Marie wrote, of her son, now age 7: "He is an artist and spends hours drawing things, especially stories and inventions. So naturally he wished to make his pictures "talk" with captions, titles, instructions, and quotations. ... There was a lot of ‘MOM? How do you spell Superdog wants to go home?' I would spell out the sentence and five minutes later, ‘MOM? How do you spell Superdog sees his house?'" This boy learned to read, at least partly, by reading the sentences that he, himself, had written.
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?
Amanda wrote, concerning her daughter who attends a Sudbury model school: "She had consistently told people that she didn't know how to read until she made brownies this past November [at age 7]. She asked her father and myself to make her favorite brownies for her, but neither of us was willing to make them. A little while later she ran into the room and asked me if I would turn on the oven for her and find her a 9x11 pan (she said, "9 ex 11" instead of "9 by 11"). I got her a pan and turned on the oven. Later she ran in and asked me to put the brownies in the oven. Then she said, 'Ma, I think I can read now.' She brought me a few books that she then read out loud to me until she jumped up and said, ‘those brownies smell done. Will you take them out now?' ... Now she tells people that she knows how to read and that she taught herself how."
The idea that a 4-8 year old knows his/her own "learning style [and] knows exactly what he or she is ready for," is complete bunk. I never knew my own learning style straight through college, and I'm sure I still don't know what I'm "ready for." In fact, the article even contradicts itself on this point, saying later "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," but then finishes the sentence "which the child himself or herself controls" which is such utter bullshit I'm not sure how you could ever believe it.
Make it warm and cozy. Many parents fall into the trap of reading to their children at bedtime when they're exhausted from a long day. This often makes for an unsatisfying experience for both parent and child. It's far better for parents to choose a time when they're feeling fresh, energized, and involved in the process. Most importantly, they should make reading a warm and cozy experience: sitting under the shade of a tree, sipping hot cocoa by a warm fire, or cuddling together in bed on a lazy Sunday morning.
My daughter is also the same. I have been having anxiety for my child not being able to catch on. My daughter turned 6 in December. She can only recognize a few letters in her name. My oldest daughter, who is 8, is a great reader, and my youngest daughter, 3 1/2, can also recognize most of the alphabet and is starting to sound out small words. We read to them every day. I also feel desperate to help my child as I do not know how I can help her. I have been giving her alphabet worksheets and doing the best I can at home.
I'm thrilled to find your blog Peter. I wish I'd found it before submitting the manuscript for my recent book, Free Range Learning. Your articles would have made my research much easier! As I read back through some of your recent posts I see we're on the same page regarding natural, interest-led learning and paying attention to what has benefited humankind over the long run.
ScottDavid mentioned reading in foreign languages and said it's easy part. I can't agree - when I was learning Arabic reading was a hell. Writing was way easier. It was the same with English (it's a foreign language for me). I could write and speak in moderate mode but reading was tricky. Now I observe the same thing as my daughter learn English and she can write anything you tell her but when asked to read the text, she's like muted. My son, who is 5 now, was not taught reading in pre-K, kids there were just playing with letters when they wanted. He had some issues with other boys so he was spending much of his time sitting on the floor and copying names from kids' chairs, book titles from the shelves, signs andfelt board titles. Once he even copied a company stamps from under the table. And one day we were getting home by car and he read aloud things written on other cars. I realized he can read realy well if he reads from a moving surfaces!
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.
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, I’m Spanish and I’m an English teacher in Spain. I’ve only spoken English to my son since he was 1 year old. He’s four now. I have a problem which I’ve realized is quite common. My wife doesn’t speak any English, so I speak Spanish with her, so Spanish is the language at home and in the street. What’s my problem? Before he started school last September he used to utter some sentences in English , but his use of English has been reduced since then. I googled my situation and other people’s children go through the same problem. Some suggested initiation to reading and that’s what I’m tring. Any other suggestions which may be useful. My kid is able to understand ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING I say and cartoons in English, but I would like him to speak it more often to me. Any suggestions are welcome. I have bought a game called Zingo to work on sight words.
First grade teacher Angela DiStefano, a 12-year teaching veteran, says the Literacy How approach to reading has changed her professional life forever. “Before that, I thought it was my job to teach kids to share my enthusiasm for reading.” Now, she teaches them to read with explicit instruction on how to sound out words. Not long ago, she gave a seminar for first grade parents to teach them some rules about vowels (for example: vowels make their short sound in closed pattern words like tap and the long sound in open pattern words like hi, so, and my) so parents could reinforce the lessons at home.

