How Should You Learn Math What Courses To Take First Why Your First Grader Can’t Read: He Might Be Smarter Than You Think

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Why Your First Grader Can’t Read: He Might Be Smarter Than You Think

When it comes to reading, first grade is a critical year in a child’s academic development. It is during first grade that most teachers define their students as emerging readers, first fluent readers, or struggling readers. Unfortunately, it is also in first grade that common instructional practices are arguably most inconsistent with how bright, analytical children learn. Much research has been done on visual learners, auditory learners, and kinesthetic learners, but there are two other types of learners we don’t hear about as much. They are: the memorizers and the analytical ones.

Memorizers must know how. In other words, show them how to do something so they memorize it, store it for future reference, and repeat it to you on demand. Memors tend to do well with reading and social studies. Memorizers can remember the spelling of a word or fact without having to have logical explanations as to why. However, analysts need to know the “why” in addition to how something is done. Analyticals are logical thinkers and if something doesn’t make logical sense, their brain will reject it. Analytics are critical thinkers to the highest degree. They tend to excel in math, technology and science. The problem comes with analytical learners when you try to teach them a subject without the “why”.

This is where things can go downhill for analytical learners and they run the risk of being labeled or mislabeled as having a learning disorder when they may not have a learning “disorder” but a learning “difference.”

Case in point: in order to read, even if it is emergent, children must know how to combine isolated sounds with words. In order to write, children must know how to break words down into their component sounds. Here’s where the problem comes in: Because many first-grade teachers focus primarily on phonetic awareness, for words that don’t sound like they’re spelled like (off) (of) (on) (that) the analytical student does not understand why the English language is not always written as it sounds phonetically. As a result, he may lag behind his peers when it comes to reading. This was a problem for my son who had to repeat first grade because he was not reading at grade level despite the extra services his school offered him.

I made the decision to homeschool him and developed my own curriculum based on state standards to bring him up to speed. I always knew my son was a kinesthetic learner, but I didn’t realize until recently that he was an analytical learner. He is a critical thinker and will ask a million questions and problem solve until he figures out a concept. With this new information, I began teaching my son spelling rules in addition to phonics and sight word memory. We worked on all the constant combinations (sh) (th) (wh) (ch) I taught him the vowel combinations that (ea) like read, bead and teach makes the long e sound, but (ea) also makes the e short sound like none, dead, read (past tense). I explained the (how) of spelling in very basic terms. Part of our home language program involves him reading 4 books independently (two starter books that he has to read independently, followed by two books that are slightly above his level. Instead of reading – him out loud, he has to read it out loud to me and say it to me). the main idea, the main characters in the book and at least 2 character traits for each character and how the book relates to something in real life. Then I write three vocabulary words from the book read aloud, which he must use in a sentence that not only matches the words evenly, but also makes logical sense. This is just a small part of our first grade home language arts program.

It amazes me to see my son beam with pride as he begins to succeed with reading. He went from hating reading to reading a minimum of four books a day. Since my son is not a “because I said so” kid, he needs to know the “why” (broken down logic) in addition to how something is done. That’s why math and science come naturally to him. These subjects follow a logical order, a sequential pattern, being the result of something else. It must be taught in a way that speaks to its analytical nature, its rational reasoning. It’s also worth noting that many autistic and dyslexic children are virtual math geniuses.

If you have a child who is a struggling reader, meet with your child’s teacher frequently to find out what instructional methods they are using to teach your child and how they are working. Take the time to discover your child’s dominant learning style. Are you a memorizer or an analytical learner? You need to know this. Knowing this will make all the difference in your child’s academic success. Who knows. Your struggling reader may be a lot smarter than you think.

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