Mumsnet query July 2010: "I did everything you are "supposed" to do and yet here we are at 7 years of age and he has the reading level of a 5 year old and no interest in learning to read better”
Reply from MaizieD: Poor you. I really sympathise, but I suspect you got suckered into the 'reading is natural, surround them with books, read to them, they will pick it up' school of reading 'instruction'; and it doesn't help to be surrounded by people whose children '...well, basically my dc (aged 6 months) followed the words with its finger when I was reading to them and, hey presto, within three weeks they were reading Harry Potter..'( wink). What ever has happened in the past I would strongly suspect that your ds doesn't like to read because he finds it very difficult. The fact that he has 'forgotten' his 'sight words' tells me that his phonics instruction at school wasn't very rigorous (because rigorous phonics instruction does not include teaching 'sight words') and that he probably finds reading difficult because his phonic knowledge is very incomplete. This is a link to a 'nonsense word test' which tests a child's phonic knowledge. A well taught 7 year old should be able to do most of it. If he can't, then I would use a good programme to teach him with. If he has a good grasp of the simple, one letter = one sound correspondences you don't need to work him through them again, just find out where he gets stuck and start from there. I would suggest looking at Phonics International. It is very reasonably priced and has masses of supplementary information and advice which will help you to teach it if you are not confident with phonics. There is also Read Write Inc (published by OUP) and Dancing Bears (Promethean Trust). As a standalone programme or for supplementary decodable readers there are the BRI- ARI books from Piper Books or decodable readers available from bookshops, amazon etc . This site "http://www.dyslexics.org.uk">http://www.dyslexics.org.uk will give lots of links to resources. I find it very ironic that you have read somewhere that the 'window of opportunity to teach reading' is lost once the child is 7. There is a school of thought (notably Steiner schools) which thinks that you shouldn't start teaching a child to read until they are 7 . Basically, neither are correct. Anybody can learn to read at any age! One golden rule, I would say, is: never to let him struggle. Promise him that he is going to find it easy to learn to read (unless you have any really good reason to think he has a learning difficulty) and never ask him to read anything that contains letter/sound correspondences that he doesn't yet know. Also, don't expect him to learn any words as 'sight words', i.e as a 'whole'. He obviously finds this difficult (and indeed, as it is somewhat akin to asking an adult to memorise, and instantly recall, a set of telephone numbers I think you should appreciate just how difficult it is) and he isn't going to feel confident about reading until he is sure that he's not going to get any impossibly difficult tasks to do. Lots of practice at decoding and blending are all he needs. I very much admire you taking on this task. It isn't always the easiest of things to do, to work with a reluctant reader, and it being your own child must make it harder. But, if you are home educating you of course have a duty to teach him to read. I wish you all the very best with it!
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