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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.
But for information to zap from the visual area to the auditory area and finally to the angular gyrus, the connection between these three  -- a special circuit that develops only with time and practice  -- must be fully functional, says Reid Lyon, Ph.D., chief of the Child Development and Behavior Branch at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Eventually, as a child grows older and develops both his vocabulary and his letter-recognition skills, information travels that circuit almost instantaneously, and reading becomes second nature.
But at the same time, he was collecting baseball cards and was very interested in the statistics. Completely on his own, he learned how to use percentages, decimals, division, etc. to figure out averages in his head. In 4th grade we enrolled him in a hybrid-homeschool program, and he was very much ahead of his class in math. He's 11 now, still ahead of what he's "learning" in math, and wants to study statistics.
In nearly every conversation about reading instruction, educators talk about different pedagogical approaches and different philosophies, as if one is equal to another. And perhaps because some kids seem to learn to read like they learn to run, from observation and for the sheer love of it, it can appear like almost any kind of reading instruction can work with varying levels of success — for at least some kids. But researchers say they’ve come up with a straightforward formula that, if embedded into instruction, can ensure that 90 percent of children read.

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.

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!
This program might not work for everyone but it was perfect for our last child. When he was ready (and I tried it when he was 5 and no go) we whipped through the lessons. LOVED the scripted format with him sitting on the couch beside me. It really does teach them to read and in the beginning you don’t see how it will work, even for the reluctant learner. But it DID.
Kid's can learn of the above mentioned strategies simultaneously. When we teach kids to recognize words by their shape, we teach them site words. Some whole words are considered "sight words"--words that you don't usually use letter sounds to figure out. The word 'the' is a great example of a site word. The word 'the' starts with the /th/ sound. Beginning readers usually don't have any understanding of how the 'th' spelling makes a sound like /th/. As it turns out, kids can recognize the word 'the' even if they don't have a grasp of the letter sound in it.
Hi, thank you very much! Reading your posts really enlightened me. You have advises that change my view on how to teach my son. Most of the times spent teaching my son reading made me impatient, my son saw me very frustrated which I felt he became frustrated as well. And I felt so sorry every after sessions we had. I was the one so pressured. Thank you for these words “concentrate on making reading fun and enjoyable for both of you” It really tells me that I am the one who lost strategies. Please pray for me as well… Thank you.

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!
Hi, I have a friend who lets her 6-month old son watch “baby can read” videos every day. She did the same with her older child, who, at 1 year old, is able to “read” words. Her daughter can decode common words such as house, but when the letters are jumbled so as to form another word, she couldn’t read it any more. I now have a one year old daughter. She’s recommending that I expose my baby to it too. What is your opinion on this? on the exposure of children to screen media?
Start to make word-sound associations. Before you even start getting into the alphabet and sound specifics, help your child recognize that the lines on the page are directly correlated to the words you are speaking. As you read aloud to them, point to each word on the page at the same time you say it. This will help your child grasp the pattern of words/lines on the page relating to the words you speak in terms of length and sound.
She can do a lot of word building BUT, i think she feels that because it seems difficult to her then she doesn’t particularly enjoy reading…I have to work really hard with her to get her to focus and to actually pick up a book, otherwise I don’t think she would bother..This worries me greatlybecause as we all know if reading is not something you enjoy then life will be more difficult for her than if she enjoyed it.
Thanks so much for posting this! Our son just turned 2 and LOVES reading books. He would have us read to him for hours…in fact when his grandma comes over I think she really does read to him for multiple hours through the day. We read board books about trucks and tractors and animals and also read a lot of Dr. Seuss and Bible stories and Curious George. For many months now I have set aside time for him to color with crayons and I would write down the alphabet or short words and go over the letters. We sing the ABC’s a lot and have worked on his saying vowels. He began to recognize the letter “A” in many places at the beginning of the year. Last week we were at the doctors office and there was an alphabet rug and he began naming them through “F”. And he just got an etch a sketch for his birthday, so as I wrote down the first few letters of the alphabet or wrote down his name he began naming them! I was amazed! Not that he does it perfectly but I really didn’t know the capabilities of a 2 year old. I’m really wanting to find more fun ways to encourage him but not push him too hard in it. I look forward to putting your suggestions into practice as he continues to learn!
In some cases unschooled children progress from non-reading to reading in what seems to observers to be a flash. For example, Lisa W. wrote: "Our second child, who is a visual thinker, didn't learn to read until he was 7. For years, he could either figure out what he needed to know from pictorial cues, or if stuck, would get his older brother to read to him. I remember the day he started reading. He had asked his older brother to read something to him on the computer and his brother replied, "I have better things to do than to read to you all day", and walked away. Within days [my Italics] he was reading quite well."

