Coaching the Reluctant Student

Unknown-3Secondo is our reluctant student and natural contrarian. GranolaGirl has often joked when Secondo was a toddler that he was really a cantankerous 80-year-old Frenchman in a 2-year-old body, and he was not-at-all pleased with the situation.

Part of the difficulties stem from multiple double-ear infections starting at about 11 months of age. The result was that Secondo did not start speaking until he was nearly four years old, and when he did it was generally unintelligible. While his hearing would test just fine, it was clear that there were some kind of auditory processing issues.

After months of speech therapy we all began to understand each other better. Still, getting started academically was much delayed. It wasn’t until Secondo was about 7-½ that he started to show an interest in books.

At first the books were simple ones like Bob Books, some Seuss, and even a reprint of the McGuffey Readers. So as we started this academic year at least a year behind grade level (he should be in 3rd grade) we had some concerns as to how serious this lapse would be.

Fortunately, we took our own advice… relax! Eventually the distinctions in grade level disappear. So as he has been plowing through the math assignments he has also taken to reading more complicated works; this time it is his first real chapter book: Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark.

As with Primo, we sat down over lunch to have him describe what he read. Much to our delight Secondo was able to convey the story in precise detail, some of which is in his Book Review here.

This book report by Secondo is a scan of the report form. This is actually the most writing Secondo has done this year, and especially significant is that the summary (on the second page) is in his own words (at least as much would fit on the page). Considering that we started the year with his reading and writing skills somewhere in the 1st grade level, this is a huge improvement. We let him write relatively independently, answering his spelling questions when he had them, but mostly we just left it “as-is”.


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