02 February 2011

Boys and Reading

Is it hard to teach boys to read, or to enjoy reading? All my older children are boys, so it's hard for me to draw much of a comparison with girls. I can, however, tell you that each of my children has a different level of ability and drive to learn the subject.

One of my older children was able to be taught to read and write reasonably fluently before he entered kindergarten. Another teen is still functionally illiterate, and though nearly an adult is still working at a second/third grade level. And I mean a public school second/third grade level, meaning no disrespect. It is what it is. He has been quite resistant to learning the subject at home and at school. It has never been easy for him.

So, what should educators do? Keep a huge child back one year after another, until the student is over six feet tall and in third grade still? I'm not really a fan of "social promotion," but we have a few limits on the "you don't pass into the next grade until you can do x, y, and z" thing for a good reason. A truly effective approach would allow for ability grouping and more than that, opportunities for children to go from one group to another by subject.

Emperor, for example, is pretty good at math and is halfway through pre-algebra, but his writing is not at the same level. I should imagine if I were to enroll him in public school tomorrow, they'd look at his handwriting and send him to third grade and give him a bunch of occupational therapy. Maybe they would treat him as though he needed to learn his times tables. But just because someone is always talking and hopping about and can't cut within the lines doesn't mean his intelligence is low.

Perhaps I underestimate the public schools. But I remember his going into kindergarten being able to add columns of multidigit numbers. They kept him in with all the other students for math. These kids, as a class, were still learning the concept of "one" teddy graham added to "one" teddy graham means there are now "two" teddies. That's actually fine for most kindergarteners, but it isn't really appropriate for Emperor. And he was in class for a full week and a half. I told them about his abilities, but they didn't seem to want to believe me or want to ever test him for any gifted program. Just stuff him in with everyone else. I have myself a good feeling they'd have never gotten 'round to doing a blessed extra thing with him.

Oh, I am SO GLAD I was able to homeschool him. Mind you, socially, he is so not there, but then again, he wasn't doing so hot in that department in public school, either.

I think being able to just sit and spend TIME with reading helps a lot, if you have a willing student. In fairness, schools with large classes can't have that much one-to-one reading time where someone is really listening to the child discover literature one sound at a time. I'm thankful for the time I was able to spend with my homeschooling boys.

I saw this website and was inspired to write the post you're reading. I love how the literature for boys is divided into categories like "aliens" and "at least one explosion" and the like. I hope you enjoy it.

7 comments:

  1. We are struggling with reading at our home with my little boy too. I made the decisions this year to get an extra set of handouts to go with the first grade curriculum I purchased for his sister rather than getting him a separate kindergarten curriculum. I was underimpressed with the kindergarten curriculum I had the year before and it had been reviewed as one of the best by homeschool moms. When we are doing classwork, he is fine. We review and mark phonograms, he thinks through and sounds out words and is able to read INDIVIDUAL words.

    Sitting and looking at a page of text and following along as the words stretch left to right across the page is just not happening yet. Even Bob Books, "Mat sat," stretches his attention span beyond its capability.

    But, I know that he knows how to do it. So, I am (for now) waiting for his maturity to catch up.

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  2. Both the boy and the girl were reading fluently before entering kindergarten. The boy read very well by age 4 for me at home, while the girly was beginning to read the evil 'Dick and Jane' by 3-3 1/2. By kindergarten she could read at a 2nd grade level. They didn't do anything with her either, thinking she would be a good 'inspiration' for the other kids. :/

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  3. Your post speaks to one of the multitude of reasons we chose to homeschool. Due to certain subjects that our oldest son excelled at in grade K, the public school wanted to send him up a couple of grades at different parts of the day. But, his fine motor skills and emotional maturity were certainly at about the exact same as every other grade K kid. It simply didn't make sense. He was terrified in the older class but learning nothing but shapes, colors and letters in the grade K class.

    My frustration with the system was that I expected that the teacher could provide width and depth for both struggling excelling kids...in the grade K classroom...for all 25 kids. I wasn't asking for a different curriculum. Just a broader, richer one. But they couldn't...and wouldn't.

    So, I'm glad we have the freedom to homeschool. Nice to be able to see and work with both the strengths and weaknesses we see in our kids.

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  4. With the dyslexia it was harder for my brothers and I to get into reading but once it clicked in our heads we, at least my older brother and I, love to read. The scary/crazy thing is my brother went from reading below level in 3rd grade to being on a 7th grade level in 4th. My little brother hardly reads and hates to even with one-on-one reading with my mom but he hasn't compensated for the dyslexia yet and while his school is doing some it is not doing enough, but my mom would kill him if she tried to homeschool, but he does enjoy listening to books that catch his interest.

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  5. I think that homeschooling your children is smart and probably the requested option if you don't want your child droned into the system so he turns into a robot that agrees with what he hears, only to listen to his peers. The influence of everyone will, of course, cause him trouble in his older years, when he will turn against his parents and be a brat.... that's just a suggested idea of non-homschooled kids.

    I am very good at literature (writing) but poor in math skills. I really strugle at understanding the Algebra i'm in. I am horrible at Geometry, and I don't like to apply myself. Idk, perhaps i am not motivated. Maybe if i was homeschooled at an early age, such as your children, and had to focus, apply myself, and LEARN, i might have turned out better. On the plus, writing is an incredible power.

    I love writing stories, poems, blogs, ect... because of my love for writing. So something turned out ok. But that's about the only thing i'm good at, writing. English class seems pointless to me, you read stories that don't matter, some my parents wounldn't agree with (shhh...) and some that are, well, pointles. I think the public school system DOES have flaws but it isn't big enough to have people do anything about it.

    I think your kids will turn out A LOT better then they would have being in the public school system from the start.

    But in the defense of kids that ARE put in the public school systems, parents probably have to work in the mornings, such as my mom, so they simply can't homeschool. Or perhaps they can't afford to hire someone to homeschool there child. idk, thats one viewpoint.

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  6. Is it possible your resistant reader is dyslexic? That could account for his resistance to some extent.

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  7. Honestly, I don't enjoy reading. I love great books, but reading is still exhausting for me. Having my mom and dad read-aloud to me exposed me to so much great literature. Books on tape--since moving out, getting married and such--have been fantastic for me as well.

    I love great books so much I do still read from time to time--and I enjoy reading great books out loud to Brittany--but the physical activity is not something I enjoy. It's still a strain.

    ~Luke

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)