Copyright © 2013- 2019 The Classroom Key, When sharing materials from this site, please link back to the original post or provide a social media link to @theclassroomkey, Some photography provided by: Erin Kusch Photography, Some clipart comes from Sarah Pecorino Illustration, We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Robyn – At four, I would say that the important thing is not to specifically get her to colour or write, but to have general fine motor skills. Do open-ended crafty and arty things which are about having fun and experimenting, not producing a specific outcome like a coloured-in drawing or something that looks like a word. Look at pictures of different styles of art and talk about them with her, encouraging her to observe the detail, and have feelings and impressions about what she likes and doesn’t like. Encourage any fine motor activities that she likes, and don’t stress if writing or colouring is occasional. Writing probably feels very laborious to her if her other language skills are so good. Have you tried offering to help her write a story and just get her to help you with the occasional letter or word, so she feels like she is getting a story out that has the complexity she’s interested in without getting stuck on the work of manually getting down the first few words? I’d perhaps look at incorporating little moments of writing or drawing into daily life, rather than being a task in and of itself. So perhaps you could make labels for things together, or you could play a game of snakes and ladders but introduce a new rule that if she lands on a snake she can go down the snake or draw a snake or write an s (the choice is hers – I’d avoid making it something she has to do as well as going down the snake cause then it will seem like a punishment rather than an opportunity to escape a punishment). Look at ways to make games of it that make it a bit more exciting: eg. (“Let’s see how small we can write your name? Can we get it smaller?” Then take chalk or water and a paintbrush out to the footpath and say, “Now let’s see how BIG we can write your name?”) Decorate soaps, glasses, and t-shirts. Write in the sand at the beach or playground.
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.
Say the sentence is “I have a flannel to wash my face”. And your child reads, “I have a flannel to clean my face”. That may be wrong but it's a good guess because your child is clearly thinking about the meaning of the sentence. (And you can just gently say, "Nearly. But does clean begin with 'w'?) A child who guesses “I have a flannel to watch my face” may have followed the letter-sound clues slightly better but are not thinking about the meaning at all.
Building on from the previous step, introduce simple word games on a regular basis. Focus on playing games that encourage your child to listen, identify and manipulate the sounds in words. For example, start by asking questions like “What sound does the word                      start with?” “What sound does the word                      end with?” “What words start with the sound                     ?” and “What word rhymes with                     ?”.
My daughter is three and a half. I have decided to home school her, because that’s what i think is best for her, and because she is already interested in learning. She picked up the alphabet almost instantly,(Alphabet song, if I remember right.) and she has already learned the sounds of every letter. (Except q and x, she knows what they are just has trouble pronouncing them.) She is improving significantly since I started (three days ago)) on sounding out 3-4 letter words. My question would have to be, where do I guide her next? I don’t want to skip something to fast and her not completely master it, or go over something so repeatedly she gets tired of it. Like you said, learning should be made fun whenever possible, which is the approach I try to use. What is your opinion?
I’m also a former teacher – and reading at infancy is the key! I began reading to my granddaughter when she was 2 months old. By 1 year, she knew the correct way to hold a book and turn the pages front to back. At 2 years 6 months – she began reading! She is now 2 years 11 months and reading at the 2nd grade level – I’ve tested her! She reads at least 10 books a day.
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."
It is at this stage that differences between your child and other children start becoming apparent, inside and outside the school environment. Teachers may have to plan special enrichment activities to meet your child's educational needs, while other children are being taught the basics of reading instruction. This is a positive indication that your child's early reading abilities are in fact the key to academic progress. Your child will already be ahead of her peers, from an academic point of view.
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.

From 24 – 36 months, your child needs to consolidate the basic learning that began in the previous year. She may be able to recite the alphabet, count to 10 and identify colors, shapes, animals and parts of the body. Popular favorites for this age group, for example, include Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb or The Nose Book and The Ear Book by Al Perkins.

