I recently read an article by two cognitive scientists claiming that the next development in reading instruction is going to be individualized instruction.[1] According to the authors, modern brain imaging methods will be used to figure out the unique learning style of each child, and digital text-delivery programs will be used to teach reading to each child according to his or her unique needs and way of learning. The authors and their colleagues are, indeed, working on developing such systems. To me, this seems silly. 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, which the child himself or herself controls. I'll begin to believe these researchers' claims when I see evidence that brain imaging can be used to predict, in advance, the contents of daydreams.

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 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."

I started this with both my sons in pre-k and quit each time because they were not ready. We finally made it through with my oldest who is now in 3rd grade and a great reader. My current Kindergartner and I have taken a break from it with plans to return. It is just moving too fast for him. He cannot make it through one lesson in the 20 minute time limit. We tried to break it into 2 20 minutes sessions, but he was still struggling. I do plan to return to it when I think he is ready. I think the book is a great start to phonics. The boys do love the pictures and funny stories.


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.
Begin giving your child complete stories. Odds are, your child will be in school by the time they are able to read and will be given their own reading material by their teachers. Help them to read these whole stories by encouraging explicit phonics use, and recognizing vocabulary. As their word recognition increases, they’ll be able to more fully understand story plots and meanings.
Learning to read is a long process, but it doesn't have to be a difficult process. Broken down into intuitive and logical steps, a child as young as two years old can learn to read, and older children can accomplish even more. Click here to for a simple, step-by-step program that can help your child learn to read, and watch a video of a 2 year old child reading.
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!
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.
Students think of something that has happened to them personally, sketch a picture, and then write about it. They may start by just labeling the picture, or they may be writing several sentences. I sometimes draw lines for each of the words they tell me, so they can see where they should be writing (for example, if they say, “I went to the park.” I would draw __ _______ ____ _____ ________).
This article is phenomenal!!!! Thank you for emphasizing the importance for creating a love for reading and not a ‘system’ for learning to read. I’m a 1st grade teacher and mother of 2 preschoolers. Even with all my background knowledge on teaching children to be successful readers, I still find myself stressing out when it comes to my own children by comparing them to others (mainly family members around the same age). I’ve always said there’s so much more to reading than just sounds/words on a page. I look forward to reading more on your blog.
I forgot to say that we also play a lot of word games. My husband or I will start coming up with words that rhyme, or words that all start with the same letter and we'll just go back and forth until we can't think of any new words. We've been doing that since before we had kids, and so they've both just grown up with that being a game our family plays. The oldest is starting to be good at it, and the youngest one doesn't get any rules yet, but will shout out random words when we start playing. This isn't the kind of thing that we'll all sit down and say "Okay, let's play rhyming" or anything structured. It just so happens that every so often when one of us says something, the other will find it interesting, and we'll start the game. Oh, and another thing the oldest will help me with is cooking. If he wants me to make brownies or cookies, I'll say, sure, but I'm going to need your help. I'll look up a recipe on the computer and I'll go to the kitchen to start cooking. His job is to read the ingredients to me.
This website includes a detailed curriculum outline to give you an overview of how the individual lessons fit together. It provides detailed instructions and techniques to show you how to teach the material and how to help a child overcome common roadblocks. It also includes free teaching aids, games, and other materials that you can download and use with your lessons.

The principal, Lucille DiTunno, decided the school needed to take another approach. First, she asked her teachers to establish a “literacy block” — 90 minutes a day dedicated to reading. Three years ago, DiTunno paid $28,000 to Literacy How, then a division of Haskins Laboratories in New Haven, to bring consultants to the school every week for a full year to teach teachers about the scientifically proven methods that help kids learn to read.
Children enjoy copying words out onto paper. Write your child’s name and have him copy it himself with alphabet stamps, stickers, or magnets. Encourage him to “write” his own words using the letters. Your child will write letters backwards, spell seemingly randomly, and may hold his marker strangely — it’s “all good” at this age when a child wants to communicate in writing of any kind.
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?”
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.
Do not worry about grammar.. Preschoolers, kindergartners, and first graders are very concrete in the way they think and cannot handle complicated concepts. By age four, most English speaking children already have an excellent grasp of grammar and in due time, they will learn all the formal grammatical rules. At this point, you need to concentrate only on the mechanical skill of reading, that is learning to decode new words and incorporating them in memory to build fluency.

Teach your child the alphabet. When your child has developed word awareness, begin breaking down words into individual letters. Although the alphabet song is the most classic means of teaching the alphabet, try getting creative. Explain each of the letters with their name, but don’t worry about trying to incorporate the sounds the letters make yet.

