Q. When my child reads aloud to me, he
just stutters along in a monotone. He doesn't have any inflection or emotion in
his voice. He makes mistakes and starts over a lot, skips words and gets
frustrated real fast. He's 7 and we're getting worried.
you describe is "decoding distress." The child's brain isn't making the
necessary, lightning-quick connections that should allow him to read fluently
and accurately by this age.
having difficulty running the alphabet letters in the text he sees through his
mental filter that should automatically match those symbols to the sounds the
letters make and allow him to recognize and pronounce words.
he's not decoding. It's not his fault. It's the school's. This is what happens
when kids aren't taught to read with proper phonics.
sure sign of decoding distress other than the halting pronunciation, frequent
mispronunciation, and frustration you describe is poor reading comprehension.
It's rampant in schools today. Children taught to read with the phonograms -
the written symbols for the sounds the alphabet letters make - read fluently
and musically, with few or no mistakes. Children taught to read by sight,
without focusing reading instruction on the powerful advantage of phonics, will
stutter, leave words out, stop, fail to decode, and then feel bad about
themselves and not want to try again and perhaps be embarrassed in front of the
class. It's a vicious circle.
your son can understand the meaning of spoken language — if his "listening
comprehension" is good - but he cannot understand the meaning of written
language equally well, the problem isn't with him. His school is most likely
using the Whole Language philosophy of teaching reading, which is to let the
kids guess and skip, not decode.
the accuracy and fluency that comes with careful phonics instruction, the
reading comprehension of the average Whole Language student falls dramatically
behind a phonics reader.
can prevent decoding problems to a large degree by reading aloud daily with and
to their children in the preschool and early primary years. Always read with
the text in plain sight and work with your child to make those symbol-sound
a school-age child in the distress you describe, the solution is to run, don't
walk, to an outside tutor who uses an effective method such as Spalding
Phonics, or learn it and teach it yourself.
You may be better off finding a tutor through networking with other parents
than by going through the schools; often a change in strategy has to come from
the outside, and public-school educators often are unaware of the difference
between phonics-only reading instruction, and the "eclectic" mixture they use
that is ineffective because it relegates phonics to just one of several cues
for decoding, and confuses and frustrates the children to the point of