The first meeting, says Literacy How consultant Wendy North, was a disaster. “We got off on the wrong foot,” says North. The teachers felt like they were being blamed for the struggles of kids they hadn’t taught in years. Instead of directing the anger at the inadequate instruction they had been given at teachers college, she says, they felt humiliated and angry that outside experts were being brought in to teach what they already knew — how to teach reading.
Hi TripleAMom, nice to see you again. Sight reading works really well for all kids, those with learning issues and those without. I think it’s simply a matter of preference really… and don’t get me wrong, I believe that phonics is essential for children to learn, I just believe that there’s a way to do it that is easier, especially for very young children. In the end reading is reading and I’m glad we both agree that this is every parent’s primary goal… not the method in which it is achieved. Thanks for stopping by, I really enjoy chatting to you :)
I think the key here is that children's brains develop at different ages and stages so, I believe that developmental readiness is when a child will learn any subject. I've unschooled my son, he started to read at around age 6, then didn't have much interest and didn't really take off in reading until age 8. But parents of public schooled kids, or kids that were being taught to read at home at an early age, were impressed that our son would just take a book off the shelf and start reading whenever he felt the urge to read, or look at picture books. We never pushed it, I did read to him quite a bit and modeled reading every day. He started by asking me to let him read the words he knew, then having me read a chapter, then him a chapter. We had quite a lot of fun reading books together through his younger years.
Around Lesson 8, something changed in my son. He caught on. A switch flipped in his little mind and he began putting the pieces together about slowly sounding out the letters without pausing...and noticing how he was suddenly READING A WORD! He was stunned. I was stunned. The method works, everyone. It is monotonous and repetitive, but it works. Sounding out the words without pauses between each letter is brilliant. The dot method used in this book is brilliant. He uses his fingers to move to each new dot and sound and it keeps his mind on track.
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.

As a former first grade teacher, teaching children to read is one of my greatest passions!  But because most children don’t start actually “reading” until around 6 years old (which is upwards of the targeted age range for my blog), I didn’t want parents to feel pressured that their 3-year old needs to start reading (which, by the way, they don’t!). However, the information shared below is general information that is beneficial for children of all ages, whether your child is ready to read or not. Don’t implement all of these strategies at once, nor should you expect your child to be able to do everything right away.  Learning to read is a process and the information below is simply for you to implement when you feel your child is ready.  


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!
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.
If you have been following me for any length of time, you know my son took to reading like a fish to water. Right now he is 4 and reading at a 2nd grade level. Everyone asks me how we taught him, so awhile back I shared this post  –  Teach Your Toddler To Read – A Hooked on Phonics Review. It’s one of my most viewed posts. But, what should you do before that? Before Hooked on Phonics? That’s a question I get asked a lot. So often, in fact, I decided to put this post together.

The first meeting, says Literacy How consultant Wendy North, was a disaster. “We got off on the wrong foot,” says North. The teachers felt like they were being blamed for the struggles of kids they hadn’t taught in years. Instead of directing the anger at the inadequate instruction they had been given at teachers college, she says, they felt humiliated and angry that outside experts were being brought in to teach what they already knew — how to teach reading.
Hi TripleAMom! I am a big advocate of preschool reading and I have looked at Starfall myself. However, personally I found that it didn’t work that well as most kids I deal with are visual learners. For this reason I developed my own system “Teach Your Child To Read & Reading with Phonics” and have had some incredible results, both with my own child and with many others. Many kids are visual learners, including children with disabilities such as dyslexia and autism, and phonics reading doesn’t work that well for them.
Vincent Lopez, a staff member at the Diablo Valley School, a Sudbury model school, sent me this sweet example of age-mixed learning: "In the art room they are making signs to imitate a TV show that had just started. It is in my opinion, a dumb, low-ethics, media-driven, free for all dating show; I've let this be known before. In their own way they are processing the future to come. ... but I digress. The jewel of this snippet is that the 5-year-old is attempting to read the sign with the help of his multi-aged peers. ...Students learn because they want to get the jokes, be more advanced like the peers around them."

