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Advice needed - grandson struggling to read at end Year 1

(65 Posts)
Lyndylou Fri 05-Sep-14 13:49:14

Hi folks, this is my first posting here. I have been lurking over the summer holidays to see if anyone has the same worry I have! My grandson is 6, introverted but has lots of friends, and has always seemed a normal child to me. Last year in Year 1 we were told twice at Xmas and Spring 2014 that he was behind in reading but not to worry, he was progressing slowly, and the school arranged 1-1 help for him. The last term of 2014, we noticed he was starting to lose confidence. When reading with Mum he started to say "I can't do it" "It's too hard". He struggles with putting letters together to make sounds, although he can get there in the end for each word it takes ages to get through a book and he needs lots of prompting. His school report, received 2 days before end of term, was terrible, he has failed his phonetics test and was the bottom score for everything (except drama!). He wears glasses and has a very mild lazy eye, but the hospital think it should not affect his reading, and his hearing is very good (maybe too good).

Then, the day school broke up, we received a letter from the Learning Support Unit which said they had seen him twice in school during April and May. The assessment was awful, not a positive word in it, you would actually think they were talking about a 2 year old. He apparently can not explain normal household objects, did not socialise properly, and he did not know the right way to hold a book, which is crazy to us, he has loved books since he was little, can tell you the story back after one hearing and notices immediately if you miss a bit. He also asks if he hears any new words, even if he is playing and the conversation is going on around him. Now we have to wait until he has settled in his new class to talk to anyone about this.

I am really annoyed that the LSS saw him in April and May, dated the report 26 June but sent it to arrive the day school (and the LSS) broke up late July. Surely all this should have been discussed last term with his mum and the teacher that knew him best so there was something in place for this year? Anyway we have worked hard with him over the holidays, he has been attending a tutorial unit twice a week and I have been going through the ORT (Biff Chip etc) with him, as that is not the system his school uses. I think he is improving but it is all very slow.

Sorry for such a long posting but I am going silly with worry that he will never catch up with his school mates, so any advice would be very welcome. By the way he lives with his Mum, stays one night a week with Dad (son/dad relationship is quite good). Dad is from Afghanistan but English is always the language that has been spoken around him.

Tegan Fri 05-Sep-14 13:55:19

Dyslexia? There are a lot of people far more knowledgeable on here than me about such things, you'll get lots of help and advice.

jinglbellsfrocks Fri 05-Sep-14 14:03:04

He will catch up. My younger grandson was slow learning to read. He took off at about the age of seven and now his nose is seldom out of a book. The rest of your post sounds just like him too. We felt there was a bit of laziness in there tbh, or maybe just slow development. We are now starting to realise that he is a very intelligent young feller. He surprises us sometimes with the questions he comes out with! grin

Don't worry. Six is still very young. He will take off.

It was very unfair, not giving you the report until the last day of term. Unbeleivable! hmm

jinglbellsfrocks Fri 05-Sep-14 14:04:26

yes - I know - 'i' before 'e' etc. hmm

Lyndylou Fri 05-Sep-14 14:08:16

Yes, I have considered that, Tegan, but he seems to be sounding out the letters in the right order, just struggling with putting them together to make a word.

My partner's son is dyslexic but he says my GS is not showing the same signs. I'm no expert though, so dyslexia is one of the subjects on my list when we finally get to talk to the school.

littleflo Fri 05-Sep-14 14:10:51

My granddaughter, now 18, was also very slow to read. My daughter got her a private tutor when she was 8 but it made her more frustrated. She too loved books so my daughter decided just to ease off and it seemed to work. She caught up by the time she reached secondary school and really thrived once she reached 13. 6 is extremely young and, if your grandson is shy and introverted that would be a reasonable explanation as to why he went to pieces in the assessment. My advice would be to build his confidence in the things he is good at and don't allow the school to categorise him too early.

