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very reluctant readers!

CEM 11 Plus is the selective entrance exam administered by the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring, Department of Education, University of Durham.

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very reluctant readers!

Post by Annie42 »

Hi there. We are doing CEM September 2023 and so starting to prepare now. I see so much advice about doing lots of reading but try as I might my DS just doesn't enjoy it! He does read about 10 minutes each evening for school but just rattles through it as fast as possible and constantly keeps asking can he finish! He's not a bad reader by any means but I feel this is the one area we really need to focus on to prep for the comprehension and vocab and I was wondering if anybody had any tips / alternative suggestions to help as an alternative to trying to get him to read more which I feel isn't going to happen!

He does enjoy me reading to him if we can find a book he enjoys which can be easier said than done! He is for example really enjoying me reading Goodnight Mr Tom and I've never known him ask so many questions or be so engaged with a book before! Is me doing the reading however as effective as him reading himself? I feel not but probably better than nothing!
We also have vocabulary flash cards which we try to talk through a few every few days and actually his vocab isn't too bad considering he doesn't like reading!
Any other suggestions to help prep for comprehension / vocabulary for an extremely reluctant reader would be very much appreciated.

Thankfully the Maths and NVR seem pretty strong, he'll happily do those!
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Re: very reluctant readers!

Post by Tinkers »

Does he seem happy reading non fiction about subjects he is really interested in?

The vocab in those is likely to be as least as challenging as fiction, but the difference is he might actually want to read them.

If DCs are reading for pleasure and encouraged to read what they want for pleasure, the more they will read. Also don’t forget, magazines, newspapers etc, even stuff online, it’s all still reading. Any reading is good reading. Don’t get too hung up on them needing to read certain books. I strongly believe that making children read books that they aren’t interested in, purely because they are deemed to be the ‘right’ sort of books, is an excellent way to turn children off reading.

If reading stuff him works for you both, and you both enjoy it, then carry on. Whether it’s effective or not doesn’t matter. (Although it probably is). Our children don’t stay children for very long and you’ll both have great memories of doing this later.
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Re: very reluctant readers!

Post by hermanmunster »

another vote for non-fiction if he doesn't like fiction, TBH there was very little fiction in our household as no-one seemed to like it but hasn't stopped the offspring acquiring half a dozen humanities degrees between them.

non-fiction can be great as not only is there the vocab but they become experts in something they like - for me it was Apollo landings and the whole space race
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Re: very reluctant readers!

Post by OverEagerDad »

Maybe get an audible version and the book at the same time and have him read along?
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Re: very reluctant readers!

Post by Annie42 »

Tinkers, Hermanmunster, overeagerdad, thank you very much for your replies, it is so much appreciated.

I have to admit I never thought of non fiction for 11+ since I figured it wouldn't have all the descriptive type words you see so much of in the classics but when I think about it, of course something like the space race / moon landings is going to be full of it!! I will definitely get looking into non fiction as I think he would prefer that and will give audio a try too!

And tinkers, thank you I think you are so right about the value of reading together in so many more ways than just the 11 plus x
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Re: very reluctant readers!

Post by ontarget »

It might be better to get lots of test papers and read different ones regularly. They only take 10 or 15 minutes to read and you can then discuss the questions that go along with the papers with him rather than him having to write them out on paper on his own. The subject matter may be boring sometimes, but they don't take long to read and they will cover lots of relevant vocabulary.
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Re: very reluctant readers!

Post by PettswoodFiona »

Do not despair. I have met lots of voracious readers but some of them (not all) I have found can 'read' but don't always understand. Sometimes understanding by reading a small amount is more valuable than gabbling through lots of texts. DD was (and still is!) a voracious reader but she went through a phase just before 11+ of not getting the empathy of what was going on, she couldn't answer the 'why was x scared' (the story mentioned a dark street with sudden noises) type of queries. I wouldn't have discovered this if she hadn't been working towards the 11+ so whatever the outcome I was glad we went through it as a family. It has certainly helped her social skills. Yep, she did fine in the end as regards the entrance exams but it wasn't without its wobbles.

I found watching the news with DD helped, we talked about it over breakfast, empathy is something you can foster, but I appreciate the news isn't always easy to watch! Now fast forward a number of years and she is about to go into upper sixth and has been teaching GSCE students and has found those who do not enjoy reading that talking about film version, play or reading a graphic novel have helped. One of her students has blasted through his course with the aid of a Shakespeare Macbeth graphic novel where previously he had been told he has to read the original and had not engaged.

Play games like Boggle.
Ban words periodically such as 'like' and insist on an alternative
Play games on the move such as synonyms: when they use an unimaginative word, ask them to come up with three alternatives. - it may seem contrived but it did mean for us as a family it wasn't about a chunk of time set aside for reading or learning, more life was about learning on the move and wherever you could find it. I then found my daughter reading the back of the food packaging and critising the grammar! - goal achieved!
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Re: very reluctant readers!

Post by lizmcp »

I started my DD off with difficult comprehension passages (Bond and S&S year 5 and 6 stuff) on her own and we nearly lost our minds. Some of those books are needlessly difficult, and she ended up in tears and very frustrated. The mere mention of the word comprehension made her shudder.

So, we then adopted a completely new approach. We started off with much less demanding stuff. CGP comprehensions are much easier to digest, and are printed in a less daunting way. Anyway, I got the books all the way back to year 3. This helped bring back confidence because obviously they were easy for her (this was when she was in year 5). What we'd do is read them together but silently, and if there was ANYTHING she didn't completely understand, she'd ask. We quickly worked our way through the easier books and then through year 5 challenge, and onto year 6 stuff. We were able to adopt certain strategies (e.g. the answer might not be in the sentence in which the key word is) instead of struggle through over-wordy old-fashioned texts.

I can't vouch enough for reading together, even when they are older.

Long and short of it, she got into our first choice super-selective. Definitely using the same approach with her little sis.
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Re: very reluctant readers!

Post by Annie42 »

Thank you very much everybody for your really helpful replies, so appreciated. I've been talking to DS about what non fiction books he wants to read and he's now eagerly awaiting a few wildlife books arriving, so we'll see how we get on! I'm going to get some comprehension papers too and will read them together and chat through the questions so it doesn't feel so daunting - but hopefully equally as effective! Lots of other really helpful ideas too which I'll be trying!
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