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Is the “Matthew Effect” Affecting Your Child’s Desire to Read?

Does your child dislike reading? Would your child rather do chores than read a book? Does your child avoid reading whenever possible? When it’s time for reading lessons, are there tears or grumpiness involved?

Children who dislike reading are usually struggling readers. Just as nonathletic people tend to avoid exercise, struggling readers tend to avoid books and everything else related to reading.

The Downward Spiral

Reading difficulties can be caused by many factors, including vision problems, learning differences such as dyslexia, or the lack of a solid phonics base. Whatever the cause, when a child has reading problems, it sets in motion a terrible downward spiral.

Downward spiral infographic dipicting the negative Matthew effect

It makes sense: when your child dislikes reading, he doesn’t get enough practice. Without practice, he doesn’t develop automaticity, and reading becomes hard—which leads to even less practice.

The Upward Spiral

Conversely, when reading comes easily to a child, it sets in motion a wonderful upward spiral.

When reading is easy for a child, he usually likes to read – and because it’s easy for him, he reads more. As a result, he develops automaticity, reading becomes even more pleasant, and he has excellent vocabulary growth. The upward spiral continues.

Upward spiral infographic dipicting the positive Matthew effect

After several years, the gap between children who are on the “downward spiral” and children who are on the “upward spiral” can become quite large.

This Is the Matthew Effect

As it relates to reading, the Matthew effect refers to the idea that good readers read more, causing them to become even better readers. Conversely, poor readers shy away from reading, which has a negative impact on their growth in reading ability. This causes the gap between good readers and poor readers to widen.

The Matthew effect comes from a parable told by Jesus and recorded in Matthew 25:29. The idea behind the parable eventually worked its way into the maxim, “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” The term Matthew effect was first used in the scientific field to explain how, when two scientists independently do the same work, the more prominent scientist often receives the credit for work done by the lesser known scientist. Later, cognitive science researcher Keith Stanovich1 applied the term Matthew effect to reading when he observed the effect that poor reading skills can have on all areas of a student’s academic life.

Children who are good readers experience more success, and they are encouraged by that success to read more. As they become even more successful at reading, their vocabulary and comprehension grows, which often leads to greater success in all academic areas. On the other hand, readers who struggle at decoding are less likely to want to pick up a book. They get much less practice and fall behind – often way behind – their peers. They fall behind not only in reading and spelling, but also in other content areas such as history and science.

This chart shows how the gap between good readers and poor readers widens as time goes on.

Graph showing gap between good readers and poor readers caused by the Matthew Effect widens as time goes on

How to Help Your Struggling Reader

The Matthew effect has such a strong negative impact on poor readers that the sooner you can intervene, the better. There are three ways you can help your reluctant reader, starting now:

  1. Teach your child how to read using an explicit phonics method such as All About Reading. In Anna Gillingham’s words, “go as fast as you can, but as slowly as you must.”
  2. Read aloud to your child every day. Hearing good literature will help your child develop vocabulary and comprehension, even while he is learning to read on his own.
  3. Encourage independent reading. Help your student select books that are at the right reading level for him and contain topics that interest him.

Above all, don’t get discouraged and don’t give up. Reading affects all other academic areas, so it is important to get your child the help he needs. If your child is struggling, please know that we are here to help.

Do you have a child who avoids reading? Let us know in the comments below.

Free report - '20 Best Tips for Teaching Reading and Spelling'

1 Stanovich, Keith E. (1986). Matthew effects in reading: Some consequences of individual differences in the acquisition of literacy. Reading Research Quarterly, 22, 360-407.

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Brigit Hill

says:

I just started homeschooling my 10 year old dyslexia son. He shys away from reading especially now since he feels he can get away with it at home. At school he was forced to with grades, deadlines, lack of individualized help, etc…
My heart breaks for him because he loves to learn .
He is probably at a second grade level . He has developed a very bad habit of guessing words causing the story he’s reading to not make any sense.
I really hope AAR can give him confidence, break bad habits, and increase fluency and speed of reading.
It’s very scary to think what could happen to him in life if he doesn’t become an independent reader.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Brigit,
All About Reading can fill the gaps your son may have that is making reading difficult for him. It also provides plenty of reading practice to ensure he gains fluency and the ability to read smoothly and easily.

Just so you are aware, All About Reading is not a grade level program as the order of the words in AAR is not “grade-level” order. All About Reading groups words in a logical manner based on similar rules or patterns regardless of their supposed grade level, which allows students to progress quickly and confidently.

With this in mind, please use our placement tests for All About Reading to help you decide which level would be best. Also, we recommend having your son read the sample stories from the previous level online as a further confirmation. You want him to be reading fluently with good comprehension before going to a higher level.

Level 1 sample story
Level 2 sample story
Level 3 sample story
Level 4 sample story

Evaluate (without correcting your son) for the following…

His ability to decode the words in the story.
His ability to comprehend the story.
Could he fluently read the story with expression?
Did he understand the words from a vocabulary standpoint?

Please let me know if you have any other questions!

Suzanne Gersley

says:

My daughter is almost 10 years old and will avoid reading at all cost! This year we found out that she has accomodation dysfunction which basically means that her eye muscles do not relax enough to allow the lens to change shape for close vision (this took over 2 years of pure reading hell and her constant complaints of headaches and a couple eye exams). She was given glasses and although this has helped eliminate the headaches she still hates reading…but according to her teachers she is at a reading level that is above age expectations…which is even more confusing. The only books she will read with minimal fuss are children’s story books (little red hen, cinderella, etc) or graphic novels. Anything where there are a lot of pictures and not line after line of text. No-one seems to know why she hates a lot of text on a page. We thought the glasses were the answer and although they have helped, she really HATES reading! Any ideas?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Suzanne,
It might be that her vision issues are more complex than can be fixed with glasses. She may need a more comprehensive exam. This blog post describes how one child with 20/20 vision was discovered to have only a 10% functional visual field. At the end of the blog post, there are a number of links that you may find helpful.

Marina

says:

Hi, my daughter is 14 and 1/2 years old and will be starting her sophomore year in high school this Fall. She is required to read 4 books during this summer. I just learned that she hates reading and still has 3 books left to read which she will refuses to read. She confided that she is a slow reader and has to read every word and then re-read the same sentence until she totally understands. Having access to her smart phone and the computer doesn’t help the situation. She starts whining and gets herself all worked up and then ends up not reading. I am at a loss. She is otherwise a good student who completed her freshman year with first honors. I don’t know how to help her. Is it the fact that there is no motivation? No one is there to micromanage her? There are no tests or homework? I need good advice. TIA

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Marina,
First, as a mother of 3 teenagers (19, 17, and 13), I just want to say it is best, if at all possible, to approach this situation as something to work through together. It sounds like she is motivated to do very well in school, and she is likely aware that her slow reading makes things more difficult than they need to be. She will probably be more receptive to working toward becoming a faster reader with better comprehension if she feels you are a partner in this.

It is unlikely that this is caused by a lack or motivation or micromanagement or tests. Someone that struggles to read and comprehend isn’t going to become a good reader simply because someone is standing over them with multiple choice questions or an essay. Her phone and computer aren’t likely the cause either. Yes, they are distractions, but many, many students have phones, computers, and other distractions and still read quickly and often for pleasure.

In the short term, consider having her listen to audiobooks to finish her summer reading. I know that many people consider audiobooks “cheating”, but at least one Doctor of Cognitive Psychology (Daniel T. Willingham, of the University of Virginia) argues against this idea. He argues that as far as your brain is concerned, audiobooks are not cheating. Also, with the struggles you daughter is having with reading, it is unlikely that she will have enough time left to read three more books before school starts (whenever that is, as high school started 2 weeks ago in my state). Audiobooks will allow her to get through the remaining books in the time left.

Even with the audiobook short term solution, her reading does need to be addressed. She sounds like a bright, motivated young lady that is certainly going places. She needs to be able to read well, with high comprehension at at least a moderate speed or she will be at a disadvantage in high school, college, and beyond.

To begin to discover how to help her with reading, you should ask her to read aloud so that you can may hear what the problem is. Have her read for 20 minutes or so, as many students can start off reading well but then tire and the real problems start showing up five or ten minutes later. It could be she is misreading words because she doesn’t have a good foundation in phonograms and syllable division rules. It could be a vision problem that is making reading difficult. It could be a few things. Hearing her read is the first step toward finding out.

She will likely need specialized tutoring to build her foundation in reading. You can provide that tutoring at home, or you can find a professional tutor.

Please let us know what you discover after hearing her read aloud. We can help you help her. We are available here, by email at support@allaboutlearningpress.com, or by phone at 715-477-1976.

Marina

says:

Thanks Robin so much for your timely reply. I will definitely keep you posted and will follow your advice.

Stacy Beck

says:

My rising 5th grade grandson has struggled with reading and math for several years now. We recently discovered that he is color blind (red-green). Do you think this might have contributed to his lack of success in school? His two younger sisters are avid and accomplished readers….

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Stacy,
Being color blind isn’t likely to contribute to problems in academic areas. There could be something going on in addition to his color blindness. Have you seen our recent blog post on Signs of a Reading Problem?

becky

says:

My three youngest children have a hard time reading. I believe it is do to bad kindergartan teachers. When they were coming out of preschool they were starting to read. Leaving kindergarten they are in the same place or justone level above were they came in. We are so frusterated with public school. We have decided to start homeschooling again. One more thing. We read to our kids daily and worked with them every day on reading.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Becky,
I’m sorry to hear that your children had such bad kindergarten experiences. Let us know if we can help in any way.

wifenmom

says:

I have a 9yo athletic, LEGO-loving boy, who will read with interest a handful of books, e.g., Stuart Little. He loved that book! And he read Charlotte’s Web. But I struggle to find good-fit books for him that he is actually interested in reading. I’m not sure exactly what level of reading he is at (e.g., late third grade, early fourth grade?). I assign him reading for 30 minutes a day, and he needs to be able to read for an hour by the end of fourth grade. We just started to read part of a book, e.g., a page or so, before he does, to introduce him to the vocabulary. This reading program also sounds like it might be good to try.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

wifenmom,
It sounds to me like he is one of those kids that only feel comfortable reading books they already know. He’ll likely grow out of that, but you may be able to bridge him to other titles by offering him sequels and other books by authors he already likes.

Also, “reading” doesn’t have to be only fiction chapter books. Many kids that age will happily read non-fiction titles on subjects they love. There are bunches of thick books on Lego out there.

I wonder why he “needs” to be able to read for an hour by the end of fourth grade. I’ve not heard of that milestone or assessment before. A full, uninterrupted hour of reading is hard on most adults. They may be able to read for hour, but when left alone most will get up to do something part way through that hour.

C delos santos

says:

I have a 7 year old child and can’t read. I tried everything. Nothing seems to work. I need all the help I can have, please. God blesd and thank you.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

C delos santos,
Our All About Reading program is specifically designed to help parents and teachers.

Take a look at this checklist. How does your child do with it? It may be that he or she is having trouble because they have not mastered the foundational skills for reading. The Pre-Reading program will help you work on those.

Please let us know how we can help you further. We are available by email at support@allaboutlearningpress.com or by phone at 715-477-1976.

Sara

says:

My daughter it’s six years old and currently just finishing up AAR level one. She can sound out any word you put in front of her. She is very good at the individual sounds and reading any words off cards or the fluency readers. She can also spell any of the words up to this point using the tiles! (Like shrank) but when you try and get her to read the stories she sounds out every word and doesn’t recognize any of them,(even if it says the word 3 times in a row!) so it’s a struggle to get her to read because she doesn’t have the confidence nor does she like to read sounding every single word out. She can only read fluently up to the story fox in a box but with the lessons we are on Frank shrank and yet she knows ank ink onk unk , she can tell you how the word ends when I quiz her! (ie: honk ? Onk/ blink? Ink ) how do I help her ?!!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Sara,
I know this is frustrating. I know, because I experienced the same thing with my daughter. She mastered the concepts, sounds, and sounding out of each Lesson easily and quickly, but she never gained fluency. When she finished All About Reading Level 1 (after over a year, we were moving very slowly), she was still sounding out almost every word from the very first story, the one with the yak and jam.

So, we started over again from the beginning, this time focusing on reading the stories, fluency pages, and Word cards. After about 5 months, she has finished AAR 1 for the second time and was able to read the stories with only have to sound out a few words per page. It was quite a difference.

Instead of continuing on to the end of AAR 1 and then starting over, I recommend you slow your forward progress and add in lots and lots of review of earlier stories and fluency pages. Rereading the same stories 2 or 3 days in a row helps a lot in building fluency, and as much as most children dislike the fluency pages, they really do help. You could even stop all forward progress for a short period of time while you spend your daily reading time rereading past fluency pages, stories, and replaying past activities.

This blog post describes how I was making an AAR Lesson last a week, including a description of buddy reading that I was doing to help her to struggle less with the stories. This blog post has our Top 5 Tips for using the fluency sheets. Be sure to look the comments as well, as there are many more ideas in there.

Please let us know how we can help any further. We are always available through email at support@allaboutlearningpress.com, and by phone at 715-477-1976, from 8am to 4pm Mon-Fri, CST.

