I wasn’t really expecting it.  My child’s struggle with reading, that is.
Her older sister took to reading like a duckling to water; it seemed natural, with no painful effort required.

Reading just happened.

 I assumed it was because we had great curriculum, a great homeschooling routine, or (I’m just being honest) maybe I was just a great teacher.


Our younger daughter progressed well through Kindergarten, but by first grade I knew we were in for some struggles.  I tried to stay focused and consistent, but we virtually made zero progress for an entire year .

It was apparent that my curriculum and methods needed a major tweak.

I began reading everything I could find about Charlotte Mason and her methods of education, and discovered Karen Andreola’s,  A Charlotte Mason Companion.  Her chapter on reading and phonics inspired me to switch from focusing on “sounding out” words to working with sight words.

An Old-Fashioned Education- wonderful site for Charlotte Mason and Eclectic homeschooling curriculum

An Old-Fashioned Education

The change was a good one, and my daughter seemed to be in her own element with sight words.  However, we soon hit another bump: she could easily memorize the words on flashcards, but identifying them in a book or sentence was another story!

While researching and writing Homeschooling Day by Day, I discovered another missing piece of my puzzle: my daughter is an auditory learner (quite different from both my oldest daughter and myself; we are both highly visual learners).  This piece of information helped me understand why most of my “methods” for teaching worked beautifully for our oldest daughter, but were getting nowhere with my struggling reader.

This summer, my friend Richele (Under the Golden Apple Tree and Moms of Dyslexics) referred me to a program called Reading Horizons, an interactive software for struggling readers or dyslexic children.  I started my daughter on the software in August and we began to see good results.

Right away, I noticed two things about Readings Horizons:

Reading Horizons Discovery

1. It is effective for a child with any learning style.  

My auditory/tactile daughter absolutely loves the computer program.  It “talks” to her, so she is hearing the words and instructions.  She is also doing something with her hands: selecting answers, playing games, etc.  Reading Horizons would also be highly effective for a visual learner, since the program is colorful, interactive, and fun.

2. My daughter began sounding out words.  

Within a few weeks, my I-Can’t-Do-It girl began pushing herself to sound out words.  That was a victorious day!

what's your child's favorite book to read?

 image courtesy- Pinterest

A few words of encouragement for mamas with children who struggle to read:

Lower your expectations.  Maybe your child is behind.  Maybe he or she isn’t reading on level, or reading as well as a sibling or friend.  That’s okay.  

Be an encourager.  Don’t say negative things to your child or about your child.  Don’t make a big deal about the fact that he or she isn’t reading well.

reading #reading #child

 image courtesy- Pinterest

Discover your child’s learning style.  This can be key to unlocking doors of understanding for both you and your child.  I have a chapter on learning styles in Homeschooling Day by Dayor you can read more about it online .

Determine if you’re dealing with learning disabilities.  I don’t recommend plastering a label on your child’s head just because she confuses her “b’s” and “d’s”, but if reading and other learning issues become ISSUES, consider the possibility that your child may be dealing with something more.

Free Dyslexia Test

There are dozens (if not hundreds) of blogs, websites, and programs devoted to nurturing special needs children on all levels.  A few of my favorites include Moms of Dyslexics, A Mama’s Story, and  Reading Horizons.

Two of my friends, Richele and Sara Elizabeth, talk about homeschooling their special needs kids (Richele’s dyslexic daughter and Sara Elizabeth’s autistic sons) in Homeschooling Day by Day, so check out the ebook if you need encouragement in this area.

Be patient.  This is the hardest part for me!  I’m a goal-driven over-achiever.  Learning to teach a timid little girl with a complex about school work is a bigger challenge than mastering geometry!  (Okay, maybe not. I really stink at math.)

I’ll be honest: most days are a struggle.  I really, really want my daughter to learn to read.  For her sake and mine!

I want to scratch this achievement off my to do list so we can move on to greater things.  But for now, we’re inching forward.  Reading Horizons is our phonics curriculum, and, at this point, it is the focal point of my daughter’s education.

She is learning skills and confidence.  And the Lord is teaching me that it’s okay to go slowly.  To be “way behind”.  To ignore the blunders, and smile hope and courage into my child’s eyes.

Solution for a Struggling Reader

I received Reading Horizons in exchange for participation in the Homeschool Review Panel.  No other compensation was given and reviews and opinions stated on this blog are my own. 


Do you have a child who struggles to read?  How do you handle it?


Would you like to comment via your FB profile?

Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

10 thoughts on “When Your Child Struggles to Read

  1. Hi Kristy I hope you read old comments. : ) I am in the exact same boat as you. I seem to have hit a wall with my oldest, who’s 7 almost 8. She does ok with sounding out words (she cannot read fluently despite 3 years of sounding out words). But now that we have introduced so many new “rules” (we’re 3/4 the way through MFW 1st grade) like vowels and blends making different sounds she can’t remember when what says what (and neither can I). I was so determined to make her reading phonics based (I was taught sight reading in public school…..I can’t sound out anything) but there are so many words that don’t follow the rules. I’m wondering if I should be doing more sight words. Ahhhhh. Would the Horizons help with this? I am so frustrated (thankfully she doesn’t know this). I feel like everything hinges on her learning to read. Not to mention that her 5 year old sister reads as well as she does but is also having difficultly with all the sounds and blends.

