Need help with son's reading

lizzybNovember 24, 2003

I desparately need help with my son and his reading!! He hates to read and virtually nothing I do can encourage him. He loves (and excels) in Math, Science, & Spelling, but his Reading grade is sinking fast! I realize he may never excel at reading, but he has to get through school. What can I do to help him? His school participates in the Accelerated Reader program, and requires him to get a certain amount of points; it is a battle every quarter to get his. We have tried taking away TV time, rewarding him, reading aloud, discussing the book as he reads it... I am at my wits end! Nothing works!

Can anyone offer some advice to avoid the daily battle?

Thanks in advance!


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What grade is your son in? Are there any books that he would enjoy reading if he didn't get graded on it?

The school that my youngest daughter (in 5th grade) is in does Reading Counts & the Scholastic Reading Initiative. The RC portion is where they read & then take tests on the books (they then get to spend their RC points on stuff). Kayle's reading is above a 7th grader, but she's now getting poor scores in reading because the books she likes are not in the computer for RC (thus she can take any tests or earn points).

Maybe a family reading time - turn off the TV, computer, radio, etc & everyone read. It doesn't have to be a book either, a magazine, comic, newspaper, can all count towards reading. Go to a bookstore (a real one, not the book section at WM) or the library and spend some time looking at books. Talk to his teachers about some strategies they may have. Most schools nowadays have a teacher dedicated to reading. If the school doesn't, then the district should.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2003 at 7:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


My son is in 5th grade. He loves dragons and adventure books, with a little Encyclopedia Brown and Fudge Hatcher thrown in. He tested low on the STAR test, so that he is in the same reading range with his 4th grade brother.

We have tried family reading time, but unfortunately, I wind up getting engrossed in a book and forget that the boys are supposed to be reading! ;o) I am hoping to talk to his teacher after Thanksgiving and see if she has any suggestions.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2003 at 7:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Maybe books that also have movies (HP & others) associated with them (compare/contrast versus book/movie - The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe would be a good one), sports books, & other series. Kayle loves the Unfortunate Events books. The Secrets of Droon is also supposed to be pretty good.

If your library has children's audio books you can check out both hardcopy & audio and have him listen/read. Some people learn using the auditory senses, rather than just trying to interpret what's written on a page.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2003 at 9:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We dropped TV during the week when ours were in school. That seemed to help. I looked for special books, and gave him only one new one at a time. Too many, and they just skim them and set them aside. I have heard the Boxcar series is good for boys who struggle to read.

It is not all that unusual for boys to put off reading. I think we just need to ooutfox them and find books of interest for them plus quiet time for reading.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2003 at 9:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have a HS sophomore--and reading BOOKS has NEVER been his favorite thing--unless he REALLY liked the book. Magazine articles, on the other hand, have always interested him--and he adores Calvin and Hobbes. C and H are GREAT vocabulary builders...There are collections available. Perhaps a way to bring your son up to speed is to give him a magazine subscription to specialty magazine thqt covers a subject your son is VERY interested in. My mother always told me it didn't matter WHAT they were reading--so long as they WERE reading

Part of my son's problem is the environment he needs for BOOK reading--he needs to be in a room without distractions. Once he discovered that he liked to read in bed, at night, he would go to bed early so as to have time to read. This only happens, however, when he has a book he really enjoys.

My son also had a slight vison/tracking problem that made reading less enjoyable. We found he did better with larger print books (as opposed to mass market PB's). Have you had your son's vision checked for tracking and focus problems? Just a thought. Matt out-grew those issues.

I should note, Matt always scored in the 99th percentile on the end-of-grade reading tests so mechanics and comprehension have never been a problem for him.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2003 at 8:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am interested in what you found out about your son's "tracking" problem. My daughter's teacher suggested we have her tested for the same thing so we took her to a opthamologist and he said there is no such thing as a tracking problem. Her vision was 20/20. Her symptoms are/were: she is a very good reader--comprehension and vocabulary at least 2 grade levels above grade but her reading rate is incredibly slow. It's frustrating for her and for us both. What did you find out?

    Bookmark   December 9, 2003 at 12:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, our son was seeing double, usually when he was tired. That was CAUSING tracking problems. it's something they can out-grow--or sometimes they need surgery. It is something that the opthamologist can SEE in an exam. (Something to do with the way light reflects off of their retinas...) I know his eyes had to be SERIOUSLY dilated--and they stayed that way for two days. (NOT fun.) This was 8+ years ago--when he was a second grader. If his problem had n=been more severe they could have done surgery--but it's better to wait it out, as it often corrects itself.

