February 18, 2011

Guest Post on Struggling Learners


Welcome to Stephanie Charlot as she talks about reading struggles with her son, Alexander.

The final component has been practice, practice, practice. Those of you with late readers -- especially male late readers -- understand the challenge of finding good, engaging reading material for older, but weak readers! Nevertheless, I required him to read twenty minutes a day. I found this somewhat tricky to keep track of however, and honestly, it just wasn't enough time to really get him moving toward proficiency. I know all the studies about how giving prizes for reading can backfire, and I'm still a believer in that ideal, but waiting for Alexander to get self-motivated wasn't working either. I eventually concluded that what he needed more than a love of reading was simply to be able to read, and soon! I decided to make him earn his "screen time" by reading, minute-for-minute. He immediately went from reluctantly reading 20 minutes a day to reading about an hour a day, and often more, without a single prompt from me. He reads easy-readers, kids' magazines, and even some of his 3 year old brother's picture books. He is finally able to read easier chapter books now, such as the "Stink" series by Megan McDonald. His confidence has risen. In one of his extra-curricular classes last week, he was asked to read a sentence in an instruction book that he was already somewhat familiar with. Only months ago, such a request would have resulted in significant embarrassment for him, but this time he read it well, if a bit slowly. No one seemed to take any notice at all.

I would be thrilled if my son eventually becomes one of those kids you hear tell about, who struggles, struggles, struggles, then wakes up one morning and starts reading high-school level novels. Maybe it will still happen, but I'm not holding my breath. We've gotten this far without the "ah-ha" moment that so many kids have. "Struggle" hardly seems the right word. It's been a long hard slog for both of us (mostly for him), and he is still climbing. As he does, he’s learning not only the value of reading, but also the value of tenacity and continued effort, and that sometimes you flounder around a little until you find what works.
I haven't heard the word stupid for a while now.

Stephanie Charlot has been homeschooling since 2005. She lives with her husband and three children in Michigan.


Jenny said...

Hopped over from Special Needs Homeschooling. I love the title of your page contrasted with the calm, simple look of your header! Perfect!

My son is younger, so I haven't gotten into controversial reading helps. But I will say that my son would probably do anything to earn computer time! Looks like it worked for your son. ;)

KarenHSlifesituations said...

I don't remember the age of your son. My son 11 year old son also struggled with reading. One of his favorite series is The Boxcar Children.

Crystal said...

Hey Angela!! Found your blog from another blog that I ck on from time to time!!!