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.
Strengthen your child's comprehension skills by asking questions while reading. For younger children, encourage them to engage with the pictures (e.g. “Do you see the boat? What colour is the cat?”). For older children, ask questions about what you've just read, like “Why do you think the little bird was afraid?” “When did Sophie realise she had special powers?”
Education has always been extremely important to me. When I was a child I used to always say I wanted to be a teacher when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. Well, when I finally "grew up" I changed my mind and decided on the computer field instead. Perhaps some day I'll be a college professor and finally have the opportunity to fulfill my dreams of teaching. For now, I'll settle as being my children's first teacher.
We're back to homeschooling again as of the beginning of this year and he's slowly getting back into learning for pleasure. Since he hates measuring and more practical stuff (just doesn't see the need for it yet, perhaps he will once he starts building stuff, which he wants to do), we did some introductory algebra recently and he loved it. He's really into abstractions and gets irritated with 'real world' problems. Which aren't really real world, but I digress.
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.
As you’ve probably noticed, there is no “magic formula” to teach your child how to read.  The points we’ve discussed in previous posts have highlighted simple, effective strategies that are easy to modify for your child.  After all, every child learns differently!  This series is not to be used as a “checklist” and think that once you’ve covered all the strategies your child will be proficiently reading.  Rather, this series provides valuable information to you so that you can guide your child while creating a print-rich, learning environment to foster his/her growth as a reader.  Don’t rush and don’t stress!  While it’s important to take advantage of the prime-learning time, it’s even more important to let your kid be a kid!
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.

Reading Rockets is a national multimedia project that offers a wealth of research-based reading strategies, lessons, and activities designed to help young children learn how to read and read better. Our reading resources assist parents, teachers, and other educators in helping struggling readers build fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills.


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

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.
Hi Mama Kim! You will be amazed at how wonderful and smart our children actually are. You think your son can read from memory but if you consider it, so do we. I bet if you showed him the words he already knows in a different book he would be able to read them and THAT is what reading is all about. I am delighted that my hub has been useful and I would love to hear how you progress with your son. If you need any more information I have some useful articles on my website: www.yourchildcanreadin30days.com. Thank you so much for stopping by, for your wonderful comment and for you support. I really appreciate it. :)
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.
I just discovered this post and I love all the ideas listed in it, especially #5. I’m a retired 4th and 5th grade teacher and now I spend half the week watching my young grandsons. As a teacher, I loved using multiple intelligence strategies to help plan lessons that would engage my students and help them retain the concepts that were being taught. I now have fun finding and using such strategies to teach my grandsons their letter sounds, and reinforcing the concepts they are learning in their preschool and first grade classrooms. Thanks so much for this informative article!
It is good to teach your child the letters of the alphabet and their sounds. Once you have this concretized you can move on to simple word families such as ‘at’ and ‘an’. You can do games such as having your child try to add different letters before the word family to form different words such as cat, mat, sat etc. Also have your child match pictures to words. You can also use http://www.starfall.com when doing this activity as there is stories which follow after your child has learnt the words. It is also good to teach your child high frequency words. Model reading and also read with your child.
I took my son out of school aged 10 and a half because of extreme bullying and Special needs that were not being met. I tried to 'teach' him from then on, but when you are trying to 'teach' a child to read who cries and thumps his own head in frustration because he 'can't' read and believes that he is stupid (even to sayoing out loud 'I can't do this Mum, I'm too thick') you have to realise when enough is enough.
If your child's still keen for more (and, again, there's no rush), you could have a go at helping them blend letter sounds together to make a simple vowel-consonant word: so, “a” and “t” makes “at” or “o” and “n” makes “on”. “Say 'a' and 't', then say it again, faster and faster, until the sounds run together and the penny, in theory, drops.” You could also find some simple letter-sound activity sheets from websites like Twinkl or try phonics apps like Jolly Phonics and Reading Eggs to reinforce this idea.
Thank you, sep332. The quotes in your post were exactly the ones where my jaw dropped. A child's learning style doesn't change by how he's feeling each day. He may never be a good auditory learner, for example. And a child learning to read "when they're ready" at age 14? How is this not considered negligence? You don't get those critical periods of development back to "when they're ready for it." Read the thousands and thousands of other sound research studies compared to this one guy. Of course all the comments on here are extremely positive, because they're from unschoolers or lax homeschoolers whose "teaching" methods have just been validated. Utter nonsense.
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.
In marked contrast to all this frenzy about teaching reading stands the view of people involved in the "unschooling" movement and the Sudbury "non-school" school movement, who claim that reading need not be taught at all! As long as kids grow up in a literate society, surrounded by people who read, they will learn to read. They may ask some questions along the way and get a few pointers from others who already know how to read, but they will take the initiative in all of this and orchestrate the entire process themselves. This is individualized learning, but it does not require brain imaging or cognitive scientists, and it requires little effort on the part of anyone other than the child who is learning. Each child knows exactly what his or her own learning style is, knows exactly what he or she is ready for, and will learn to read in his or her own unique way, at his or her unique schedule.
The playing field between early readers and other children usually evens out by the second or the third grade. That doesn't mean that reading shouldn't be taught with some rigor in the first grade. But drilling 3- and 4-year-olds on phonics and expecting 5-year-olds to be fully literate isn't the best approach. "It may squelch their natural enthusiasm for books," says Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a professor of psychology at Claremont Graduate University, in California. "When kids are young, it's more important that they imagine themselves as the pirates, runaways, and explorers in stories than they read every word. You want them to develop a love for reading before they try to master the mechanics."
If you have been sharing books with your child from babyhood, they will already know that the same pictures or sounds can be visited again and again within a book. They will also know that it feels good to sit in a loving embrace and to have the enjoyment doubled by sharing a book. For them, looking at books is never a chore or a forced activity. This child has a head start.

