View Full Version : Help improve my son's reading...

Sep 7, 2006, 12:35 PM
My son is 10 yrs old and now in the 5th grade. He has always struggled with reading but I'm worried that he is not improving well enough. I don't want him to have a hard time, as he gets older work will get harder.
Are there any suggestions of workbooks, games, or programs that are a sure thing to help my son?

Sep 7, 2006, 12:41 PM
I've heard good things about the hooked on phonics type of reading instruction.

Sep 7, 2006, 06:16 PM
Hello kizza,

You probably already know this point, but I would like to make it just in case.

If he is behind at grade 5, you might be getting a bit frustrated or discouraged or worried. Try your best for your son NOT to see that. Because if he thinks there is something wrong, then he will get stressed, then the learning will suffer. Just something I have learned from personal experience.

As to ways to help him improve:
Perhaps every night he can read a story to you or your significant other.

If he starts reading every day, this might help him get more comfortable with it.

Sep 7, 2006, 06:21 PM
I agree with everything so far. As ScottGem mentioned Hooked on Phonics is good, also the stress that you feel about his "lack" will reflect as CF suggested.

My mother-in-law is a 4th grade teacher and she also recommends Sylvan Learning Centers if it is within your budget.

Sep 7, 2006, 06:35 PM
I have heard a lot about Sylvan and hooked on phonics, I'm looking into both. I know there have been times when my son knows how worried I am about his reading, I feel terrible about that. I do try to comfort him and let him know that its okay and we just need to spend more time reading together. It just gets hard when I have letters and phone calls home about this, and with this new year just starting I worry.

Sep 7, 2006, 06:43 PM
What does his problem seem to be? Does he read as if he is reading run-on sentences?

Maybe if you find a kind of book that picques his interest he may be able to read better. He may be bored with the books he is reading.

Could he possibly be dyslexic?

Sep 9, 2006, 10:27 PM
Hey! This is something my Mom and Dad did with me when they were teaching me to read and then progress in reading. If I had spelling, reading, or writing homework to do, my Dad would help me do it until it was all done (my Dad stopped working for a few years so he could take care of my siblings and me, and my Mom went to work to increase her education and finish up a degree).

Then at night, when my Mom got home from work/school, she would have me read to her. She would take me to the library on the weekends, have me pick out ONE book that I wanted (usually the cover looked cool and she had to approve it--reading level and ease), and then have me read it to her every night. My Mom would help me with words, etc. but as I read it every night, I started recognizing the words, etc. When my Mom saw that I read the book to her relatively smoothly and easily, she'd take me to the library again and we'd get something slightly more advanced, etc.

You might try this with your spouse/significant other. However, both of you have to be really good about doing this. If you guys are tired one night, well... you can't be:) And if your son is tired or doesn't want to, you still have to, but gauge how much you should do, etc.; maybe don't have him read a lot of the book, just a few pages or something like that. Hope this helps:D

Sep 12, 2006, 11:23 PM
Reading w/ your son every day/night is the best way to help him improve. I read to my children every night just before I tuck them in. It takes 15 minutes or less and does them a world of good.
Also, my daughter (6 years old) and I play Hang Man and scramble with her spelling words. We also try to point out all her spelling words for the week that might just happen to be in the bedtime stories we're reading. It's really fun for her and she learns to spell the words rather quickly. Fun learning is fast learning... Good luck...
Your son may enjoy the new approach... What does he like to do?? Find out, then find a way to plug learning into it.

Sep 13, 2006, 07:23 PM
What the teachers here recommend is simply reading. Unless he has a learning disability, he should learn with repetition. You need to read to him, so he can hear propor pronunciation and sentence structure. He needs to read EVERY day. This will help him immensely. Read everything. Read menus, signs, ingrediants, instuctions, warnings, the cereal box, etc. READ and don't stop.

About this Sylvan, a friend of mine taught at one and she didn't like their system at all. She would never recommend it. Just a thought.

Sep 13, 2006, 08:49 PM
A teacher with her degree in special reading gave me these suggestions for my grandson. Often times when children are slow readers they see the letters as jumbled up. You can get colored clear paper to put over the page he is reading and that helps. Yellow works well and she said there are other colors also available at any store that sells supplies for students and teachers. They are like 30 cents a sheet. I got him all different colors. Another tool she told me about and it has been great. The New York Library has textbooks on tape and reading books on tape. You can join yearly and you can get his textbooks on tape, he can listen and read them at the same time. Leisure books the same thing. It has been awesome. The principal of the school was so impressed the school pays for the annual fee and they now have several children on the program. I do not have the site any longer, but look on the internet for textbooks on tape and the one at the New York Library.

