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Emilylisabeth

Learning disability or just strong-willed?

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Emilylisabeth

Hello, we are in our second year of homeschooling our 7-year-old daughter and I have been really struggling with teaching her to read. She is our oldest and I am not formally trained as a teacher so I kind of have no idea what I'm doing, but I am wondering if she could have a learning disability of some kind or whether it's because she is strong-willed and stubborn that we are having trouble. She talked really early and has always had a very good vocabulary. She also has a good attention span - she will spend hours playing by herself or with her sister or doing an art project, but when it comes to reading and copywork and spelling, she often seems very lost and confused. For instance, when she reads her readers, she'll often have to sound out the same word  or name every time instead of picking it up by the end of the story. Last week, on her spelling, she spelled "should" and "could" correctly with very little practice, but she got a bunch of the "easier" words wrong even though we had practiced them much more. Also, she had all her vowel sounds memorized last year but now she confuses "e" and "i" and totally forgets how to sound out "u". 

Anyway, I am trying to figure out whether a) I'm not a very good teacher (definitely a possibility!) b)she is being willful and acts as if she doesn't know what she's doing because she doesn't want to do the work or c) she has some reading disability. Or is this just normal for her age and I have unrealistic expectations? I would really appreciate any advice! Thanks! 

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Menke

Ok, I am not sure on this, but I wonder if she might just be over thinking the simpler words. My only experience is with my almost 6 year old, but I found with him that once we moved past cvc words only, he would often surprise me by reading "difficult" words correct, and many "easy" words wrong. Sometimes this is sloppiness  (he likes to go fast), but at other times it is things like using more complicated vowel sounds or trying to apply more complex rules to words that don't need it. I guess what I am thinking, is that what seems easy/difficult to us, might not seem the same to them and until you truly start to master words and concepts, how do you really know when what rule applies?

I can't say anything about her attitude inside of this, but maybe taking a step back might help? Take a break from new information, maybe look back over some of the concepts that seemed mastered in the past and give her brain some time to catch up and organize all the concepts. In the mean time, you can keep reading at a level she feels comfortable. Maybe get some fun readers from the library, help with words that don't work out, and maybe alternate reading a page if that makes the reading more fun.

I guess that's what I would try, take a step back and try to have some fun reading together. Otherwise, it doesn't sound like there is anything you need to worry about at this point.

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Merry

Is she willful and disobedient about other things she might not want to do (chores around the house etc...)? This really doesn't sound like a child who is trying to be disobedient to me. It sounds to me like reading is hard work for her, and that sometimes newer information she is learning pushes out other things that she isn't quite solid on yet (sometimes it can seem like something is solid when there are only a few things you are working on--and then as you add in more sounds and more things to remember, you can find out that the information isn't as solid as you thought it was). You might find some of these blog posts helpful as you think through how best to help her:

She could have a learning disability (it's ironic how as parents we tend to think it must be the child disobeying or us being bad teachers!), or it could just be that learning to read is a struggle (not unusual--English is a difficult language to learn!). You might look into All About Reading and whether that would help you--it really teaches incrementally and includes review that you can add in and customize to your child's needs. I just want to encourage you that there IS help out there--it's not just you and it's not just her--and she really will get there. (My oldest sounded out every 3-letter word, even the same word twice in one sentence, until he was 8. I know sometimes you wonder if you'll ever make progress! But, she really will learn to read.) (((Hugs))) to you!

 

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Hunny
12 hours ago, Emilylisabeth said:

Hello, we are in our second year of homeschooling our 7-year-old daughter and I have been really struggling with teaching her to read. She is our oldest and I am not formally trained as a teacher so I kind of have no idea what I'm doing, but I am wondering if she could have a learning disability of some kind or whether it's because she is strong-willed and stubborn that we are having trouble. She talked really early and has always had a very good vocabulary. She also has a good attention span - she will spend hours playing by herself or with her sister or doing an art project, but when it comes to reading and copywork and spelling, she often seems very lost and confused. For instance, when she reads her readers, she'll often have to sound out the same word  or name every time instead of picking it up by the end of the story. Last week, on her spelling, she spelled "should" and "could" correctly with very little practice, but she got a bunch of the "easier" words wrong even though we had practiced them much more. Also, she had all her vowel sounds memorized last year but now she confuses "e" and "i" and totally forgets how to sound out "u". 

