Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Now Zoning Out During Read Alouds

I shared previously that my younger son now gets carsick when reading in the car to himself.

I shared that he says he can't remember what he reads when he reads silently to himself.

I do not always have access to audiobooks. Since these hard books are being assigned by a 200 student homeschool co-op the library copies are hard or impossible to obtain.

Last week we had a trip to Austin for a regatta planned so I knew we would have at least six hours of car driving. I arranged the homeschool lessons so that I could do read alouds in the car. I started reading the book at chapter one. My husband was glad he could listen from the start. I loved the book and really enjoyed reading Freckles by Gene Stratton-Porter. We were stuck in horrible traffic so the 2.5 hour trip took almost 5 hours.

At the end of chapter four I discovered that my son had zoned out and the last thing he could remember was what happened on page two. I had read for hours and hours. I was so angry I could spit. My husband was nearly having a heart attack since he now clearly could see the angst and resistance I have been up against with both of our sons this fall.

I decided he has to read the books to himself at least for now.

A friend told me I should stop every page or so and discuss what happened to make sure he is paying attention. I hate interrupting the story like that and I resent that my son is not complying with the simple request to listen during a read aloud. I am annoyed that he begged me to help him by reading aloud to him, since he claims to not remember when he reads it to himself and since he gets carsick, then he did not listen.

This has been a rotten fall, the worst ever time our family has had with homeschooling. Just when I think things are bad, it gets even worse. I am so close to giving up on the whole thing.


dstb said...

This is a tough one. My suggestion would be for him to be responsible for the reading and let the chips fall where they may. Not sure if this will really work though. If he were in school, it would be reflected in his grade, but what will happen to him if he doesn't do his reading (other than frustrating you)?

This is a somewhat related story from a couple of years ago. My son was probably 10 yo. Each week, he was supposed to type up the stuff he had written in his writing class and then type up another story at home. He really hadn't done a lot of typing before and it took him forever. Mom (me) stepped in, and would type stuff up for him. I mean, he had already written his ideas down, I was just getting them typed. Well, his teacher told him HE needed to do the typing. I knew the teacher was right, and so I backed off. I knew I was coddling him. It was absolute torture watching him poke away at the keys, but you know what? Now he types pretty well (Not correctly, but then I never learned that either).

So, I say let your son be responsible for his own reading and let it be his problem if he falls behind. Personally, I would say no screen time - tv, videos, gaming, etc if the reading isn't done. If you have time for videos, then you have time for reading.

If he is not remembering what he reads or is reading too slowly, then the only thing that is going to help is more practice!

Good luck with this!

Ahermitt said...

I'm so sorry that happened. He needs to be required a summary if you are going to read aloud. He has to meet you half way.

Karen said...

When I read to my twelve year old he plays with his figures or cards or other things. I frequently stop and ask him the meaning of a word, a paragraph, metaphors, etc. It's partially to make sure he is listening (he is) and partially to make sure unfamiliar words aren't slipping past him.
"Should" you read to him or force him to read?
I am going to be totally in the minority here, but I don't agree with forced reading.
Listen, I'm a HUGE reader. HUGE!
I want my children to be readers too...but they aren't.
Reading does nothing for my son except cause consternation, frustration, and bad feelings about himself.
On the other hand, he gets so much out of listening. He enjoys online lectures, documentaries, and conversations.
SO, does his poor attention to personal reading make him less of a learner?
NO, it makes him a different learner...

STILL, I would be pissed about reading that book while he napped...LOL. Just check in more often. ;-) *wink*

dstb said...

Compared to these other moms, I know I seem really mean. I guess what I was reacting to, or what I thought, was that you felt he could do the work and just wasn't. Maybe that is not true. Only you can say for sure.

As I mentioned in the post about car sickness, I am totally for listening to books on CD. We even do it at home and my sons would quietly play with their Lego's or draw. They really listen and even do a better job than I do of remembering what has happened.

It seems like you tried to give your son that option (reading to him in the car) and he did not even meet you half way.

I guess I still think the only way he is going to be able to read faster and with better retention is by practicing. The impression I got was that you were doing everything in your power to help him and he was not making any effort at all. If there is a learning problem, that is one thing, but if it is just laziness on his part (and that was the sense I was getting, maybe I am wrong) then that is something else.

Maybe you could try another book where he listens, but like Karen suggested, you stop more frequently to check on what he has heard/retained.

Good luck!

luv2ski said...

All through our homeschooling experience, I have tried to match up my kids' teachable moments to the occasions when I'm desiring to teach. It's a huge challenge, but ultimately it's a time saver, because they only learn easily when their minds are available for learning. Since I am an avid reader, researcher, and lifelong learner, I am frequently frustrated by my kids' seeming unavailablity for learning. On the flip side, when they are ready, they learn extremely easily and retain the information. So, my question for them is often, "do you want to learn this now?" Or "do you want the long explanation or the short one?" It's hard for me, the perennial teacher who gives too much information ALL the time, to hold myself back. But I've learned not to take it personally. It's about their learning, not my teaching.

So here's my question. Did your son explain what was preventing him from listening to your reading that day? What was preoccupying his brain? Was it a beautiful day and he wanted to gaze out the window and day dream? Was he thinking about a personal issue that he didn't want to share with you? Was he reluctant to admit to you that he couldn't be available for learning that day?

And here's one possibility: my husband gets very carsick if he tries to read, but he also feels carsick if he is in the back seat, and he MUST look out the window, or close his eyes and zone out in the car as a passenger or he will get nauseous. I can rarely even have conversations with him when I am driving because he can barely focus on anything but his discomfort. Could this be a factor for your son? I'm all for getting to the root of a problem!

You said that you and your husband enjoyed what you were reading. Talk about that. Maybe it will peak your son's interest, or start a discussion.

Your kids are going to be fine under your loving guidance. Hang in there, and don't burn yourself out.

ChristineMM said...

I think my son is being lazy. He does this no matter if it is morning, noon, or night, or a weekend or a happy day or a stresful day or in the car or at home or just ate, snacking, or hungry.

He is just zoning out. Period.

ChristineMM said...

...or because he does not give a crap as these are assignments from an external party (not even me).

luv2ski said...

What does he say when you tell him that you are curious about his seeming lack of interest and energy for this or any task?

Jessica said...

What if you let him fail and experience his own natural consequence, even if it means he repeats a year?

I signed my 12 year old up for an AP history class that was in reality way over her head. I offered to partner with her for the reading. She resisted. I let her go to class completely unprepared. She was called on. She did not know the answer. She felt horrible. Now she reads with me.

This is hard. Hope you find your solution soon.

ChristineMM said...

When I ask about his apathy he says, "This is too much work. I don't want to learn this. The reading is too hard. This other reading is boring. These worksheets are stupid. 40 hours of homework is too much. I miss the way we used to homeschool. They tell us to be ready to talk about it in class and I go ready and they never discuss that topic. Why are we learning this? History does not matter. The past is in the past. That classic book is too drawn out, there is not enough action."

"I want to sleep until at least 10am. I want to play video games all day and chat on the chat boards about the games. I want to go to sport practice. I want to see friends not do homework at night or on weekends."

"The school kids say school is easy and they don't have homework like this. Why is there so much homework? I don't think school kids have to do this kind of work because everyone says it is so easy and this is hard."

"Who is the government to tell me what I have to learn? I want to go to work right now. Why can't a 12 year old get a good job and work for pay?"

The mantra all day is:

"This is stupid."


"I am tired."


"Reading gives me a headache."

(I am setting up an eye doctor appointment today.)