Nov 22, 2006, 06:13 AM
J_9.. it seems as if I am always a few posts behind you... Sylvan is a very good way to help a child.. it is expensive but it works.
At your sons age it is imperative that he gets help and soon. Even a child with dyslexia or ADD... this program works.
I would get this for my child if I had to get a second mortgage on my home. I think it is that important..
This program, unlike others find your child's weakness and they get results.
Everyone on this post made some good points however I feel that it is too late for most of them and that you need to go to the top and go as fast as you can.
Your son , I think, is now suffering from low self esteem and the way to fix that is to help him to read as well as the rest of his class. I expect that he is at the place where he just wants to give up. This needs to be fixed and I think sylvan is the answer.
Call around, I don't know what state you live in but there may be some kind of financial help for you.

Nov 24, 2006, 01:36 PM
My sister and her son have this regular reading and storytelling session every afternoon. They would go to their "quiet room" and complete 3 readings. My sister makes it a point that there is comprehension so she will have Denis retell the whole story after the reading session.

Hope this helps

Nov 25, 2006, 06:08 AM
Thanks, it is my grandson. There is not a Sylvan program anyplace close to us. That was the problem. The teacher I spoke of has a degree in special reading and has helped so much with him. As I said the books and textbooks on tape have been a great tool. With the help of her and her suggestions his reading level jumped 4 levels in a year. He is doing great. The textbooks and books on tape were a wonderful tool. As I said the principal was so impressed, they have the program available for those that need it . He listens as he reads.

Jan 1, 2007, 06:58 PM
My son is 10 yrs old and now in the 5th grade. He has always struggled with reading but I'm worried that he is not improving well enough. I don't want him to have a hard time, as he gets older work will get harder.
Are there any suggestions of workbooks, games, or programs that are a sure thing to help my son?
"Dr Suess" through "The Hardy Boys" helped me overcome a serious problem with reading due to the odd way I process information. When your son becomes interested in what is going on in the book he may very well find ways to overcoming his difficulties. Life is seldom easy so don't let "It's hard" be an excuse. I would also disable the TV and video games. Better yet, put them in a closet and read with/to your son.

Feb 4, 2007, 03:27 PM
Hi Kizza,

Just a little background... I'm an elementary teacher with a whole family's worth of experience in education - father was a principal, mother and aunt both teachers - and that's just my immediate family. (Incidentally, both my parents taught in Southern California before we moved to Pennsylvania.) Together we have over 125 years of experience to draw from.

As others have mentioned, Hooked on Phonics is excellent. My school uses it in kindergarten with fantastic results. Nightly reading is a help, not just his reading to you, but your reading to him. My mother was a 5th grade teacher and ALWAYS made time in her busy day to read to her class, even though they are old enough to read themselves. I teach first grade, and not only do I read to my students, but we echo read, independently read, popcorn read, and partner read in my room. Can you tell me more about what specifically the struggle is - can't sound out words, can't read fluently, doesn't understand what was read, etc. This will help me give you more specific advice.

Also, please tell me more about the notes and phone calls you are getting. Are they calling for a conference, do they want to do educational testing, or is there a behavioral issue? Schools and parents really need to work together.

Feb 25, 2007, 07:50 PM
Another thing you can do is to make reading fun! Don't get me wrong reading is a blast but some kids get bored. In e-school I coundn't bear the readers they gave me. Look for board games that you can play with him and the rest of the family that have reading cards. If his performance in the game depends upon him remembering what he reads then he will develop better retention. This makes reading fun and he is getting better at it without realizing that he is doing it! Sneaky homework. Get your hands on some of those old "Choose Your Own Adventure" series books. They turn the book into a game where your child chooses the path that the book's plot takes. There are multiple solutions to each book and 1 book can take a lot reading while not seeming like it. Even comic books based on literary works are cool. The Classic Comics series is good but they are hard to find.

Mar 26, 2007, 02:15 PM
Hi there,

I am an elementary teacher on an extended maternity leave. I have taught fourth grade, first grade and kindergarten. I have experience in the Reading Recovery program and a reading program called Partners In Print.

