Q:

My daughter was never taught much phonics. Now when she meets a new word, she can't sound it out. She's in fifth grade, and this is becoming quite a problem in her social studies and science classes. Where do we get help for her? -- No Phonics

A:

When children get to your daughter's age, they really aren't using much phonics beyond the sound of the first syllable. After this, they are decoding words by dividing them into syllables and identifying familiar prefixes and suffixes as well as using the context.

Admittedly, new words in social studies and science can be difficult to decode. You can help your child by working with her on new vocabulary. She will soon begin to pick up some needed word-identification skills. Show her how to divide words into syllables and recognize some of the common prefixes and suffixes used in social studies and science words. Don't expect her to learn all the new vocabulary in one session. Introduce the words over several days, and review them frequently.

If your work with your child is not enough, ask the school to investigate your daughter's reading difficulties and to give her help.