I ponder this need for assistance as a parent first and a teacher second. Fifth grade is such a summit of learning and maturation full of either confident success or a quiet spirit that struggles on a fence trying to balance expectations from self, parents and teachers before entering the middle school year of being at the bottom of the totem pole again. I recall watching my son struggle wwith reading, spelling and writing skills after second grade where he once was a very confident learner who loved still being read to. It is as if all he dreamed of about the language arts experience once became his own responsibility and he needed to step up and prove he loved this world of literature as he always had as a primary learner. However, as a parent, I feel the grading and testing processes pulled him down some and made him feel he was not as competent with language arts as he dreamed he was. He did not see himself as "good at writing as his smart friend," although he was always an A/B student. We often talked about this. Even with encouragement he expected more out of himself and to this day at 29 he still recalls a feeling of "being a terrible speller and reader." I believe so strongly that emotional and mental self-image affects learners, and especially boys more then we realize. As a parent, I saw him as the same eager, curious reader I had always encouraged and helped him purchase every Encyclopedia Brown book possible so that he had his own library of books he loved.
Stress could be a very relevant issue in this young man's life and can be effecting the decline in his potential learning. It is so hard to pinpoint. My recommendations are to continue presenting every experience possible for this leaner to be absorbed with literature. Inundate him with print and present him with other pieces of literature besides the reading series and even the expectations of Accelerated Reading. Present him with reading that has no expectations.....just pure fun. The reality of his life is that he certainly knows and understands where he sizes up with others in his grade level which adds more pressure to his mind. He must feel a reading comfort no matter what level it is on before he can begin to love himself as a reader. He must feel a purpose and inner desire to push forward on his own level seeing and proving to himself he can be successful. Read with him on a fun level taking turns reading sentences so that he hears you read with inflection and inspirations that can carry over to his mind. I often did this with my son and we would just laugh with time slowly building a love and joy for the printed word he was so familiar with.
I love a story with a happy ending and this story has the best. My son is the most absorbant reader ever as an adult. He amazes me! It makes me smile to recall every night reading Go Dog Go and The Three Bears. I will never forget his tears as a seventh grader telling me he could not read the literature in the reader....however he did read it and every basketball book we bought about Michael Jordan. I will always recall the anxiously awaited bookshelf he asked for his junior year of high school and the boxes of John Grisham books he opened for his birthday to fill its shelves. Above all, I will always cherish the books he buys to read and then calls and says, "Mom, I have the best book for you to read!" We now sit and discuss novels we both read. LOL.... He made me read The Hunger Games. That's a far cry from Are You My Mother? :) He loves Mr.Ks Bookstore and introduced me to the good buys! Books inundate his life and as I think of this young man who loves reading, I think of the reader you are struggling with right now. I have seen the whole picture and hope that he too, will find a love of reading beyond expectations. That's the tough part of teaching, we too know the expectations we desire for every child to meet.
Hang in there and give him this real life story. You can be the magic suppport that he needs to release some stress and possibly even some reading depression:)..... I hope all turns out well knowing that you want him to be ready for the more independent world of middle school. Good luck and I look forward to hearing from you.