In a perfect world, parenting would come down to one sentence: Show only love, be only love. But in the world we all cope with, children grow up to face much non-loving behavior, primarily outside the home but sometimes within it as well. Rather than worry about whether you embody enough love to qualify as a spiritual teacher, look upon spirituality as a skill in living, since that is what it is. I believe in imparting these skills as early as possible by whatever means a child can understand.
From the point of view of reading, child development experts stress the importance of knowing the alphabet. You can sing the alphabet song along with your child, show him flashcards, or write the letters in sand, finger paint, or crayon. As the child gets older, you can start connecting the alphabet to the letter sounds ("d as in duh") and to words ("d for dog").You can name objects around the house and stress the beginning letters. You could also purchase specific learning kits and instructional materials designed to teach your child to read, through a step-by-step process.
Reading is an important thing, and it would be great if we could all teach it to our kids. However, it can be frustrating teaching your child something you’ve been doing so long you forgot how you learned to do it. And the last thing you want to do is create a culture of frustration around your child’s education. To ease some of the drama in teaching your children to read, I have written out a step-by-step guide outlining how I taught my son to read.
Ask questions about the stories. Similar to when you were reading stories to your child, every time your child reads ask them questions about what they’ve just read. At first it will be difficult for them to think critically about meanings of words and the buildup of character development and plot (or the semblance of those things in the most basic of stories), but over time they will develop the necessary skills to answer questions.

ABC Reading Eggs incorporates all five components of reading in its online lessons. Children are introduced to a range of interactive activities that reinforce letter sounds and symbols, building phonemic awareness and phonics skills, as well as vocabulary and comprehension. The e‑book at the end of each lesson allows children to apply the skills they have learned. Free trial.


As your child gets older and her understanding grows, you can move on to slightly more complicated picture books , with a tad more text to read (hurrah!) and even the outline of a little story. Look for simple, colourful illustrations and toddler-friendly subjects: mainly animals, vehicles, animals doing toddler-type stuff, vehicles doing toddler-type stuff and, of course, toddlers doing toddler-type stuff!
Read Well is for K–3 students. The program teaches word-sound awareness. It also works on vocabulary and comprehension. Teachers begin by modeling what to do. They then gradually decrease their support until eventually students are asked to do the reading task by themselves. The program includes activities for the whole class as well as small-group lessons. Read Well is often used in the general education classroom.
It is essential for parents to create a healthy learning environment for their kids. it is imperative as it nourish urge of reading and learning in kids at early stagLearning is essential for every human being on earth. I am volunteering my services at a school which is running for poor kids. i feel so satisfied teaching and helping kids read and write.e...
This is a wonderful column, and all very true. My own four (unschooled) kids learned to read at ages ranging between 3 and 8 years, and each learned in his or her own way. I'm now watching my unschooled grandchildren following the same path - the 8 year old has just taught himself to read, and I can see his 5 year old sister is close behind. I often tell other parents with kids in school about my experiences because they worry so much if their kids aren't reading by age 6.
Yes, it certainly is a balance! No greater emphasis should be put on one area over the others (with the exception of reading comprehension). Sight words are typically extremely beneficial for early readers who get frustrated when words don’t follow the “rules”. This is the only area of reading where I feel like memorization is beneficial, in context with all the other reading strategies, of course.
I don’t agree with this 100%. There are a lot of great helpful tips and ideas listed here but my son learned how to spell AND write his name when he was 1.5, by age 2 he knew the whole alphabet by sight and sound, he’s almost 3 now and he has been taking an interest in reading. He asks his father and I (his mother), “What’s that say?” as he points to a word and after we tell him the word or even sometimes a sentence he’ll start spelling it out. This summer I am going to get serious about teaching him how to read and I do believe it is possible. Do I think he’ll be reading perfectly at a 1st grade level? Definitely not but even if he learns how to spell 5-10 words then he’s still learning how to read (he already knows how to spell 3 words) so technically my 2 year old is already starting to read.
Are you concerned that your child might have a learning disability? As with almost any disability, early intervention can prevent problems in the future. In the preschool years, speech delays are much more noticeable than the learning disabilities that may affect a child’s efforts to read. Ask your pediatrician for advice if you are concerned that your child is speech delayed.