Anyway, I am trying to figure out whether a) I'm not a very good teacher (definitely a possibility!) b)she is being willful and acts as if she doesn't know what she's doing because she doesn't want to do the work or c) she has some reading disability. Or is this just normal for her age and I have unrealistic expectations? I would really appreciate any advice! Thanks! 

Relax, Momma! 

I have taught 3 boys to read.  My oldest took the longest and I was worried because family were asking me about it constantly if he was ever going to learn to read.  I went to a workshop at a homeschool convention that was extremely helpful and I was much more confident about what I was doing after that. 

First, being able to read is a developmental skill that can't be rushed.  Some children can pick it up very easily and start reading at age 4, while others aren't able to do it until age 8 or later.  Some kids struggle with it for years and some just take off and soar.  The ability to blend the sounds together to form the words will click in their heads eventually, but you can't force it to happen.  It is a natural developmental process.  Over in some of the European countries, they don't even begin to teach reading skills until age 6 or 7.  Knowing this information was what helped me relax and gave me what I needed to ease the minds of my family members. 

Like I said, my oldest took the longest.  He was 7 before he could blend cvc words.  I had a lot of trouble finding a reading program that would work with him and ended up cobbling resources together to meet his needs.  I had to work with him on his reading skills all the way through 4th grade because he had a lot of trouble with reading comprehension.  My middle and youngest boys were able to read earlier at age 5.  Their reading comprehension skills never needed any work.  I don't take any credit for teaching my youngest to read.  One day he just started reading and hasn't stopped.  He would watch Leapfrog Letter Factory and other Leap Frog dvds and I think that is what helped him figure it all out on his own.  Plus he was hearing me read aloud to his brothers from birth...

Second, learning to read and learning to spell are separate individual skills.  The vowel sounds for "e" and "i" are very close and are often confused.  She may be getting confused with "u" because of seeing it paired with other vowels makes the sound change (as in should and could). 

It is possible that she has a learning disability, like audio processing disorder or dysgraphia.  I don't know enough about them though, but you can look into it.  I have homeschool friends with kids that have these, and one whose kids have a disorder related to their working memory and being to process information into their long term memory.  I don't remember what it is called. 

What program are you using for reading and spelling?  I recommend you look at All About Reading and All About Spelling.  My youngest is using AAS and loves it.  I wish I had known about AAR when my oldest was learning to read as I would have used it. 

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doxa

Not much advice here, only to caution you to just take option b (strong willed/doesn't want to do the work) off the table.   For her sake, I think it would be much better to look for other causes of the struggles.  One thing you are doing as her mom and teacher (or "momcher" as my son calls me) is building trust.  If you assume the best of her, she will pick up on that and that will cultivate trust.  Assuming the worst could lead to conflict and undermining the trust you are building.  I hope this makes sense.  It's something I'm trying to coach my daughter on as she guides her little 6 year old through what is turning into a rough first grade year in school. 

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Bendxap

While I agree with Doxa, I know from experience that there are times that "doesn't want to do the work" seems to sum it all up. There were times that Younger would spend way too much time not getting his math done even though I knew he was very good in math. (He'll graduate in May with a degree in Computer Engineering, with three excellent jobs offers waiting for him.) 

I found Strong-Willed Child or Dreamer? to be very helpful. Younger is definitely a dreamer and one of the main "symptoms" of a dreamer is that s/he doesn't like to waste time doing stuff s/he already knows how to do. After moving Younger up a grade in math, he did much better. I would have moved him up two grades but Older's self-esteem was a little fragile at the time. Once they reached high school, they did Algebra 2 and geometry together and finally Younger was getting his math done in a timely manner. (He also responds well to a challenge ;) )

I remember those so frustrating times and am praying that you'll soon find the key. :) 

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Mazurka
On 12/13/2017 at 10:39 AM, Bendxap said:

While I agree with Doxa, I know from experience that there are times that "doesn't want to do the work" seems to sum it all up. There were times that Younger would spend way too much time not getting his math done even though I knew he was very good in math. (He'll graduate in May with a degree in Computer Engineering, with three excellent jobs offers waiting for him.) 

