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How do I overcome this problem?



  • Perhaps because some of us can't remember learning to read and write - it almost happens by magic? Children for whom there is no magic must feel excluded and that only gets worse when they become adults and their options are limited. So much of what we do relies on reading and writing. The ability to do sums is probably second on the list of skills we'd all like.
  • You could be right about it being because we don't remember learning, so it seems like an easily mastered skill. 

    With maths, although we might not remember learning to count we mostly remember learning to add and take away large numbers, and do times tables and it all being relatively hard, so we can more easily understand people struggling.
  • I think it goes hand in hand with  how these abilities are perceived, science and maths are seen as 'clever' subjects, which clever people can do but which others may well not be able to do, and are lauded as the most important at school to get into Uni, and Uni courses in these subjects are often subsidised and given priority and a glowing reputation as something one should do, whereas arts courses are often dismissed, taken off the curriculum, etc. and English is seen as easy as everyone knows how to speak, on the whole, and most of us can read well, and as WE all know, everyone can write, can't they!  It's ok not to be good at maths, that clever subject, but not good at English? 
  • I am probably biased, as I used to teach both literacy and numeracy. Just as dyslexic people can read (albeit with more difficulty) if the right methods are used, then so can people learn to use maths, which although I agree has a secondary importance to reading is still very important if people want to lead independent lives. I think labelling it as a 'clever' subject is a bit of a cop out so that people feel (as you say) it is ok not to be good at it and therefore they don't need to try as hard.

    Not that I think people should be 'judged' for it, of course not.

  • edited March 2019
    I do remember the struggle to read and write. Even now I can see myself standing next to my class 4 teacher Mrs White struggling to read words in the Janet and John books, and her showing me how I needed to place my tongue to make certain word sounds. I finally mastered the skill age 7-8.

    Likewise as a left-hander, those "write bigger so we can read the words" and later "you need to write smaller and join your letters up".

    Sorry, but it just brings back all the frustrations and pain of my childhood. :(
  • Another bugbear of mine is it's been scientifically proven that cursive writing is natural to very young children and all that printing is much, much harder for them. so why not blooming well start off with it? Train them into one thing then train em out of it again, it's madness. 

    I had similar problems with Mr De Souza, a lovely man, but he had no chance teaching me maths. Had to stay behind after school to be taught by him. Awful. (I went to a private school at this point)
  • Carol, your experience sounds like my bother's. He really struggled to turn the words on a page into sounds others recognised. 
  • My oldest son couldn't either. 

    Not every child can do phonics but schools now insist children learn to read that way. It helps those who were falling behind and replaces them with those who were fine being able to remember that that combination of letters is this word and how to say it.

    Each child needs to learn to read the way that works best for them, not a government prescribed system.
  • Totally agree, Carol. when my kids were young they learned in all different ways. The Gvt have no idea, but they won't take advice form teachers - they think they know better. It's very odd...
  • Children learn to read by employing a variety of tactics, and I think teachers realise this.

    They do need to know the sounds that letters make individually, or combined, in order to word build (and spell), but very often children simply recognise a word shape immediately, without ever having to learn 'the basics'. It's like recognising individuals by their faces.

    I can't remember my own girls ever needing to use phonics. They could just read. I think some of that was to do with the fact that they sat on my lap as babies and followed the words as I pointed and read to them. Sadly, many children miss out on these special times, and I do think that their proficiency in reading is detrimentally affected because of this. They used to turn pages at the right time when they were only four months old, and I know that they picked up language long before they were able to use it. A lot of people think you can just leave babies in front of something pretty, and that's all they need. I think they are fascinating, and we under-estimate how sponge-like they are.

    Being a parent should be an active role. I used every opportunity to teach, counting things, for example, and categorising all of their toys and games as to which skills each would develop. I almost had a timetable of activities pre-school, so that every part of their intellectual development, including creativity, would flourish. I even planned the vocabulary I used so that they would hear synonyms! I think it paid off as they have both done extraordinarily well academically, but are also rounded individuals and fun to be with.

    Yes, genes play a part, but outside influence also has a massive role.
  • Quite. which is why going back to work is a massive mistake because babies do not get this sort of full-time one to one experience and help when in a nursery. So much is learned form parents about behaviour and love and empathy and life etc. as well as word sounds in those first five years. I think a parent should be there for them. Or a grandparent, or at the very least, a fully trained one to one person. But sadly, this isn't possible for many people. It should be. It should be the norm.
  • And if that one person could leave their phone switched off for most of the time they are supposed to be interacting with the child, that would probably help.