Dawn

says:

My daughter just turned 9 and is a struggling reader. I have been using AAR from the pre-reading level, around age 6, and we are now on level 2. This post is an encouragement to me to keep going. She will get there, right? I would like for reading to become a joy for her and not such a struggle as it is now. I see how she loves being read to and loves picking out books from the library that she can read- but she always picks up books that she would like to read, but cannot on her own. It is very difficult to see that struggle. Thank you for your program!!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Dawn,
I’m glad your daughter is making progress, but sorry she is still struggling. It can be a slow process for some children. But she will get there! Please let us know if there is ever anything we can do to help.

Merry at AALP

says: Customer Service

She will definitely get there! Most of us here have dealt with struggling readers of our own–and seen them go on to succeed. One of my struggling readers heads to college in a couple of weeks and is doing great! Have you seen Marie’s video, “Failure Is NOT an Option”? (They were told their son would never read, and to prepare him for a life without reading!)

http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/about

Only 4 minutes or so–very inspiring! Hang in there.

nicole

says:

My son Noah is 7 and cries every time I try to work with him to read. I am trying different programs with him, but he still is reluctant. He likes to be read too, but freaks out anytime someone asks him to read anything on his own. He can read a little, but still freaks at the first thought of reading. When he finally calms down, I can get him to do a little reading until he comes across a word he doesn’t know, then he usually starts to get worked up again. Trying to get him to do any work on his reading is a struggle everyday, he tries to make excuses, when I mention that it’s time to work, and very easily his lessons get put off until later, and sometimes don’t happen at all.

Merry at AALP

says: Customer Service

Hi Nicole,

I’m sorry your son gets so frustrated over reading. I would do a few things:

1, continue reading aloud to him. It’s great that you do this, and wonderful that he enjoys it.
http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/6-great-reasons-to-read-aloud/

2, Pre-teach new words so he isn’t as surprised/overwhelmed by them. In AAR, Marie was very intentional about helping kids transfer their knowledge from the Phonogram Cards to the letter tiles to reading words. Each time a new card is introduced, we practice with the card, and then immediately practice with the letter tiles. From there, we work on blending using the letter tiles, and then we move on to an activity sheet using those same exact phonograms. In other words, we scaffold the child from the easiest to the hardest activities, like this:
1. Teach Phonogram Card
2. Transfer info to letter tile.
3. Blend with letter tiles.
4. Complete activity sheet
5. Practice words on Word Cards (words in isolation)
6. Practice words in the context of a decodable story.
In this way, the child puts the new phonogram information to immediate use, starting from the easiest and working up to the most complex.

3, Enlist a reading buddy such as a favorite puppet, stuffed animal, or just mom, to take turns reading with him. You can alternate sentences, paragraphs, pages–whatever works. This takes some of the pressure off, plus allows him to follow along and hear the words.

4, Make reading lessons one of the first school subjects you do so that they don’t get put off. I used to tell my reluctant reader that practice wasn’t optional, but how we did it could be optional. We could do it on the couch or at a table, outside or inside, using different games etc…

5, Keep lesson time short. 20 minutes is plenty of time, and setting a timer can let a child know that there is indeed an end to the lesson. Short daily lessons tend to accomplish better long-term retention than longer but fewer sessions.

6, it’s okay to use incentives–One mom decided to let her son earn a super-soaker type of water gun for time spent reading for a couple of weeks: https://www.facebook.com/allaboutlearningpress/photos/a.232260350182126.55312.208883132519848/875881569153331/?type=1&theater

Hang in there–he’ll get it!

momof5athome

says:

Great post! I have a question though. We have a teenager who came to us from another family. She was never read to or even spoken to for that matter and has a very sparse vocabulary. Of course she is not fond of reading. We have found she had a convergence issue that we are working on with a computer program from our vision therapist. My question is: do you think with this poor language background she could also benefit from a phonics review? Would you recommend using a level of AAR to help or is she too old?
Sorry about the length! :)

Merry at AALP

says: Customer Service

Hi Momof5athome,

If she has gaps in her phonics knowledge that are contributing to her reading struggles, then it could be helpful. We have had teens and even adults use AAR or AAS, depending on their needs. Both are complete phonics programs that emphasize different things (one emphasizes decoding, comprehension, vocabulary, and reading fluency, while the other focuses on encoding, spelling rules, and other skills that help students become better spellers).

I would also see if you can incorporate more audio books so that she has more language input now, as well as read-alouds that are at her level (I’m reading an Agatha Christie novel to my teens right now). There are so many benefits to reading aloud, and it might help fill in some of those vocabulary gaps as well as provide some extra bonding time: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/6-great-reasons-to-read-aloud/

HTH some! Feel free to email with additional questions: support@allaboutlearningpress.com. We’re glad to help.

momof5athome

says:

Thanks for the great tips! If I wanted to verify that she has gaps in her phonics knowledge which placement test would I use? Or should I try both programs? I do own AAS levels 1-3 but I do not own any of the reading program.

Merry at AALP

says: Customer Service

It would depend on whether you want to work on reading or spelling or both. For spelling, most students need to start with Level 1. This article helps to explain why: http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/which-level-should-my-older-student-start-with

For reading, use the placement tests and sample stories found in the “Choosing All About Reading” sub-heading here: http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/reading-resource-center#ChoosingAllAboutReading

To get an idea of which one to target, here’s an overview of each of the levels:

Level 1 of All About Reading covers CVC words, consonant blends, short open-vowel words, and short-vowel compound words.

Level 2 covers 3-letter blends; two-syllable words with open and closed syllables – hotel; vowel-consonant-E pattern words; VCE syllable combined with closed syllables – reptile; contractions; r-controlled words – her, car, and corn; soft c and g – face, page; past tense – hugged; vowel teams oi, oy, au, aw, ou, ow, oe, and ee; y in shy; wh in wheel; i and o can be long before two consonants (ex: ild, old, ost) – most; silent e after u or v – have; and the third sound of a – all. It includes two and three syllable words such as pullover, outnumber, sandpaper, saucepan, and invoice, etc…

Level 3 covers prefixes and suffixes; syllable division rules for reading multisyllable words (these start in AAR 2 and are continued in Level 3); many literary terms like alliteration, similes, personification; words containing the new phonograms, such as paint, play, boat, third, purple, soon, mean, light, match, budge, flew, wrong, know, sleigh, toe, and action; words with the “pickle” syllable such as bubble and table; and 2-5 syllable words such as armadillo, auction, banquet, celebration, butterscotch, chimpanzee, contraption, examination, education, government, hibernation, instruments, objection, mildew, migration, safekeeping, paperweight, semicircle, uneventful, wristwatch, spectacles, thermometer, and so on.

Level 4 is the final level of the reading program. At the end of Level 4, students have the phonics and word attack skills necessary to sound out high school level words, though they may not know the meaning of all higher level words.(Word attack skills include things like dividing words into syllables, making analogies to other words, sounding out the word with the accent on different word parts, recognizing affixes, etc…)

Examples of some of the harder words covered in Level 4 include: acquaintance, aphid, beneficial, boutique, bronchial, campaign, chameleon, chauffeur, consignment, crochet, cuisine, cylinder, deficient, delectable, distraught, entree, epilogue, etiquette, facial, ferocious, glisten, gnashed, gourmet, graduation, guinea, Herculean, heroism, horticulture, hygiene, incompatible, isle, lariat, lasagna, limousine, magnificence, mayonnaise, malicious, meringue, mustache, neighborhood, nuisance, ocelot, onslaught, oregano, pendulum, perceptible, picturesque, plausible, premiere, prioritize, questionnaire, reassign, routine, sanitize, saute, situation, solstice, souvenir, specimen, spectacular, teleportation, temperament, tortilla, unveiled, vogue, warthog, zucchini.

Here are samples for all of the levels: http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/reading-lesson-samples/

Does this help?

CS

says:

Denise,
My middle child struggled with fluency even after learning phonics. For her, we did a 2 years worth of history through literature that combined applying the phonics she had learned to children’s literature in a content subject. Now, she has great reading speed and comprehension. This is after two years of creatively getting her interested in reading, and helping her to get “interest” to be stronger than the “this is hard for me.” We also had an eye exam and found that she is far sighted. So, she was getting eye fatigue after a morning of school work. Glasses, protein breakfast, and interesting content have helped!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

CS,
Thank you for sharing your experiences with Denise and us. Great advice.

Denise

says:

My youngest is a struggling reader, we have tried quite a few programs. She is making progress, but she mostly doesn’t want to.

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Denise,

My oldest was this way. It’s hard to see a child not enjoying reading–but know that just because they don’t like the process of learning to read, doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy reading later. (My son is now 18, and has actually bought a few books with his own money now–wasn’t sure I’d ever see that day!) Keep reading aloud to her, which is great for motivation and for building up vocabulary, language skills, and knowledge. Plus it’s great together time! And keep plugging away. She’ll get there. I used to tell my son that we don’t get to enjoy everything we do in life, but if it serves a good purpose and has value, it’s worth doing–and with things like reading (or writing or spelling…) work put in now means that later on it will be easier. They were interested to know that it wouldn’t always be so hard!

Shell

says:

Interesting article as we have started AAR and struggle more with coming to the table to do the lesson than the lesson itself. We try different locations and are still moving forward but pray for the interest to kick in!

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Shell,

Trying different locations is a good idea. We used to sit on the couch, or on the floor with our tile board leaning against the couch. Finding a regular routine can help too–then everyone knows what subject comes next and what to expect from the day. My kids liked stickers, so I used to let them pick out a sticker for either a paper or to wear on their shirt for the day, or we’d do a small treat after review cards–something to spice things up a bit!

Have you checked out our Flat Ziggy Adventure for summer motivation? http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/flat-ziggy/

One mom posted on our FB page that she decided to let her son earn a super-soaker type of water gun for time spent reading. Such a great idea! https://www.facebook.com/allaboutlearningpress/photos/a.232260350182126.55312.208883132519848/875881569153331/?type=1&theater

Brenda

says:

Some children get more out of listening to books than reading it for themselves.

Brenda

says:

We also, have started the audio books and boy do they remember more information just from listening.

Kelly

says:

This has been so true for my oldest, an early reader who just keeps accelerating. My youngest has some delays, but in a homeschool setting it is easier to close the gap with lots of read alouds-and don’t forget audio books. We’ve recently started listening to chapter books on audio before bed time. So much easier to do more of that because it keeps my hands free to manage the toddler.

Kelly,
Yes, don’t forget audiobooks! I love them because we can listen while we work or ride in a car.
Thank you for sharing.

Helene

says:

Dramatized stories are also great. Jim Weiss is a good story teller. There’s an old set of stories with Uncle Arthur I think, that are moralistic. Your Story Hour have historical along with moralistic stories. George Sarris for Bible stories. Uncle Rick does Bible stories with a twist. Diana Waring for history for older kids n adults. Jonathan Parker for creation science adventures that kids n adults love. Of course Adventures in Odyssey are classic dramas too n in some libraries even. Focus on the Family has recorded radio dramas too, often adaptations of classic literature. Unshackled is a series of dramatized testimonies from an innercity ministry in Chicago.

C Irish

says:

Would love to win the first level to see if my DS son can benefit from your approach…

Mindy A

says:

I have an 8yo daughter who does not like to read and this post is exactly right. She is a struggling reader and that makes it hard. We are working to help her over come her struggles and will be using your program this year.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Hi Mindy! If you have any questions as you start AAR with your struggling reader, please let us know! Email us at support@allaboutlearningpress.com or call us at 715-477-1976.

Margaret M

says:

Our oldest daughter (the only one that can read independently) avoids reading. I don’t think that it’s because she can’t read, just that she chooses to do other things. I wonder if it’s not seeing us (Daddy and Mommy) reading a lot since Daddy reads a lot at work only and I read in fits and starts here at home.

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Margaret,

A lot depends on why she doesn’t enjoy reading now–you may need to do some investigating. For example, if reading is still “work” for her–if she has issues with fluency, has gaps in her phonogram knowledge, doesn’t have good word-attack skills for reading larger words, tends to rely on word-guessing strategies, or has vocabulary issues, reading won’t be very fun or interesting. Working on those areas of struggle would be the way to help her in that case.

If motivation is the issue instead, help her discover a new hobby (or help her develop an existing hobby). If she likes cacti, check out books from the library on cacti. If she likes science or models, get a kit and read the instructions together. Bake from a recipe together. Let her pick out an age-appropriate magazine on a topic that is interesting to her. These types of activities can help children find the motivation to learn to read.

I let my kids stay up an extra half hour if they wanted to read in bed, so that was motivation as well.

Sometimes technology gets in the way and can be an issue–reading takes more patience than the instant reward of TV, video, and computer games. Limiting that can help students find other ways to entertain themselves.

As yo noted, it can also help to model good reading habits. A daily “reading” time for 10 or 15 minutes where you both read something silently could help. If you are able, have time each day when you read so that she sees how much you value reading.

Reading aloud to a child is also a great way to develop an interest in reading. Choose high-quality stories and novels that appeal to her age and interests. You can develop a nightly habit of reading to her before bedtime. I actually still read to my teenagers, and it’s a wonderful time to share conversation together over a good book.

Another idea: select a humorous book that’s easily within her reading ability (not one that’s a “stretch”) and read the first chapter to her. Then stop reading. If she wants to find out what happens next, she’ll have to read it herself!

Also consider audio books. There are a lot of good stories, novels, and plays on CD, and kids can listen while they play with Legos or dolls.

