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.
May I ask if you would be willing to review our reading program. It is called The Reading Lesson. I will be happy to send you a copy. It the best there is. I should know. My mom who is the author taught me to read with it many years ago. And now thousands of people use it. In fact it is number 1 best selling reading book in England, and number two in the US.

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.
Such step-like progressions in overt reading ability may occur at least partly because earlier, more covert stages of learning are not noticed by observers and may not even be noticed by the learners. Karen attributes the rapid onset of reading that she observed in her son to a sudden gain in confidence. She wrote: "Over this past summer, son A [now age 7] went from hiding his ability [to read at all] to reading chapter books. In a summer! Now, six months later, he feels confident enough in his reading ability that I regularly get up in the morning to find him reading aloud to his sister. He even offers to read to his father and me. This was unheard of a year ago when he hid his ability level from us in his embarrassment and lack of confidence. I'm so glad we didn't push him!"

Reading books aloud is one of the best ways you can help your child learn to read. This can be fun for you, too. The more excitement you show when you read a book, the more your child will enjoy it. The most important thing to remember is to let your child set her own pace and have fun at whatever she is doing. Do the following when reading to your child:


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.
DiStefano says that the new program has made her relationship with parents more straightforward. “Before, we might say, ‘That child isn’t reading!’ And we’d shrug. We didn’t know what to do. Now we can sit with a parent and say, ‘Your child is struggling to understand the rule that when a word ends with e, the middle vowel says its own name.’ And we can describe our plan to reteach that and get parents to emphasize that at home and get that child back on the path to reading success.”

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!
Project Read is used in a classroom or group. The program emphasizes instruction by the teacher. Lessons move from letter-sounds to words, sentences and stories. Project Read has three strands: listening, understanding and writing. All three strands are taught at all grade levels, though the emphasis differs by grade. The program is sometimes used in general education classrooms where many students are struggling. In schools where most kids are on track, the program is often used by special education teachers or reading specialists to give extra support.
As your child begins elementary school, she will begin her formal reading education. There are many ways to teach children to read. One way emphasizes word recognition and teaches children to understand a whole word's meaning by how it is used. Learning which sounds the letters represent—phonics—is another way children learn to read. Phonics is used to help "decode" or sound out words. Focusing on the connections between the spoken and written word is another technique. Most teachers use a combination of methods to teach children how to read.
Finally, I can't resist ending with a little story about my son's learning to read. He was a very early reader, and one of the first indications of his reading ability occurred when he was about three and a half and we were looking at a Civil War monument in a town square somewhere in New England. He looked at the words, and then he said to me, "Why would men fight and die to save an onion?"
My six-year-old son has taught himself to read in the last year or two, and he is learning math in the same way. The concepts of addition and subtraction have been introduced to him early in his life because I like to talk about amounts. I guess it is the way I see the world. ("There are three apples on the table. Let's peel two of them so you can have one and I can have one. Then there will be one left and we can eat it tomorrow.")
Avoid using flashcards. Some companies have advertised specialized flashcards to help babies, toddlers, and preschool age children to read. In general, flashcards are not the most useful or effective technique for teaching reading skills. Time spent reading stories with your child will be much more beneficial than flashcards. “Reading aloud to young children, particularly in an engaging manner, promotes emergent literacy and language development and supports the relationship between child and parent. In addition it can promote a love for reading which is even more important than improving specific literacy skills.”[3]
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.
Avoid using flashcards. Some companies have advertised specialized flashcards to help babies, toddlers, and preschool age children to read. In general, flashcards are not the most useful or effective technique for teaching reading skills. Time spent reading stories with your child will be much more beneficial than flashcards. “Reading aloud to young children, particularly in an engaging manner, promotes emergent literacy and language development and supports the relationship between child and parent. In addition it can promote a love for reading which is even more important than improving specific literacy skills.”[3]

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.

While it's best (and easiest) to encourage a love of books in children when they're little, it's never too late, and it's always worth the effort. Of course, you'll need to use different strategies, but the goal is the same: to build a connection between feelings of well-being, security, and happiness and reading. Unfortunately, as kids get older, they start to associate reading with negative things (studying for a test, doing homework) and negative feelings (anxiety, stress). What you want to do is turn that around, so reading is seen as something relaxing and pleasurable.


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.
She can do a lot of word building BUT, i think she feels that because it seems difficult to her then she doesn’t particularly enjoy reading…I have to work really hard with her to get her to focus and to actually pick up a book, otherwise I don’t think she would bother..This worries me greatlybecause as we all know if reading is not something you enjoy then life will be more difficult for her than if she enjoyed it.

