I was asked for help with a little boy who is learning to read, but has suddenly started resisting anything to do with it. She asked if she should continue to press him, or play hardball and make him do the work she wants him too. She is part of a homebased charter school and so has to submit reports of the work they do and so has that added pressure. They have recently moved and had all of the holidays etc.
My response to her is below;
"I have been there before. With Kamron I forced the issue and made him read and brought him to tears many times. It took several years before he started to enjoy reading again (he's ten and just informed me the other day that he likes reading almost as much as piano-which is saying something, but this took a long time of me backing off). So, no I wouldn't push him to read if he is just refusing. I would instead focus my energies somewhere else that is still educational. For instance, a good bug unit study, like the one at www.handsofachild.com, which is an approved vendor, or a creation of a family tree with a timeline of lifespans to help him to begin to put history in perspective may be good. If I were you I would go with a project that is tangible, but unrelated to reading, that way you will have something to show the ES, and he will feel like he accomplished something challenging, had fun and learned at the same time. I am not sure what you are using for reading, but you may want to adjust that. I really like the Leapfrog ABC video as two of my younger sons learned all of their basic sounds from it and I didn't even need to be involved. You may want to step back to just play verbal games for awhile, rhyming, same beginning sounds, even writing out the alphabet and play a game where you each have to think of an animal or a food that starts with each letter, this will also help him learn his sounds.
The only time I would play hardball was if it is very obvious that he is just disobeying, he's not tired, hungry or stressed he is just refusing to do something that he is fully capable of and you feel is necessary to his proper growth."
I have found so much of our studies to be this way. It is a matter of knowing our children well enough to know when to press and when to back off. This year I pressed my son hard in writing. I taught him how to write a basic five paragraph essay and then required about three per week until he really got it. This was really hard for him, but I felt it was important for him so that he could begin researching and reporting on almost anything in a format other than the basic narration-which he had mastered. He really go these essays and then I backed off writing to concentrate on other areas of study. We have done the same thing in many other areas. For instance, my daughter got to the point when she was done with math, so we took off two months and then picked it back up a step below where she had been before, she then quickly grasped her lessons and moved forward. So much our studies are this way, press in a subject, release that subject, press somewhere else, release and eventually come back to that subject when they are ready. A key to keeping the love of learning alive is to keep the challenge appropriate and not press to the point of breaking. I hope all of that makes sense.