I hope this gives you some ideas!

Sandy Grant

says:

I think that one of my favorite things about homeschooling is that if my child still needs help reading in 4th, 5th or 6th grade I can give them the help that they need. Most of my kids have been early readers but those that are late readers would have really struggled.

Merry at AALP

says:

I agree, that’s a great advantage to homeschooling!

Carmen

says:

My son is learning to read wh The Reading lesson and we love it so far. Definitely noticing the upward spiral. Praise God! Starting our homeschool adventure in Kindergarten next month! Very excited :)

Carmen

says:

We have entered the contest to win the All about reading giveaway! Would be awesome to win!

Melissa Gibbons

says:

I had a kid that didn’t want to read. Her situation was different though. She could do it but just wanted me to do it for you.

Courtney

says:

I have one of each of these. We use your products and I hope to make great progress this year with the one who struggles.

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Courtney,

I hope your year goes well! Let us know if questions come up along the way–we’d be glad to help.

Sherry

says:

Since my daughter was an early reader, I have noticed the upward spiral with her. I can see how important early intervention is for any student. If a child doesn’t learn the basics, they won’t have the foundation to build upon.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Exactly, Sherry! If younger readers don’t have a solid foundation in reading, they won’t be able to build an upward spiral on top of that foundation. Learning the fundamentals is so important!

Bethany

says:

“In Anna Gillingham’s words, “go as fast as you can, but as slowly as you must.””
This statement had the biggest affect on me in the whole article. I think I may be holding my daughter back some in her reading ability by bogging down and drawing out the last few lessons. How would you recommend picking and choosing on the fluency sheets to maximize impact but not get stuck at a certain lesson? My daughter is four, and picks up the concepts very easily, but the fluency sheets are getting longer and longer. She doesn’t have the stamina to get through them very quickly. We just finished the final blends lesson in AAR 1.

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Bethany,

Wow, at 4, she’s doing great! The fluency sheets are definitely designed with older students in mind. Do feel free to modify these to her needs (there are some tips for using these in the Level 1 Teacher’s Manual on page 43).

Also, here are our Top 5 Tips for using the practice sheets. (Make sure to read the comment section too, as customers had some great ideas!) http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/5-tips-for-practice-sheets/

Here is Marie’s thought process when she is working with a young child:

If the child is able to sound out the words accurately, but it is difficult for her to complete the Fluency Practice because of young age, attention span, or weak eye muscles, it is fine to stop after approximately one-quarter of the page has been completed. You are free to use your judgment as to how much should be completed. If the child is sincerely tired, stop earlier than a quarter-page.

The child does not need to read the entire sheet before moving on to the next lesson. If the child has completed the rest of the lesson satisfactorily, move on to the next lesson. Do not expect perfection before moving on. Reaching the goal of fluent reading will be a gradual process over many lessons.

I hope this helps!

Candice Dumas

says:

I am a parent that has ADHD and I home school my 6 year old that does not have it. This means the way we learn is completely different and I feel she shuts down because I don’t know how to teach her to read for her type of learning. I want to order level one but I’m hoping it explains to me how to teach it to her. In the teachers manual does it explain to me what and how to do or just what to do?

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Candace–I saw your other post on our giveaway, and responded there: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/giveaways/comment-page-5/#comment-96662

Please let me know if you have additional questions.

Katie

says:

I also think that comprehension makes a big difference for my little guy in order for independent reading to be more desirable. For independent reading I sometimes go a step below their ‘technical’ reading level just to ensure that reading independently builds his confidence in himself that he can read and do it successfully (with comprehension).

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Katie,

Great tip, thanks for sharing! Yes it’s important that the book be on the easier side for the child to read for independent reading, especially when they are working on building confidence and enjoyment. You can work on harder books and new words in lesson time.

Rachel W.

says:

My youngest has struggled since kindergarten with figuring out reading . . . he’s finally finding success three years later with this program.

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Rachel,

I’m so glad your son is making progress with AAR! It’s so hard to watch our kids struggle with reading. You and he are doing a great job! Let me know if you ever have questions.

Faith

says:

My son’s name is Matthew but he’s still in the early stages of reading. He gets easily frustrated.

mamab

says:

After 2 happy and energetic readers, I now find myself with twins who are hesitant at best. Thank you for the resources for those of us new to these struggles.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

You’re so welcome, mamab! Let me know if there anything we can do to help as you teach your twins!

Dawn

says:

We are struggling with phonological awareness. The pre-reading program looks promising. I can’t wait to try this out.

CRYSTAL LADD

says:

Great information!

Lucia

says:

How well will All About Reading help an ESL speaking mom to teach the kids reading in English? Pronunciation doesn’t come so natural for me as for native Americans and I need extra help to get it right. Will this program help me to feel confident while teaching my kindergartner to read?

Merry at AALP

says:

It will offer a fair amount of help for you with pronunciation. AAR and AAS are used in ESL classes in the US and around the world. The thing that sets our programs apart is the emphasis on the sounds of the English language. For example, we approach spelling from sound first, and then we translate that sound into written letters. ESL teachers appreciate the fact that we teach the sounds, and we have the Phonogram Sounds Download, which is also helpful.

Our programs are logical and methodical. The challenging part of English is the different vowel sounds, and the many ways to represent a single sound. There are more than 250 ways to spell the 45 sounds in the English language! Many languages have a reliable vowel-sound correspondence, and students need to learn our many more vowel-sound correspondences. AAR and AAS teach this in a methodical way.

Our lists are arranged according to patterns, rather than according to word frequency or grade levels as some lists are. For example, when kids learn that AW says /aw/, they learn a list of AW words all at once. Our brains like patterns, and AAR/AAS emphasize the patterns of English spelling.

We break words into syllables, so that students can see how syllables affect reading and spelling.

Our method is multisensory, so kids learn through sight, sound, and touch.

We have continual review built into the program, so that you can spend extra time on just the topics and words that are tricky for your students.

As a side benefit, AAR and AAS have the structure needed to help ESL learners pronounce words properly, too.

The comprehension exercises and vocabulary in All About Reading will help you to see what your student understands and what words or concepts need more work.

If you find that you are not sure how to pronounce certain words, many online dictionaries let you click to hear a pronunciation.

Or if you need more help with conversational English, you might find some of these resources helpful:

http://www.englishclub.com/esl-forums/index.php–This site is set up specifically for practicing English and answering questions.

http://www.rachelsenglish.com–great resource for ESL students and teachers; over 300 videos on pronunciation, lessons and so on.

http://www.elementalenglish.com–has videos with English lessons.

I hope this helps; please let us know if you have additional questions.

Ingrid Walker

says:

I’ve been homeschooling three years my son is 10 but reading on a 2nd/3rd grade level. I hope to start the level 3 AAR this year. Dyslexia runs in the family. We have tried several options but I think we are on the upward spiral for the first time. Thank You

Andrea

says:

I guess I knew this, but it’s nice to have a visual explanation of the differences between my son (a struggling reader) and my daughter (an excellent reader).

Diana

says:

Interesting that it’s called the Matthew effect. My son, Matthew, is experiencing the downward spiral of this phenomenon.

Diana

says:

P.S. – I just discovered All About Reading placement tests! I didn’t realize they existed, and I had no idea how to determine which level Matthew needed. Thank you for developing this program. I hope to be able to fully utilize it someday soon.

Julie

says:

This is something I was aware of, but your green and orange graphics really highlight it much better than any words. Thank you for sharing.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Thanks for your feedback, Julie!

Sandra

says:

What would you recommend for a mom whose poor reader is already 16? 12? I look forward to your response.

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Sandra,

First, I would say it’s never too late to help someone learn to read, so don’t give up hope. Here’s a recent blog post about using AAS with an older student: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/real-moms-heather-cole/

Many teens and even adults have used AAR and AAS, and are doing well, so we have seen success for older students. The programs are perfect for filling in gaps in student’s understanding. Both All About Reading and All About Spelling are Orton-Gillingham based, which is known for helping students who have dyslexia and other reading and spelling struggles: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/spelling-orton-gillingham/

Marie is a member of the International Dyslexia Association, and was an instructor for the graduate level courses in Orton-Gillingham Literacy Training offered through Nicolet College in Rhinelander, Wisconsin for 3 years. If you haven’t had a chance to watch their story about her son’s struggles, you may want to check that out. Quite amazing!

http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/about

If the students haven’t been assessed for learning disabilities or things like vision processing issues, that might reveal where some of the difficulties in reading lie.

Here is what Marie recommends when tutoring teens with AAR:

– Follow the new-concept lessons in the TM, which include flashcard review, “Change the Word,” Activity Sheets, Fluency Practice, and reading aloud to your student. Approximately every other lesson is a “new concept” lesson, and every other lesson is a “read a story” lesson.

– In the Activity Book, you can skip the activities that your students might think are too young, but some of the activities in the upper levels would be age-appropriate–you can evaluate as you go. They are there to provide fun review activities for those that would need and enjoy them. As we state in the Teacher’s Manual, the activity sheets aren’t necessary for older learners; however, the fluency pages in the activity book will be very helpful.

– Marie and many tutors include the readers, too. The Level 2 readers aren’t baby-ish. With regard to the Level 1 readers, sometimes it depends on the student. We’ve talked to tutors of adults, and the adult students are so happy to be able to read a story that they are thrilled to read the Level 1 readers. They don’t mind the content. But if you are dealing with a “cool” teen, you might want to stick with the fluency pages and wait until you get to the Level 2 readers.

Sometimes it can help to have the student read the readers to a young sibling or cousin–many students will read for that purpose rather than for their own good. But if you have a teen who is very resistent to the readers, you can certainly focus on the fluency pages.

AAR has placement tests, so you can start where the student needs help. AAS is a building-block program, so you would typically start at Level 1, but fast-track through any of the easier steps–here’s an article about how to do that with an older student: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/using-all-about-spelling-with-older-students/

Using All About Spelling can be a back-door way to work on reading–anything a student can spell, he or she can read. It doesn’t have built in fluency practice, comprehension discussions, and word-attack skills that the reading program does, so you would need to work to add that in, but that can be another way to work on reading with a teen.

It’s important for both students to be reading aloud to mom daily–there’s no way to assess their struggles and give them the help they need without hearing them read. When mom hears the types of words they struggle with, she can work on those specific concepts whether it’s understanding how certain phonograms work, knowing how to break down larger syllables, knowing how syllable types affect pronunciation, and so on.

Audio books can be an important strategy. Many novels and text books are available on audio, and having the student read along with the audio can help them learn new skills.

I included a lot of information about motivation in my response to Janet, just below this post, and that can also help get older students to practice reading more, so that they can improve.

Feel free to ask additional questions here or through our email if you want to get into more specifics about their struggles. Don’t give up! There really is hope.

Janet

says:

I have twin boys that will be 13 at the end of this month. They struggled (agonized) over reading and were diagnosed with convergence insufficiency four years ago. We have found a program of brain training and eye exercises to be very helpful. Their reading improved by 3 grade levels in 6 months, but they still do not enjoy reading. Reading is work for them. I do a lot of reading aloud and we use AAS which has increased their vocabulary. I’m just not sure what the next step in helping them is.

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Janet,

Since reading is still work for them, I think I would try to assess the source of the issue:

Do they have issues with fluency?
gaps in his phonogram knowledge?
lack good word-attack skills for reading larger words?
tend to rely on word-guessing strategies
Have vocabulary issues?

Working on those areas of struggle would be the way to help them in that case.

Does the office that did the initial diagnosis and therapy do follow-up visits? It might be worth a recheck.

If your gut is telling you that there are possibly other learning disabilities involved, then you may want to pursue that. Often kids have more than one issue to deal with (ADHD, dyslexia etc… could be issues).

All About Spelling can and does help with reading, but it’s not a reading program, and kids who struggle do need more help with fluency practice, word attack skills, and so on. It’s possible that they need more support than they are getting with AAS. If you think their struggle is with some of the skill areas I mentioned above, you may want to look into All About Reading. Here’s an article that shows the differences between the two programs: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/whats-the-difference-aar-aas/

On the other hand, sometimes it’s a matter of time and motivation. Reading aloud to them is great (I still read to my older teens!), so good for you for keeping on with that. Do they see you or their father read for pleasure? Modeling shows how much you value reading.

Help them discover a new hobby (or develop an existing hobby). If they like cacti, check out books from the library on cacti. If they like rocketry or models, get some kits and read the instructions together. Bake from a recipe together. Let them pick out an age-appropriate magazine on a topic that is interesting to them. These types of activities can help children find the motivation to learn to read.

When my kids were younger, I let them stay up an extra half hour if they wanted to read in bed, so that was motivation as well.

Sometimes technology gets in the way and can be an issue–reading takes more patience than the instant reward of TV, video, and computer games. Limiting that can help students find other ways to entertain themselves.

Also consider audio books. There are a lot of good stories, novels, and plays on CD, and kids can listen while they play with legos.

I hope this gives you some ideas!