Makaela is in grade two. She was reading below grade level expectations. That disheartening report told me Makaela needed reading help - now! That's when I found your program. We have recently completed Lesson 18 in Stage Two. She just got her March Progress Report and it states: "Makaela is reading at a beginning grade 2 level. Last week, we were told she would no longer be receiving reading intervention.
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My almost 5 year old really wanted to learn to read so we recently started this program. It took me a while to get started doing it b/c 1) I was waiting for her to be little more ready, 2) As the parent, you do have to read through the instructions and do a little preparation in terms of practicing sounds (to make sure you teach them right) beforehand and I kept putting that off. But we did start and it wasn't a smooth ride for the first two weeks. It was easy for ME because they give you a scri ...more
My son started playing starfall.com games when he was 6. Shortly after that, he began copying pages of books. He had no idea what words he was writing, but he would fill whole pages. The desire to write definitely came first. He slowly learned to read and is just now becoming fluent at age 10. For the past 2 days, he has sat on the couch doing nothing but reading because he is determined to finish reading his first novel.
The lessons are all basically the same, but as the child progresses, they start to teach newer techniques such as "READING THE FAST WAY". Admittedly, we stumbled at first. It's a tricky thing to teach a young child to sound it out IN THEIR HEADS, and when the know the word, just say it fast. It took one or two days of frustration before he caught on....and now it's no problem! If you think about it, that's reading. We say the words in our head. This book just adds the step of having them say it out loud, too!
To put it simply, word families are words that rhyme.  Teaching children word families is a phonemic awareness activity that helps children see patterns in reading.  This is an important skill because it allows children to begin “reading” by grouping sets of letters within a word.  The first part of a word is called the onset and the last part of the word is conveniently called the rime.  Word families share a similar “rime” as the onset changes.
Thanks for these tips. Your suggestions really put things in perspective for me. My 5 year old daughter’s friends seem to be so much better than her at decoding and sounding words out. I realize now that my first mistake was comparing her to other children and, in a panic that she was “behind,” I kept trying to make her sound words out and now I fear I’ve intimidated her when it comes to sounding words out. :(

The idea that a 4-8 year old knows his/her own "learning style [and] knows exactly what he or she is ready for," is complete bunk. I never knew my own learning style straight through college, and I'm sure I still don't know what I'm "ready for." In fact, the article even contradicts itself on this point, saying later "The unique needs of each child, as they affect learning to read, are not just functions of differences in brain hardware, but vary from day to day and moment to moment based on the child's specific experiences, wishes, and whims," but then finishes the sentence "which the child himself or herself controls" which is such utter bullshit I'm not sure how you could ever believe it.