Before our boys were born, we painted and hung large wooden letters spelling their name above the cribs as a decorative accent in their rooms.  I would have never guessed that those wooden letters would have such a learning incentive for Big Brother!  Around age 2.5, he began asking what letters were above his name.  That’s honestly how he learned to spell his name…and he can spell his brother’s name too because he has taken an interest in his letters as well.  In technical terms, this is called “environmental print” and includes all of the print we are surrounded by–fast food signs, labels, traffic signs, clothing, magazines, etc.

Start to make word-sound associations. Before you even start getting into the alphabet and sound specifics, help your child recognize that the lines on the page are directly correlated to the words you are speaking. As you read aloud to them, point to each word on the page at the same time you say it. This will help your child grasp the pattern of words/lines on the page relating to the words you speak in terms of length and sound.
There's an old joke, which I recall first hearing several decades ago, about a child who reached age 5 without ever speaking a word. Then one day, at lunch, he said, "This soup is cold." His mom, practically falling over, said, "My son, you can talk! Why haven't you ever said anything before?" "Well," said the boy, "up until now the soup has always been warm."
By now, they should have 'got' that books have a front and a back, and that a book progresses page by page. Next on the agenda is understanding that words on the page are read from left to right, and that the different shapes of the letters inside these words are what helps you figure out what to say as you read the book aloud to them. Of course, you don't actually need to teach them this; they'll just absorb it if you keep sharing books with them. Point to the words as you read them, moving your finger along the line. Look at the pictures and try to work out what the story may be about.
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.
I'm an English teacher but at the secondary level, meaning when they come to me, they are already expected to know how to read. Because of this, I have no formal training in how to teach kids to read. I become painfully aware of how naive I was to the processes of reading when my daughter was at the age that she should be knowing her letters and stuff. Despite the fact that my husband and I are voracious readers, and that we read to our daughter daily, she had developed a loathing towards all things letters. When she was still mixing up her letters and sounds, and resistant towards all reading games at 5 years old, I began to worry. The summer before she was to start Kindergarten, I decided to take matters into my own hands. We were going to spend a summer learning to read, gosh darnnit! Or, at the very least, she would know each letter and the sound it made. So I scoured the internet for various books and programs to help me, as I, by then, understood fully I knew jack squat about how to teach a kid to read. And so I came across this book.

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.
This article is definitely very true to my experience. I homeschool my children, but we haven't been unschooling, yet we are tending more and more that way. Despite employing different reading methods, I found that my son did not start applying any of his skills outside reading lessons until he had the desire to do so. For him, it was when I was reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to the kids, one chapter a night, and he didn't want to wait to find out what would happen. Then he devoured book after book.
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Children usually learn to read beginning around the ages of 5 or 6. In the United States, this will typically be around first grade.[1] Though there are many methods for teaching reading to children, research suggests that teaching phonics is one of the best ways to ensure that you can help all of the children in your classroom learn to read well.[2] Take steps to teach children how to pronounce each letter before moving on to short words and word families. Encourage families to get involved in their child’s learning, and make learning fun for the children.
What a great post! May I ask for some advice? I am homeschooling my 7 year old daughter. Our curriculum has her learning about 15-20 new vocabulary words a day. She has a bit if trouble. She can read a sepecific word, and then have to read it in a sentence on the next page and completely blanks. What do I do? How do I handle this? She also tends to see a letter and assume what word it is (ex. Haul- she read as “hug”). How do I help her get through this? I have not been able to find any resources on reading for a 1st grader. Also what level she should be at, if that even matters right now. Your help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

A lot of people don't realise just how many skills can be picked up through the simple act of reading to a child. Not only are you showing them how to sound out words, you're also building key comprehension skills, growing their vocabulary, and letting them hear what a fluent reader sounds like. Most of all, regular reading helps your child to develop a love reading, which is the best way to set them up for reading success.