Crystal

says:

My daughter is 8, and does not like to read. She likes to be read to, but still gravitates towards preschool books with lots of pictures, and basic storylines. I teach her phonetically, but she is stalling a lot. I know she has vision issues, but not sure how much is really contributing to her reluctance (or if she’s just reluctant because she’s 8 ;) ) I don’t know how/where to get her “evaluated” to see if her vision is truly affecting her ability, or what to do about it if it is……

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Crystal,

You are doing a great thing by continuing to read aloud to her. My kids still loved books with lots of pictures at this age! We read and re-read Golden books, fairy-tale treasuries, and other similar story books until they were 8 and 10 (We used Sonlight, and even as we progressed in their levels, my kids often wanted to re-read stories from the PreK core, LOL!). Don’t underestimate the value of wonderful artwork! (I remember when I was 8 and transitioning to reading chapter books, I was so disappointed that there were few to no pictures. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to create a book without pictures!) You can alternate these with chapter books that you read to her, to help her begin to make that transition, but I wouldn’t worry a bit if she wants to choose picture books for her silent reading.

As far as vision issues, if you mean that she has vision tracking, convergence or other similar vision issues, you can check out http://www.covd.org for more information. They also keep a listing of developmental optometrists.

If you think the phonetic system you are using isn’t working for her, consider checking out All About Reading. Some programs tend to make leaps and aren’t incremental enough for kids who struggle, and AAR could fill in those gaps. This link has samples of all of the levels if you’d like to see how the lessons work, samples of the stories, and so on: http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/reading-lesson-samples/

Please let me know if you have additional questions; I’d be glad to help.

Becky

says:

My son has been able to read since he was 2 1/2 and reads well but he still doesn’t like to. Do you have any tips for kids who just don’t like to read? I’ve gotten him lots of books on subjects he likes but it’s like pulling teeth to get him to read them. He’s 6 now. Thanks!

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Becky,

That’s great that he can read well at just 6. He’s so young that I really wouldn’t be concerned at this point. Young kid’s attention spans tend to be very short, and even if he’s capable of reading a chapter book, it may just not be a good fit for him at an age where he wants to be on the go and doing things. That’s okay! There also may be a disparity between things he CAN read, and things that really interest him. (As an example, a first grader who is capable of reading on a junior high or high school reading level typically does not have the life experience to truly appreciate books written for those age levels.)

Things you can do:

Model good reading habits–let him see you reading on a regular basis, even if you only have a few minutes.

Consider a daily habit where everyone reads for a few minutes at the same time–even if you start with just 5 or 10 minutes.

Make sure he has books that would be very easy for him to read, with quality art work–picture books are still important, even if he can read chapter books.

Read aloud to him at least 20 minutes per day–very important even after kids are reading (I still read aloud to my teens!) http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/6-great-reasons-to-read-aloud/

Continue supplying books on subjects that interest him, both fiction and non-fiction. Does he have a library card? You might go to the library and let him pick the books. See what he picks. Even in mid to upper elementary, I found my kids often picked books that seemed “too young” for them compared to the novels they read for school–but they enjoyed them. Let him read some of the books he picks to you, and laugh together–enjoy the quirky humor and so on.

I hope this helps!

Elizabeth

says:

My daughter just turned 8 and just finished 2nd grade. We have homeschooled her since preschool. She is very bright and loves to hear stories read to her, but does not like reading at all! As I read the opening questions to this blog, I said, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” We have used All About Spelling and she continues to make steady progress in her reading, but still does not like it. She has other struggles that led us to think she was dyslexic, but the speech and language pathologist said that she scored well on speech and language. She thinks it may be due to All About Spelling helping her. I feel stuck on how to help her enjoy reading and I long to see her succeed in such an important area. Any advice would be welcome!

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Elizabeth,

I’m sorry that your daughter is struggling with reading and not enjoying it. (My oldest didn’t like reading until he was beyond the point where it was still work, and I know that can be discouraging for mom–hang in there!)

All About Reading actually has more support for reading, and you might find that her reading would be helped more by that. Here’s more about the programs and how they are designed to work:

Both are complete phonics programs. All About Spelling and All About Reading both use a similar sequence and the same phonograms, so they are interrelated in that way. AAS teaches words from the spelling angle (encoding) and AAR teaches words from the reading angle (decoding).

AAS Level 1 starts with important phonemic awareness activities and then moves step-by-step into spelling. With this method, anything a child can spell, he or she has the skills to sound out. One of the differences that comes into play is when and how that child moves from sounding out to reading fluently and with confidence.

Some students take off in reading on their own. They might be fine just using All About Spelling. AAS focuses on encoding skills, spelling rules and other strategies that help children become good spellers. Our clients who have used All About Spelling to teach reading adjust the lessons to add in blending techniques, fluency practice, comprehension discussions, and so on. This can work for students who learn to read naturally or quickly, or for parents who have a lot of confidence and experience in teaching reading, and like to design their own lessons.

Many students need more support in reading, though, and that’s where AAR comes in. AAR includes research-based instruction in decoding, fluency, automaticity, vocabulary, comprehension, and phonemic awareness, and it is truly a complete reading program. These students benefit from going through AAR to get complete reading instruction.

Most students progress more quickly in reading than in spelling, which is one reason why Marie decided to create separate programs. AAS and AAR are designed to be independent of each other so students can move as quickly or as slowly as they need to with each skill. You are free to progress in both programs at your student’s pace until both skills are mastered.

Here’s an article that explains Why We Teach Reading and Spelling Separately: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/why-we-teach-reading-and-spelling-separately/

And here’s an article that illustrates What’s the difference between All About Reading and All About Spelling: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/whats-the-difference-aar-aas/

Take a look and see what you think. Please let me know if you have additional questions.

Mandy Mascaro

says:

My daughter will be 9 in September and she still struggles everyday to read. She has been enrolled in school the past couple of years, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. She would come home complaining about everything to do with school and still wouldn’t be able to read some of the simplest stories. I finally decided that this school year (2015-2016) we will be homeschooling. We will be using AAR and AAS and I am hopeful that it will make a difference.

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Mandy,

I’m sorry that your daughter has been struggling with school, and hope she has a better year this year with homeschooling. AAR and AAS have made a difference for many children (including my own!) so I think you are on the right path. If you have any questions along the way, don’t hesitate to contact us–we provide lifetime support and want to help you help her succeed.

Heather

says:

Tip #2 is so important! Children learn so much a/b reading just by simply being read to!

Christina Morales

says:

My daughter will be 9 in a few months. She is reading at Kindergarten or early first grade. It’s tough. She works so hard. We have been doing Saxon and she knows all the basic sounds and some of the secondary and tertiary sounds of the letters and can usually “hear” the sounds as I say them but reading “The cat sat on a mat.” is laborious. She gets very tired and we have to stop after a while. I am hoping to be able to switch to this program because it seems simpler and less time consuming which would be easier for her and her little sister who is attention challenged. :0) I don’t want reading to be something she hates but it is certainly something that is difficult for her.

Christina,
I’ve been there, and I know how frustrating it is. My youngest student easily mastered all the phonograms and other concepts, but after a year and a half was still having to sound out every.single.word in even very simply sentences.

What worked for her was to go back to the beginning with the goal of working on fluency. We would quickly review the phonograms and concepts, but the bulk of each day’s work was reading word cards, fluency pages, and stories. I would have her read the same story three days in a row until she could read it smoothly, with minimal sounding out. We flipped through the word cards daily, keeping them in “review” until she could read the word easily without hesitation. She was resistant to “starting over”, but in 5 months she went from sounding out every word even if she had just read it on the same page to having a high enough level of fluency to be ready to move onto new learning and new reading materials. It was an answer of prayer for both of us.

In addition to All About Reading being simpler to do each day, for both teacher and student, it has more work with review to build fluency, which is what your daughter needs. Another benefit of switching, is that you could start at the beginning to focus on her fluency, with it still being “new” because it’s a new program. Also, Saxon Phonics uses the coding symbols, which is an added step that students have to keep in mind. AAR uses the letter tiles to teach the same concepts of the coding symbols, but since they are printed with letters just like the student will find in books, there isn’t an added thought processes needed for decoding.

Let us know if you have any further questions, or need any further help.

Dorothy Helmuth

says:

My daughter is a slow reader and as you said avoids reading. I can give her any word and she has no problem reading it but when she goes to read in sentences she stumbles over very simple words. What could be causing this? And am wondering if AAR would solve the problem

Dorothy,
Reading words in isolation is much easier than reading them within sentences. When she reads sentences she has to read each word, while keeping the meaning of each in mind so that the sentence makes sense. Have you ever read a really long, convoluted sentence (I’m thinking the kind of sentences the US Founding Fathers loved to write), that by the time you got the end of the sentence you had forgotten the meaning? I have.

This blog post, Help! My Children Skips Small Words When Reading, discusses other reasons why “easy” words can be trouble to some readers. http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/my-child-skips-small-words/

All About Reading will help with this, as it works with single words, then phrases, then sentences, then stories. It works with phonics and with fluency, with vocabulary and with comprehension.

Please let us know if we can help with placement or anything else.

Amy C.

says:

My son was just diagnosed with reading disability . We plan on purchasing this program and spelling program. I am hopeful it will help. It’s been a long hard year for my son. Would love to see him have success reading and not feel so defeated.

Amy,
I’m sorry to hear your son is struggling, but knowing what the problem is and how to go about helping him are very good things. I hope this coming year will be so much better for him!

Let us know if you need any help with placement or anything else.

Kim

says:

My son suffers from the Matthew effect. I am hoping by using the AAR and AAS programs this will enable him to learn to like to read!!

Kim,
We reading becomes easier, it becomes more enjoyable. All About Reading can definitely help with that!

Please let us know if we can help with placement, or in any other way.

Missy Tillman

says:

This is a helpful blog post…as all of yall’s are. I have two very different readers. Each with their own strengths and one who has become so inlove with reading that her sister, who is younger and just still learning, resents the time reading takes her sister away from her. It is helpful here to be motivated to inspire the younger and learning sister.

Kendra Rippel

says:

Oh, please do encourage your youngest girl to read. It’s kind of adorable and sad at the same time to hear that she resents that reading time takes away from time with her big sis, but perhaps reading could become something they could do together. Maybe you could whip up a hot cuppa cocoa and get your girls snuggled into a reading nook and let them read themselves away into another world. Ideally, this would become a shared experience between your girls and they could always dish about the books they’re reading to each other too.

Maybe they should start their own little book club!
They could name it “The Sisters Book Club” or whatever their heart desires. :)

Mrs. Bock

says:

Thank you for the information

Steph

says:

This is so true. My son loves to be read to, but used to do everything possible to get out of reading. He still does not like to read, but is slowly getting better about it, and rarely has an outright tantrum these days about reading. I am so happy to be using AAR.

Noelle Dawley

says:

Thank you, not only for your reading g programs but also for these amazing tips!!!

Aleshia Keene

says:

Just learned about this program at a recent convention. It looks very interesting!

Hannahlei

says:

Thank you for highlighting these struggles we face in an organized way we can assess and do something about!

CrystalD

says:

I also have a Matthew Effect son. He struggles with some visual tracking and discrepancy, though he did not test for dyslexia. My optometrist father is getting him going on some visual therapy and maybe some glasses with prism to see if that helps.

AAS and AAR are both wonderful programs and I love that you can easily self-pace. I think we went too fast through last semester (our first) and are now taking it slower this summer, reviewing the practice sheets and phonograms. We will do some blending activities daily to beat the guessing game.

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Crystal,

It sounds like you are doing a great job of modifying things to your son’s needs. And good for you for continuing to reinforce the blending procedure! I’ll email a list of review games and activities if you want to mix things up this summer.

Karen

says:

My son leaves to be read TO but even though he reads very well (he just turned 5) he often resists reading on his own b/c it’s more work than having mom read to him – plus the stories that I read to him are obviously at a much higher comprehension level and therefore more interesting than the AAR2 readers that he reads. Any suggestions?

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Karen,

Your son is doing fantastic! Keep reading to him, and don’t worry about him enjoying that time–it’s great time spent together. (I actually still read to my teens). Reading aloud to your child is one of the best ways to encourage reading.

6 Great Reasons to Read Aloud to Your Kids: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/6-great-reasons-to-read-aloud/

Keep working through the AAR lessons, encourage him, take an interest in the stories he can read to you, laugh at the funny parts, have discussions about things your family has done that relate to what he reads, enjoy the activities together…it’s a special time in a young reader’s life. As he gets farther along in the lessons and more books are accessible for him, and as he masters more words, reading on his own will become more interesting to him. He’s very young right now, and many kids don’t “love reading” until they are farther along in their phonics knowledge. He’ll get there!

Kristin Karlsrud

says:

Nice to hear that I’m not the ONLY one out there with a 9 1/2 year old that is probably at a 1st grade level. His writing is awful too, and he can’t spell. I’m not alone and that is comforting. I’m trying to get some extensive vision testing done for him, maybe that’s part of the battle OR maybe that will be ruled out, but I think it’s time.

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Kristin,

It’s good to see if vision issues are playing a role. Sometimes kids can have multiple issues as well. Many kids who struggle with spelling struggle with writing as well because it’s too many things to think about at one time––content, creativity, organization, punctuation, spelling, grammar, capitalization, what kind of audience they are addressing…it’s a lot at once. I found that writing became easier for my kids once they had 3 levels of AAS mastered–then they had over 1000 common words mastered and had both dictation and sentence-writing experience from AAS. (AAS has a gradual progression that helps build up writing skills to prepare kids for a formal writing program.)

Keep working to figure out his struggles and how to address them. If you have questions, please know we’re here to help.