Keep the children enthusiastic. Learning to read is a long process. Your students will go from not knowing the letters of the alphabet, to being able to read simple words, and will eventually learn to read whole sentences. Keep this interesting and challenging by having lots of books that vary in difficulty. As the children progress, rotate out some of the easier books, and introduce some more challenging ones.
North persevered. These days, kindergartners in Matuskiewicz’s class get a different kind of instruction than their older brothers and sisters did. During the first week of kindergarten, Matuskiewicz sits with each child and determines if he or she knows the letters and their corresponding letter sounds. The skill levels of the children are variable. So, class work in the autumn has to do with “sorting” — identifying letters and connecting them to sounds.
Decoding is often referred to as “sounding it out.”  This is an important element in teaching your child to read, but it certainly isn’t the most important.  Once your child knows the sounds each letter makes (which is taught in real, meaningful situations), she is ready to begin putting words together.  When looking at a short word, encourage her to say each individual sound /b/, /a/, /t/,  and then put them together “bat”.
This book was just what my son needed to start reading. I was nervous that he was starting first grade unable to read, but this program helped him move along really fast. He was soo ready, while other phonics programs were going too slow for him and he just wanted to read! There was some slight confusion with some long vowels being introduced early when a supplemental program I was using only used short vowels, but he seemed to work it out pretty quickly.
At this age, your child may change roles from being the listener to being the speaker. Now it is your turn to listen attentively as the child tells a story, asks questions, describes a problem, expresses an emotion or requests something. The child may turn the tables and tell you the story from a favourite book, or play the part of one of the characters in the book. This game heightens the child's sense of enjoyment while reading and should be encouraged.
My daughter got her first book from the hospital at birth ;). I love that hospitals are even promoting reading at birth. Can I just say I hate hate hate sight words. My middle daughter is 9 and sight words were the death of her. Now that she is being taught all of the rules and exceptions through the Wilson program she is doing much better. I get that most kids learn to memorize sight words, but not all of them do. And I truly wish so much stock wasn’t put on memorization in reading. Especially since the amount of sight words or high frequency words they expect children to memorize seems like an awful lot of words that don’t follow the general rules of reading. They can be taught to break down every word. My oldest did fine with sight words though so I know my middle daughter is probably the minority here. However, I have also noticed that my oldest doesn’t have the skills to break down a word she doesn’t know the same way my middle daughter can.

Avoid using flashcards. Some companies have advertised specialized flashcards to help babies, toddlers, and preschool age children to read. In general, flashcards are not the most useful or effective technique for teaching reading skills. Time spent reading stories with your child will be much more beneficial than flashcards. “Reading aloud to young children, particularly in an engaging manner, promotes emergent literacy and language development and supports the relationship between child and parent. In addition it can promote a love for reading which is even more important than improving specific literacy skills.”[3]

Marie, an unschooling mom, wrote about her son, now age 7: "[He] found the incentive to become a better reader through acting at a local theater. He has always been passionate about putting together ‘shows,' but now he is old enough to have real acting experience. He sees that reading is an integral part of this activity that he loves and it has given him a strong reason to grow and develop as a reader. He recently had a part in A Midsummer Night's Dream and had to read and memorize Shakespeare. It took no instruction on the part of a ‘teacher' whatsoever."


