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.

Sue, thanks for your comment. I'd like to do a post soon on children's teaching math to themselves, but so far I don't have a lot of material on it. Several readers have sent stories with some relevance to that topic, but I'd like to get more. -- One of the most common questions I get about Sudbury Valley is, "Why would anyone learn math if they don't have to?" -- That says something about the attitude toward math that our school system instills.
In practical terms it works like this: a child destined to become a poor reader and a child destined to become a good reader can both understand the word “bag,” but the poor reader may not be able to clap for each of the three sounds in the word or to know that the last sound is what distinguishes “bag” from “bad.” If a child struggles to hear individual sounds that make up words, that child is likely to stumble when you try to teach her, for example, that the letter t makes the “tuh” sound. This becomes a real problem when we ask those kids to execute the neurological triple backflip known as reading.
It can be hard for those who see their (often months older) classmates outstrip them fast – especially if there are a few who have come into school already able to read. “My son's a summer-born and was only just four when he started school. He was definitely slower than most of the others at 'getting' the whole idea of reading. I started to think he was destined to be bottom of the pile for ever. It was quite hard not to get a bit worried about it.” As a teacher, I can say neither early reading nor late reading has a bearing on the intelligence of a child.
When your child reads, get her to retell the story or information. If it’s a story, ask who it was about and what happened. If it’s an informational text, have your child explain what it was about and how it worked, or what its parts were. Reading involves not just sounding out words, but thinking about and remembering ideas and events. Improving reading comprehension skills early will prepare her for subsequent success in more difficult texts.

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.
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.
There's an education adage that goes, 'What we teach children to love and desire will always outweigh what we make them learn.' The fact is that some children learn to read sooner than others, while some learn better than others. There is a difference. For the parent who thinks that sooner is better, who has an 18-month-old child barking at flash cards, my response is: sooner is not better. Are the dinner guests who arrive an hour early better guests than those who arrive on time? Of course not.
This program is the “gold standard” for teaching reading to kids with dyslexia. It focuses at the word level by teaching the connections between letters and sounds. Orton–Gillingham also uses what’s called a multisensory approach. It taps into sight, sound, movement and touch to help kids link language to words. Students learn the rules and patterns behind why and how letters make the sounds they do. Orton–Gillingham is the basis for a number of other reading programs. These programs are mostly used by special education teachers.
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.
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.
On one point I disagree with you, and that is your implication that once a child can read on hir own, then henceforth it is clear sailing on the sea of learning all that the public and school libraries hold in their collections. Actually, learning how to read in the beginner sense is just a step on the way to learning how to read in the scholar sense. One guide for that is HOW TO READ A BOOK by Mortimer Adler. Doubtless you can find it at your public library, and Google finds free pdf copies online as well as bound copies for sale in both the original and revised editions and articles about the book, plus an online video of a TV series Adler did on the book long ago.
Sightwords.com is a comprehensive sequence of teaching activities, techniques, and materials for one of the building blocks of early child literacy. This collection of resources is designed to help teachers, parents, and caregivers teach a child how to read. We combine the latest literacy research with decades of teaching experience to bring you the best methods of instruction to make teaching easier, more effective, and more fun.
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!
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.
You, their parent, know what your child’s interests are and if you include these words into their lesson, you will soon have an enthusiastic child who will not only look forward to their reading lesson, but soon they will give you words that they want to learn to read, for example my son was crazy about dinosaurs, Winnie the Pooh and aliens. The best fun we had was making sentences using these words, one of his favourites was, “My daddy is a green dinosaur.”
Set a positive example by reading books. If a child notices that you are enjoying a book, he will be more likely to develop an interest in reading as well. Try to read around them for about 20 minutes each day. If the child gets curious about what you're doing you can tell him about the book you are reading, or take the opportunity to ask if the child would like to find a book to read.
I suggest you set aside an hour each night after dinner for reading. The TV is off as well as cell phones and computers. Your family gathers in a cozy room, and everybody reads something of their choice (a novel, magazines, comic books, non-fiction), but nothing work or school related. To make it more enjoyable, serve hot cocoa, popcorn, and dessert from time to time. During the last 10 minutes, have everyone share something about what they read. If this sounds impossible to do because your family is too busy on weekdays, do it just one night a week—perhaps, Friday or Saturday--when everyone isn't so frantic with after school activities and homework.
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
My daughter just finished lesson 25, and the transformation is amazing. She's gone from mixing up letters to reading simple sentences such as, "The cat is in the sack. The sack is near the man." On top of that, because she has experienced success herself, she is proud of herself and far more willing to engage in the activities! I won't lie; at first it was like pulling teeth, and mommy needed a big glass of mommy juice after a lesson. But she now picks the book up on her own in the morning and practices all by herself.
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!
It doesn’t have to be this way. No area of education has been as thoroughly studied, dissected, and discussed as the best way to teach students to read. Seminal research and longitudinal studies from the National Academy of Sciences and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, combined with MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and computerized brain modeling from the nation’s top academic labs, provide a clear prescription for effective reading instruction. And yet that information is virtually unknown among teachers, parents, and those who serve on school boards.
Look for books with bright, funny illustrations and clear, uncomplicated text. Stories with strong rhymes are especially good: they help your child absorb the rhythm and structure of sentences and sharpen up the listening skills she'll soon need to pick up on different initial letter sounds. Rhymes also encourage anticipation, a key pre-reading skill; try stopping before you finish the rhyme to see if they can fill it in for you (“Rain, rain, go away. Come again another…?”).
When your child is able to read books, you can fine tune their reading more easily. You can also spend more time on the basics, ensuring that they read better than even children who are older than them. This will ensure that when they get to school (if you’re not home schooling), they will be fully prepared and can have more fun and be more relaxed in their classes; and when learning is fun it is more easily retained.
Wow! I've tried lots of things (6 or 7) to teach my kids to read and this is the only no-fail system. Yes, my kids hate this book after a month or so of it, but it doesn't make them hate reading. This is the only book they are successful at. Whenever I have them try to read the school reading assignments or Bob books or I see sam books, or reader rabbit, or starfall, they instantly stop progressing. Most of these other methods either introduce new information too quickly or discourage sounding o ...more
“We 'fish' those foam letters with a small net out of the bath: it's a great game. I put about ten letters in, and say, 'Where is m?' and my son fishes it out. We also play I Spy and this game where I say, 'This word starts with the 'a', and it's a fruit, it's red and crunchy' and he has to guess what it is. I don't really want him to read before he starts school, but I would like him to 'want' to learn to read and have an interest in letters and sounds and numbers.”
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.
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?

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A child who's really reading does more than just sound out a word like "cat." He must also be able to know whether a "cat" is a person, place, or thing; to comprehend the grammar in each sentence (Does the cat wear the hat or does the hat wear the cat?); to dramatize and contextualize the story in his head (cats don't normally talk and wear hats, do they?); and to empathize with the story's characters and understand the ramifications of their actions (that mom is sure going to be mad when she finds the mess made by that silly cat).
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!

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!
To make meaningful connections with the printed word, children need rich and varied life experiences. A kid who has never strayed from the inner-city will not get much from a story about farm life. A kid who has never visited an aquarium will not have the background needed to comprehend a text on marine life. Moms and dads can boost comprehension by remembering the mantra: Comprehension is the key that turns sounding out into reading. They can engage in the following activities.
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