Sadie'smom--Did you take your daughter to an opthamologist--or an optometrist? Our regular family opthamologist refered us to a PEDIATRIC opthamologist at the local teaching hospital.He's the one who made the final diagnosis. Wish I could remeber what it was called...butit's something that is 'not at all unusual" in little kids. What IS unusual is catching it! The only reason we knew he was seeing double is he asked his dad "How he knew which was the real telephone pole and which was the not-real one" whne his dad was driving. That's how we found out he was often seeing two of everything!
As to the tracking stuff--one thing that worked for us--we had Matt use an index card and slide it down the page as he read--then he didn't get "lost" in the lines. He still doesn't read as fast as his older brother--who reads at a ridiculous rate--but he reads quickly enough. Another note--both my boys have ADHD and Matt thinks this added to his difficulty in tracking--he'd get "lost on the page" he used to say. Hence the need for a quiet room to read in! Matt was a straight A student last year--and has all A's this year (except for English--but we think that's a personality problem.)So hang in there!


    Bookmark   December 10, 2003 at 5:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks mjsee. I will definitely pursue this. We did take her to an opthamologist--one fresh out of school and he gave me the brush off. My daughter has been in a gifted class for the past two years and done pretty well but there is such a discrepancy between her vocabulary and comprehension skills (quite high) and her reading rate (seriously low). She reads without a marker okay, but her fluency/rate is much better when she uses her finger or a marker of some sort--something she should have outgrown by now. She also drops words, switches letters, etc. a LOT. All in all she seems to have compensated really well for whatever problem she has and maybe it's completely developmental--something peculiar to her learning style/personality but if it is something that can be treated to help her frustration I want to help her.

As an aside, I spoke with her teacher about this the other day and told her that I was going to pursue it again with her pediatrician but I wondered if the special ed teacher had any tests she could give my DD. The teacher (3rd grade) said she couldn't refer my daughter for testing unless she was being considered for special ed classes which are only for kids who are below grade level in some area. SHEEESSHHH!!! It's amazing to me how difficult schools can make things for kids who are bright/gifted (hate that word!)

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   December 11, 2003 at 11:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Theresa, do continue to fight for your daughters education. My oldest is extremely intelligent (she was reading on 5th grade level when she was in 2nd grade). She was diagnosed with ADHD when she was in kindergarten. I also had a referral waiting for dyslexia to Scottish Rite if needed. (She was reversing letters/numbers back then.) She did grow out of the reversing bit, but we're still dealing with the ADHD. She had even gone off her meds, but then puberty hit with a vengence!

Your daughter's teacher needs to learn a little about LDs. Most kids with a learning disability are VERY intelligent. Doctors, good teachers, etc. will tell you that how smart a child is has NOTHING to do with their having a LD. Since you're getting this kind of push-back from her teacher, take her to your pediatrician as soon as you can. (This is actually what I did with my 12 year old. It was 3 months after she'd been seeing a psychologist that the school district recommended the she be diagnosed for ADHD.)

Just because a child has a LD doesn't mean that they are stupid, unintelligent or anything else. It means that there's something biologically different (not wrong) with them. The entire time my daughter has been diagnosed with ADHD (again since kindergarten), she has always been in a mainstream class. She's never been in a special ed class. Now that she's in 7th grade, she's taking 4 pre-AP courses.

If you still have problems with her teacher, take this to the diagnosician (your school district should have at least one) or school counselor. If that fails, continue up the food chain of the school district. Don't be satisified with a teacher who thinks that your wanting her tested means you think she should be in special ed.

Here is a link that might be useful: Schwab Learning

    Bookmark   December 11, 2003 at 6:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Theresa--If there is a serious discepancy between her verbal skills and her READING skills, adn this is demonstrated on an IQ test, then she as an LD--whether she is at or above grade level. And they HAVE to provide services for her. My older son had a serious discrepancy (42 points) between his reading/verbal skills and his writing ability. After some pushing on my part, he received the special training and typing classes he needed to succeed. You can have an IEP without being in the special ed classes. You need to do some research and better inform yourself of your rights--if I have time in thenext few days I'll see if I can dig out the LD stuff. My kid is now a (VERY SUCCESSFUL) college freshman and I haven';t looked at that stuff in a hundred years.

You might try doing a google on legal rights for the learning disabled or some such thing...