Other activities that support the child's growing intelligence and curiosity are activities designed to apply previously learned knowledge. So if the child learned shapes before, now he can match and group objects of the same shape. If she learned colors, she should be able to do the same. Puzzles are another useful toy at this age, as they improve hand-eye coordination as well as develop problem-solving skills.
Get a library card. Take the child on regular visits to your local library. Go to the children's section and let the child pick the book he wants to read. Once a week on a set date (Friday after school for example) is also a good way to get into a structured routine. It's alright if he is a bit too old for the book or has already read it. When he is a bit older, let him check out the book at the front desk, but always under your supervision.
Build up an archive of sight words. Certain words in the English vocabulary are spoken often, but don’t follow the typical phonics rules. These words are easier to memorize by shape association than by sound, and are therefore known as ‘sight words.’ Some sight words include ‘they,’ ‘she’, ‘an,’ ‘said,’ and ‘the.’ The complete list of sight words, called the Dolch list, can be found online and broken down into sections to work through.
I'm thrilled to see an article about this in a mainstream source. My sons learned to read "late", at ages 9 and 10, and were largely self-taught. We chose to allow their learning to read to be entirely self-directed because instruction via phonics when my first son was six years old was so disastrous -- he was angry, frustrated, and resistant. I shudder to think what would have happened if we'd continued to push him before he was ready. I've written quite a bit more about our experience here on my blog: http://fourlittlebirds.blogspot.com/search/label/reading
This book was just what my son needed to start reading. I was nervous that he was starting first grade unable to read, but this program helped him move along really fast. He was soo ready, while other phonics programs were going too slow for him and he just wanted to read! There was some slight confusion with some long vowels being introduced early when a supplemental program I was using only used short vowels, but he seemed to work it out pretty quickly.
Yes, it certainly is a balance! No greater emphasis should be put on one area over the others (with the exception of reading comprehension). Sight words are typically extremely beneficial for early readers who get frustrated when words don’t follow the “rules”. This is the only area of reading where I feel like memorization is beneficial, in context with all the other reading strategies, of course.
Set a good example. Show your child that reading is interesting and worthwhile by reading for yourself. Spend a minimum of ten minutes a day reading when your child is around, so that they see you enjoying the activity on your own. Even if you’re not an avid reader, find something to read - a magazine, the newspaper, or a cookbook all count. Soon they’ll become interested in reading on their own, simply as a result of seeing you doing it too.
It is two years later. Oral family reading time is integral to our day and the Harry Potter series is our most recent read. A younger friend visiting had not read the Harry Potter books so he asked my daughter to read to him. I wondered how she would handle the request and then she started "reading" to them. The younger childeren were captivated for over an hour listening to the story as she went through it chapter by chapter. I thought she was reading it because of the vividness and vocabulary use in her telling, but I had never heard her read so well. As she continued the story it became apparent that it was all from memory. Obviously she is developing fabulous comprehension skills!
The general assumption in our culture is that children must be taught to read. Vast amounts of research go into trying to figure out the scientifically best way to do this. In the education stacks of any major university library you can find rows and rows of books and many journals devoted solely to the topic of how to teach reading. In education circles heated debates--dubbed "the reading wars"--have raged for decades between those who believe that most emphasis should be placed on teaching phonics and those who take what is called a "whole language" approach to reading instruction. Many controlled experiments have been conducted comparing one instruction method to another, with kindergartners and first graders as the guinea pigs. The phonics people say that their method has "won" in those experiments, and the whole language people say that the experiments were rigged.
First grade teacher Angela DiStefano, a 12-year teaching veteran, says the Literacy How approach to reading has changed her professional life forever. “Before that, I thought it was my job to teach kids to share my enthusiasm for reading.” Now, she teaches them to read with explicit instruction on how to sound out words. Not long ago, she gave a seminar for first grade parents to teach them some rules about vowels (for example: vowels make their short sound in closed pattern words like tap and the long sound in open pattern words like hi, so, and my) so parents could reinforce the lessons at home.
Parents, it turns out, are pretty crummy reading instructors, especially when they break out the flash cards, handwriting worksheets, rewards charts and other traditional tools we all know and hate. “You don’t know what you’re doing,” Willingham says of parents in general. “If your child encounters real difficulty, there’s a good chance the child will go to school and think, ‘Reading? Oh, that’s that thing Mom and Dad bug me about, and it’s hard for me to figure out, and I don’t like it much.’ Then the teacher has to try and overcome that first negative experience your child has had.”