What does the research show? It turns out that children who are likely to become poor readers are generally not as sensitive to the sounds of spoken words as children who were likely to become good readers. Kids who struggle have what is called poor “phonemic awareness,” which means that their processor for dissecting words into component sound is less discerning than it is for other kids.


Great list, and wonderful summary. I particularly love the emphasis on making it fun and creative and incorporated into different aspects of life. I used a very similar list when documenting my experiences teaching my kids to read at howitaughtmykidstoread.wordpress.com. I’ll definitely be using your post in a future post of my own, and hope you will take a look at my site and let me know what you think. Thanks!
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.
LANGUAGE! is for struggling learners in grades 3–12 who score below the 40th percentile on standardized tests. It is most often used by special education teachers. The curriculum uses a six-step format for each lesson. The first step is word-sound awareness. The second step is word recognition and spelling. Then comes vocabulary and then grammar. Listening and reading comprehension come next. Writing is the last step. There is also a version of this program that is specifically designed for English language learners.
There are a number of excellent books to guide you through the process such as Sidney Ledson's Teach Your Child to Read in Just Ten Minutes a Day or Siegfried Engleman's Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons . There are also full instructional kits such as Hooked on Phonics, which provide parents with a step-by-step approach to teaching reading.

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.
Lessons 1-20: Let me start by being perfectly honest with you. The first 5 lessons were tortuous for both me and my 5 year old son. He does not like to sit still, he does not like to repeat things over and over again, and it was extremely confusing for both him and myself as we began this book. I was still getting used to the teaching aspect, and he was getting used to the sitting still and repeating sounds over and over and over again. I nearly gave up after the first 5 days. You may want to as well. PERSEVERE!
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.
If you, for example, showed your child 100 objects, 10 at a time (like a duster, a cup, a pencil, a shoe, etc) and asked them to memorise these items, you can easily get them to recall and identify all 100 of these items in a few weeks. This is the exact process that you will use to teach your child the 100 most common words giving them access to half of everything written.
I totally agree that reading to your baby is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your child. However, I do think that it is an amazing blessing if your child can read before the standard age of 6. If they know how to read, they can get lost in the magical pages of books – developing a love for reading very early on. Did you ever use any DVDs with young children to help them learn to read? I have used several programs with my children – although my favorite is MonkiSee – and have gleaned many wonderful results. Do you support educational DVDs for teaching babies to read? Have you ever used any?
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.

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.
Great news Mama Kim! You just have to be patient, it will not happen overnight but it will happen sooner than you think. It takes consistent effort over time. Children are remarkable and learn without you even knowing they are doing it. Just keep at it on a daily basis but always avoid overloading him. Also don’t worry too much about testing what he knows, just keep showing him the words and move on. By 30 days he will be showing you his great reading 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.


Parents and teachers are often overly impressed with children who have decoding skills, incorrectly labeling them as “readers.” But, of course, reading involves much more than merely sounding out words on a page; it also includes comprehension, which is more complex and harder to teach. To comprehend successfully, children must not only have solid decoding skills, they must read fluently and find meaning in the printed text. Once again, when it comes to teaching comprehension, parents are best suited to the task.
Learning to read comes easily to some children and not to others. There is no apparent link between IQ and ability to read though. Many researchers believe that some children are simply less phonemically aware than others, which can make the early stages of learning to read more difficult. This means it is more difficult for them to hear the differences between sounds.[17] Thus, you should not assume a child who is struggling is not intelligent.

Be sure to keep an eye on the progress of each child. As soon as you notice one of the children is struggling, try to find some extra time to spend with that child. Talk to the child’s parents, and explain exactly what the child is struggling with. For example, if the child is having a hard time differentiating between a “d” sound and a “t” sound, spend some extra time practicing different words that make these sounds. Ask the parents if they can get involved and practice with the child as well.
There are a plethora of ways to incorporate multiple domains of development in regards to letter recognition and early-reading skills.  Alphabet crafts allow your child to learn the shape of a letter along with an association of the sound it makes all the while utilizing fine motor skills in the process of cutting, gluing, and creating!   Playing games that involve gross motor skills (like tossing beanbags on the appropriate letter) are also wonderful ways to include movement.  Of course, every child loves songs and rhymes!  Take an inventory of your child’s strengths and areas of interest and target activities to fit them!
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