    Bookmark   December 12, 2003 at 7:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sadie's mom,

Another thought--we did not wait around for the schools to test our kids--that can take over a year from the first referral. Nor did I rely on our family practice doc to make the diagnosis about ADHD and LD's. We sucked it up and pid out some serious money for PRIVATE TESTING. Yes, it was EXPENSIVE. No, our insurance didn't cover it. Yes, it was worth it and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Youmight want to pursue that avenue...jsut look for a reliable practice.

SandiD--one of my kids stayed on meds all the way through school--the other coped after 3rd grade until he hit middle high...then volunteered to go back on. My kids were part of the Stratera trials--have you discussed stratera with your doctor? It's not for every kid--but works well for some. We've found it to HELP with the cognitive organizationa stuff (though admittedly not as good as stimulants) but where it really shines is UMS (Ugly Mood Swings.) Also--it is NOT a class II substance--and has less of an apetite surpressing effect.

Sorry to hijack the thread! Good luck to all--and feel fee to e-mail me with any questions.


    Bookmark   December 12, 2003 at 7:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Melanie, I've not talked to her doc about Stratera yet (new doc). She was seeing a psychiatrist (but he stopped accepting my insurance & $90 for 20-30 minutes is a bit much). He'd written the script for Adderall (10 mg). Not a very big dose, but she's a skinny kid. She was seeing a psychologist, but I didn't see any improvement in attitude. My mom thinks I should go with one of the homeopathic meds, but I'm not sure about that. I haven't seen much of appetite suppression with Adderall. She has an extremely active metabolism & always eats like a piggy. My biggest problem (even when she's not on meds) is that she doesn't get enough sleep. Of course her first class of the day is pre-algebra. We agreed (after he teacher called me about her sleepiness) that she'd go back on her meds. I just wish I'd known that puberty would make so many changes for us (not just what I'd expected either).

Sadie's mom - I also have bunches of info I've collected about LDs. The link I posted earlier (Schwab Learning - after Charles Schwab who was dyslexic) has some pretty indepth articles on the legalities & a very active forum for LD.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2003 at 10:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for the information. I have looked at much of the Schwab website and have a moderate degree of information about LD's myself (taught GED classes and math classes for many years and have counseled and referred many teens and adults with previously undiagnosed LD's for testing), I haven't seen anything that describes my daughter's situation. She doesn't struggle at school AT ALL, she has a very good attention span and takes a tremendous amount of responsibility for creating good learning environments for herself (asking to move to a quite corner during testing, turning her back to everyone during silent reading time, and often, double checking her answers before she turns things in, etc.)

I think I overstated the problem when I said that her reading rate was "seriously low"--it's actually at or slightly above her grade level. That's where her frustration comes in--she knows that she is not a fast reader even though she wants and tries to be. As you know, most standardized tests don't test reading rate--comprehension and vocabulary only and she tests very high on both of these areas. It's just that compared to her high comprehension and vocabulary skills, there is quite a discrepancy. Tests that are given at her grade level are quite easy for her because the reading is so simple and there is either not a time limit or there is ample time for her to read the rather "easy" selections.

In my gut, I really do feel like this is a vision problem and that's what I was asking about having the special ed. teacher screen her for since I know that unusual vision problems can appear to be a LD--and in fact they are often misdiagnosed as some sort of LD.

Sandi, I must not have explained very well, cause my daughter's teacher doesn't at all think that I think DD should be in special ed. I don't think she needs to learn more about LD's--she is considered by many in our school district to be extremely informed and also knows my daughter quite well. As you probably know, policies and laws vary by state--in our state, it is a certain percentage of students in a school district that can receive special ed services--I think it's 13% here--which means that if there are more than 13% (or whatever the #) of the kids need special ed services, then the one's with mild problems, in fact, don't get served.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2003 at 3:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sadiesmom--even if you don't get services, you can get ACCOMODATIONS--and for a high achiever those are just as important. If she doesn't test out LD, adn you do find a PHYSICAL problem--look into gettting her a 504--"other health impaired." That's how we got accomodations for older son--he has a condition known as Dyspraxia which affects his ability to PHYSICALLY write. He has to THINK about the act of writing--hence his need for a keyboard! Has come in handy in college--he does his "blue book" exams on a computer.

SandiD--thank goodness my kids GOT into that Straterra study--our insurance changed and I would have been paying for psych appointments...$120/pop. We get free care and the younger one still gets free meds. Older guy went out of state for college and had to drop out of the study, so we have to pay for drugs, but our psychiatrist still sees him for free. I love our Psych! Is your daughter sleepless even when she is NOT taking meds? My kids have had bouts of that--they said they "couldn't get their brains to shut up." They do not report such problems on Strattera. My kids couldn't tolerate Adderall AT ALL. It's all about finding the right meds--and behavior modification. The homeopathic/diet treatments have NEVER held up in clinical trials--but I know people who swear by them. I believe in good clinical research, myself. Good luck!


