Member Question: My biggest struggle right now is helping my son with his school stuff (he now has PreK homework) working on phonics leading up to reading. So learning words. I was pretty proud of myself for finding a creative way to incorporate it into our night time routine looking for the words in the story we were already going to read (trying to introduce it within so thing I know he enjoys) he only really worked on 3 words on his list but did so willingly. Last night everything was met with “I don’t know” to. Every. Word. Every. Letter. Ugh. I chalked it up to being too tired for it or maybe he had a harder day at school. Idk for sure but it left me frustrated and discouraged myself. His teacher (has another new one but I do like her) seems to see my kid as a manipulator. I see it as using the skills he has when he doesn’t have the tools he needs for his emotions or understanding new things to learn. It’s mostly acting sweet to avoid stuff especially me leaving him. Sorry. I’m rambling now but my need to ideas to help him get engaged in learning his words and sounding them out.

Rachel’s Response: I love that you are already starting to think about what caused that behavior. Maybe he was tired or had a hard day. Both of those thing would make it VERY hard for him to do his letters.

And I can almost guarantee that he’ll need engagement with an activity like this. I love the strategy you already came up with of finding words in books that you were already reading!

Another way to create engagement is to incorporate his brain or body into the activity. So here are some suggestions to start:
*Ask him to lift up one leg every time he reads a word. (So one letter he’s lifting up his right leg, then his left, almost like he’s marching.
*Ask him to read 1-3 words with his hands behind his back, then 102 words while he’s giving himself a tight squeeze, and then hands behind his back, and continue to go back and forth
*Ask him to hop 1 time after the first word he reads, then 2 times after the next, then 3 times, etc… till he gets to 10, then ask him to go backwards: Hop 10 times, then 9, then 8, etc.
*Ask him to do name a different super hero (or something else he enjoys talking about / that is easy for him) after every few words
*Ask him to make a different funny face after every few words.
*Eventually, you can ask HIM to come up with ways to use his brain or body.

These will work if he’s not in too much Yuck (ie, if he’s too tired, this won’t work), and they will each stop working after the novelty wears off, so consider focusing on one strategy for a few nights and then moving to the next.