A lot of people don't realize 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.
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The evidence from the standard schools is that reading does not come easily to kids. Huge amounts of time and effort go into teaching reading, from preschool on through most of the elementary school years. In addition, educators encourage parents of young children to teach reading at home in order to prepare the children for reading instruction in school or to supplement that instruction. Large industries have developed around the creation and marketing of instructional materials for this purpose. There is no end to interactive computer programs, videos, and specially sequenced books designed--"scientifically," according to their proponents--to teach phonics and provide a growing base of sight words for beginning readers.
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.
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.
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.
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.

@B. Leekley, thank you for your very insightful comment. I must say that did not intend to imply that once a child knows how to read there will be no more work to be done, what I simply meant in my article is that once a child knows HOW to read then he or she will have the most basic tool for learning. Thank you for your recommendation as well, I downloaded a pdf copy this weekend and am looking forward to reading it and implementing it into my son’s schooling. I really enjoyed your comments and am very grateful for your support.
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.

On your mark. Get set. Do not go! This is not a race. Calm down. Take off your running shoes. One of our main goals should be to develop a solid and strong foundation. Like all things built to last, learning to read is going to take some time. Even if you think your child may actually be behind, they will never catch up without a solid foundation. We need to be more concerned with improvement than achievement.

I am very grateful to the people who took time to write their stories so thoughtfully and send them to me. I hope that many of you who have just read this essay will add to these stories with stories of your own, in the comments section below. It's high time that we created a real account of the many ways that unschooled children learn to read, an account to contrast with all those rows of books on teaching reading that exist in the education section of every university library.
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.
Hi! I have a 5 and 4 month old daughter who is really interested in learning to read. She won’t start kindergarten until the fall as we are in CA. I love these steps and they help A LOT. I’m wondering if anyone can chime in with how much to put into this now and over the summer before she starts kinder. She seems ready. Would I look into a program like Pathways to Reading? Or just keep it simple and focus on basics? What about ABC mouse? She knows all her letters and most of the sounds (though she sometimes forgets) and seems to enjoy sounding out words together, but maybe only 2 or 3 before she gets bored. I’m in no rush, but she seems ready.
I used this with all three of my children. It lays a very good foundation for sounding out words and getting children, even from different learning styles, to a second grade reading level in a few months. After this, you need to teach children the rules of spelling, but the reading part will come easily. With my global learning daughter, I needed to offer more support in the process by sounding words out and having her repeat what I did. You may need to adapt it for your child, but the beauty is that adapting is not difficult. Just make sure your child is ready to learn to read, and don’t jump the gun because some children were able to do this process at age three. My children were 5 (girls) or 6 (son) before I used this.
In other words, reading Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat is an incredibly complex task that requires significant understanding beyond just being able to sound out words. It's based as much on a knowledge of how the world works as it is on how language works. So even though a toddler or a preschooler may not be ready to translate letters into phonemes into words, she is able to start gaining the contextual grounding that will allow her to give those words meaning. "From birth forward, children are becoming readers and writers," says Cox. "Their listening, drawing, early wordplay, pretend reading, storytelling, and scribbling all set the stage for reading excellence and a love of books and writing later on."
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."
Also, it’s important to note that not all books will fit into one of these genres, especially books that are considered “phonics readers.”  I would suggest that you do this exercise only with high-quality children’s literature, not with books that are attempting to get your child to “sound-out” on their own.  Most picture books found in children’s libraries will fit into one of these genres.
Read, Write and Type! Learning System is a software program to teach beginning reading skills, emphasizing writing. The program was developed for 6- to 9-year-olds who are beginning to read, and for struggling students. The main goal is to help students become aware of the 40 English phonemes, or word sounds, and to associate each with a finger stroke on the keyboard. Read, Write and Type! is often used as a supplement to other reading programs.
Try the Bob books starting with the blue box 1. it will get her reading. my boys taught themselves to read with the bob books. They learned the letters from leap frog and sight words from learn the sight words DVDs then they just taught themselves to read using bob books. After the blue box we went to the sight words purple box. Then level 2 yellow box then level 3 red box. They cost about $10.00 each. Now they read level 1 books from the library and other series books. They get 1 piece of candy for each book they read so they come to me to read a book. Sometimes they will read 3 or 5 books in a day so they can have a piece of small candy for each.
At first, I thought she was just reciting the books we owned from memory because she knew them so well. However, I realized that wasn't the case when I started giving her easy reader books to read that she'd never seen before. That's when I realized...my baby can read! She can actually read! And I'm not talking just those beginner reading books that contain sentences like, "Pat sat on her mat" and "See the fox run."I guess all my hard work is paying off. I am raising readers! Of course, she's still very much in the beginning stages of reading, but she's off to a great start!

Fast ForWord is a computer-based program that focuses on the link between spoken language and written words. The software aims to help kids master reading by improving things like memory, processing speed and attention. But the impact the program reports to have on these skills isn’t widely accepted. Nor is its impact on improving reading. Fast ForWord is used by clinicians and specialists.
Children learn best when multiple senses or areas of development are included.  That’s why hands-on learning produces longer retention and more meaningful application.  Once your child has shown an interest in letters and you have already begun to utilize natural settings for identifying those letters, begin implementing activities that incorporate as many senses as possible.  Keep in mind that learning letter names isn’t nearly as important as learning their sounds!

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?


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.
She might be too young to understand what's being read to her, but she makes profound connections that will last a lifetime: reading is love, reading is security, and reading feels good. To teach a child how to read, parents should remember these 3 simple mantras: 1) Start with the heart. 2) When you're out and about, sound it out and 3) Comprehension is the key that turns sounding out into reading.
Help the child sound out words. Once the child can identify the first sound of one syllable words, teach him to add the ending. Use a picture to break up the letters and make each individual sound, then ask the child what the word is. This will help him to understand how each of the sounds created by letters will work together to form words.[6] Have the child practice sounding out the words in the same way.
I have been using this book with my 5 year old twin girls, and have such mixed feelings about it. We are half way through. Some things I love are the structure, it is scripted and somewhat rigid. That means less work for me in terms of figuring out what to cover. I love how it teaches phonics, which is incredibly lacking in the school system near us. I also like the whole brain approach the book takes. As a neuropsychologist, it's nice to see the integration of writing, sounding out, comprehensi ...more

Once your child is about 2 or 3-years of age, begin asking questions before, during, and after reading the book. Show your child the cover of the book and ask him what he thinks the story is going to be about (predicting). While reading, ask him what he thinks is going to happen in the story or why he thinks a character made a particular choice (inferring). If a character is depicting a strong emotion, identify that emotion and ask your child if he has ever felt that way (connecting). At the end of the book, ask if his prediction(s) came true. Afterwards, ask him to tell you what he remembered happening in the book (summarizing).
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