    Thanks for the time you put into your blog. It’s such a blessing! I love your honestly. I feel like I could have written so many of your posts….well the frustrations, not the solutions. : )

    Posted on May 30, 2014 at 6:39 pm
    1. Hello, Emily! Yes, I do read comments on “old” posts! 🙂

      I totally relate to what you just shared. My little girl will turn eight in a few weeks, and we still haven’t progressed like I had hoped we would. Like you and your little miss, we’ve been treading water for several years now. Progress has been slow, and sometimes I get this crazy, overwhelming fear that she is NOT going to “get it” and we’ll be stuck here forever!

      I can’t tell you what you need to do, but here’s what I plan to do: take it a day at a time, stay consistent (and patient, which is terribly hard for me), and don’t expect her to stay “on track” with her grade level right now. I’m taking her to the next grade level in MFW in everything BUT reading. For now, we’re going to keep reviewing the basics, and reading, reading, reading (together) until she’s ready to move ahead.

      My daughter does MUCH better with sight reading than with sounding out words, so that’s what we’re doing right now. I say if a child can memorize words easily, then forget the “rules” and sounding out. The point is to READ, so we’re forging a path to get THERE. 🙂

      Thanks so much for commenting, Emily. We are a few weeks out from starting our summer time school work (we break for six weeks in the spring), and I’ve been feeling a bit apprehensive about jumping back into the ringer since the last two years have been a struggle. It feels good to know I’m not the only one out there who gets stumped! We’re in this together. 🙂

      Posted on May 30, 2014 at 10:50 pm
  2. Thanks for your honesty with this post, Kristy. I too have a struggling reader. It is a great test to both of us as we are learning how she learns and she diligently plugs along day by day. “Through every great test comes a great testimony.” I’m trusting that to be true for us. God bless you and your reader!


    Posted on January 24, 2014 at 10:43 am
  3. Thanks for the wonderful post!

    Posted on December 5, 2013 at 3:26 pm
  4. My 8 year old girl learned to read fairly easily. My issue is comprehension! She processes very little of what she reads. This makes all other subjects difficult! I’m trying to be patient but I have to admit that I am at a loss of what to do! I end up doing all her work with her.

    Posted on November 18, 2013 at 11:20 am
  5. I really needed this. As my oldest gets older, it’s become harder to be patient with her reading progress. I’ve tried not to push her too hard, because I believe that just leads to the kind of stress that makes kids give up. But I’ve also tried multiple curricula and tactics to teach it. Sight words for a while (which are hit and miss), then phonics for a while (but she doesn’t like the effort of sounding things out), then back to sight words. We’ve used Explode the Code (which she likes because she enjoys workbooks/worksheets), Funnix Reading, Delightful Reading from Simply Charlotte Mason, and some of the sight words and easy readers from 1+1+1=1.

    Her biggest issue is confidence. I try to always be encouraging and show her the progress she’s making. But she seems to have an all-or-nothing idea of reading. So she constantly says she can’t read because she can’t ready fluently, like I do. But she’s made a little bit of progress with each curriculum we’ve used. She just seems to hit a wall, and then we back up a little and try something different for a while and back and forth. Which seems to slowly get us forward progress, but it seems to bother her. I don’t remember learning to read being difficult for me and she’s older than I was when I learned, so I struggle with my expectations. I think I’ve managed to keep my expectations to myself though. But this post definitely makes me feel better. Sometimes, I really do just need a reminder that not every kid learns to read before kindergarten.

    Posted on November 16, 2013 at 8:36 pm
  6. I so needed this. I have a 7 yr old who is still struggling to read. And I get frustrated. Not so much with her but because I can’t figure out why she is having such trouble. She is very out going until we get to school work and she shuts down. Thanks for you post.

    Posted on November 15, 2013 at 2:59 pm
  7. My oldest struggles with reading: slightly dyslexic, slightly ADD. I started her out with How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. It was pure torture. We both spent the majority of last year in tears and/or frustration. (To give the book credit, though, it worked beautifully for daughter #2.) As soon as we left that book we tried Puddlejumpers. It went much better (I think the shorter stories and colored pictures helped), but she still struggles. Thanks for this encouraging post! I think you hit the nail on the head with lowering the expectations and upping the encouragement. It’s hard not to compare your kids sometimes, but SO important for them to not feel compared. I’m definitely sharing this post and checking out the links.

    Posted on November 13, 2013 at 2:20 pm
  8. Thanks for sharing your heart! Wonderful and pracrical tips here!!

    Posted on November 13, 2013 at 8:49 am
    1. Thank you, Julie!

      Posted on November 13, 2013 at 9:20 am