-school years because we were working so hard on behavioral things. I think he entered kindergarten knowing how to tie his shows but only because he was the youngest of 3 and the others taught him, he could ride his bike, and he knew some colors. Not all. I was sure he would behind his classmates the entire year. By the end of the first term he was reading at the end of the first grade level. He wasnt quite as strong in math but we played cards with him to teach him math skills. We made up our own games like pick a card and then the other person picked a card and if he could tell what they added up to, he got both cards. This helped both Jamie and Cory.

    Have you checked into whether or not you can get Your Baby can Read in French? I also think it comes in Your Toddler can Read. It is a whole word reading program which I am not as fond of because I was taught phonics but it seems they are using whole word now...or maybe its a combo now. Not sure. I noticed Keyana using this method of using her fingers to sound out words. Like cat. Ka Ka Ka on one finger ah ah ah on another t t on the last one. Then putting them all together. ca aa typical
  3. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    As you know our kids start their school later and I don't have any experience in trying to get kid not interested to learn to read to try it. But still some thoughts. I would be very wary trying to work with him on letters if he is so against it. If school isn't really pressuring it at this point, I would give it time. To pressure him may just end up in him getting more oppositional about it or feeling that he can't learn. He is youngest in his class so most of the other kids know how to read I assume. If you are lucky he will quickly get interested about it, becuase he wants to know how to read because everyone else is doing so.

    Our first language is easier to learn to read than French due to spelling being more phonetic so I'm not sure if these tips are in any help, but this things helped with my sons. They both were first interested about writing than reading. Writing their names, names of family members, friends, dogs etc. First of course using a pencil was difficult too, but I let them write a lot with computer. They both liked it, when they 'wrote' and I read aloud what they had written. Of course gyhrrvrrrqqqjhoppgf isn't the easiest 'word' to pronounce ;) but that gave them some understanding both about idea of written text and how letters and sounds correlate. I also read to them a lot and in some point I started to follow the text with my finger. That also seemed to help them to understand the concept of reading and also taught them some letters without them noticing they were being taught.
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Very good idea Suzir. Do you have things like Innopad there? Or the newer computer tablets for kids? There is one that is only about $150 that has all the parental software you could want but has plenty of access to kid software and ebooks that might just be good for him. If you go to toys r us or Amazon you can find them.

    If I could tell you are interested in any of these things I will spend some time looking for this stuff in French for you. If not, I will leave it alone.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Malika, honestly, I think all kids are different. My oldest son was fascinated with letters, numbers, and loved anything related to learning before he was two...he is uber-bright. But Sonic, my autistic son, also had a tremendous interest in letters and numbers and could sight read by two years old. He would point to signs in a store (this child who could barely talk, and say "Exit" very correctly. Or he'd see a stop sign or the word stop somewhere and say it with a big grin. While Sportsfan was always a gifted student, Sonic's reading level topped off at fifth/sixth grade. Both Pastrychef, who is extremely bright, and Jumper, who is Learning Disability (LD), were slow learners at reading. Jumper could not read by age eight, even in a special class for kids having trouble reading, so she was tested, diagnosed, and put into Special Education. She can read now, but she definitely has LDs. The school had diagnosed her with APDs. She is compensating well now, but clearly is not a lover of reading for pleasure.

    Your son is very young and is a boy. In the US, we often "hold back" our younger children from starting school. The law says that the kids have to be in kindergarten by six. The deadline for enrollment is different in each state, but usually is Sept. 1st. Many boys who turn five just after Sept. 1st (or in Oct. and Nov.), and they qualify for kindergarten, are held back one year to allow them to mature more. I did this with Sportsfan, even though he was very bright...he was also very immature, and I did it with Sonic. It is not unusual for boys especially to learn to read later than girls.

    Although your son is locked into a system that does not seem flexible, one thing they can't help is if a child defies their schedule. Not all kids learn XY and Z at the same time. Also, I had to laugh that the teacher thinks he never taught an ADHD kid before. He probably just doesn't know what an ADHD kid is, or maybe they refuse to diagnose the obvious in France, but I'm sure he has had a c hild with ADHD...probably many.

    Although you can offer opportunities, I don't know if you can force any interest until he is ready. Has he ever been tested for learning disabilities? Has his memory been tested?

    I feel your frustsration and wonder if there is any way, once and for all, to get this child tested so that he can get help. I don't think any of us know if he has a problem or not. I think everyone will agree that kids are not all on one schedule and that no school system can force all kids to learn this or that at any one designated time.