Tegan Fri 05-Sep-14 14:16:14

My grandson starts school next week, writes with his left hand [although does everything else with his left] and is writing backwards. He has always sucked the fingers [not thumb]on his right hand and we wondered if he just uses his left hand so he can still suck his fingers confused.

Lyndylou Fri 05-Sep-14 14:18:28

Thanks jinglbellsfrocks. I have become convinced over the holidays that either he just hasn't reached the point when his brain is ready for reading or, as you say he is lazy. He is perfectly capable of working out reasons why he shouldn't read to me!

When I read a book to him then told him to go back through it and he could have a choc button for each word he got right, he started memorising everything I said and he was word perfect for the whole book. Just not reading it!! hmm

He also watches you tube videos about Minecraft and then puts the ideas into practice on his tablet, so he is capable of following instructions when he wants to.

jinglbellsfrocks Fri 05-Sep-14 14:19:16

Agree with Littleflo. Good post. (I think schools do categorise too early)

jinglbellsfrocks Fri 05-Sep-14 14:20:53

grin Yes. Grandson could "read" his school reading book through memory and the pictures.

I think you will find he is quite a bright little button. smile

Lyndylou Fri 05-Sep-14 14:24:37

That's interesting Tegan. My GS used both hands equally until he was about 4, now he has settled to using his right hand but he writes letters the opposite way to the way he is supposed to. He starts where he should finish!

Lyndylou Fri 05-Sep-14 14:33:21

Thank you littleflo. That's very reassuring. I think also he went to pieces because he likes to please and he was getting discouraged at never seeming to tell people what they wanted to hear, so obviously it's much easier to pretend you don't know.

I will fight against any categorisation. I am worried that they are writing him off at 6, but part of me wonders if they make him sound worse so they can get extra funding for the school.

littleflo Fri 05-Sep-14 14:33:56

Writing letters and numbers backwards and upside down is extremely common with the children who are late reading developers. Seeing that post reminded me that both my grandaughter and my daughter did it.

Aka Fri 05-Sep-14 14:37:55

My grandson could barely read at the end of Y1 but by the end of Y3 he's fluent and off the reading scheme. Just keep an eye on his progress in Y2.

Scaredycat1 Fri 05-Sep-14 15:19:38

As a teacher I know that children learn to read at differing rates. There are lots of opportunities to read that don't involve struggling with a reading book: games, signs etc. keep it all relaxed and don't force the issue. A doctor friend struggled to read till he was 7-8 and is now a consultant so don't despair!

trisher Fri 05-Sep-14 15:24:56

Firstly Lindylou I think your grandson's treatment by the school is not just unfeeling but absolutely negligent. Ask to see their Special Needs Policy and if it doesn't say that parents and carers should always be told of any worries or interventions the school is planning then it should! New guidelines come into place this month about Special Needs and this is one of the most important changes- that parents are the people who best know the child and they must be included. That said it probably doesn't make you feel any better. So advice on your DGS. Firstly he may be dyslexic, very young to test yet but it is a possibility. If he is you will have need to put in lots of time and effort and it may be he will never read at the same level as other children. The important thing is to realise that literacy isn't the be-all and end-all schools make it out to be. Dyslexic people are often talented in other areas- the number of successful people in the creative arts who are dyslexic is incredible. In fact the idea that your DGS can retell stories makes me think he may be dyslexic. If so it will be hard for him. I have a DS who is severely dyslexic, had real problems with school, dropped out of full time education when he was 14, but happily eventually went back and is now completing an MA. Just keep telling him that he is talented, point out what he is good at and keep building up his self confidence. Try to build a relationship with the school but remember you are his champion and know him best. (If you think I am biased against schools I am a retired teacher so I have seen things from both sides!)

Elegran Fri 05-Sep-14 15:38:02

He may be one of the many children who are better with whole words than with phonrtics - children who can recognise words like "elephant" but have trouble putting together d-o-g to make dog.

If I were you I would ease up on him about actually reading for a little while and let him relax about it. (except for reading him stories and talking with him about what happened in the story - that will show how much he is understanding iit, as against memorising the sentences in it so as to repeat them.)