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.

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.
Have your child describe the story to you. After every reading session, have your child describe what the story was about to you. Try to get them to be detailed, but don’t expect an elaborate response. An easy and fun way to help encourage this is to use puppets who represent characters in the story, so your child can describe it to you through them.
As you’ve probably noticed, there is no “magic formula” to teach your child how to read.  The points we’ve discussed in previous posts have highlighted simple, effective strategies that are easy to modify for your child.  After all, every child learns differently!  This series is not to be used as a “checklist” and think that once you’ve covered all the strategies your child will be proficiently reading.  Rather, this series provides valuable information to you so that you can guide your child while creating a print-rich, learning environment to foster his/her growth as a reader.  Don’t rush and don’t stress!  While it’s important to take advantage of the prime-learning time, it’s even more important to let your kid be a kid!

I realize these are old comments now, but what the heck. Yes, I believe kids teach themselves math. At least mine did. He would count with us for fun at about age 4 and once he mastered that, he started adding then subtracting for fun. He'd make a game of it and challenge himself to add ever greater numbers. When he was getting into 3 and higher digit additions I asked if he wasn't interested in multiplication? He said no, not firmly enough for me to back off though. But I did just do a very quick introduction of what it was, that it was basically a more efficient way of adding larger numbers of sums. That took about 2 minutes. In a few days he was multiplying 2 digit numbers in his head. I'd give him a problem and he'd run off pacing back and forth doing the math. I even had him teach me how to do it without using pen and paper, but I never learned multi-digit multiplication that way as a child so I wasn't able to grasp it. That was in his first or second year of school, and into the third he had tired of doing math for fun. I was never able to convince his teachers that he was very advanced in math, because they said he worked out problems too slowly. Well, here he was having to add 8 and 5 when he was doing multidigit multiplication with ease. He was bored. And he's not at ease with a pen at all.


I also loaned it to a friend whose child had fallen below grade level in reading in her 2nd grade public school class. Her mom tutored her with 100 Easy Lessons over one summer. When school started up again, the reading specialist sent home a note saying that she was amazed at the progress she saw, and that her daughter was now easily reading above her grade level.
Teach your child to read using explicit phonics. Traditionally, children are taught to recognize a word based on its size, the first and last letters, and the general sound. This method of teaching is known as implicit phonics - working from the largest piece down. However, studies have shown that readable vocabulary dramatically increases (from 900 words to 30,000 words by the third grade) when taught in the opposite fashion: breaking each word into the smallest parts, and building them up into a full word - explicit phonics. Help your child to begin reading by having them sound-out each individual letter without looking at the overall word first.
It actually misspells things at first (meaning writing the words (and the Alphabet!) as they sound, not as they are really written) and then switches over to the correct method. I didn’t have much interest or want of using this type of curriculum since I am a firm believer of learning the correct way since the beginning, but as of now, we are only on lesson 12; and she has improved at least about 60% if I’d have to scale it for you in 2 weeks and only in about 20 minutes a day!!
I’ve taught 1st grade for five years. I’ve also taught 2nd and 4th. From my experience reading is not only about word call and decoding. Your child needs to look at the print, slide their finger under what they are reading, get their mouth ready and sound it out. Work with word families and use an easy reader that has the word family in it. When you begin a story reload the vocabulary. You can use magnetic letter, dry erase markers on a table to to sound out main words in the story. For example if you have an easy reader that uses the family -op, then work and teach words that are in the story like mop, top, etc. Then when the child sees the word in print in the context of the story they should be able to recognize the family and use decoding skills to figure out the word. Don’t ever tell them the word b/c then they will get use to having someone read the words to them and they do not use the strategies taught. One last thing, your daughter is only five. Fluent reading normally doesn’t kick in til mid first grade. She just may not be developmentally ready to just pick up a book and read. Keep doing what you are doing and use the suggestions above and you will see progress. Don’t stress. Your daughter is already ahead of most of her kinder peers already.
I love this! I am a preschool teacher who has been stressing a little! My 4.5 year old son has been challenging me… he is clearly showing signs that he is ready to read and I have no idea where to start! You have no idea how happy I am to have come across your blog about reading… the fact that its not memorize ABC’s, memorize sounds, etc but rather comes from a more natural learning has made me so happy! I have come across so many teachers that are no longer worried about letting children learn through their interests and it has turned into a very formal rote learning which makes me cringe. So YAY!!! Thank you thank you thank you! Tomorrow my son and I have a game planned where he is going to think of a word, which we will sound and and decide what letters are in it… and I will write out words that he will try and sound out to read! We are both very excited!

