Thursday, July 22, 2010

Struggling Readers

I find it ironic that as one who has always been a naturally avid reader, I have a struggling reader. My now 6 year old son finished his excursion through Kindergarten last month, and let me tell you it wasn't an easy ride; for him or us. In fact is was downright stressful. He is a smart kid, don't get me wrong. But it's hard to get and keep his attention and you have to really be fascinating for him to stop and listen. All year long he was having trouble in reading and he just barely passed by the skin of his teeth. And that was with special before and after school tutoring programs. That's a lot for a 5 year old! I'm proud of him to say the least, and we've been working diligently over the summer to improve his reading skills. I feel like he's coming along, but I do still worry about how 1st grade is going to go.

As a parent you don't want your children to struggle or feel frustrated, especially so young. I remember being in Kindergarten and it was a magical time for me! It was easy and fun and full of arts and crafts and activities. But I also remember being able to read before I even went into Kindergarten. It's hard to explain, just that for as long as I can remember, I've been able to read. I think therein lies my own hardship with my son's struggles. How do I convey something properly that has always come to me so naturally? I've never had to explain "how" to read and so it's new territory for me too! We've had some help along they way, and trust me I've researched and read all about how to teach your kids to read!! He just hasn't had that "aha!" moment yet, but I know it'll come! And whatever happened to nap-time? Why did they get rid of that again?!

In Florida where I live, they have Voluntary Pre Kindergarten, where they do a free public PreK program at a provider of your choice. We put him in VPK at a local church (curriculum was secular), which was absolutely amazing! He loved his teachers, he formed friendships and he was engaged and HAPPY! He would chant, "Preschool! Preschool! Preschool!" on the way there in the morning. It was a 3 hour a day program and just enough. The bonds he formed there were really special and his little sister (who's 4) has the privilege of attending the same preschool this coming fall. And she is so excited because she already knows the teachers! Preschool has become the new Kindergarten.

Fast forward to Kindy and almost every morning I'm peeling him off the floor as he's crying telling me he doesn't want to go to school. He would go on and on about how the days were so long (6 hours is a lot for a kid who thinks and moves in the realm of quantum) and he didn't have fun and wanted to stay home. Came to find out that he was having some bully troubles and such and so we got him into a better (meaning smaller) school towards the end of the year. He thrived at that school, and fell in love with his young and pretty teacher. Not to mention she was super dedicated to helping him, and I have to give it up to her. She really made the big impact on him he needed. He started to make a turn for the better and really started to make some headway! He would tell me how nice she was, and even said she was "Beautiful"! Maybe that's the key. Give these boys who are struggling a pretty, young, engaging and sweet teacher! Maybe then they'll pay attention!! ;) LOL Thank you, Mrs. Orr!

So we keep reading and trying and bit by bit he's piecing it together. The pressure from the school systems today can be a lot for little kids. I could sit here and complain about the pitfalls of public school, but it works for our family. Despite some of the negative things you could say about it, it has a lot of benefits as well. Private school is out of my reach financially, and homeschooling is not for me. I don't put one over the other, in fact one of my best friends home schools her kids and I think she does a great job! I need to have my own thing; hence my writing. And so we use the resources we have available, and that happens to be our public school system. There are still good teachers in the system that really do care, and I think that's what makes the big impact. A good teacher! I have faith that "aha!" moment is on the horizon and it'll get easier for him. Plus I heard his beloved teacher has been moved to first grade! *Fingers Crossed!!*

Oh and did I mention he's a whiz in math? Maybe he can teach me a thing or two there!

Here's some Struggling Reader resources that helped us:

Reading Rockets

The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading

Starfall

And of course, our public library!

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