Keep the children enthusiastic. Learning to read is a long process. Your students will go from not knowing the letters of the alphabet, to being able to read simple words, and will eventually learn to read whole sentences. Keep this interesting and challenging by having lots of books that vary in difficulty. As the children progress, rotate out some of the easier books, and introduce some more challenging ones.
Jenny wrote that her daughter, who didn't begin to read books until age 11, was able to satisfy her love of stories by being read to, watching movies, and checking out CDs and books on tape, from the library. She finally began reading because there was no other way for her to satisfy her interest in video games, such as ToonTown, and manga books, which require reading that nobody would do for her.
If you have been raising your child in a literate environment and fostering a love of reading from an early age, by the age of three, you could start teaching your three-year-old preschooler to read. What's more, your child will be able to do so successfully. If you are teaching your child to read through a method based on phonics, she should be able to learn to spell and write at the same time. This is often a highly rewarding period for parents.
Willingham recently wrote the New York Times op-ed “How to Get Your Mind to Read,” and it’s fascinating. In raising readers, it appears that we’re doing it wrong. Parents and teachers tend to think about the learning process in separate blocks. When kids are very young—around 4, 5 or 6—we teach them how to “decode” words. It isn’t until the fourth or fifth grade that we move onto comprehension. That’s too late, Willingham says. “Decoding and comprehension are not the same thing,” he tells me. “There are times when you can read content out loud but not understand what you’re reading.” In the later elementary school grades, as texts become much more complex, comprehension becomes much more difficult. And therefore, children struggle.
Another thing I think is important to remember is to not get frustrated. When it comes to reading, things that seem “obvious” to you aren’t obvious at all to someone who’s learning to read, but when you forget that it can be easy to get frustrated because your child isn’t understanding that seems so obvious to you. Go into it knowing that you’re going to need to be patient! It will definitely give you a new level of appreciation for people who teach children as their profession.
This is indeed a wonderful post! I have a 14 month old who loves his books. I will be socking this article away for frequent reference. I will note, however, I found the odd reference about how men are not prone to reading very strange indeed. Perhaps I am just unusually fortunate in this respect, but so many of the men in my life adore reading, that it struck me as quite false. I am, in fact, married to a male librarian who loves to read and is beyond thrilled that our little guy has begun grabbing books and bringing them over for him to read. But that assertion aside, an excellent article. Thank you!
Thank you for the information and to everyone else with their questions/replies. I am a single parent who has just recently started reading heavily with my 5 year old. He is aware of the sounds and has a few of the basic words down, but struggles with reading. This really makes me frustrated, but after reading this post/comments I am glad to know that what I am forcing him to do is way ahead of his time. Pushing him to read every night and being angry when he doesn’t remember might hinder him from future learning and I definitely do not want to do that. He truly enjoys the last part of the night where we open the books together and I want that feeling to last forever. I greatly appreciate the advice and will completely back off of my son as he still has time to grow into reading whole stories. Due to a late birthday he is currently in Pre-K so I think the pressure of wanting him to do well in school, being a single parent, and my own childhood misfortunes are having a negative impact on me. I plan to regroup for tomorrow nights reading and take things a lot slower with him and make sure that he knows that he is doing a great job. Thank you so much for you have saved me from me in a way.

First grade teacher Angela DiStefano, a 12-year teaching veteran, says the Literacy How approach to reading has changed her professional life forever. “Before that, I thought it was my job to teach kids to share my enthusiasm for reading.” Now, she teaches them to read with explicit instruction on how to sound out words. Not long ago, she gave a seminar for first grade parents to teach them some rules about vowels (for example: vowels make their short sound in closed pattern words like tap and the long sound in open pattern words like hi, so, and my) so parents could reinforce the lessons at home.


As your child begins elementary school, she will begin her formal reading education. There are many ways to teach children to read. One way emphasizes word recognition and teaches children to understand a whole word's meaning by how it is used. Learning which sounds the letters represent—phonics—is another way children learn to read. Phonics is used to help "decode" or sound out words. Focusing on the connections between the spoken and written word is another technique. Most teachers use a combination of methods to teach children how to read.

The strategy for learning sight words is, "See the word, say the word". Learning to identify and read sight words is essential for young children to become fluent readers. Most children will be able to learn a few sight words at the age of four (e.g. is, it, my, me, no, see, and we) and around 20 sight words by the end of their first year of school. You can teach sight words by playing with flashcards and using reading programs like ABC Reading Eggs.
In previous essays I have referred to the great Russian developmental psychologist Lev Vygotsky, whose main idea was that children develop new skills first socially, through joint participation with more skilled others, and then later begin to use the new skills privately, for their own purposes. That general principle certainly seems to hold in the case of reading.
Reading Mastery is very systematic. It starts by teaching word sounds and what the corresponding letters and words look like. Next, kids learn to read passages. Then they build vocabulary while increasing their understanding of what they read. Students are grouped by reading level. Reading Mastery is often used by general and special education teachers as a complement to other programs. It may also be used on its own. Teachers tend to use one of two versions. Reading Mastery Classic is for grades K–3 and Reading Mastery Plus is taught in grades K–6.
Avoid using flashcards. Some companies have advertised specialized flashcards to help babies, toddlers, and preschool age children to read. In general, flashcards are not the most useful or effective technique for teaching reading skills. Time spent reading stories with your child will be much more beneficial than flashcards. “Reading aloud to young children, particularly in an engaging manner, promotes emergent literacy and language development and supports the relationship between child and parent. In addition it can promote a love for reading which is even more important than improving specific literacy skills.”[3]
I found this system very, very useful right away, even after the first 3 lessons! She learns what sounds the letters make and make together after learning what each letter sounds like individually, this way she is learning to read the word through sounds instead of guessing (which she is slowly getting out of the habit of doing) what the word really is or associating it with a picture. It is the fundamentals of letter sounds that helps her to learn to read correctly so I’m hoping it continues to go well and I can get her out of that ‘guessing’ the word.