Debbie

says:

This reading program is the very best. My son is reading everything he can get his hands on, thanks to All About Reading!

Stephanie Miller

says:

My daughter has convergence insufficiency. We have done a couple months of eye therapy but couldn’t really afford it anymore. They prescribed her glasses recently with prism in them to help. The glasses have helped some. She is 9 yrs old and gets very frustrated with reading and hates school. I’m trying hard to think outside of the box and use hands on strategies. She loves horse riding and horses. I used AAR and AAS level one and now I need to buy level 2. The spelling really helped. I am an avid reader and I want her to enjoy reading.

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Stephanie,

My oldest had convergence insufficiency and a couple of other vision issues as well. I know how expensive vision therapy can be. Completing the program was so helpful for my son; I hope you are able to finish with her at some point. Our office was willing to work with us and let us come once a month and then do exercises at home–would yours consider something like that?

I’m glad that AAR and AAS are helping. Your daughter is blessed to have you thinking through various strategies to meet her needs. Keep reading aloud to her too, as this is so important.

Christa Hannasch

says:

What a fantastic article. My son has always been a struggling reader. This article has some really great tips.

Cheryl

says:

Shhh to tell my son, but he is reading more and more every day. But if asked he will tell you he hates to read. I take my kids to the library once a week or so, read out loud to them all the time, audio books are a big thing in my house too. My sone is 12 and will tell you he Hates to read, but I will find him reading on the computer or back of the cereal box or papers I have left around the house. Shhhh don’t tell him he is reading. Remember reading does not have to be from a book all the time.

Emily

says:

My 8yo has struggled with reading. She is a great speller, and can read, but doesn’t enjoy it much. I discovered last year that she was reading very fast and changing words to what she thought or adding words that weren’t there. She wanted to be a “fast” reader. The other thing that concerns me is that when arranging letter or number tiles, she sometimes puts them backwards, however, when we read out lout together, though she fights me on it cause I make her read slower, she reads just fine, and as I said, she is a good speller. Should I be worried? Just this week we found a few books at the library that are not only her reading level but she is actually interested in reading. Most times she wants to read books that are above her reading level, then gets upset when either I don’t let her, or she tries and gets frustrated because she can’t understand the story line. (She has an older sister she is always trying to keep up with.)

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Emily,

This actually is a somewhat common problem. Check out this article that Marie did on how to help a “fast” reader: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/my-child-reads-too-fast/

When she arranges number or letter tiles backwards, I would have her read what she wrote. Ie, if she puts “ned” instead of “den,” see if she’ll recognize her mistake when she reads it. If she says “den,” I would say, “I would read this as “ned” because you have the “n” first.

Or if she puts “12” instead of “21” and says that it is “21,” say, “I would read this as “12” because you have the 1 in the 10’s column.” (or the 1 is first).

See if, by reading what she has made with tiles, she will recognize her mistake.

If she also reverses individual letters or numbers (mixing up b and d, or b and p etc…), Marie has a wonderful article about reversals with tactile ideas, activities using large arm movements, and analogies: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/how-to-solve-letter-reversal-problems/

I hope this helps! Please let me know if you have additional questions.

Candie

says:

We love AAR and AAS!

Dita

says:

First time to know such Matthew effect. My son is still learning phonics at the moment. I hope I can guide him to enjoy reading.

Sarah Hibbard

says:

My son has been a struggling reader, and in turn loathed and fought school every step of the way. Since using AAR he is now reading more and more each day and feeling confident and even praising himself!. Bless you for your wonderful program.

Darla

says:

Interesting, esp as we have twins, 7 yr old sons, who i suspect might be dyslexic. They can not remember dates, including their birthdays or even always their age, and after a year and a half of working with them, they still don’t remember numbers and letters.

I’m leaning towards trying All About Reading instead of the traditional approach we were trying……

Blessings.

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Darla,

I’m sorry your boys are struggling with reading. If you do decide to try AAR, know that it has a one-year guarantee. You can try it, and if for any reason you feel that it isn’t the right match for your child, return it for a full refund: http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/guarantee

All About Reading is based on the Orton Gillingham method which has been found to be successful for students with dyslexia: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/spelling-orton-gillingham/

Marie is a member of the International Dyslexia Association, and was an instructor for the graduate level courses in Orton-Gillingham Literacy Training offered through Nicolet College in Rhinelander, Wisconsin for 3 years. If you haven’t had a chance to watch their story about her son’s struggles, you may want to check out their story. Quite amazing!

http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/about

Here are some ways that AAR can help kids with learning disabilities:

-Each lesson time is simple and explicit, and will include 3 simple steps: review of what was learned the day before, a simple new teaching, and a short practice of that new teaching.

-Incremental lessons: AAR breaks every teaching down into its most basic steps and then teaches the lessons in a logical order, carrying the students from one concept or skill to the next. Each step builds on the one the student has already mastered.

– AAR is multisensory. It approaches learning through sight, sound, and touch. This helps kids who struggle with memory issues, because they take in information in various ways and also interact with it in various ways. The kinesthetic approach can be very helpful to a child who has expressive language struggles.

– AAR uses specially color-coded letter tiles. Working with the All About Reading letter tiles can make the difference between understanding or not understanding a concept.

– AAR is scripted, so you can concentrate on your child. The script is very clear, without excess verbiage.

– AAR has built-in review in every lesson. Children with learning disabilities generally need lots of review in order to retain concepts. With AAR, your child will have a Reading Review Box so you can customize the review. This way, you can concentrate on just the things that your child needs help with, with no time wasted on reviewing things that your child already knows. Customized review is important for kids with short attention spans because you want every minute of your lesson to count.

Another benefit of the review is that you can practice with your child what to say–you can rehearse as many or as few times as your child needs to help her become fluent in reading the words. One of the things that Marie noticed when she was researching reading programs is that few programs have enough review built in for kids who struggle to gain fluency.

I hope this helps! Please let me know if you have additional questions. We also provide lifetime support for all of our programs.

Nikki Rodriguez

says:

Thanks for this info. I’ve never heard it summed up as the Matthew Effect before.

camille

says:

Very interesting, and helpful. I know I need to read aloud more to my kids. All like to read, but one struggles with reading quietly by himself, he understands it more if he reads it aloud. He is a good reader when he does…. He is 9 1/2 yrs old.
thanks again!

Catherine

says:

WOW! This has really helped me understand a lot. Thank You

Brook

says:

We struggle with this… When we break it down and play more ziggy games, it becomes way less threatening and helps to remember the concepts! Less is more! This slow and steady approach has improved much needed confidence!!

Brook,
This is great to hear! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with this.

Amy

says:

I need to check this out for my daughter. She seems to hate reading

Amy,
I’m sorry to hear your daughter seems to hate reading. I hope the three tips to help reluctant readers can make a difference for her. Please let us know if we can help.

Terri

says:

My kids love the library. My 10 year old will gladly check out books, but will only read joke books. She loves our 30-60 min read aloud time at night, but only if I read, otherwise she is too tired and will forego the whole thing. I am planning to try your program out with her in a bit of a sneaky way. I’ll ask her to help me teach her 5 year old brother his letters and their sounds in the pre-reading books. Maybe getting back to basics will help to correct some missing training causing her to hate reading while loving stories and books. Hmm.

Terri,
With my 10 year old it is Garfield comic books. He has checked out every one our library has, and they have dozens. I think, to some extent, the tendency to get stuck in a book rut is rather normal for this age group.

Also, if my children are given a choice of reading themselves or listening to me read aloud, they will always choose me. I recommend not making it an either or choice for your daughter. Keep your read aloud time at night, but earlier in the day require her to read aloud to you for 20 minutes. Yes, even the joke books :oP. When you do recommend other books, aim for ones that will be on an easy level for her. You are aiming to build enjoyment and confidence in her reading, and “comfortable” books are the best way to do that.

Thank you for your sharing. Please let us know if we can help in any way.

Helene

says:

I cant get my dd to therapy for convergence exercises. I know the pencil to the nose exercise. Any others? I use Orton-Gillingham phonics and have her read 40 min a day. She HATES to read and is at 2nd grade level at 10yo. It makes me incredibly sad.

Helene,
From what I know about vision therapy for convergence issues, it is supposed to be tailored specifically to the individual. I have not heard of families doing exercises at home without having had an evaluation from a therapist, so I have no idea how effective or ineffective it would be.

40 minutes a day is quite a long period of reading for a struggling student. We recommend just 20 minutes a day, total, of reading instruction and reading, although with an older remedial student like your daughter 30 minutes a day would be possible depending on her frustration levels. Maybe you can try shorter periods?

I hope you are able to find what she needs for success. Please let us know if we can help in any further way.

Our visual system is actually quite complicated. We use many activities graded from easy to more complicated, so jumping in on Pencil Push-ups may be too difficult for her to start with. An eye exam from a developmental optometrist will test for many binocular skills in addition to convergence. Right now, many people are aware of convergence, but they are not aware that all the visual skills are tied together, so when one skill is poor, some of the others will be poor as well. Start with a binocular vision evaluation. The optometrist may be able to guide you in a home program.

Laurie from TN

says:

My 6yo daughter is heading into 1st gr this fall (we homeschool) reading finally clicked with her halfway through last year. Any advice for us regarding “dreading to read for practice”. She loves when I read to her. She reads better for others than me (her teacher) we have even tried incentives ie. like she reads her leveled books for me, then I read a story to her. I feel she is on the verge of downward spiral….we will be using AAR & AAS as part of our curriculum this coming year. Which I believe will further reinforce and boost her confidence!

Laurie,
My advice would be too keep reading practice times short and choose materials that are on her easy to comfortable level. Reading easy books builds fluency, confidence, and a joy in reading. Reading challenging books, particularly every day, builds frustration and a dislike for reading. Even encourage her to reread books to further boost that smooth reading with good expression that we are looking for.

I hope this helps. I hope you two have a great school year.

So glad you mentioned Convergence Insufficiency. It commonly causes reading problems, and is even misdiagnosed as ADD in 13% of ADD cases. Usually getting a routine eye exam is NOT enough to diagnose vision problems that lead to learning or reading problems. It requires someone who is knowledgable in vision therapy. Please let everyone know that they can find a local developmental optometrist at COVD.ORG or OEPF.ORG

Dr. Kemmerer,
Thank you for this reminder.

Cassandra

says:

Thank you for this post. My daughter would rather do anything but read. Her vision has been tested and she reads aloud very well. One time she told me that when she reads on her own all this other ‘stuff’ is going on in her head and it distracts her, she cannot turn it off. She gets distracted and doesn’t pay attention when we read aloud at lunch time too. What do you make of this?

Merry at AALP

says:

It sounds like a struggle with attention deficit disorder–I would do some investigating on that front. There are lots of things you can do with supplements, diet modification, accommodation strategies, and medication that can help if this is an issue. It’s also possible that it’s an auditory processing type of struggle (outside noises distract her and then her mind wanders, trouble listening to read-alouds etc…) or a combination of the two.

Here’s more information on auditory processing: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/auditory-processing-disorder/

I would try different environments for both reading and read-alouds.

For example: If she tries to read in her room, but seeing her toys and other items distract her and then make her mind wander, or if something similar happens when sitting near a window, she might do better in an environment with little or no outside stimulation (think library study carrel with something to block out sights on 3 sides. You can have a foldable carrel that she can use at a desk or table that might help.

Exercise can be a tremendous help in getting thoughts to calm down and focus. Also outside/green time.

If screen time is an issue, definitely limit screen time.

I would try reading aloud in different environments; lunch may be too stimulating/distracting. Try reading aloud when she can:

sit quietly
sit with something like a hand squeeze ball
draw or color a picture related to the reading (pictures related to reading helped my daughter a lot)

Sometimes reading a passage and expecting the child to explain it back in her own words will overwhelm elementary school-aged children—they don’t know where to start and just can’t do it. In that case, you probably would be more successful if she gave your daughter prompts. Marie uses this example: Find out something that the she is really interested in, such as “raising turtles.” Get a book and read a section aloud to her, such as the section on “what kinds of food should you feed your turtle.” Then start a discussion with the child, and incorporate some of the new info that you just read in the book. “I never knew that you could feed lettuce to turtles! What else can you feed turtles?” Then read the part on habitats of box turtles. Start a discussion on that. “If you were to set up a tank for a box turtle, what kinds of things should you include in it?”

These types of conversations can engage her and help her pay more attention to the reading. You can also “prime the pump” ahead of time–“I wonder what kinds of things you can feed turtles? Let’s find out…” I used questions like this to help my daughter clue in to our history reading (I found that the less she liked a subject, the harder it was for her to focus and concentrate. Doing some pre-work on my part to help her track with the reading helped her listen better.)

My youngest struggled a lot with read-alouds. We’d have a novel going, and half-way through she’d ask who ____ was–and ____ was the main character’s name!

So, I found it was helpful to do a quick re-cap before we started–either I or one of my kids would say what happened recently. I tried to say names and describe who they were: “Caroline was Laura’s Ma, and she….”

With reading aloud, pay attention to things like your pacing and volume. Reading too quickly can make kids tune out if they have any kind of auditory struggles. Slowing your pace a bit and adding in slight pauses can emphasize the drama just like getting louder or softer can. Experiment with different voices as well.

Hopefully this gives you some things to try with her!