Hi Mama Kim. I’m sorry to hear that things are not going so well. Firstly let me assure you that he is NOT too young to learn to read; as a matter of fact he is the perfect age for you to start. Secondly, the flash cards really do work; they only get boring if you are trying to “hammer” the words into your sons head. No child has that much concentration that’s why lessons are really, really short (I’m talking 5 seconds at a time here!). If you do only 5 words at a time several times a day you should find that he is progressing without it getting boring for him or for you. If you want more details on how to do this you will find everything you need in the “Teach Your Child To Read & Reading with Phonics” reading method. I hope this helps and I'm sure your son will be reading in no time at all! :)
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?
@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.
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.
I have 6 children. The first one learned to read at age 9; within 3 months, he was reading Harry Potter. I had tried to "teach" him a year earlier; but he just wasn't ready and was becoming frustrated. When I saw him at age 9 sitting with a book and straining to figure it out himself, I knew he was ready and tutored him in basic phonics for a few weeks, 15 minutes a day. That's all it took, because he was ready.
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).
Studies show that children with weak phonological awareness become weak readers. Parents can almost guarantee their youngsters will become proficient readers by starting early with phonological awareness. They should forget flashcards, workbooks, and pricey kits such as “Hooked on Phonics” and just keep it fun, light, and simple. Phonological awareness is about being silly with words, making it a game, and celebrating the magic of language. There's no need for parents to sit their children down and give formal lessons. Instead, parents should teach it throughout the day in a fun and organic way by remembering the mantra: When you're out and about, sound it out:
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.
But for information to zap from the visual area to the auditory area and finally to the angular gyrus, the connection between these three  -- a special circuit that develops only with time and practice  -- must be fully functional, says Reid Lyon, Ph.D., chief of the Child Development and Behavior Branch at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Eventually, as a child grows older and develops both his vocabulary and his letter-recognition skills, information travels that circuit almost instantaneously, and reading becomes second nature.
Great list, and wonderful summary. I particularly love the emphasis on making it fun and creative and incorporated into different aspects of life. I used a very similar list when documenting my experiences teaching my kids to read at howitaughtmykidstoread.wordpress.com. I’ll definitely be using your post in a future post of my own, and hope you will take a look at my site and let me know what you think. Thanks!
Hi, my daughter is 3 years old (turning 4 in 2 months) she also knows the letter’s names and sounds, and some sight words, and she reads a lot of simple words, but with words that are not very familiar for her, she will only say the sounds of the letters of the word, but can’t actually say the word and sound all the letters together :-( like she would see the word “glass” and would say the sounds of each letter separately not being able to say the word.. Should I just tell her the words so she can try and remember for next time, or should I wait until she gets it by herself?

Between the ages of 2 and 3, reading becomes a crucial part of your child's healthy development. The baby is growing into a child and communicating a little more each day. He is beginning to express his personality, indicate his preferences and assert his will. In fact, during this period, your child will experience a dramatic increase in language abilities. Many children can comprehend up to 400 words by their 3rd birthday. They can also speak in simple sentences and begin using correct grammar. For this reason, children love having the same books read to them at this age. In fact they thrive on repetition, and use the experience to memorize their favourite phrases and expressions from the book. Supporting your child's expanding language skills through reading becomes even more important.


My son, who is a staff member at Sudbury Valley, tells me that that study is now out of date. His impression is that most Sudbury Valley students today are learning to read earlier, and with even less conscious effort than before, because they are immersed in a culture in which people are communicating regularly with the written word--in computer games, email, Facebook, cell-phone texting, and the like. The written word is not essentially different to them than the spoken word, so the biological machinery that all humans have for picking up spoken language is more or less automatically employed in their learning to read and write (or type). I'd love to study this in some way, but so far haven't figured out how to do it without being intrusive.
I’m an educational psychologist that specializes in helping kids learn the sight words through pictures, movement, and creativity. I love the ideas in this post and was tempted to add more about teaching difficult sight words, but I got worried that I would sound like I was ‘pitching’ to your readers. So, I decided to just send you a message. Love your blogs.

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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 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.
Although I don't consider myself to be strictly in the unschooling camp (my children have assigned pages in math and grammar workbooks and some assigned reading), I am a fierce advocate of waiting until a child is developmentally ready for whatever learning experience I have planned. You are not only beating a dead horse teaching an unready child to "blend" sounds or do long division; you are, as one person in your study pointed out, taking his pride in learning away from him. He never gets to own the experience.
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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