    Hang in there.
  6. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thank you for your comments. Unfortunately, whatever device is used - computer, toy, anything that is a game or makes bright, flashing noises - J is simply not interested in the abstract concept of letters and reading at this point. Unlike your children, MWM, he has never shown the slightest interest in deciphering signs or anything written. Maths, on the other hand, he is quite quick with and went through a phase of wanting to do sums for pleasure (though he has to count the answer out laboriously on his fingers :))
    He has the signs of having learning difficulties. Couldn't learn colours for years, still doesn't know the days of the week reliably and will say "Saturday!" wildly if you ask him what day comes after Tuesday... Because I see things in the long term, I don't really worry about this so much. As long as he can learn to read and write, as long as he can find the path that is right for him and one day have a job that he enjoys and is good at (mechanical repairs, for example?) I don't mind. But society and conventional school does mind...
    As for being tested. I don't know how to go about that here! I think you have to wait longer, until everything is obviously collapsing. There will probably be the recommended visit to the school psychologist again next year, at which time things will be suggested, I guess, if he still has real problems reading.
    I do think he is telling everyone he is not ready and I would like to leave it for now, but circumstances have dictated that he is in a conventional system. To be fair, in France they say that the child should be reading by the end of the equivalent of your second grade, not first grade, because they recognise that children develop at different rates.
    We will see, I suppose.
  7. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    It very likely could be a learning disability. A really good source for information is the International Dyslexia Association ( Some studies indicate that early phonemic awareness skills are critical to reading success. One source for fun activities that teach phonemic awareness is the book: "Phonemic Awareness: Playing With Sounds to Strengthen Beginning Reading Skills" by Jo Fitzpatrick.

    One technique I used to reward my kids when they were little was to reward them with marbles. I would give them one marble each time they tried or put forward effort. When I ran out of marbles I would just take a handful back and when done we put them all back in the original container. Recognition and attention is the best motivator.
  8. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Sorry to go off on a tangent, but I want to share an anecdote. My difficult child did that too till he was almost 8 I think. He has no learning difficulties, he just very strongly thought that it would be much better if Saturday would come right after Monday or Tuesday. He wouldn't have mind if it had right after Sunday. He simply saw it as a error in this world, that so many weekdays existed :bigsmile: He did have difficulties in understanding some things simple are and are not matters of opinion or likely to be changed. If something is a clear error, it simply is so, if you ask him. And five weekdays and only two for weekend is certainly a huge error.

    If your school allows that two years to learn to read, don't worry too much yet. Our kids start to learn to read when they are seven. But half in fact know how to read before that, because it seems that 6 is very typical age to learn easily. It can be so also for J. Also after kids do learn, they catch up quickly. For example they have done studies in our school system and while differences in reading at the beginning of first grade (when kids are mostly seven or will soon to turn seven) are huge, the differences in the end of second grade are much smaller and not at all predictable. Many kids who didn't read when starting first grade are best readers of their class after two years.
  9. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    The only thing is, the school programme now rushes ahead into reading. For tonight's homework, for example, he is supposed to be practising reading a whole set of phrases. Ridiculous when he hasn't even mastered the alphabet.
    I feel a bit worried by this. Would rather take him out of school altogether and put him in an alternative establishment where there's none of this pressure. But it's just not possible.
  10. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I hate it when there is a disconnect between the long-term goals, and the daily plans.
    You have to teach from where the student IS, not from some pre-determined "schedule".

    And yes, it happens here, too.
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Malika...two of my kids had NO interest in letters or numbers or girls. None. Nada. Jumper didn't read until she was eight. She has a processing disorder (auditory, I think) and could not figure out how to put sounds together. It was a real puzzle for her. She was older than J. when she started getting help, although they do put the slower readers who need help into a program called Title I. But Title I wasn't enough to get her reading at age level so her teacher took it upon herself to get her the help she needed and the testing. Jumper also has ADD and a poor memory, both auditory and visual.

