Mom-to-Mom Support/My 7-year-old is struggling with deciphering

My 7-year-old is struggling with deciphering


My younger child is six and doing second grade level reading. He loves it, and does an excellent job. My seven-year-old son is reading okay, but struggles with deciphering. He therefore doesn’t want to attempt reading—even directions, because his confidence level is low. (I insist that he reads the instructions to me out loud, and I will help him if he needs it.) My feeling is that I need to back up and start again with him, but would I need to start at perhaps the halfway mark of a first grade reading program, back at the start of a second grade program, or add an intervention program to his current reading? I have read many times that even if a student can do his current level, but it is perhaps too challenging, then they should use a lower level to build confidence. What do you think? And is there a discreet way of handling the situation so that the older child doesn’t feel bad because the younger one is ahead?

Dear Parent,

Thank you for your question!

Reading is such an important subject that if your son is struggling at his current level, then it is definitely time to stop and not go any further in the program. Reading is built like a house with a foundation, one part on top of the next; so if some part of the reading foundation is missing, the problem will not fix itself and will only create more problems in the future as the words become complicated.

My suggestion is that you stop at his current reading level and work over the stories he has already covered. I would actually start at the beginning with Little Stories for Little Folks with him. To be sensitive towards his feelings, you could stress to him that you and he are going to do some review, and for fun, go back over some stories that you know he can already read. This will help him gain confidence as a reader, as they should be easy for him.

This will also provide you the opportunity to find out what he is missing in the reading process. Is he having difficulty with deciphering because he is not familiar with the sound blends? Does he need more practice with his sounds? For example, is he sight reading, or does he know when a vowel sound is short and when it is long? Does he need more practice with putting the words together? Does he need assistance with reading comprehension? Once you find exactly why he is struggling, you can apply specific help and practice outside of the reading program.

If he is having difficulty with putting the letters together to form the word, then you should practice this with him. Use of the word family cards in the Little Stories for Little Folks program should help you. Also, associating pictures with the letters and their sounds should aid in the process. If you follow all the steps as outlined in the Parent’s Guide, I think that you will find this helpful.

It is important that you create a relaxed environment for him, with little pressure. He needs to know that he and his brother go at different paces, and that they have different gifts. It would be good to point out the gifts that God has given him. You can talk about how important it is not to compare himself to his brother, but that he can challenge himself to do better. He should see that some subjects come easily for him, but other subjects he will have to work a little harder at. However, once he has accomplished a task, he should be proud of his accomplishments, and the fact that he worked so hard to achieve them.

To help build his confidence and provide more practice, you could perhaps check out books from the library that are at his reading level. You can use these library books to practice sound blends, etc. If you also incorporate library books, he won’t be as conscious of his reading level.

God bless you and your family!

Laura Corrigan

About Laura Corrigan

Laura Corrigan is a mother of five. She was homeschooled through high school and received her teaching certificate from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. She has also homeschooled her own children.