My 7 year old struggles with reading

Have you thought, “My friend’s child can read chapter books while my 7 year old struggles with reading The Cat in the Hat?” If so, this blog post is for.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received comments or DMs on Instagram like this from parents:

“Can you help me? My 7 year old struggles with reading. She knows sound out letters but struggles with sound out words. The school keeps saying she will catch up. What can I do?”

It’s painful to see your friends’ children reading effortlessly. You see their Instagram stories where their son is snuggled with the fifth Harry Potter book.

But your 7 year old struggles with reading. They won’t even touch Brown Bear, Brown Bear let alone a chapter book.

I understand. My daughter struggled with reading too.

I remember listening to her read aloud in first grade and thinking, “This can’t be right.”

I also know it’s especially painful if you listened to all those influencers who said, ‘Don’t rush your kids. Let them develop at their own pace and they’ll eventually learn.”

They were wrong. Reading isn’t a natural skill like talking, walking, and feeding ourselves. It’s relatively new to humans.

So if your child is struggling to read, I can assure you that it is not your fault. You are here now. And there are so many things you can do to help your 7 year old who struggles to read.

should a 7 year old be able to read?

Yes, your 7 year old should be able to read. Unfortunately, you’ll see a lot terrible advice on the internet.

You’ll read dismissive advice like “Relax, you worry too much.”

You’ll also hear, “They’ll read when they are ready.”

Both of those are false.

And sadly, even teachers and former teachers say this. They don’t know better.

If your 7 year old cannot read and goes to school, it is a problem. If your child is homeschooled, you have the gift of more time and flexibility to personalize instruction but it’s still a concern.

signs a 7 year old is struggling with reading

These are some common signs that your child is struggling to read:

  • Avoids reading
  • Tantrums or argues during reading
  • Skips over words
  • Substitutes words
  • Makes wild guesses

It’s important to note these are also signs that an 8 year old struggles with reading or even older children.

Avoids reading

Once children learn how to read, they love to practice it. If it’s hard for them and they are struggling, they will avoid it.

This is not because your child is lazy.

I mean, I don’t go dig ditches for fun. It’s back-breaking word.

That’s how it feels to your struggling 7-year-old reader.

So if your child avoids reading, that is a sign that they are struggling to read.

Tantrums or argues during reading time

Because it is really hard, your child will do anything they can to avoid reading. This includes having challenging behaviors during reading time.

There is a good chance your child is also embarrassed he or she cannot read. Most children would prefer to be the “bad” kid over the “dumb” kid.

Remember that class clown from 3rd grade? It’s the same thing.

Misbehavior during reading is often a sign that a 7 year olf struggles with reading.

skips over words as reading

Struggling readers tend to skip over words as they are reading.

This was the biggest sign for my daughter. She would skip or omit words as she was reading.

Her brain wasn’t reading the optimal way. Instead of systematically sounding out words phonetically, her brain was actually trying to guess words based on the context.

Some children do this because they are rushing. So try this:

Put your finger under the skipped word. See if your child accurately sounds it out. Then it might be more a sign of attention issues.

If your child cannot sound out skipped words, you’ll know your 7 year old is struggling to read.

substitutes words

Many struggling readers substitute words as they read.

If you notice your child reading “kid” for “Kip” in a story, that means they are substituting words.

Or maybe your child reads the word “frog” instead of toad in a story. They are likely relying on the context or even pictures instead of reading the words.

That’s a big sign of a struggling reader.

makes wild guesses

Many parents know their child is struggling with reading by their wild guess. If your child reads the word “cat” and says pig, you know you have a problem.

Wild, off-the-wall guesses mean that your child isn’t able to rely on the sound-to-letter connection known as decoding.

This is a common problem for struggling readers.

what should a 7 year old be able to read?

These are the reading skills we expect in a child by 7 years old or mid-year of first grade:

  • rapid and automatic naming of all capital and lowercase letters
  • identification of letter sounds (or sounding out the letters)
  • blends 4 sounds words out loud
  • decodes and blends words with 4-5 sounds (or sounding out phonetically)
  • reads VC words (like it, in, at, an, am, on, up)
  • reads CVC words (like cat, hen, pig, hog, pup)
  • spells accurately VC and CVC words
  • reads words with consonant blends (step, jump and stamp)
  • reads words with consonant digraphs (bath, chip, shop, when)
  • decodes CVCe words with magic e (cake, Pete, bike, hole, cute)
  • writes 2-3 sentences spelling the words phonetically

You might be surprised to see spelling on the list. But it gives a really good indication of how well your child can read phonetically.

If your child struggles with any of these skills, do not wait. Start to intervene at home right now! Scroll down because I have practical suggestions on what you can do today.

what words should a 7 year old be able to read?

You can give your 7 year old this list of words to see if they are able to read and spell them.

This doesn’t need to be complicated. You can write them on a whiteboard, just one group at a time.

  • it, up, as, on
  • cup, tan, pit, Meg, lob
  • shut, thin, chat, whip
  • wish, bath, much, sick
  • blip, clam, fled, glob, slug
  • raft, kelp, film, pond, must
  • grasp, blimp, stomp
  • bake, here, line, rope, mute
  • slide, stone, shame

Why does my 7 year old have trouble reading?

These are two common reasons that your 7 year old has trouble with reading:

  • haven’t been taught
  • dyslexia or another disability

By far, the most common reason is dyslexia. Now I know you’re thinking, my child doesn’t read letters backward.

That’s the most common misconception. You can read signs of dyslexia in six year olds here and see if it aligns with what you’ve noticed.

Some people will say to just give your 7 year old more time – they are just a late bloomer. That theory has been disproven.

How can i help my 7 year old with reading?

The good news is you are totally capable of teaching your struggling reader. If you potty trained your child or taught them to brush their teeth, you can do this too.

Just like those tasks, the first thing you need to decide is that it’s not optional. Your commitment is the most important factor.

Look at the list of skills. Start with the very first skill and see if your child can do it.

These need not be complicated. Grab a cheap spiral notebook. Just write down the alphabet out of order.

Ask your child to name the letters. Then ask them to say the sounds.

After that write down the list of suggest VC words like it, an, on, up. Move through all the skills until you see where your child is stuck.

That is where you beginning to help.

You can also grab assessments that you just print out and go. They are a part of Sounds School.

Getting help for my 7 year old that struggles with reading

My daughter struggled with reading at 7 years old. I could tell she was memorizing words and not sounding out phonetically. She was relying on her intelligence to guess at words.

Even as a teacher, I was nervous to rock the boat at school. But I wish I had pushed harder soon.

If I could do it all over, this is how I’d get help for my 7 year old struggling reader:

  1. Write a list of my concerns
  2. Send a written request to the teacher and principal
  3. Contact my child’s pediatrician about possible learning disabilities
  4. Set aside 5-10 minutes a day with structured literacy practice

More help for Struggling Readers

Do you need more help for your struggling 7 year old reader? Check out my program Sounds School.

It is the reading program I created by accident. So many parents were asking me how I got my daughter from struggling reader to begging me to buy her more books to read for fun!

In Sounds School, you learn foundation skills:

  • the 44 phonemes (sounds) in English
  • the most common ways to spell them
  • how to teach the sounds to your child
  • a simple routine to blend sounds into words
  • how to practice spelling the sounds with your children

Plus you get loads of printables, assessments, on-demand videos, and membership in the private Instagram.

Your child can go from struggling to soaring once you apply the skills you’ll learn in Sounds School. Check out Sounds School today.

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