I too recommend that your child reads nightly, set up a reward system for each day to keep the motivation going. Alternate opportunities for him to read outloud to you and silently. Be around to ask comprehension questions like: what was that page/paragraph about. What did the author mean by ___? How did it make you feel? Read outloud to him as well- just to show him that reading is fun- often times kids this age ONLY read what they HAVE to. I recommend finding a book on a topic or special interest that will create a spark- even if it is comic books or a cool magazine (Sports Illustrated, Time for Kids, Scholastic, Nickelodian, etc.) ANYTHING to make reading fun.

I TRULY believe that if a student is a good writer, he is a good reader. See if you can get him to write in a journal or create short stories that you in turn can "publish" on your computer. Once you have "published" them, he can illustrate them with cool markers, pencils- whatever. Kids LOVE not only doing this but sharing them with friends and teachers.- Just a thought.

I would also suggest asking the teacher to arrange an SST meeting (student study team). What this is is a team of teachers and the principal who get together to work as a team to help your child accomplish a goal. Benchmarks will be set and everyone (not just your son) will be held accountable to help him succeed. They will also evaluate if testing for special resource classes is needed. -Don't be afraid of testing!! Schools often provide wonderful services for kids in need of a little extra help- If they are identified!!

If his school does not have a SST- ask the principal if he/she has any other support systems in place to help your child before he is off to middle school.

Best of luck to you and your son!

Jun 6, 2007, 07:58 PM
In order to get good advice on strategies to use with your son I would need more information on what difficulties he is having in reading. If it is comprehension work with his fluency, vocabulary, sight words, metacognitive questions (the five W's, visualizing, making connections to the text, making predictions), phonological awareness, and phonics. He is probably doing fine in his phonics and phonological awareness by fifth grade. Have him read tons of books on his instructional level to build up his fluency.
I also agree with hollyt reading and writing go hand in hand according to all the research. Have him writing more. This can be done in various ways. Have him make a silly artwork then create a story to go along with the picture. Make it fun so he doesn't feel like it is schoolwork. Reading silly books with nonsense words can help his word attack skills. There are so many reading and writing strategies out there. I encourage you to look on the internet. In order to help him you might need to pin point what exactly he is having the most trouble with.

Jun 22, 2007, 01:20 AM
I am a reading specialist and normally what happens with children who aren't reading well by the end of grade 2 is that the method of reading the were taught is ineffective for them.

The majority of schools use Whole Language methodology where children are asked to memorize hundreds and hundreds of sight words. They start to memorize words as 'pictures' or 'wholes' and very quickly their brain reaches its quota and kids start to have problems with words like a/the, was/saw, that/what, etc.

The English language was not meant to be memorized. It was encoded phonetically (by speech sounds), so it should be decoded this way. I would guess that your son has weak phonemic awareness and needs remediation in this area.

I'm guessing that he was very dependent on pictures and probably guesses at unknown words he encounters. Does he add or omit words when he is reading? If he does some or most of the things I've mentioned, you should seek out a good phonics program that establishes a solid base of phonemic awareness before teaching phonics.

I have seen many kids from the popular tutoring companies that parents have spent thousands of dollars on, but have had little to no results. Be very careful where you invest your time and money. Make sure that the program you choose for him is intense, systematic and multisensory in approach.

Give your son this simple test: ask him to read the following 'silly' words and see if he can read them on paper without the guide word in brackets. The word in brackets is a rhyming word to help you with the words. Write the following words (without the word in brackets) on a piece of paper and see if he can decode them.
Ree(see), ip (lip), that (cat), mem (hem), tay (day), oft (soft), glack (back), hend (bend), shum (gum), be (web), dreek (seek), weaf (leaf or deaf 2 pronunciations), knap (nap), ful's (bulls or tools 2 pronunciations), ses (mess), chur (fur), zoath (oath),
Rejune (reprune), depine (refine), yox (box), throbe (robe) sloy (boy),

This is a partial list. See how he does with these. If he can't read these words effectively, he truly needs intensive work in phonological awareness. These words are made up of parts of other simple words in English and if he can read 'day', he should be able to read 'tay' and if he can read fur, he should be able to read 'chur'. If not, he is relying on memory which is ineffective and exhausting way to read. Any more questions, let me know.