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When an Older Child Struggles with Reading

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When an older child

 

falls behind in reading,

 

he inevitably falls behind

 

in every other subject area. 

 

When an older child struggles in reading and if he has been tested and no neurological disorder has been found, then it’s time to consider that this older child is lacking in phonics skills.  In the nation’s capitol, for example, the percentage of older students past 3rd grade who cannot read at grade-level is between 60 and 70 percent.

 

Fortunately, when poor readers at any age exhibit weaknesses in phonological processing, word recognition speed and reading accuracy, the problem can be remedied with systematic phonics instruction.  However, that instruction is only effective if the student is taught to sound out words starting with the smallest segment of sound, individual letter sounds, and then lead into lessons involving two and three-letter blends, digraphs, long and short vowel rules, word endings and then a systematic progression of all the phonograms. 

 

When older children do not start again at the very beginning of phonics instruction, they later suffer with poor spelling, slow reading fluency, deficient vocabulary development and ultimately, low reading comprehension.  You will seldom find these struggling students succeeding in a college classroom, and that’s such a crime because the whole struggle could have been stopped; the whole problem could have been fixed. 

 

If an older student does not go back to the very beginning of phonics lessons, he will never break his habit of reading whole words by sight; he will never learn to approach a word by looking for and blending together its individual letter sounds and blends; he will never learn to sound out every word on every page. 

 

I’ve had parents ask me, “Does my older son or daughter really have to start at the very beginning of phonics lessons in order to learn to read phonetically? 

 

I always answer them with, “Yes! Absolutely! You want your child to learn how to sound out every word on every page.”  

You see, the ability to hear and isolate individual sounds in words (phonemic awareness) is a major skill that most older students who struggle in reading have not mastered. Rather, they have memorized whole words without knowing the individual letter sounds and blends that make up those words.  Moreover, they have not learned a proper left/right reading sequence, for the sounds within words should always be blended together from left to right.  Oh, there are many, many older students who may have caught a sound or a blend here and there, but that’s just the point.  It’s a hit and miss situation, and they deserve to have the same amount of phonetic instruction, from beginning to end, as that of a younger student learning to read for the first time using a step-by-step, systematic phonics curriculum.   

 

However, remember, these older students will be going through the simple lessons at the beginning of a phonics curriculum at a much faster speed than a younger child.  The important thing is that they need to begin at the beginning of a systematic phonics program to make certain that they have grasped every phonemic skill that they will need to read textbooks at higher reading levels.  Remember, eventually, they will need to absorb college level texts, and so they will need to know every sound and every blend in every word in order to never again struggle in reading.     

 

Frequently, a mom or a dad feels that they can skip the beginning blending and reading lessons of the phonics curriculum because their older son or daughter already knows many of the three and four letter words used in the lessons.  Again, naming the words and being able to isolate the individual sounds inside the words are two completely different matters. Isolating and blending sounds will make all the difference later on, so this is a foundation that all students need. 

 

Also, parents many times feel that the beginning blends and sentences are too childish etc. and as a result, they never really get started at all because they aren’t certain where to begin.  Sadly, they feel that it’s a waste of time to start their older student at the beginning of a phonics curriculum claiming that it will take too long for them to learn what they need to learn.  It’s at this point that I often share the following story:

 

A 40-year-old woman with no college degree worked in the lunch room for minimum wage at her local school. She began to consider going to college to get a degree in social services, for she daily observed many at-risk children she felt she could help if she only had the appropriate degree and the correct training. 

 

One day, while she was talking to her close friend in the lunch room about her plan to go to college, she explained her hesitation, “It’s going to take me four years before I graduate; I’ll have to start at the very beginning of college, and I will be going to school with a great many students younger than me.  Not only that, but I’ll be 44 years old by the time I graduate with only eighteen years left until I can draw social security.” 

 

Her wise friend asked, “And if you don’t go to school, in four years, how old will you be, and what will you be doing?”

 

The woman replied, “I guess I will still be working here in the lunch room and still seeing many at-risk students that I would like to help.  Hmmmm!  I guess I’d better enroll in college right away. I guess I need to get started.”

 

The moral of this story is this: No matter how late you start and no matter how far back you have to go to begin, the sooner you get started, the sooner you will finish. However, if you don’t start back at the beginning, you’ll never learn everything you need to know in order to do everything you want to do.

 

Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, teaching an older child to read is not difficult.  Your time in teaching must, however, be carried out on a daily basis following a correct systematic phonics program.  Your child can learn to sound out every word on every page, but it is vital that you begin your student at the beginning, and allow him the time to go through every necessary phonics lesson.

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The Candy 4WAY Phonics Curriculum includes step-by-step phonics lessons, multi-sensory helps, flashcards, phonics readers, and lifetime rhyming phonics charts.  It will carry any student from the very beginning phonics lessons all the way through a 4th grade reading level and higher.

Upon completion of all the lessons and readers, your student will have learned every sound and every blend necessary to sound out every word on every page. After that, his reading practice and trips to the library will truly pay off.

 

Sincerely, 

Carol Kay, President

Candy 4WAY Phonics

www.candy4wayphonics.com

 

 

P.S. Please, don’t forget to Click here and read little Candy’s TRUE STORY – a little girl who struggled in reading.   

P.P.S. “Reading activates and exercises the mind.  Reading forces the mind to discriminate. From the beginning, readers have to recognize letters printed on the page, make them  into words, the words into sentences, and the sentences into concepts.  Reading pushes us to use our imagination and makes us more creatively inclined. . . The doors of the world are opened to people who can read.” (Dr. Ben Carson)