  • If anyone wants to brush up on their maths, there are courses galore called 'Functional Skills Maths',   These courses are free to anyone without Maths GCSE.  and 'Functional Skills English'.
  • I've found the discussion on this thread fascinating. My mother encouraged me to enjoy books from a very young age and perhaps that's why I picked up reading and writing with relative ease. She also had a formidable vocabulary and without knowing it, I absorbed so much from her. I remember one of my primary school teachers remarking on my vocabulary skills. Funnily enough, one of my friends - who went to the same school so had the same education - still teases me about using 'big' words, so this is something that has stayed with me all my life.
    I've always been weak with numbers, but I can do arithmetic provided I don't get into a situation where I have to suddenly calculate something in the public arena. I get very flustered when that happens, and my mind goes completely blank.
  • Same with me, Claudia. I actually became very good at maths at school and was getting 100% on past papers before my O level, but I completely lacked confidence. I go to pieces if I have to work something out in front of someone, but I always do well on the number part of Countdown! 

    I wasn't brought up with a wide vocabulary. My mother, through adoption, was completely devoted to me and hugely encouraged me to persevere with schoolwork, but she had had very little education and nature hadn't been bountiful with its gifts either. At university, I struggled to catch up with the range of vocabulary that other students had come equipped with.
  • Within the English department at work, there's a lot of teachers - myself included - that will readily declare that they are rubbish at maths.  I think one of the reasons why I liked English so much at school was because there was no right or wrong answer.  As long as I explained my reasonings about my ideas, I could get a decent grade.  Obviously, writing and reading was a big part of my childhood.  I think the latter was to do with my mother reading to me when I was younger.  And because I loved reading I wanted to create my own stories from a very early age.  I hated maths and science simply because there is a correct answer and I hate being wrong. I was quite scared of both subjects at school.   
  • Yes, this us true actually - parents rarely did maths with you, maybe they did if they were that way inclined? Not mine though! but they did read. I can vividly remember a Janet and John book, when I first started, and being confounded by the word 'news' and dad telling me it was hard to sound out. We had loads of books a cupboard full. And yes, always being told about my vocabulary as were my son and daughter. 
  • We had a box of counting blocks. I remember my dad used to take a block and turn  it into a sixpence by magic. I worked out that if you did that with all the blocks you could buy more than one box of blocks and if you kept doing it you would always have money. I was about 5 I think. Old enough to work it out, young enough to still believe in magic!!!
  • Wow. I NEVER thought anything like that. Not once. however did guess the meaning of words through mum telling me what was a Latin stem and the words that had grown from it which has served me well though my life... she was an ace crossword solver. 
  • I've run a retail business before.  I've skim-read the previous posts and one thing stands out:  Did somebody mention Victoria sponge cake?   
  • What I didn't see was whether you got clarity on what was meant by "working on 50%".
    If that meant a 50% mark-up then if the cost price was £5 then she'd be selling at £7.50, but if you said the RRP was £5, then the cost price would be £3.33 for the same % mark-up.
  • *has no idea what Cc is talking about*
  • It's how the post started, Liz, but I have quite forgotten what it was all about. 
  • So, there's no sponge cake?  :'(
  • Liz said:
    *has no idea what Cc is talking about*
    This frequently happens to me in the outside world too.
  • So, there's no sponge cake?  :'(
    The best I can offer right now are sourdough crumpets.
  • Sourdough crumpets? I didn't know those existed... i love crumpets. Oooh! I think I have some!! *breakfast*

    We have a piece of sponge given to Pete from a rail employee. Pete went to get us both a cup of coffee and the train man selling it was walking the other way. When Pete managed to make him hear he apologised and not only gave him two free coffees but a pile of cake. Pete was mystified. He didn't think the employee had done anything wrong at all. He tried to pay but to no avail. *unexplained mysteries*
  • Tiny Nell said:

    All I can really do is spell, write a bit and make a nice Victoria sandwich.
    So, there's no sponge cake?  :'(

    I'm afraid you'll have to conclude that Tiny Nell was only telling you about her skills in the sponge cake department, CC. :)
  • I cannot argue with that.  However, should TN decide to demonstrate her skills and make a victoria sponge, let it be known that I work on 50%.
  • I have just purchased from M & S a Victoria sandwich with fresh cream. I shall haphazardly strew raspberries and strawberries around it upon serving. I suspect that your 50% will be absorbed in the 33 and a third percent which each of us in the house will scoff after our evening meal.

    (It's my husband's birthday, but I couldn't be bothered to make a cake.)
  • Tiny Nell said:
    ... I couldn't be bothered to make a cake.
    Well, you think you know someone and then...
  • There must be a back story.
  • Oh dear, hope all is well in the Nell household. :(
  • I was just a busy bee. 
  • For what its worth, I reckon you made the right decision.
     Two things others in a situation like that may wish to consider......bookshops will almost always want the ability to return unsold stock. Bookshop owners often don't even want to hear that you are using Amazon...they see them as their commercial enemy!
    Good luck.

    David Goff (We Are Not The Bad Guys)
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