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Practice often. You should practice reading with your students as often as possible, but keep the learning sessions short. This will help keep children from becoming frustrated and tired. Use picture books with short, easy sentences, and let the children practice sounding out the words. The most important thing you can do is be patient and encouraging. You should never make a child feel stupid for making a mistake as this will discourage them from wanting to read.[12]
Twenty-one years ago two of my undergraduate students conducted a study of how students learn to read at the Sudbury Valley School, where students are free all day to do as they wish (look back at my essay on Sudbury Valley).[2] They identified sixteen students who had learned how to read since enrolling in the school and had received no systematic reading instruction, and they interviewed the students, their parents, and school staff to try to figure out when, why, and how each of them learned to read. What they found defied every attempt at generalization. Students began their first real reading at a remarkably wide range of ages--from as young as age 4 to as old as age 14. Some students learned very quickly, going from apparently complete non-reading to fluent reading in a matter of weeks; others learned much more slowly. A few learned in a conscious manner, systematically working on phonics and asking for help along the way. Others just "picked it up." They realized, one day, that they could read, but they had no idea how they had learned to do so. There was no systematic relationship between the age at which students had first learned to read and their involvement with reading at the time of the interview. Some of the most voracious readers had learned early and others had learned late.
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
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.

Teach your child the alphabet. When your child has developed word awareness, begin breaking down words into individual letters. Although the alphabet song is the most classic means of teaching the alphabet, try getting creative. Explain each of the letters with their name, but don’t worry about trying to incorporate the sounds the letters make yet.


Read to your child on a regular basis. As with all things, it's difficult to learn anything without exposure to it. In order to get your child interested in reading, you should be reading to them on a regular basis. If you’re able, this should start when they are an infant and continue through their school years. Read books with stories they comprehend; at a young age this may lead you to read 3-4 small books a day.
The principal, Lucille DiTunno, decided the school needed to take another approach. First, she asked her teachers to establish a “literacy block” — 90 minutes a day dedicated to reading. Three years ago, DiTunno paid $28,000 to Literacy How, then a division of Haskins Laboratories in New Haven, to bring consultants to the school every week for a full year to teach teachers about the scientifically proven methods that help kids learn to read.
I say my youngest "learned" to read at 9, but really, he was learning what he needed all along, internally, in bits and pieces here and there, until all the pieces came together for him and it made sense. When he was younger, he used to mix up letters when he talked. One memorable example was when he said "squidwishy" instead of "dishwasher". He'd make a slip like that, and wouldn't even notice it, he'd just go right along with whatever he was talking about. I intuitively knew that if he was pushed to read (and thank goodness I never wanted to do that - he has an unschooled older brother!), he would have developed dyslexia. I wonder how many "disorders" are caused by the unnatural ways of learning forced on kids in school? And I feel for those adults who believe they have a reading disorder, because of being forced to try to read too young.
Hmmm…it sounds to me like maybe you need to look around at some other supplemental reading curriculum out there. When you say that she is learning 20 new “vocabulary” words a day, do you mean that she is supposed to memorize these by sight? If so, I think you might be better off spending at least a little bit more time teaching elements of phonemic awareness and phonics (to where she will have the skills to actually learn to decode a word and not just memorize it). I used a curriculum called “Pathways to Reading” (linked to above in the “phonemic awareness section) in my first grade classroom and it was AMAZING! It taught all of the vowel sounds as well as blends, digraphs, and phonics rules. I would say that with ANY reading curriculum you use, you need a healthy balance that focuses on: reading comprehension, phonemic awareness, phonics, sight words, and vocabulary. Hope that helps!
This story is completely apocryphal as applied to learning to talk, which is why we understand it to be a joke. Children learn to talk whether or not they really have to talk in order to get their needs met; they are genetically programmed for it. But the story, somewhat modified, could apply quite reasonably to learning to read. Children seem to learn to read, on their own, when they see some good reason for it. Many of the stories sent to me illustrate this idea. Here are some examples:
“Grandma Sherbert” this is what I do too! I keep sidewalk chalk in full supply. They can trace, and trace over your letters. They can play ABC hopscotch, while we sing the alphabet. I have 2 kids, one is 4 and the other 5 (and tend to be close in learning capabiliites i.e. learning toghether, helping each other). The outside elements can be used as learning support. Start taking it one step further, and find the ta-ta-tree that starts with T and ta-ta-teeth starts with t too, well so does the number two! Why push them, as a PSYCHOLOGY MAJOR, the only issues pushing a child will create, (such as the 4 year old reading at 4th grade level shame-shame-mommy) the child will develop anxiety issues, confidence issues, relational issues, and the harder the pusher the more you will see Obsessive compulsive disorder, and did I say multiple anxiety realted issues, perfectionist issues, acute shyness can occur as well. All things, that later on, your child-teen-or-adult will be sitting in my office over. CONFUSION over what is normal, what normal even is, and why no matter what you try you cannot acheive that feeling of just being plain ole’ normal, due to the over-expectations your mother had. You then have them for yourself, and suffer miserably!
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!
Great article! It is SO important to keep our kids focused! I started this business 5 years ago and it has been so amazing impacting so many families. My favorite client was a 3 year old boy, Mikey, who had trouble BEGINNING to read. 5 years later, he STILL loves to read! He can’t put the books down! His confidence was the most amazing impact on his family. I gotta say, I love my job!
Even if your child is fascinated with books from an early age, her fascination will quickly dwindle if she does not see reading modeled in her home. If you are not an avid reader yourself, make a conscious effort to let your children see you reading for at least a few minutes each day! Read a magazine, a cookbook, a novel, your Bible…it’s up to you! But show your child that reading is something that even adults need to do. If you have a son, share this article with your husband. Sons need to see their fathers read, especially since it is not something that young energetic boys are naturally prone to doing.
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