Monday, March 7, 2011

Reluctant reading

When SkyWalker first learned to read it was miraculous. He would read a couple of words, pause to look up at me and smile, and then continue. He was so happy, so proud, so full of joy.

Now it's a battle every day for him to do his reading homework. He doesn't want to read out loud, or he doesn't want to read to himself, or he just doesn't want to do whatever he has to do. He likes shared reading and his definition of that is him reading a line and me reading a page. He absolutely does not like answering comprehension questions. Getting him to summarize what he's read is like pulling teeth. He can't remember details of something he read 15 minutes ago--yet he can recall scenes from movies he saw years ago and places we went to and a bunch of other things. I think he has two problems--he's not paying attention to what he's reading because he just wants to get done with it and he's not paying attention because he doesn't give a crap. I've told him he can read whatever he wants, his encyclopedias, magazines, superhero stuff. Doesn't matter, he just resisted.

For the past couple of weeks he's been getting work back from school with notes saying he didn't finish a particular section or he needs to slow down and read all the directions. He's also been biting his nails and sucking on his lower lip A LOT.

I had the idea that maybe if I could get access to Accelerated Reader at home he'd be more interested because it would be extra computer time, so I figured I'd e-mail his teacher and ask her if that was possible and then also just ask if he was nervous at school. She e-mailed back that they don't offer Accelerated Reader at home (for the record, I actually disagree with AR, but I'm not going to buck the system that much.) and then she called me later to talk about how he's doing. He does NOT seem nervous at all to her, which is good, but he does seem reluctant to do anything that he thinks might be too hard for him, even if it's not. She's had to tell him to go use the AR because she's found him just sitting at his desk, flipping through his anthology and shuffling papers around trying to make himself *look* busy (I actually find that hilarious). Once she tells him to do it, he does it. She said he's not being disobedient or rude or outright saying no, he's just reluctant to do it on his own. He has said the reason he doesn't like the comprehension questions is because he's afraid he's going to get something wrong because he just can't remember, so rather than try and get something wrong, he just doesn't want to try.


So, she suggested we take a step back and have him read the earlier readers and really work on the recall so he can build his confidence by getting those questions right. It's hard to remember details when you're also trying to figure out what the words say. Once he knows he can do the recall, then we should work on getting him to read longer and harder books.

So, I took all of his readers, the level 1s and 2s and 3s, and spent Saturday afternoon coming up with comprehension questions for each book. 3-4 questions ranging from easy to hard, and assigned each question a point value. I typed them all up, printed them out, put them in a binder along with some looseleaf paper for him to write his answers. He can earn points and when he gets a certain amount of points he'll get some kind of reward. That was Saturday. He did one that day, did another completely on his own on Sunday, and started another one today. He said he was going to spend quiet time teaching his sister to read (we have yet another snow day). They were pretty quiet until just now, so maybe he actually did.

He has an amazing memory and he *can* read. I know that he can do this. I'm not quite sure what it will take for him to get interested in reading again. I'm hoping that our comprehension binder will help. He gets perfect scores on his math tests almost all the time (I think he's gotten one or two questions wrong out of 12-13 tests) because he's interested in that. He's only in 1st grade and if he's already reluctant to read and not able to remember what he's read... the rest of school is going to be really hard.

1 comment:

Gina said...

I have no words of wisdom but wanted to say I think we may end up in a similar boat based on feedback we received so far re: not wanting to finish a task because of fear of failure. It sounds like you have a good plan of attack!