Lynette Wilson

says:

Reading to our kids as often as possible is a great first step to helping kids have a positive attitude to literature. Finding ways to access texts for themselves by using methods such as yours is our next step.

Lynette,
We completely agree :D.

Thank you for commenting.

Jessica

says:

Thanks so much for sharing! This should help out a lot.

Candice McClellin

says:

Thank you for explaining this! I definitely have this problem and with my child getting older I need to get him on the upward swing.

Lila Tuilagi-Toia

says:

Thank you so much for sharing this. I know how important reading is–especially for an English Language Learning class. I teach here in American Samoa, and English is not our first language. Therefore, it is hard to teach my students this language. However, making reading fun is somehow increasing their vocabulary and also helping them improve their English.

Thank You for this blog :)

Dee

says:

Thank you for this article. It was very helpful.

Brenda White

says:

My son does not like read and even though he just turned 9 he reads at first grade level mid year. It has had such an impact that I feel we need to home school to help get to grade level so he does not get put in special ed. I plan on using this cariculume for him but it was suggested to wait for the charter school to order for us

Helen Blight

says:

I’m using AAReading with my daughter and we love it. Before this she had gone through, (or partly gone through), three other grade 1 reading programmes. She now thinks reading isn’t that bad! I noticed several people commented that their children love graphic novels but not much else. I know several children who are avid readers and they all have gone through a stage of devouring graphic novels and comics. At least they are reading! And that is better than not reading at all. I’m not there yet my self, but a couple of ideas I’ve had about this sort of thing: set up a reading challenge for your child, for every graphic novel they read, they must read something else. Also try reading aloud something really exciting to them, but leave them hanging part way through the story, but leave the book lying around and see if the suspense doesn’t get the better of them. Thanks so much to the AA Reading and Spelling!

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Helen,

What great ideas! These are great strategies. Thanks for taking the time to post today!

Colleen

says:

I don’t think my son is “Matthew Effect”, but he sure hates to read! I’m in search of anything that will help me this year in his school.

Merry at AALP

says:

How old is your son?

Paisley

says:

Love,love this program just have been able to get it for unique learner.😉

Laura

says:

My 11 year old son really dislikes reading anything other than graphic novels. He doesn’t seem to have anything detectable wrong as he tests in the 6-8th grade reading level, but it’s a struggle to get him to enjoy reading. Any ideas why?

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Laura,

It may be that graphic novels provide more visual stimulation for him, and that he finds it easier or more attention-holding for that reason. Do you have daily required reading for school? You might have 30 minutes of reading time of regular literature daily to help him stretch some of those visualization muscles. I think with TV and computers, that it’s easy for our minds to get lazy and not want to make pictures to go with the words on our own.

Another idea: help him discover a new hobby (or help him develop an existing hobby). If he likes cacti, check out books from the library on cacti. If he likes rocketry or models, get a kit and read the instructions together. Bake from a recipe together. Let him pick out an age-appropriate magazine on a topic that is interesting to him. These types of activities can help children find the motivation to learn to read.
I let my kids stay up an extra half hour if they wanted to read in bed, so that was motivation as well.

Sometimes technology gets in the way and can be an issue–reading takes more patience than the instant reward of TV, video, and computer games. Limiting that can help students find other ways to entertain themselves.

Model good reading habits. Have time each day when you read so that he sees how much you value reading.

Reading aloud to a child is also a great way to develop an interest in reading. Choose high-quality stories and novels that appeal to his age and interests. Develop a nightly habit of reading to him before bedtime. I actually still read to my teenagers, and it’s a wonderful time to share conversation together over a good book.

Has he read the Narnia Chronicles? That might be a good series with adventure to consider. Sonlight has lots of good read-alouds–their choices are often award-winning books.

Also consider audio books. There are a lot of good stories, novels, and plays on CD, and kids can listen while they play with legos.

I hope this gives you some ideas!

Tamara Dillard

says:

I have an 11 year old daughter who struggles with reading books, but she loves graphic novels, comic books and videogame reading. I am at a loss to determine if she is just not interested in the normal books (which she gets to choose herself) or if she is really having problems reading and retaining the reading.

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Tamara,

I wonder if she’s a context-clue guesser. Perhaps graphic novels, comic books, and video games give her more context to be able to guess at the words and get the overall meaning, but books with few or no pictures don’t give her as many clues and make it harder. Check out this article on how to Break the Word-Guessing Habit: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/break-the-word-guessing-habit/

I’d have her read aloud to you daily so you can hear some of the struggles she’s having and help her learn some strategies for sounding out harder words.

It’s also possible that the books she chooses use harder words than those in her other reading materials. If the reading level is more challenging, that would also explain the discrepancy. Do some investigating and see what you find out. It might also be interesting to have her read some of the things she loves too–then you’ll see first-hand if the words are easier. You may even find that she guesses with those, but that it’s easier to guess.

As with many of these posts, children who can read graphic novels, comic books and play video games, HAVE learned to read. But they hate it because they may (probably) have a vision problem that is NOT detected by a routine eye exam. 20/20 eyesight is NOT good vision, and is NOT enough to enjoy reading or have good comprehension. The visual struggle is what makes normal reading unpleasant, while they are able to read things that are highly motivating-novels, comic books, video games. Go to COVD.ORG to find a developmental optometrist near you and if a vision problem is found, enroll in vision therapy. The cost of vision therapy will pale in comparison to the years of frustration, lack of achievement, and the loss of lifetime earning potential from choosing an occupation that pays less.

Judy

says:

I’ve been hearing positive comments about this program and would like to give it a try. I have a 14 yr old who struggles with spelling and only reads if their really interested in the book or subject. Also have an 8 yr old who is struggling with reading and has problems with b and d. I can see how the Matthew effect plays out in children with learning struggles.

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Judy,

I hope you are able to try All About Reading and All About Spelling with your kids. They really have helped a lot of kids. Have you seen this blog post about another teen who was struggling with reading and spelling: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/real-moms-heather-cole/

Also, Marie has a wonderful article about reversals with tactile ideas, activities using large arm movements, and analogies: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/how-to-solve-letter-reversal-problems/

If you have any questions about placement (or anything else), I’d be glad to help.

Debi Schuhow

says:

I have a 8 year old grandson that my husband and I are raising who loves it when I read to him. He tries to read but he seems so anxious. So I haven’t been pushing it because I want him to love reading. My husband and I are avid readers. We don’t even have cable/regular television!

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Debi,

You are doing a great job by reading to him and modeling good reading habits! Another fun thing to do is buddy reading–let him read a few lines, a paragraph, or a page, and then you read a page or two. This can help him move through the story and also he can read along as you read out loud. Maybe that will take the pressure off and make him less anxious about reading. If he needs extra support, consider working through All About Reading with him. Sometimes reading is difficult because students don’t have the tools they need to be successful.

Hang in there!

Jamie

says:

I feel like the effect of not being interested and downward spiraling could be applied to any subject. I assisted once in a “special needs” math class at a public high school. 95% of the kids weren’t special needs at all. They were kids who were initially uninterested in math so didn’t pay attention in a regular math class. They were then labeled and given cheats (like multiplication charts) rather than being expected to actually learn. Of course, using the cheats, they never learned, so they were stuck in special needs. And because they’d been labeled what they considered dumb, they thought they couldn’t do it and completely gave up. So sad. The one big difference between a downward spiral in math and a downward spiral in English is that reading is necessary for every subject.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Excellent point, Jamie. I’m sorry to hear about the math class you were placed in. You’re absolutely correct: the downward spiral in learning is very real, and it can become an emotional wall at some point. Once you’ve downward spiraled enough, you can wrongly label yourself as “dumb” when the truth is that you just haven’t learned something yet. A commenter below by the name of Pyra said something that stuck with me. She rightly said that math isn’t something you’re born with. It’s something we all have to learn. You don’t either know math or you don’t. Everyone has to learn it in their own way. Reading and spelling are the same way. You’re not “dumb” if it hasn’t clicked yet. You just haven’t found what works learning-wise for you!

Janee

says:

My oldest always struggled with the mechanics of reading (she’s now 17) so for her the most important aspect was finding something she liked to read. If she was engaged she would put the effort in but if not she would give up easily. I suspect dislexia or some other issue with decoding since she has very poor spatial skills and a very hard time with numbers as well. My middle (15) is an avid reader and reads almost anything. She learned very easily and did not struggle at all to learn although being right brained she struggled later with comprehension. We had to work on that more. My youngest is still learning (8) and seems to still have trouble with reversing b and d and mistakes other letters/sounds. I’m beginning to wonder if he has some issue as well. AAR and AAS have been amazing!! So glad we found this curricula before my youngest started reading!!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Thanks for sharing, Janee! You mentioned that your youngest is struggling with reversals a bit. You may be interested in reading my blog post entitled “How to Solve Letter Reversal Problems.” Here’s the link: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/how-to-solve-letter-reversal-problems/

It sounds as if you have three learners who learn entirely differently from one another. If we can help you in any way or if you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us! Getting kids happily engaged with reading is a big part of our mission. We’re here to help and encourage you!

Angie

says:

Within the past year, a switch got flipped for my son. He hated reading. And then one day, he realized he could read. Just last week, he got in trouble a lot, because he was reading instead of what needed to be done. He was finishing How to Train Your Dragon and just couldn’t put it down to get dressed for appointments or eat dinner or other things that needed to be done. Yay! We are now on the upward spiral.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Ha, ha! I feel like this is the plight of becoming a full-fledged bookworm. What’s more important, doing your laundry or finishing up that cliffhanger? And can’t the dishes wait? Seriously though, I am very happy for you. I’m sorry that he had initial struggles, but I love hearing about that “click” that made reading enjoyable for him. Congratulations on having a book lover!

Itty

says:

Thanks for the insights! Makes a lot of sense, and it’s something to keep in mind…

Brenda

says:

My youngest son doesn’t struggle with reading. He just doesn’t want to! I’m thinking it has something to do with being a boy!
My 12 year old daughter is like Stefanie’s daughter. She reads to herself, but at a lower level than I think she should. She also has trouble with words and doesn’t bother to figure them out but guesses and then doesn’t comprehend what she’s reading.
Your suggestions are good Cathy! I will start there. We have used the first three AAS books. I am hoping this helps her reading as well as her spelling.

Terry

says:

I have a 14 year old that does not like to read. He doesn’t take the time to read. He doesn’t mind when I read to him though but it is like pulling teeth. I have purchased your spelling program and it was great but I would love to have him read more. What do you suggest?

Robin

says:

Hi Terry,
Have you tried audio books? Most libraries now have many available to download for free. As for independent reading, The Read Aloud Handbook recommends encouraging any reading. Does he like comic books? Car manuals? Tip books for his favorite computer game? The novelization of his favorite movie? Graphic novels? (Graphic novels are books written kind of in comic format, not necessarily with graphic subject matter, which is what I used to think.)

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Terry,

I agree with Robin, audio books are a good way to encourage reading. Do you require reading for school? I’d have him read some quality literature for at least 30 minutes per day. That way, even if he doesn’t read “for fun,” you are encouraging him to continue growing in his reading ability. Other ideas:

Get your student hooked on an age-appropriate series. Subscribe to kid-friendly magazines, check out tons of books from the library, have them read instructions for games they want to play.

Have the student keep reading aloud a little each day, and you can use all of the strategies that he has learned to help him decode unfamiliar words. Choose books that interest your student, both fiction and non-fiction. You can also choose books that correlate to other things you are studying, such as historical fiction or Usborne books that cover science topics.

Make and use flashcards for review (this helps quite a bit!).

The study of Greek and Latin roots can be helpful.

Complete the All About Spelling program, which supports reading.

Keep reading aloud to him.

Stefanie

says:

I am struggling to get my daughter to read and she is 10! She is so far behind her peers which really has me worried. When she was in public school they pushed and pushed reading & were constantly telling us how far behind she was. She just hates it! She loves to have books read to her though. Now that we’re homeschooling I’m just not sure how hard to push. Is it best to force her to read everyday or is that going to increase her hatred for it and make the situation even worse? My younger son hears her constant complaints about reading so he now thinks he hates reading too & he is an excellent reader. I would love any suggestions!!

Cathy

says:

I think the fact she loves to be read to is a real positive. Below is what worked for my daughter who used to cry when I’d make her read and I now have to drag away from her books:
1. Work on phonics based reading a small amount every day, even when she cries. It is great to read together and take turns reading, it helps get her involved in the story while you are reading and makes it seem easier.
2. We had a reading box of prizes and rewards of items I knew she wanted, some worth small numbers of books for instant gratification, other larger ones required reading more books (you could also use time instead of # of books). I adjusted over time the number of books/chapters/difficulty of reading to earn the prizes.
3. Keep reading to her as well as having her read. The reality is when a child is learning to read they can’t read really interesting books. My daughter got over the hump when she’d masted basic phonics (short vowels, silent e) and the first 100-200 most commonly used words in children’s reading.
4. Find something she loves for her to read. The first books my daughter enjoyed were the Frog and Toad, Mouse and Mole books. The Mary Kate and Ashley Mystery series is where she took off, she wanted to know what happened so badly that she pushed through each book – mysteries are great early readers once the basics are mastered.

Good Luck!

