Help! My Fourth Grader Still Struggles in Reading! – Is There Such a Thing as a Fourth Grade Slump?

Posted on Monday, June 7th, 2010 at 10:44 am



Did you just hear the words, “Your child needs to improve in reading?”  


Did you just receive your older child’s grade card only to find that it reported one low grade after another, and you suspect it’s because your child cannot read? 


Sadly, studies prove that there really is such a thing as a fourth grade slump.  In the fourth grade, students are no longer learning to read; rather, they are now reading to learn.  So as students  begin to encounter more and more words not found on high-frequency word lists, words that they have not memorized and do not have the skills to sound out, their grades in other subjects such as math, science, history, and literature begin to slump. 


Far too often, I’ve heard comments from parents such as the following: 

“I’ve tried everything to help my child desire to read. I have tried different books written about subjects he likes, but he still has no desire to read.


“I’ve read out loud to her, and I’ve tried to sound excited about what I’m reading, but she wants nothing to do with books or reading.


“Nothing works with my fourth grader. She still hates reading. She just dreads reading.


“I’ve tried giving my fourth grader $25 for every improvement he makes in his reading grade.   He doesn’t want the money badly enough, I guess.


“I’ve tried taking my 10-year-old son’s video games away from him to give him more time to read. He despises reading. Nothing is working. He still can’t read.


“My fourth grader struggles to read the words on the page. He rushes through his tests and gets failing test scores. I think it’s because he can’t read all the words; he doesn’t understand what he’s reading.


“My fourth grader reads so slowly that by the time he gets to the end of the paragraph, he can’t remember what he’s read.


“My ten-year-old skips so many words that it’s impossible for her to understand any of what she read.



So why do so many of our children struggle to read when they reach the fourth grade? 


Simply put, if a fourth grader is struggling to read, it’s because he’s never learned how to sound out all the words on the page.


He may have learned a few words from memory, and he may have learned a few “word parts,” but he hasn’t learned all the possible phonograms that make up words, and he hasn’t learned how to blend together those phonograms from left to right in both familiar and unfamiliar words.


He hates reading because he’s tired of constantly running across words he doesn’t know.


A child who has not learned how to blend together from left to right all the possible sounds that makeup words can easily develop both an enormous fear and an intense hatred toward reading.


Following is an example of how easily we can give a child a hatred for reading.  Let’s suppose that you are a child who has not learned all the sounds that make up words and that you have not learned how to sound out from left to right both familiar and unfamiliar words .

This is what you might “see” as you attempt to read through a paragraph: 

Yesterday, Ben fxxlxshly dxxxded to vxxlt a sizxxbxx wall with his skateboard, a wall that his parents had caxtxxxxed him time and time again not to jump. As he xxproxcxxx the wall, he was only slixxtly xwarx of the imxxnent pexxl. His heaxt pumped inside his chest as he found himself adjaxxnt with the wall. As his skateboard axxended upwaxds, all of a sudden, he lost command of the boxxd. After that, all he could recoxxxxt was landing dixectxx on the tip of his upper cranixm as well as feeling a painful pulsatixxx in his neck. And then, nothing!


You see, there would be just too many phonograms and too many vowel blends that you would not know, and you would be forced to guess at the words that you couldn’t read. It’s for sure, the chore of “guessing at words” gets real old, real fast!


Now, let’s suppose that this is what you see in every paragraph you encounter, paragraph after paragraph, page after page, day after day. How much would you desire to read books if this is what you saw when you looked at the words on the page?


Yet, this is exactly how we are training our children in reading. Guided reading asks children to memorize hundreds of whole words without teaching them the individual letter sounds or how to blend those letter sounds and letter combinations together.

Children in America’s classrooms do not know how to distinguish between the vowel sounds.

They do not know how to tell if vowels are short or long.

They do not know the sounds of blended letter combinations such as ea (ea can say three different sounds), ough (ough can say five different sounds) or ear (ear can say three different sounds) and so, we are also imparting to so many of our students a genuine hatred toward books and reading.


However, did you know that children who have gone through a systematic, synthetic phonics curriculum have learned all their letter sounds, vowel sounds, and combination letter blends?  Did you know that these phonics first children sound out words straight through from left to right with no problem.  Did you know that children trained in intensive phonics do not have to guess at words because they know how to sound out words they’ve never seen before?   


In fact, the following is what a systematic phonics student would have seen and been able to read if he had been shown the same paragraph above.


Yesterday, Ben foolishly decided to vault a sizeable wall with his skateboard, a wall that his parents had cautioned him time and time again not to jump. As he approached the wall, he was only slightly aware of the imminent peril. His heart pumped inside his chest as he found himself adjacent with the wall. As his skateboard ascended upwards, all of a sudden, he lost command of the board. After that, all he could recollect was landing directly on the tip of his upper cranium as well as feeling a painful pulsating in his neck. And then, nothing!


Well, you say, “phonics curriculums are fine for those parents who can afford them, but I don’t have $200 to $300 to spend for lessons and charts and readers and flashcards.”


The folks at Candy 4WAY Phonics understand this dilemma, and that’s exactly why we offer a systematic 4WAY Phonics curriculum that includes everything the high-priced phonics curriculums include such as:  daily, fun, systematic phonics lessons, phonics charts, phonics readers, phonics drill, phonics flashcards, and so much more for less than $10

That’s correct!  Don’t let the price fool you!  You really will receive all of the above for just $9.97.

To learn more about: 

affordable multisensory phonics flashcards and wallcards

affordable phonics games

and a COMPLETE and soooooooo affordable phonics curriculum that enables parents to teach their children, age 4 through Grade 4 to sound out words using a systematic, step-by-step, easy-to-understand, fun 4WAY Phonics curriculum, click here (Note – if your child is 10 or 11 years old and cannot read, take him through this program from the very beginning to be sure he has all the reading building blocks necessary to be able to read every word on every page.) 


Carol Kay, President

Candy 4WAY Phonics

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