Thanks for these ideas! I’ve got a (just turned) 2 year old, and he loves his letters. And he loves when I read to him. I feel like he might love learning basic words (which letters form the words he already likes to say), and then he would REALLY love reading. Most of these ideas are advanced for him, but I gives me some ideas for moving forward. Thanks!
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.
Instead, we should think about our children as whole readers from the beginning. In his NYT piece, Willingham writes that “comprehension is intimately intertwined with knowledge.” He suggests that parents should leave the teaching up to teachers, and simply read with kids. Read often. Read everywhere. Read for fun. Read fiction. Read nonfiction. Explore different topics. Traditionally, the texts in early elementary grades “have been light in content,” Willingham writes. (“Mac sat on a mat,”etc.) Kids can soak in more complicated information and plots when you read to them than when they read texts themselves, so it’s important to keep at it, following their natural curiosity.
It is definitely a steady (and at times slow) progression and it will be different for every child. I honestly can’t really estimate how long it takes…because it ultimately depends on your definition of “reading”. Some people consider “reading” sounding out words. I consider a child a reader when they no longer have to sound out the majority of words and can read steadily with inflection.
Idzie, a 19-year-old unschooled but beautifully educated blogger, sent me a link to an essay, on her blog, about her own memories of learning to read. She wrote, in part: "When I was something like age 8 or 9, my mother was reading the first Harry Potter book aloud to my sister and me. But, well, she had things to do other than read, and if she read too long, her voice would get hoarse. So, being quite frustrated at how slow a process this was, and really wanting to know what happened next, I picked it up and began to read."
It is very important that parents especially the mother has the initiative to be so attached with the needs of her kid. At an early age it is very important to enhance their mind to many possibilities. Reading them a book at an early age can help them analyze things, so even if they cannot still read when they reach the certain age where they should learn to read it is easy for them to get things clearly.
Many of the teaching techniques and games include variations for making the lesson more challenging for advanced students, easier for new or struggling students, and just different for a bit of variety. There are also plenty of opportunities, built into the lessons and games, to observe and assess the child’s retention of the sight words. We encourage you to use these opportunities to check up on the progress of your student and identify weaknesses before they become real problems.
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.
It seems gimmicky, but I highly recommend this book! I have two very good readers after having worked through this book. This was recommended to me by several homeschooling moms that I know, all of which have good readers. It must be understood, though, that this is not a grammar book. This is simply teaching a child to read the words in front of him. It uses mainly phonics, but also incorporates memorization of “funny words”.
Once you’ve seen science-based reading instruction delivered well, you’ll want it for your kids. For six years, Kristina Matuskiewicz, a kindergarten teacher at Edna C. Stevens Elementary School in Cromwell, CT, believed that, like all the teachers at her tidy suburban school, she was helping to make good readers. She read them stories, she identified words and described their meaning, she offered them a variety of good books and worked to shift them to independent reading. “Each teacher had their own approach to teaching reading,” says Matuskiewicz.
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.

Hi, This really is very interesting and informative. I have an 11 year old and he still struggling with reading. Right now I am paying a private school for him, “They claim they can teach him” But I am very concerned, he is an amazing kid and he is so smart, but when it comes to reading, even if someone mentions it, he gets very frustrated, he loves books, he would love to read like all the kids his age, I have hundreds of books at home, and I read to all my kids, I always try to promote this skill, to encourage them (specially him) I just don’t know how to help him, I feel like I am not doing a good job as a mom, just because I can’t make him learn as fast as he want to.
At times she compares herself to her public schooled peers and I think, feels a bit frustrated. We encourage her by reminding her of the things she can do in addition to learning to read (playing the cello, doing great mental math, dancing in ballet, painting on canvas, baking mult-layer cakes using her own recipes, sewing her own designs, leaning to type on the computer, etc.)
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”.
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