Kristin

says:

Stefanie, I taught Reading Recovery previously and it is important for her to read a little each day, especially since she struggles. If she doesn’t get the practice, she won’t get better, and if she doesn’t get better, she won’t ever have the opportunity to really enjoy reading. However, that can mean reading something she would be interested in, and it doesn’t have to be a book, which can be overwhelming to struggling readers. What is her passion? Does she like a particular animal or activity? Find an article (even above her level with your help) or nonfiction book broken into small sections that she is interested in. Also, read together. It is important for her to hear you model good reading, so reading to her is good, but have her read to you, too. You read one part, and then she reads the next part. Also, try not to make it about “reading,” but rather about her passion or a funny story, or something. Not that you are disguising that it is reading, but because at age 10, she is probably wanting to know “what’s the point?” That’s just my take. Hope that helps!

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Stefanie,

Cathy and Kristin had some great ideas to share. I know it’s concerning when a child struggles with reading, but the good news is that you really can help her progress.

Usually when kids hate something, it’s because they haven’t been given the tools to know how to do it. (Really, how many of us enjoy doing something that is a real struggle for us?!) I wouldn’t assume that her public school education in earlier years gave her all of the tools she needs. I would use a systematic, Orton-Gillingham based approach such as All About Reading and/or All About Spelling to help fill in those gaps so that she can be successful.

Daily reading lessons are going to be crucial. They don’t need to be long–with AAR, you can spend about 20-30 minutes per day on reading lessons for a student her age and make a lot of progress. Encourage her to stick it out. Let her know that your goal is to make reading easier for her so that school is easier overall, and so she can enjoy books on her own as well. (Since she enjoys listening to books, build on this interest–let her know you’ll keep reading to her, but that she’ll be able to enjoy some great stories even when she doesn’t have an audio too.)

Let her know the reason for daily practice too–that that’s the only way to make reading easier. It’s not to make her miserable :-). Sometimes it helps if you acknowledge, “I know this is hard, but here’s why we need to do it.” Most kids are interested in things becoming easier and less work, as well as more fun.

I would also have a conversation at some point about how her words affect her brother. Again, empathize with the fact that reading is very hard for her, but let her know that by saying she hates reading, she’s influencing her little brother and it’s taking away his joy in reading. Help her to see that it’s important to encourage him in reading too, and to focus on the fact that she enjoys stories. Let her know it’s fine to discuss her frustrations with you, but to try not to do so as much around her brother.

Hang in there! There really is hope. It’s never too late to help a person learn to read.

stephanie meyers

says:

My daughter struggles with reading. I’m so thankful we found an OG tutor for her. She tries so hard but I can definitely see how the Matthew Effect is affecting her. Thanks for the great post.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Stephanie. I’m sorry to hear that your daughter is struggling, but I love hearing of how you’re fighting the good fight to help her spiral upward instead of downward. I hope that her OG tutor is a huge help to her.

Sherry

says:

I have an older child (boy, age 13) who struggles with being a slow reader and a poor speller. What do you suggest to help him so that he does not feel like he is being treated “like a baby”?

Janee

says:

I started homeschooling when my two oldest were 12 and 14. My oldest had a really hard times till with both reading and spelling. Her spelling was even worse than reading. We started with AAS. Instead of doing a lesson a week we did about a lesson a day. We started with level one and worked our way through several levels a year. Her spelling improved tremendously and she didn’t think I was treating her like a baby. Each lesson only took a few minutes a day. Even just doing AAS it improved both spelling and reading. I would highly recommend it. Go as fast as you can so he doesn’t get bored but slow down when you need to. Usually at his age the first few levels will go really fast but there is vital information he probably missed before and learning those little things will help a lot even if the words are very easy. We moved pretty much all words to mastered each day because they already knew them but eventually we got to a point where they had a few to review but still moved them on quickly. Both my girls are glad we did it It think because of how much it helped.

Merry at AALP

says:

AAR and AAS have both been used with teens and even adults.

For AAR, you can use the placement tests to decide where to start him, so the words are at his reading level. Here is what Marie recommends when tutoring teens:

– Follow the new-concept lessons in the TM, which include flashcard review, “Change the Word,” Activity Sheets, Fluency Practice, and reading aloud to your student. Approximately every other lesson is a “new concept” lesson, and every other lesson is a “read a story” lesson.

– In the Activity Book, you can skip the activities that your students might think are too young, but some of the activities in the upper levels would be age-appropriate–you can evaluate as you go. They are there to provide fun review activities for those that would need and enjoy them. As we state in the Teacher’s Manual, the activity sheets aren’t necessary for older learners; however, the fluency pages in the activity book will be very helpful.

– Marie and many tutors include the readers, too. The Level 2 readers aren’t baby-ish. With regard to the Level 1 readers, sometimes it depends on the student. We’ve talked to tutors of adults, and the adult students are so happy to be able to read a story that they are thrilled to read the Level 1 readers. They don’t mind the content. But if you are dealing with a “cool” teen, you might want to stick with the fluency pages and wait until you get to the Level 2 readers.

If he’s beyond the reading program, then keep him reading and have him read something aloud to you daily (I often used Bible time for read-aloud practice here–we all took turns reading, and I helped with unfamiliar words and modeled how to sound them out).

Janee is right on with AAS and how that can fill in the gaps for students. Have you seen this blog post: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/real-moms-heather-cole/

You do start with level 1 in that program, but as she mentioned, you fast-track for older students: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/using-all-about-spelling-with-older-students/

It helps some kids understand if you compare to something like a video game or swimming lessons. Even though level 1 of a game or of lessons is easy to do, that doesn’t mean you should jump ahead to level 10. But it does mean that you can go quickly through the earlier levels, learning what you need to know so that when you DO get to the higher levels, you aren’t overwhelmed by having to learn too much at once.

This blog entry demonstrates how I used the program with my 15-year-old son: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/all-about-spelling-in-action-2/

For both programs, you don’t have to use the letter tiles if your teen would find these too childish (though some older students do still enjoy them). You can use underlining while writing on paper or a white board, or colored markers, to show when letters are working together as one phonogram.

Please let us know if you have additional questions.

Anna

says:

After reading this, I would like to give AAR a try. I have a 10 year old
struggling reader, a 9 year old avid reader, and a 5 year old beginning reader; all of them would benefit from this.

Urmi

says:

I can completely relate to the downward spiral with my 6year old daughter… Thanks for the insight!

Jennifer

says:

I am homeschooling my third son and he is by far the hardest to teach reading. I’ve tried everything I can find on tips to teach him or programs and we’re still struggling.

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Jennifer,

I’m sorry your son is struggling with learning to read. Both of mine struggled, especially my oldest. Are you using All About Reading? If so, let me know where you are in the series and what struggles your son is experiencing. I’d be glad to help you with finding some tips or some different strategies to try. Keep at it, it’s definitely worthwhile, and they do get there. Email me at support@allaboutlearningpress.com if I can help in any way.

Pyra

says:

The same is true for math. Most people are not naturally “good at math” or “bad at math.” Most people are “prepared for math” and have practiced more or are “less prepared for math” and have practiced less. Yes, great motivation to PRESS ON!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Great point, Pyra! Thanks for sharing.

Jacquie

says:

My oldest hated reading. I kept getting different books for her to read. One day she brings a book she was reading and almost finished (Amy wild from Usborne) and was sad to finish it because she liked it so much! Thankfully there’s nore in the series so I got them. She read several of them and now is reading longer books and I’ll find her reading at night where before it was like pulling teeth.

Now I’m working on my son who is 7.

All that to say this. You are completely right! Keep trying and giving kids more reading material, even if it ant “at grade level”. Eventually they find a book they love and will read more!

Kathy

says:

I had the same experience with my eldest daughter! She was an active youngster and it was hard to slow her down long enough to teach her reading and get her interested in doing it herself!

But once she got excited about it (I think she was almost 11 by then!), we had a NEW problem! We couldn’t get her attention long enough to do chores or finish other projects! Aaaggghhh! We finally made it through. What fun!

Indeed, keep on keepin’ on!

Merry at AALP

says:

I always hate finishing a good book too–the characters become like friends! Congratulations on one avid reader and one in process!

Amara

says:

Great motivation to “press on” with reading lessons, even when it is difficult!

Angela Stephan

says:

Our youngest son fits the Matthew Effect description. Thank you for all the helps throughout your website
for the struggling reader and/or speller. We look forward to starting AAS in the fall.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Allison. Enjoy your upcoming year with AAS as you work to eradicate the Matthew Effect! Have fun!

Happy momma

says:

I was one that took to reading like a duck to water. My son struggles. This summer we are reading chronicles of Narnia. Ancient faith radio has the books done as a podcast series that we listen to. I have my son read along with the story the best that he can. We have found that books that have the audio along with helps him a ton. It is a challenge because I am so different from him. We are on opposite ends of the spectrum and he feels that I don’t understand. His dad is a terrible reader and knows way to much of the struggles and they are too much alike. His dad thinks we are “cheating” by listening to the books as opposed too just buckling down and learning to read, but is begining to see a difference as our don is awakening and finding joy in the story. He is improving everyday and begining to enjoy reading. We are at the begining of an upward spiral. Thanks for this article showing me that there is hope, and the visuals showing the steps helps me to see where to go from here.

Merry at AALP

says:

Audio books and reading along can be a great way to help a student. My oldest actually read along with the audio for General Science when he was in 7th grade. When we started, he wasn’t able to read as fast as the audio, but by the next year, he asked to drop the audio because he was then able to read more quickly and the audio was slowing him down!

As far as relating to him…try to think of something you had to do where you felt totally overwhelmed and out of your comfort zone. This weekend I flew with my daughter for the first time in 17 years. Our first flight was delayed, we missed our connection, ended up having to get a 2nd flight into a different city and rent a car to go the rest of the way, misread a sign and went the wrong way around the city, had to re-route our return flights in order to be able to return the car…the list goes on! Everything ended up fine, but the process was unfamiliar and stressful…and I felt completely out of my element. The stress, the uncertainty, the act of having to do something I didn’t know how to do with others watching–I think a lot of those same feelings are things that a struggling reader goes through. So, if you can relate to something else you have been through, that might help you to have a better understanding, and give you grace and patience to draw on when words seems “obvious” to you but not to your son.

Or, think about the process of learning a foreign language–lots of similarities in trying to read unfamiliar characters and phonetic sounds.

Or, try to think of the last time you wanted to read something technical that had lots of unfamiliar words that you weren’t sure how to read. As someone experienced in doing this, you might not mind having to try a few different pronunciations to guess a word, but if there are a lot of words, it starts to make it very difficult to understand what you are reading.

Hang in there, and I’m glad you are seeing that there is hope! Your son will get it.

Alison

says:

I’ve been working with my five year old this past school year on level 1. She loved it initially but lately has hit a wall. I’ve tried to break up the lessons a bit but she refuses to have anything else to do with it. She knows her letter sounds, rhymes and was pronouncing words perfectly but upon frustration will pretend not to know any sounds or how to blend. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. We’ve tried all sorts of positive reinforcement but nothing seems to work. I recently tried a free trial of reading eggs which she loves but I’m not overly impressed with.

Pyra

says:

Five year olds are still going through a LOT of development. It is likely that she is not developmentally ready to “progress” to the next lesson. We had similar issues with one of our children. He got to a point where he did not progress to the next lesson and was even regressing.

Here’s what we did. For six months, we just continued having the child read/review short material that was already in his ability so that none of his skills were lost. During that time, we also read to him a LOT and tried to keep the joy in our readings and time together.

One day, he was just ready to understand the new lesson material. His brain had grown and he was ready. That lesson that had seemed impossible for six months was suddenly perfectly clear to him. More importantly, he hadn’t lost his love of reading because we didn’t push (he was 6). Now, he is an avid reader and will readily tell you it is his favorite thing to do. Hang in there.

Merry at AALP

says:

I agree with Pyra (great post!)–it’s not unusual for a young reader like this to hit a wall, and taking a break from new lessons can really be helpful. I’d back up, do some easier reading and play reading games for awhile, and try again in a few months if she seems ready to try again at that point.

Some other strategies that can help:

When you see that she struggles with sounding out a word, spend more time modeling. Go back to the letter tiles, build the word and then walk through the blending procedure, showing how to sound out that harder word. Many kids struggle when they get to beginning and ending blends (as in “flop” and “bent”). Others will struggle with some of the consonant teams (sh, ch, th), or when they get to second sounds for some letters (like C or S), or when they get to compound words. At any of these points, spending more time with the tiles and showing how to work with new concepts or longer words can help.

When she’s starting to get the hang of those words, you can try the readers and fluency pages again.

Do more buddy reading on things that she finds harder like the fluency pages, or possibly the readers. You can alternate lines or pages in a reader (and you can do a reader 3 times this way–one time she reads even pages and you read odds, another time you switch, and a third time she might try it all by herself). You can also use a favorite puppet or doll as a reading buddy. Reading the story extra times will help her familiarity with the words to increase both fluency and comprehension.

Sometimes students get overwhelmed by the amount of words on the fluency pages. Do feel free to modify these to her needs (there are some tips for using these in the Level 1 Teacher’s Manual on page 43).

