Tuesday 23 March 2010

Making up ground...

I've always been a bit of a bookworm. Which is probably why, when I was informed that Boy #1 had fallen behind in his reading since he arrived at his new school, I took it as something of a challenge and decided to do my best to rectify the situation.

I know why this - his reading regression - has happened, of course. When we arrived here, my primary concern was that he settled in well; that he made new friends; that he felt relaxed, confident, and at ease in the different system he is now in. The last thing I wanted to do was to push him. It worked. He is now so at ease he has slipped back at least 6 months in his reading ability and when recently tested has come up at 'below grade' level.

Below grade?


MY son?How can this have happened? His reading was fine - better than fine - when we left London. But now, well it appears that repetition is the key, and we just haven't been doing that.

(As a side note, this is where my studying Russian is proving worth it's weight in gold; I can sympathise a lot more than I would otherwise have done with his struggles to understand and sound out words, because he sounds just like I do when doing my homework...)

So we've been spending a few minutes each day working on his reading, and in an effort to get him enthused about it, I've made sure to get him involved in the selection of the books that we get from the library so that he actually wants to do it.

This is all well and good, but it does mean that most of our reading matter is confined to one of three topics; animals, dinosaurs and superheroes.

And that in turn means that... well, see for yourself.

Me: "OK, let's start."

Boy #1: "I am Tri-cer-a-tops. I am a dinosaur and I am big and strong. I have three spiky horns on my head - oh, mama, look at that horn, it's really small, if he was attacked by a T-rex the top two would probably go in but the bottom one wouldn't, and do you think that would work, because t-rex's are really fierce and they attack without warning and - oh yes, the book.... and I have a bony frill on my neck. The bony frill was for protecting him, did you know that? And Triceratops would only eat plants but they could protect themselves yes they could and you know they were able to defend themselves against the meat eaters and..."

Me: "Shall we turn the page?"

Boy #1: "Yes. I look fierce but I am quite gentle. But not with scary dinosaurs he wasn't, was he? With scary dinosaurs, like the allosaurus or the t-rex they could defend themselves and look after their young and their eggs and...."

So. It's taking a while...


  1. Sounds like his comprehension is just fine! I have nearly the same issue with my boy, he's happy to read but only what he wants. So he'll read Roald Dahl and Horrid Henry to himself till the cows come home, but put Biff and Chip in front of him and he clams up.

  2. Having some trouble with reading ourselves - will follow your lead and take him to the library. (In my brilliance I hadn't thought of that.)

  3. Sounds like he's doing fine to me! Reading is all about understanding and enjoyment and he's obviously got that in buckets!

  4. D&K do some great early reader books - we've got Star Wars, rockets and spaceships and all sorts. As Jen says, it sounds like his comprehension is good. That, I think, is half the battle.

  5. What about getting a book that's almost about dinosaurs or superheroes, but not so much that he knows everything about them? For example, crocodiles and amphibians lived as long ago as the dinos. You could start learning about them? (Can you tell we've just "done" amphibians?)

  6. I would take dinosaurs any day over Biff, Wilf, Wilma, Chip and Kipper...
    Honestly, whoever came up with such daft names for characters?

    LCM x

    p.s. roarrrrrrrrrr!

  7. I always liked the 'allo'allosaurus. He was my favourite.

    I think it sounds as if he's doing fine.

  8. Your boy is just being a boy. You know, they'll read when they want to and what they want to. My suggestion is, offer him a selection of books and let him choose what he wants to read then walk him through it. Keep the books fun and light so he'll have fun. Have you tried kiddie comics?

  9. He sounds as if he's a bright boy and interested, so I am sure he'll catch up just fine - it was a big move for you all and something had to give.

    They are so funny about dinosaurs. I was amazed recently when Littleboy 2 suddenly pointed out a 'triceratops' in a book and said it really clearly. He's 3. I couldn't even pronounce it.....

  10. Adults have to spell out words too sometimes.... My lovely Cambridge educated friend came round the other night and was prevailed upon to read L a story. She got the delights of Slinky Malinki and The Gruffalo first, which was fine. But the third story was a struggle as she stumbled repeatedly over the new word... "Tombliboo". Bet your boy could manage that!

  11. At 6 my younger son's favourite book was the DK Encyclopedia.This led to lots of other books when he wanted more than the basic information offered in the DK book. He loathed the school reading schemes with a passion but regularly tested years ahead of his reading age.

  12. Jen, interesting - and familiar!

    Mwa - well it took me a while to cotton on to, I have to admit!

    Christine, he does - and I didn't even mention the stage show that goes with it all (acting out the dinosaur attacks etc)

    Glowstars, funny enough D&K is exactly what we're working with - but from the Library, not class.

    EPM, good tip. Amphibians it is, then!

    LCM, you know, I always wondered about that myself. They're probably the result of a decade of linguistic research or something...

    Iota, he is - really.

    AMC, yes we have but sadly they're in short supply in Moscow (in English, at any rate). Must remember to stock up on our next trip home!

    NVG, yes, and the amazing thing is how they focus on completely different things. For Boy #1 t's dinosaurs and animals, for Boy #2 it's trains planes and automobiles...

    PlanB, yes, sadly he could!

    Sharon, DK it is then!

  13. Aw bless - but look at how interested he is and how the reading is sort of just happening

    Makes mental note to borrow this trick


Go on - you know you want to...