    Bookmark   December 13, 2003 at 12:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sooo, anyway, back to the original post-

Lizzyb, if your son has trouble with reading, that could be why he hates it so much. No one likes to do things that they aren't good at. My other thought is that he does not enjoy the books that are available to him through the AR program. Does he just hate reading those books and is he spending all of his "reading time" trying to meet the requirements for that? If so, it may just be that he never gets to read anything he likes. You mentioned that he likes science. I would recommend getting him some non-fiction books about things he is interested in to start with. Then, (and maybe you already tried this,) take turns with him reading every other page or so. (I have found that my boy students like non-fiction better than fiction.) Most kids like to be read to (even 5th graders) and they can comprehend at a higher level than they can read. For a struggling reader, hearing a good reader read fluently is an important part of his or her own reading. If your other son also likes science, why not read round robin style as a family? I hope that some of these ideas work for you. If not, maybe they will trigger some other ideas for you or another forum member. Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 28, 2003 at 2:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

and if your kid can read the game guide on an Xbox, his comprenehsion level's on par with me.

so maybe it's the reading material? I remember Encyclopedia Brown... I read them because everyone else did...but they were dumb books then, and they have to seem REALLY dumb to a kid who's see Harriet the Spy, or SPY KIDS in the movie versions...

if he's into science...try getting him science books, ones on bugs or sharks or even James Burke's 'the pinball effect' (which I recently got a 9 year old interested in... needed some help with the vocabulary, but soaked the history and the technology of it up faster than most adults)

if he's in to math- try a book of math puzzles, or one of those 'did you know' books...

Brian Jacque's 'redwall' series is a wonderful fantasy series that's exciting and though-provoking and has all the classic 'myth' lessons (honesty, duty, loyalty, responsibility, how to tell a good authority figure from a tyrant, don't eat anything you can't identify, that sort of thing)

you might also consider looking into comic books...god knows there are enough of them out there with great story lines... CROSSGEN has two that are ok for kids- MERIDIAN is more a girl's story (the main character is 14) and SCION is a BRILLIANT story for a young boy.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2004 at 2:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Take your son to the book store and let him pick out something to read. If he likes dragons and stuff maybe he would like Harry Potter or The Hobbit (Lord of the Rings) type books. The 4th grader that lives across the road from me loves to read Stephen King.
He just needs to find something he likes. It doesn't matter really, as long as he is reading.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2004 at 2:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is what I HATE about public schools...the pressure on the kids to preform instead of honoring their other gifts.

We are only talking ONE year behind in LIFE!!! SO WHAT! Perhaps in the end he will surpass his brother and everyone else.

I believe that the influence and the bonds of siblings have a strong influence in the progress of their education . For example if his brother was older, perhaps his developmental level in reading might have different milage, who's to ever know?

I wish schools would honor the childs intelligence in other areas and not LABEL these poor kids who will remember for the rest of their lives how they were STUPID ( which it sometimes get reduced down to)or not good enough.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2004 at 6:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

lizzyb, Does your son have problems with reading? Mine did and that was why he did not like reading. Have you tried sylvan? They cost a bit, but are well worth the money. My son was a year behind in reading and sylvan caught him up in 8 months. It made a world of difference. He reads a lot now. We tried letting the school help him with his reading but they really were of no help. Sometimes you have to go it on your own to help your child, which by your post I can see you are doing. Ann

    Bookmark   March 21, 2005 at 7:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Have you tried reading to each other? Depending on his age, you read a page or a chapter to him; then he reads a page or a chapter to you.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2005 at 11:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Many boys dislike reading fiction. Since he likes science, would he willingly read non-fiction, science related books and magazines? Grossology is usually a winner with reluctant male readers. You might also want to try graphic novels and comic books (preread these since some are sexually and violently explicit).

    Bookmark   February 13, 2007 at 10:59AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Son Waiting a Year Before Going to College
This seems to be a safe place to express my disappointment....
Do you know any simple science experiments?
I am planning to get a few of my son's friends over...
What is Your Opinion of School Uniform?
I strongly believe in school uniform as it helps to...
P Anderson
teacher gifts
Do you do them at the end of the year? At holidays,...
School suggestions -Frisco, Texas
Hello everyone, I am writing from Iowa and moving to...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™