School reading books are usually a weird old mixture of really good, new, phonics-based texts and rather dire, old, death-by-repetition ones. If your child has the misfortune to keep bringing home books of the “The hat is red. The hat is green. The hat is yellow” variety, you may want to search out some more exciting books to keep at home. Choose books about things that'll really catch their interest or make them laugh. Get right away from those ploddy reading primers into riddles and rhymes, rude poems and silly plots.
Hello every body, my name is Phillip and I just want to let you all know that having a broken heart is not an easy thing, but no matter how bad your situation may be, I want to let you all know that there is a way to get your ex chasing you around again wanting to be with you, because this is exactly what I did when my girlfriend left me for someone else and I am happy today because she is back with me and all these happened with the help of a spell caster Esango Priest. You can contact him via email:[email protected]
Thanks for your post…can I ask you for some advice??? My 5 year old knows all the parts of reading, but isn’t reading on her own yet. What I mean is she knows all her letter names and sounds, knows how to sound out words, knows several dozen sight words, knows to read a book from front to back, top to bottom, left to right, etc. But something isn’t clicking. If I had to guess its like she thinks she should have every word memorized and she should just know all the words by sight, and if she doesn’t, then in her mind, she can’t read it. I’m at a loss to help her over this seemingly final hurdle. Sorry to bother you with my personal situation, but your post on reading caught me on a day that I’ve really been stressing over this. Any advice is much appreciated.

I’m a K teacher and it seems that you are more interested in blaming his former teacher for where he is in his development more than anything else. Since this is a whole year later….I’m sure that he has picked up reading. However, I just want to say as an educator of 15 years who has a reading specialist endorsement, that reading is developmental—and each child is in a different part of that developmental process. As a parent, you are truly your child’s first teacher. Please revaluate pointing the finger at the teacher–as I’m sure that there was learning taking place in his classroom after all!
You seem very passionate about reading and I think that’s great. However, you seem very defensive about the method. Quite frankly my only goal is to help children learn to read and I have found that starting with sight reading is the easiest and best method. You, of course are entitled to your opinion as is Mrs Freeman. My son is now turning 10 and he is reading and memorizing Shakespeare (having learned to read from – YES – “call words”!). You are welcome to go to my website and see him doing it if you doubt it. And BTW, my son is 100% homeschooled and he too remains above grade level.
Sometimes, parents are told early teaching is harmful, but it isn’t true. You simply can’t introduce literacy too early. I started reading to my own children on the days they were each born! The “dangers of early teaching” has been a topic of study for more than 100 years, and no one has ever found any convincing evidence of harm. Moreover, there are hundreds of studies showing the benefits of reading to your children when they are young.
Amanda is an artist turned homeschool mom and thinks that science and art are essential for learning and strives to create a space where her children are free to explore the arts and science. She is passionate about supporting parents who might not have an art background by helping them find easy ways to incorporate the arts. And because she has a real passion to help she has created some amazing courses. She also is the co-host of a homeschool podcast; Homeschooling in the Northwoods
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.)

"There was also a time when, as an infant, I knew no Latin; but this I acquired without any fear or tormenting, but merely by being alert to the blandishments of my nurses, the jests of those who smiled on me, and the sportiveness of those who toyed with me. I learned all this, indeed, without being urged by any pressure of punishment, for my own heart urged me to bring forth its own fashioning, which I could not do except by learning words: not from those who taught me but those who talked to me, into whose ears I could pour forth whatever I could fashion. From this it is sufficiently clear that a free curiosity is more effective in learning than a discipline based on fear."
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.

I know everyone says this, but it really is a good idea — at least with preschoolers. One of my colleagues refers to this advice as the “chicken soup” of reading education. We prescribe it for everything. (Does it help? It couldn’t hurt.) If a parent or caregiver can’t read or can’t read English, there are alternatives, such as using audiobooks; but for those who can, reading a book or story to a child is a great, easy way to advance literacy skills. Research shows benefits for kids as young as 9-months-old, and it could be effective even earlier than that. Reading to kids exposes them to richer vocabulary than they usually hear from the adults who speak to them, and can have positive impacts on their language, intelligence, and later literacy achievement. What should you read to them? There are so many wonderful children’s books. Visit your local library, and you can get an armful of adventure. You can find recommendations from kids at the Children’s Book Council website or at the International Literacy Association Children's Choices site, as well as free books online at other websites like Search Lit or Unite for Literacy.
Always follow up a story with a discussion or activity. Studies show that comprehension increases greatly when reading is followed up by discussing the book or doing an activity. Parents might ask: “What was your favorite part?” or “Who was your favorite character and why?” They might ask their child to draw a picture of an alternate ending or help them write a story with a similar plot or theme.

p.s. I hated to read when I was little (I really didn’t enjoy the public school reading curriculums) but now I love reading. My husband loves to read even more than I do and so do the men at our church, young and old. In fact, one of our friends grew up in a home where his father literally had thousands of history books and had read most of them. Now his son is also an avid reader.
×