Here are our Top 5 Tips for using the practice sheets. (Make sure to read the comment section too, as customers had some great ideas!) http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/5-tips-for-practice-sheets/

You can break up the fluency pages more. Use paper to cover up all but a couple of lines, or write them on the board, but only do a few lines each day. Mix these up with previous activities and letter tile work–whatever kinds of things she enjoys more. You can make the words from the fluency pages with the letter tiles also. Or, use the words, phrases, and sentences from the fluency pages to make up little books that she can read. Let her illustrate or cut/paste pictures on each page, and you write one line on that page for her to read. Many kids love making little books like this. My daughter loved cute baby animals, so as much as possible, I made little stories about animals using words she was working on.

For the word cards–know that you don’t have to do all of these every day. Rotate through the stack for just 2-3 minutes. Over time, more of them will be mastered.

You can also use games to review the word cards. Pull out favorite family board games like Sorry or CandyLand, and have each player read a word before his or her turn. Check out the Winter Review Activities, Reading Activity Bundle, and Reading Activity Downloads in our Free Downloads section: http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/reading-resource-center#FreeDownloads Review games can take the place of a lesson that day (and adding in more review along the way can help her feel more confident in some of the new material she has learned).

If she enjoys games, consider getting the Ziggy supplement for some folder game options you can use for review: http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/all-about-reading-level-1-ziggy-supplement/

Jessica

says:

My son has been a very reluctant reader, but it got a little easier when we started AAR Level 1. Now that he is nearly through Level 1 and is able to easily read some words he is much less grumpy about practicing! Your curriculum has made a huge difference!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Thanks for your comment, Jessica. I’m so glad that we’ve been able to minimize the grumpiness connected with reading! Honestly, it really is true that when students are reading more fluently they want to read more.

Deborah Gajee

says:

thanks for the article. Working with a struggling reader.

Sara

says:

Quite a conviction on me! I needed this, I have been slacking off on my momma duties this summer because of the struggle this past school year. My poor son HATES to read and would rather go to the dentist 😞. I am pointing the blame directly on me. I have lost the battle because this poor kid just turns into Mr. Hyde when I say it is time to read. I’ll be honest I’m more comfortable with Dr. Jekyll and would rather delay the inevitable. So yes, this message hit home, to say the least!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Hi Sara! Two of the best things that you can do this summer are 1) read aloud to your son to get him hooked on enjoyable, interesting stories and subjects; and 2) determine which reading program you will use with him during the next school year. The program should be motivating, incremental, and systematic. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. We’re here to help!

Fran

says:

*sigh* My son hates to read. Thanks for this article; I’ll be trying harder to help him through his struggles.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

I’m sorry to hear that your son has been plagued by the “Matthew Effect,” but I’m thankful that we could encourage you, Fran!

R C

says:

Thanks for this..

I have a child who avoids reading like the plague! He would rather clean the bathrooms than sit down and read a book. I am fairly certain that he has some type of dyslexia going on, and I am VERY concerned about the Mathew effect. I can see it happening between him and his younger sister. (She picks up books to read for pleasure all of the time…and the more she does that the stronger her reading skills become.) My son has completed nearly all of AAR 4 and is working through AAS 3 at this point. (So his phonic skills are strong.) We have taken through vision therapy too. However, he still dislikes reading. His reading is choppy and he gets hung up on the tiny little words. Like he will pause for 10 seconds on the word “on” for example despite reading it thousands of times. He enjoys books very much, but the physical act of reading is very hard for him and therefore doesn’t feel pleasurable. The good news is that he LOVES to listen to read alouds and audiobooks. His listening skills have far exceeded most kids his age. But I still want him to be a strong reader too if possible. I have resorted to REQUIRING reading practice everyday. I don’t know if that is good or bad, but I require him to read out loud to me for 20-30 minutes a day. But, kids who just naturally pick up books are still getting lots more practice in.

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Cathy,

You are doing all the right things by working with him diligently each day. I know it’s not easy! My oldest struggled greatly with reading, and was nowhere near proficient in 3rd grade. Ultimately, though, the “Matthew Effect” didn’t deter him because with homeschooling you are able to counter the effects:

By reading aloud to him, he didn’t fall behind in vocabulary or in content subjects like science and history even as his reading lagged behind. His comprehension skills and ability to synthesize information continued to grow. We continued to work on reading skills so he wasn’t, in the end, “left behind” other students.

I love this: In Anna Gillingham’s words, “go as fast as you can, but as slowly as you must.”

Truly, this is the best way to proceed.

Continue to encourage your son, and don’t get discouraged or give up. He will get there. I know the process isn’t always easy. Hang in there!

Melissa

says:

Thanks so much for that information maybe that’s my sons problem.

Carol

says:

Some good ideas here! I have one voracious reader who taught himself to read at 4, 2 dyslexics, and 1 boy who just hasn’t reached the point where it’s fun yet. I really hope to get them all to the point where they can pick up a book for enjoyment!

a

says:

I’ve observed that my weaker reader does much better early in the day, when fresh and alert, which makes reading a more enjoyable process.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

That is a great observation! Hopefully you are able to capture this time slot for your child’s reading lessons!

Stacey

says:

I just want to share the strategy I used to help my kids love reading. I have a grown son and daughter who are avid readers. When they were young, I tucked them into bed each night, but allowed them to leave the light on if they wanted to read. Otherwise, the light went out and it was time for sleep. Needless to say, they almost always chose to read to “stay up later”.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

I like this, Stacey. :)

Stacey J

says:

Both my girls are dyslexic but my younger one doesn’t struggle with reading as much as my older one so she reads more while my older one hates it and fights me on it and is always saying that she can’t find anything she likes to read. She is almost 13 so finding books at her level that hold her interest is hard.

Lindsay

says:

I wanted to say how much I have loved your reading and spelling programmes. My son is 16 and is still struggling with reading. we are half way through reading 4 and he is doing amazingly, but still has major self doubt. He loves books and always wants to go into bookshops. He loves story tapes and being read to, but can’t seem to move from the programme to ‘real books’ we have loads of books (he loves the Percy Jackson) we have all of them in book form and on tape, but he still thinks he can’t read, and if I say thats not true he says “you would say that mum’. He seems overwhelmed by all the words on the page, and as it takes him so long to read he gets discouraged. We try and encourage him by reading together a page each. And tell him it gets better the more practice he has. He was diagnosed with serve reading and spelling problems. We started homeschooling 6yrs ago because his reading was so poor.
Talking to my English teacher daughter she says in her school they have to work really hard on getting teenage boys to read. If you have any ideas to move him on and encourage him I would be very grateful.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

Hi Lindsay,

Here are some suggestions as you work to overcome your son’s self-doubt about reading:

1) It is heartening that he loves books and wants to go into bookshops. Get him a gift certificate or library card and encourage him to choose books or magazines that he is interested in. Allow him to read for entertainment.

2) Encourage all types of reading material. If a novel seems too much of a stretch at this point, consider magazines, how-to topics, graphic novels, comic books, the sports page of the newspaper, biographies of heroes, a joke collection. The more he reads, the more fluent he will become.

3) Select a humorous book at his reading ability and read the first chapter to him. Then stop reading. If he wants to find out what happens next, he’ll have to read it himself!

4) Try to pass on the message that reading isn’t a contest, and he isn’t doing it for your approval or anyone else’s. It doesn’t matter what reading level the book is at–if he finds a fun series such as “Hank the Cowdog,” enjoy it! Don’t be concerned with the easier reading level–even adults enjoy this series.

I hope these ideas help!

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Lindsay,

I wonder if font-size plays a role–have you experimented with large-print books? The print in the AAR 4 readers is still fairly large and has ample line spacing for ease of tracking. I wonder if he struggles with eye-tracking at all. You might check out http://www.covd.org.

Since he’s overwhelmed by the number of words on a page, I wonder if using an index card to cover some of them would help, or putting a sheet of paper over half the page at a time, or covering up all but one paragraph. Or, have you ever tried those reading guides? Something like this:

https://www.rainbowresource.com/proddtl.php?id=023615

or this: https://www.rainbowresource.com/proddtl.php?id=051364

Even if he doesn’t have a tracking issue, I wonder if there’s a tool that might help him focus on less words at once so that he doesn’t get overwhelmed. Since he is halfway through Level 4, he must be able to read, and the important thing to do now is to build up his confidence.

You could also try asking different questions. When he says he can’t read something, ask, “What would make reading this book more doable?” or, “What would make it easier to read this book?” Then try to find reading material that meets some of his criteria.

Starting with shorter or easier books, or something like a collection of stories, where the overall goal is smaller and that sense of accomplishment can come sooner might help build up confidence.

Is there a younger sibling or a young cousin or neighbor he could read to? Reading something simpler to a young one who would just be glad to have time with him might be a way to help him–sometimes kids are willing to do something if they feel they are helping someone else. Would he read a recipe to you as you cook to help you? Or instructions as you assemble something?

One last idea–you mentioned having books on CD. Have you ever had him read along in a book while he listens to the CD? I had a good experience doing this with my son with his science text book in junior high. For 7th grade, he listened and read-along. When he started, the CD read faster than he could. But the next year, he asked to do his new science book without the CD, because he could now read faster than the CD. Maybe doing something like that would help your son build up some speed and confidence.

Hang in there!

My son has some challenges that are making reading more difficult to learn. I can see his frustration, so to try and help we use videos and other methods of learning. It keeps him interested and engaged enough that the reading doesn’t hold him back.

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Crystal,

It’s good to make accommodations so that reading doesn’t hold him back in other subjects. Reading aloud to children is also very important for these students who struggle with reading. If you have any questions about how to help him, feel free to email me at support@allaboutlearningpress.com.

Kelly

says:

Thanks for all the helpful ideas.

Steven F

says:

We have been very impressed by AAR. Our 5 year old was reading fluently after just a few months of this program!

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

I’m so happy to hear that, Steven! Thanks for sharing the good news.

Nikki

says:

This was an awesome read! Something we all innately know, BUT I loved how it’s tied back to the Bible — the most important book in our house! AAR has been such a blessing to our developmentally delayed child. I am also using it for our oldest son to improve his skills — he would have loved this when he was learning it all 8 years ago. Never too late! :)

Merry at AALP

says:

That’s great, Nikki! I’m glad it’s helping both of your kids.

Marie

says:

My eleven year old son is a book addict. We actually have to tell him to put the book away because he is missing other important activities due to compulsive reading. My younger son (age 9) loves to be read to, loves books, and was not an early reader. We recently discovered he has vision difficulties and after just a few months of vision therapy with a very competent eye doctor and his staff-we have a developing reader. I am anxious to try your program as he has missed much visual instruction. Your multisensory, direct instruction approach might be just the ticket to enough practice for him to discover the strong reader inside of him.

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Marie,

I’m glad you found the issue and were able to get him the help he needed. AAR and AAS can definitely fill in the gaps for him. Let us know if you have questions along the way–we’re here to help.

Karen

says:

Interesting! I’ve not heard this term before. But it makes perfect sense.

I am a mom with 5 boys and 2 of which do NOT like to read at all.. My 10 and 12 year olds both find no enjoyment in it at all. My 10 year old has always struggled with reading. I am thankful for articles like yours and the encouragement. Praying for a better year this year. Thanks again

Heather,
It’s hard when we see our kids struggle, isn’t it? My 12 and 10-year old sons are currently struggling with motivating themselves to read. What I’ve started doing in hopes of getting them to upward spiral instead of otherwise is requiring them to read aloud to me 20 minutes a day, 4 or 5 days a week. Sometimes they fuss about it (and your kids may too initially), but in the last two months alone, they’ve improved both in their ability to read and in their enjoyment of it. Neither are what you would call “readers” yet, but our success so far has given me a lot of hope. I hope that in hearing this, you’ve been instilled with hope as well. Good things take time! I really hope that this was encouraging for you. If you have any questions or are in need of another pep talk, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! I’m here for you!

Ashley

says:

Good article.

Amy Cowan

says:

My daughter doesn’t necessarily struggle with reading, but it’s not something that just comes naturally, so she tends to avoid it. A lot of things come naturally for her so if she has to put any amount of work into it she gets frustrated.

Jessica

says:

I am definitely going to use these tips. I can’t wait to try them out!

Millie N.

says:

My son also suffers from this. He is dyslexic. This article was very helpful.

Rachel Campbell

says:

I see this Matthew effect in my son. This was very helpful in understanding why he struggles so much with school.

Marie Rippel

says: Customer Service

I’m glad that you found this blog post to be helpful, Rachel. If you ever have questions regarding reading or spelling, don’t hesitate to contact us. We don’t want your son to have to struggle with school!

Alycia A

says:

My youngest is an ESL learner, who mastered English, for the most part, in 5 months after coming home from China. She is extremely bright, has an engineering mind, and is dyslexic. She so longs to read, but, has such struggles when she tries to do so. The “Matthew Effect” makes a lot of sense.
Thank you!

Alycia,
I had never heard of the Matthew Effect before reading this new blog post this morning, but it does make perfect sense in what I have seen in so many children. Definitely something to think about.

Please let us know if there is anything we can do or help with for your daughter. Thank you for sharing here.

Bridget

says:

I have used levels pre through level 3 of AAR and my kids and I love it!

Stacy

says:

My kids have loved reading with AAR!

Sarah H

says:

I can really see happening. Reading affects everything you do.

Saph

says:

This makes total sense. My daughter is a great reader, but still prefers to do other things than read a book. Hopefully that will change.

Gale

says:

I can really see where this can happen. Reading affects everything.

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