My mom wrapped this up as a birthday present for my third birthday as she had for my two older siblings, and later did for my two younger siblings. I learned to read with this book and was definitely ahead of the other kids in my kindergarten class by the time I started school. My mom gave it to her friends and they taught their children to read with it as well. It's a great program that makes reading simple for any child, and will teach children to become avid readers. Also, I probably wouldn't ...more
Quite a few of the people who wrote to me expressed surprise at the sequence that their child went through in learning to read. Some learned to read quite exotic words, which never appear in the primers, well before they learned simpler words. Some, as I said, learned to write before they could read. Some seemed to be learning at a rapid rate and then they just stopped for a couple of years before progressing further. We adults can enjoy watching all of this as long as we remember that it isn't our responsibility to change it. We're just observers and sometimes tools that our children use for their own chosen ends.
Marie wrote, of her son, now age 7: "He is an artist and spends hours drawing things, especially stories and inventions. So naturally he wished to make his pictures "talk" with captions, titles, instructions, and quotations. ... There was a lot of ‘MOM? How do you spell Superdog wants to go home?' I would spell out the sentence and five minutes later, ‘MOM? How do you spell Superdog sees his house?'" This boy learned to read, at least partly, by reading the sentences that he, himself, had written.
Parents of infants and toddlers lay the foundation for reading success long before there's a need for systematic instruction. While some gung-ho moms and dads get seduced by products that claim to promote early reading, they should resist the temptation to buy them. Introducing formal instruction too early may actually backfire—making youngsters see reading as a task that wins parental favor, not as a pleasurable activity unto itself. Studies show that youngsters who receive early instruction are less likely to read for enjoyment when they get older.
Several weeks ago (see post of January 6, 2010), I invited readers of this blog who are involved in unschooling or Sudbury model schooling to write to me with stories about learning to read without formal instruction. Eighteen people--most of whom identified themselves as parents of unschoolers--kindly shared their stories with me. Each story is unique. Just as my students found in their study at Sudbury Valley, there seems to be no pattern to how unschooled children today are learning to read.
And here’s a critical fact you need to know: scientists have shown again and again that the brain’s ability to trigger the symphony of sound from text is not dependent on IQ or parental income. Some children learn that b makes the buh sound and that there are three sounds in bag so early and so effortlessly that by the time they enter school (and sometimes even preschool), learning to read is about as challenging as sneezing. When the feeling seizes them, they just have to do it. Other perfectly intelligent kids have a hard time locating the difference between bag and bad or a million other subtleties in language.

Basically, we are just repetitive and always say the letter sound with the letter. Please note I firmly believe that every child is different and NEVER push your kiddo into something they aren’t ready for. My younger son, who’s 2, is still working on his letters while big brother was reading at this age. I’d hate for anyone to read this and think that their child is behind. There is no such thing!
Wonderful article!! It's making the rounds on facebook. Lots of folks are supportive of the idea of kids learning to read on their own (though it's not really on their own, there's lots of support, resources and connection involved) when their kids are early readers, but begin to lose faith in the process when the kids are 8, 10, or 13. I've seen it again and again though in unschooling families: kids *will* learn to read when they're ready, whether that means ready at 3 or ready at 11.
Every child learns at his or her own pace, so always remember the single most important thing you can do is to make it enjoyable. By reading regularly, mixing things up with the activities you choose, and letting your child pick out their own books occasionally, you'll instil an early love of reading and give them the best chance at reading success in no time.
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