I found Strong-Willed Child or Dreamer? to be very helpful. Younger is definitely a dreamer and one of the main "symptoms" of a dreamer is that s/he doesn't like to waste time doing stuff s/he already knows how to do. After moving Younger up a grade in math, he did much better. I would have moved him up two grades but Older's self-esteem was a little fragile at the time. Once they reached high school, they did Algebra 2 and geometry together and finally Younger was getting his math done in a timely manner. (He also responds well to a challenge ;) )

I remember those so frustrating times and am praying that you'll soon find the key. :) 

Another thread I want to start someday, if ever I am brave enough... If kids can't be lazy, or unmotivated, why can adults?  Do things magically change at 18?  Sigh.  I think there can be lazy kids, and I think I have one of them.  He has a good heart, but still he is lazy.  But I'm not supposed to say that.  I say, sometimes you need to call a spade a spade. Especially for those children who are almost adults.

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kolamum
On 12/12/2017 at 4:41 PM, Emilylisabeth said:

Hello, we are in our second year of homeschooling our 7-year-old daughter and I have been really struggling with teaching her to read. She is our oldest and I am not formally trained as a teacher so I kind of have no idea what I'm doing, but I am wondering if she could have a learning disability of some kind or whether it's because she is strong-willed and stubborn that we are having trouble. She talked really early and has always had a very good vocabulary. She also has a good attention span - she will spend hours playing by herself or with her sister or doing an art project, but when it comes to reading and copywork and spelling, she often seems very lost and confused. For instance, when she reads her readers, she'll often have to sound out the same word  or name every time instead of picking it up by the end of the story. Last week, on her spelling, she spelled "should" and "could" correctly with very little practice, but she got a bunch of the "easier" words wrong even though we had practiced them much more. Also, she had all her vowel sounds memorized last year but now she confuses "e" and "i" and totally forgets how to sound out "u". 

Anyway, I am trying to figure out whether a) I'm not a very good teacher (definitely a possibility!) b)she is being willful and acts as if she doesn't know what she's doing because she doesn't want to do the work or c) she has some reading disability. Or is this just normal for her age and I have unrealistic expectations? I would really appreciate any advice! Thanks! 

The bolded.. that was my eldest to a T. It took us 7 years to find an answer for him, but he has something called Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome, better known as Visual processing Disorder or Irlen. My boy could talk & hold full conversations at a young age, his vocabulary has always far exceeded his age, & while he knew the phonics rules applying them was another story. Once we had a diagnosis & solution the progress was fast & furious. If you're curious for more information you could look at the Irlen.com website.

FWIW, if she were to have this it wouldn't be that she'd forgotten things, but that she may not be able to see them clearly. Honestly, I could have written much of what you did & I couldn't quite understand what was going on with my child, but during his diagnosis {it was a looong emotional appointment} we learned that when he's reading he can only see one word on the page at a time, if he's lucky.. I say "lucky" because the words & letters move around & sometimes when he's trying to read it's like looking through the "snow" or "bad reception" on a tv. When he was trying to spell he was seeing one letter at a time, & never having seen words clearly didn't help with remembering how to spell things, which letter stood for which sound, etc.  With his specially formulated tints on it's a whole new world for him. 

It's harder when you're dealing with a Strong Willed Child {SWC} which I also have.. who can also come off as lazy at times. I didn't pick up that he had the same thing going on {the symptoms are many & varied between patients} because his reading was strong, but when it came to math {beyond simplistic memorization of things} we struggled with him, & I made the mistake of accusing him of being lazy. In reality, my child was chasing numbers around his math page.. when he was reading there were no proper breaks between the words that he could see. Once he got his tints things changed for him too. I'm not going to say he instantly stopped being an SWC, or that he fell in love with math & reading, but what I will say is that he went from doing everything within his power to put off doing math to simply saying, "I'm not a math guy." He went from putting off reading to curling up & reading beyond his required time/pages.