Concentrate on games that involve distinguishing shapes that are almost the same, and finding rhyming words, that sort of thing.

I Googled child having difficulty with phonics and found quite a lot of stuff about problems like this. Here is one page -

Elegran Fri 05-Sep-14 15:40:01

Sorry about that strange word phonrtics.

MiniMouse Fri 05-Sep-14 15:40:05

Lindylou You mentioned that your GS wears glasses & has a lazy eye. It is possible that he may also have scotopic sensitivity. If you Google it you'll find plenty of information. This is not tested for at the opticians, you would need to see a specialist unfortunately.

Dyslexia is quite complex & manifests itself in many different ways, it's not just back-to-front letters or words, it's more to do with processing information, e.g. fluent readers who have no idea what they have just read.

Feel free to pm me if it would help.

Elegran Fri 05-Sep-14 15:41:33

I seem to remember hearing that tinted glasses help some children to see the words better.

MiniMouse Fri 05-Sep-14 15:45:09

Yes you're right Elegran There are also special rulers with a tinted 'window' in them to help children & help them follow the lines of text.

vampirequeen Fri 05-Sep-14 16:02:54

Try putting tinted acetate over the page to see if that helps.

What is your GS interested in? Does he like cars, robots, dinosaurs etc? Take him to the library and look in the non-fiction section. Choose books that have lots of pictures. Let him begin to enjoy books without worrying that he'll have to read words.

Play Junior Scrabble. The easy side has the words on the boards and you simply put in the letters. Make it family fun time and he won't even think of it as learning.

Above all don't worry because he'll know if you're stressed even if you hide it. Then he'll get stressed. Boys sometimes take longer to click into reading. I've had boys come to me at Year 3 who were reading at Year 1 level then suddenly for no apparent reason they took off as if something just triggered in their brains. If he turns out to be dyslexic there is a lot of help available right up to university level.

Lyndylou Fri 05-Sep-14 16:03:00

Thanks Scardeycat1, relaxed is definitely not a word that is usually applied to me, but I have been trying to keep the reading very laid back, while keeping to a fixed schedule so he knows he has to do some. I don't want to put him off reading so I am trying not to stress him out over it all. We do look for signs etc while we are out and do alphabet jigsaws and baby scrabble etc, but he is very astute about things that he thinks of as "work".

I admit Nana must try harder at word games, sitting still and playing games has never come easy to me, so I will take that on board. smile

Nelliemoser Fri 05-Sep-14 16:03:26

lyndylou Another question is how old was your grandson when he started school? Was he one of the older ones or one of the youngest?

I am not a teacher but I would suggest that things like the school SATS and school league tables have a lot answer for. "If he does not do well it will spoil our schools success rate." So the school put pressure on.
The more the poor lad feels pressured and that he is "failing" the more likely he is to get really anxious about not being able to read.
Perhaps he needs the pressure taken off for a while?

He could have dyslexic problems. These can cover a quite varied range of subtle cognitive difficulties and not just being unable to read words off the page. Strange things can happen with "working memory" and "visual memory" etc which cause problems.

If I were you, I would suggest his parents look to the possibility of Dyslexia and try and get a proper assessment for Dyslexia by an educational psychologist?

My experience of being Dyslexic was that I could read very well early on but I had other literacy problems including writing and organising work. This meant poor performance in exams which in the 1950s/60s were just put down to my laziness.
My Dyslexia was eventually suspected and diagnosed with help from the OU when I was I was 52.

Lyndylou Fri 05-Sep-14 16:10:29

Thanks, trisher, for taking the time to write your lovely post. I am trying not to get too wound up about the school but you are right, they haven't kept us informed and the report was a complete bombshell. However we do have to work with them and I will be asking them if they think dyslexia is a possibility.

I have written a little report with all the positive things that he can do that I can think of and I will be asking if a copy can sit in his records, just to show them that there is more to him that just the way he is at school. Even if no-one reads it, it makes me feel better! smile