One of the most challenging things I have noticed with having a boy is that they learnt differently to girls. They do most things differently to little girls. I am amazed with the difference really. Anyway, one of the things I have noticed is how differently they learn to girls and therefore I have had to ask lots of people and do lots and lots of reading in order to understand how to get the boy on the right track. The one that doesn’t involve endless games on the Wii and watching films.
My most recent worry is that he is getting behind with his literacy skills. To my mind one of his main barriers is the teaching of phonics which doesn’t seem to take into account his verbal dyspraxia which means he cant say some of the sounds and letters. Despite my best efforts to explain this I seem to be getting nowhere. In terms of reading, the boy gets sent home with books without words and with the best intention in the world they are boring for him. He ‘reads’ us comic books at home; Tin, Tin, Star Wars and so forth, so a 4 page story about a dog chasing a duck in the park isn’t going to cut it with him. Far too babyish and uninspiring. I’ve mentioned this and still they keep coming home, pointless.
Talking to other mums via Twitter it appears that there is a range of early reading books which are specifically designed for boys: Project X by Oxford Reading Tree. They have proved a turning point for the boy, he will happily sit down with me and work through four stories at a time, sounding out the letters and blending them to make words. Why is it too difficult for them to do this sort of thing at school? I don’t understand why they don’t have these books available. The website also provides some really useful information about boys and literacy including a video with some tips which I found exceptionally useful.
The other turning point, at least at home has been the discovery of interactive books on the computer. The boy has to do The Bug Club as part of his homework and this has proved really enjoyable for him. He can use a touch pad mouse and identify lots of letters on the keyboard, its a turning point for him. I’m currently searching out lots of similar reading programmes for him.
So following on from my discovery that Top Trumps are the way to get boys to learn numbers I now know how to get boys interested in reading and writing. I think I now realise that much of the reading, writing and numeracy which I expected to be taught in school is actually something you need to teach at home. It surprises me as I though that was what they went to school for, but it seems the social aspects are the main thing. Armed with this information I know what to do with my other children and to be honest I think Fifi will be reading before she goes to nursery as she is keen to join in with everything the boy does.
Take this as a word of advice, from my experience if you have a boy then find ways to encourage letter and number recognition before they get to school. I hope its not a case of once behind, always behind but I think we are making progress. I just feel sorry for children whose parents don’t have the time or inclination to assist them. There is something fundamentally wrong.