Switching to a school with a slightly different approach to reading helped us see just how little Kieran knew about phonemic awareness and phonics, and how much he relied on his memory to read.
While still reading “above” grade level, now that he was headed into short chapter books, his frustration with how to say multisyllabic and unfamiliar words was clear.
He reverted to looking at the first letter or two within the word and guessing at what it might say, based on the context of what he was reading. Sometimes he was right, which reinforced for him that he was “fine.” Many times he was incorrect in his guess, which helped us show him why we wanted to help him better decode those types of words.
While he would struggle with phonics again, later on in his elementary career, we were lucky to “catch” this behavior and need at the end of first grade. It might not have come out if we had not changed schools, and saw his reading through a different district’s eyes.