Take heart Mamma, sometimes the road {regardless of the situation} is long & full of pit holes & oil slicks, but once you get to the top it'll be worth every rough moment you went through to get there. :friends: 

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Merry
7 hours ago, Mazurka said:

Another thread I want to start someday, if ever I am brave enough... If kids can't be lazy, or unmotivated, why can adults?  Do things magically change at 18?  Sigh.  I think there can be lazy kids, and I think I have one of them.  He has a good heart, but still he is lazy.  But I'm not supposed to say that.  I say, sometimes you need to call a spade a spade. Especially for those children who are almost adults.

I definitely think there can be lazy and unmotivated kids. I just don't find that academics are the best way to test out whether that's the issue, because learning disabilities typically look like laziness on the surface. Plus it's easy to have misconceived notions about learning disabilities (such as thinking LD = unintelligent and since they have a bright kid it can't be that...and so on.) It's also possible for kids to be lazy in one area and willing to work very hard in another. I'd also rather err on almost every other possibility for a child struggling with reading because thinking it's "just laziness" typically sets up a dynamic that's not helpful for the teaching atmosphere and that people regret later. "Laziness" tends to be the first guess--and it should probably be our last guess instead, when it comes to reading. Now chores? As long as it's developmentally appropriate, go for it! Use physical labor when possible to work on such character traits :-). 

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doxa
On 12/21/2017 at 5:12 PM, Merry said:

I definitely think there can be lazy and unmotivated kids. I just don't find that academics are the best way to test out whether that's the issue, because learning disabilities typically look like laziness on the surface. Plus it's easy to have misconceived notions about learning disabilities (such as thinking LD = unintelligent and since they have a bright kid it can't be that...and so on.) It's also possible for kids to be lazy in one area and willing to work very hard in another. I'd also rather err on almost every other possibility for a child struggling with reading because thinking it's "just laziness" typically sets up a dynamic that's not helpful for the teaching atmosphere and that people regret later. "Laziness" tends to be the first guess--and it should probably be our last guess instead, when it comes to reading. Now chores? As long as it's developmentally appropriate, go for it! Use physical labor when possible to work on such character traits :-). 

Thank you for putting into words what I was trying to express.  You said it so well, as usual.  So often learning disabilities get labelled as "laziness" when they are not.  But that doesn't mean there isn't real laziness in other areas too, as Susan pointed out.  

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Countrymom9

FWIW, my second child struggled like that till the summer after he turned 7. Reading time was only spared from being torture time because I would put it off till nearly lunchtime and say with forced cheerfulness, "Now, as soon as we finish your reading lesson, we'll go have a nice lunch." (He loved to create interesting sandwiches.) Reading did not click at all. Anything learned one day faded before the next. It drove me nuts since his older brother, like me, had taught himself at age 4.5. That summer, at age 7.5, this child suddenly chose The Voyages of Dr. Doolittle at the library, insisted on reading it to himself, and did. Fast forward: he got 1510 on his SAT (out of 1600) and is now a college professor. He still enjoys reading for pleasure.

My kids have ranged from excellent, intuitive readers (two learned to read chapter books after little or no instruction at the ages of four and five) to dyslexic. There can be so much variation! So yes, there could be a problem, but there may well not be. I like the combination of back off a bit and use AAR when you start again, personally. 

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Emilylisabeth

Hello! I posted this a few months ago and wanted to respond. I read all your responses and thank you for the kind but honest responses (it seems like so many forums these days are dishonest and unkind)! It has taken me some time to process. We made some changes to our reading/spelling/copywork (I let her choose which books she wants to read instead of doing the readers and I write out silly copywork sentences for her). Things seemed to be getting better but the last few weeks have been hard. I started researching dyslexia and she has many of the symptoms... It might be time to have her tested. It's hard to know where to start though!

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