    Right now, with very little extra help, she is doing well in school though. Maturity is your friend :)
  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    J is in Kindergarten isnt he? Not first grade right? There is no way a child who doesnt know his letters can read phrases or even words. Do you have the option of having him repeat the earlier grade? Whatever grade he was in last year. I think you said preK. Its true some boys do mature slower and maybe he does need some more time. I would also be wondering about dyslexia though. How does he do with writing his letters?
  13. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks, I do appreciate what you're saying, MWM, and agree with it. But the problem is not so much J's stage of development as the fact he is now spending all day supposedly learning things that he isn't learning at all! A waste of time and pointless, and ultimately discouraging for him I would have thought. He is just going to lag further and further behind. There is NO alternative school in my area, unless I were to take a train for a two hour return trip at enormous cost!
    It's so clearly not the right time for him yet.
    On the other hand it IS time for him to be home... I foolishly agreed to let him out to play with his older friend on the strict understanding he was back at 7. It is now 7.20... hey ho :)
    PS, I think he's in the equivalent of what you call first grade, the youngest in his class as he won't be six until December (here they group children by year of birth).
    PPS J appeared at about 7.21, beaming and saying "Am I on time, Mummy?"...
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2012
  14. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    Malika, you are right: you will not change the system he is in.
    Here is my advice: limit homework to 15minutes per night. That's it. If he is not finished, write a note explaining that he worked for 15 minutes with your help and could simply not finish. "Homework" is actually illegal in France. The only things the children are supposed to bring home is a reviews of what they have learned. Of course, there are still teachers who ignore the "new" rules (not so new anymore! lol).
    Thoses phrases he has to read, are probably phrases he has been reading with the class at school.
    Since you are not worried about performance, just make him review it but don't fight over it. If he forgets: than it will be the teacher's job to find a better way to teach him.
    He is not 6 yet, a lot will change when he turns 6, maturity wise.
    Is J suffering at school ? Does he complain about the work? If you have not done so, try to ask him in a neutral way.
  15. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks Ktllc! J is actually incapable of doing any of the homework by himself since he can't read... I do it with him and guide him through it all. We spend about 10 minutes average, I suppose, and then (I'm afraid) he plays a short game on the computer as his reward.
    Yes, I think we were just looking again at a page they have already done. It was things like "reading" short words and phrases from a story about a chicken, a rake and grains of wheat... He can't do it and I have to tell him all the words BUT he is now "reading" (remembering) la, le, un, une, des... that is something. I am just frightened of him falling way behind and being hopelessly lost, discouraged.
    He is very fond of his new teacher (early days yet, I know), likes school and, when I broached it with him gently this evening, is adamant he would not want to redo the previous year he has just done. When I asked him what he would like to do at school, he said he'd like to learn hip-hop :)
  16. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I am honestly sure J has a learning difficulty. I've bought a little book with the alphabet, lots of bright colours and pictures, and have been trying to look at it with him. Not to push it but just because it's so pointless being in his class if he does not know the alphabet - he might as well be out of school enjoying himself, I feel. Anyway, he is very resistant but the little I've managed to do, he will repeat the name of the letter and a few seconds later has forgotten it... and this is what happens all the time with certain letters. He has said them dozens of times but he just doesn't recall.
    It must be a learning difficulty. There's nothing else it could be. He has difficulty learning, that's exactly what is going on.
    His previous teacher just dismissed it when I said I thought there was something wrong. Now it is being revealed that there is something wrong and I have nowhere to go. Speech therapist is the obvious next step and they are all booked up for months. Am on a waiting list, that's all. It's so clear to me and yet no-one else seems at all bothered by it.
  17. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Malika...if he were in the states he would be in Kindergarten. Here in order to be in first grade you have to turn 6 by either the end of September of October 15th I think. Never December. My boys were very young 6 year olds in 1st grade and they were born in July.

    We struggled with Keyana in preK learning her letters. I dont know about K because she wasnt with us. I think she took until later in the fall before she got it down well.

    I think I remember taking French well enough to know that the letters make somewhat similar sounds. I took French in HS and actually won the French spelling bee but I have forgot about everything I ever knew. I know the letters at least look the same. I have fridge magnets from Leapfrog that Keyana used and now Kenzie is starting to use them. She loves putting the letters in the little holes and hearing it go C C every letter in the alphabet has an name and C says Ca. She will wander around and go Ca ca ca ca ca for a few minutes. Do I think she recognizes the letter C? No. I just think she is starting to realize that things make sounds. leapfrog has a bunch of stuff. they have a cool thing called Tag Jr which might be at his speed but you would need to find out if they have it in french unless you want to teach it in English first and then have him transfer over. That might be easier for him...I have no idea. Tag Jr is a great program. I bought it for Hailie when she was 2 and I got Tag for Keyana when she was 5. If I could find Keyana's old Vreader I would send that to you but I dont know what happened to it.
  18. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

  19. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks. I'm kind of getting a very rapid handle on this. It seems that J is being taught by the "global" method and I have to say I don't understand this myself when I see it in the book. Almost immediately he is supposed to be reading whole words and of course what is happening is that he is visually recognising the shape of some of them and repeating them - just the little words - but of course this isn't really reading at all.
    Seems there is another method, syllabic, much better suited to different learners and children with dys problems. A few teachers use it but mostly it seems the parents buy the materials and teach their children themselves... It's also much more fun-looking and playful than the rather dreary book he is using.
    He definitely needs to concentrate on the sound of the letter rather than the name of it, which is actually pointless at the moment and is just oppressing him. He does sometimes get the sound, though. If I show him the word koala and ask him the first letter, he doesn't know but if I say koala and ask him how it begins, he will make a k sound.

    Update: I gather the method used in the public schools here is very controversial, lots of people complain about it. The private Catholic schools in the local town still use the old-fashioned, syllabic method which basically makes so much more sense to me. I guess there is the radical option of putting him in one of those for the year, if there were a place.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012
  20. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    For the record, my kids have never been in a Catholic school. But... I do know kids who have, and not all with Catholic parents. Here - Canada - what we call the "separate school system" is usually Catholic. And in general... their track record in education is very good... not perfect, but it seems that more kids who do poorly in the public system succeed in the separate system, than vice versa.

    Our school system (and the provinces around us) gave up on single-track reading methods. There is a "general" approach that they think works for a majority of the kids... and the rest get pulled for alternate instruction in one of several other approaches until... voila! the kid is reading. Would be nice if they could get the kids into the right stream on the first try, but... except for the ones with severe LDs affecting reading, the kids are ALL reading by the end of first grade.