Even if your child is one of the lucky ones and is doing fine in reading, students who are poorly served by their primary schools end up being a drain on the public education system. Reading problems are the overwhelming reason why students are identified as having learning disabilities and assigned to special education, often an instructional ghetto of the worst kind.
I’m not sure who learned more in that group, them or me. What I do know is, there’s no reason for you to struggle with developing a reading-teaching roadmap from scratch. Start with pre-reading skills. Then move through letters, blending, sight words, word families, and other phonics skills. Allow time for review and the natural development of the child.
If you, for example, showed your child 100 objects, 10 at a time (like a duster, a cup, a pencil, a shoe, etc) and asked them to memorise these items, you can easily get them to recall and identify all 100 of these items in a few weeks. This is the exact process that you will use to teach your child the 100 most common words giving them access to half of everything written.

Many teachers do a little talk (or write a letter) to explain to parents the method(s) they're using to teach children to read. (If your child's teacher doesn't do this, ask them for some pointers.) The favoured method du jour is (some form of) Phonics – decoding words by sounding out all the different letter sounds they contain. Try to bear this in mind when listening to your child read at home: if they get stuck on the word “dog”, for example, it's probably more helpful to say, “Let's sound it out: d-o-g” than “It begins with d and sounds like frog”.
Español: enseñar a un niño a leer, Português: Ensinar Seu Filho a Ler, Italiano: Insegnare a Leggere a Tuo Figlio, Deutsch: Deinem Kind das Lesen beibringen, Français: apprendre à lire à votre enfant, Nederlands: Je kind leren lezen, Русский: научить ребенка читать, Čeština: Jak naučit dítě číst, Bahasa Indonesia: Mengajari Anak Anda Membaca, العربية: تعليم طفلك القراءة
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.
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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.

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]
First grade teacher Angela DiStefano, a 12-year teaching veteran, says the Literacy How approach to reading has changed her professional life forever. “Before that, I thought it was my job to teach kids to share my enthusiasm for reading.” Now, she teaches them to read with explicit instruction on how to sound out words. Not long ago, she gave a seminar for first grade parents to teach them some rules about vowels (for example: vowels make their short sound in closed pattern words like tap and the long sound in open pattern words like hi, so, and my) so parents could reinforce the lessons at home.
Hi :) First of all, that’s a bunch of useful tips you posted here Jenae! I have a lovely six-year-old daughter and I’ve been trying to start teaching her how to read for a few months now. I went through a lot of parenting forums and tried so many things, but what seems to work for her is simply playing educational games on our iPad ;) She’s got loads of them but the one she likes the most is called ‘Flincky Mouse’ and I’m even happier since we’re using Polish at home (my husband is British, but I’m from Poland) and the app comes in Polish as well. We’re also trying to read to her as much as possible and I hope she’ll appreciate it in the future! Anyway, thanks so much for the article and see you around.
Set small goals. This is the one time you shouldn’t focus so much on the bigger picture. It can be daunting and discouraging. It also might encourage you to breeze past foundational principles and push them past reasonable expectations. So, forget the “bigger picture” and focus on small victories instead. Remember we should be more concerned with improvement than achievement.

Education has always been extremely important to me. When I was a child I used to always say I wanted to be a teacher when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. Well, when I finally "grew up" I changed my mind and decided on the computer field instead. Perhaps some day I'll be a college professor and finally have the opportunity to fulfill my dreams of teaching. For now, I'll settle as being my children's first teacher.

I love this post! As a former first grade teacher, I am thrilled to see that the information you shared comes from experience. ;o) I feel exactly the same way you do on all points. One thing I realized when teaching my first graders is that parents would often push their children to read more challenging books, but never allowed for their child’s comprehension to grow with their reading skills. I also think that a huge developmental challenge for these little guys is confidence. My little 6 year olds struggled with confidence and so it was always hard to explain to the parents that they might be reading what seems to be “easy” books, but they can’t grow as a reader until they have the confidence to take chances and move forward. Great post! Thanks for sharing ;o) Consider it Pinned ;o) lol
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.
Another great free tool my mom used to teach me to write is by drawing shapes on the sidewalk with paint brushes soaked in water. My mom recently wrote a book explaining how she taught me to read at 3 and my sister at 2. Its really brilliant and the ebook is only $5. Its on amazon and called, A Thrifty Parents Guide To Teaching Your Child To Read Write And Count. In April I graduate with my doctorate and even in my doctoral program my friends commented on how quickly I read and assimilate information. I wish every child’s parent taught them with this method.
As the parent (or instructor), please take time to truly read the introductory pages. They go over why this method works and how long it took them to achieve success with all the children they tested this book's method on. It took years of revisions of the method until they reached the one used in this book. It gives very specific instructions on how to teach, the tone to use, how to correct mistakes, pronunciation, etc. Success hinges on the parent's ability to teach correctly. If we don't put in the effort, it will fail. PERIOD.
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 Recovery is a short-term tutoring program for struggling first graders. It aims to develop reading and writing by tailoring lessons to each student. Tutors are trained in the program. They teach students in daily pullout sessions over 12–20 weeks. Reading Recovery is designed for short-term use. It’s an add-on to whatever program is being used in the general classroom. Kids with dyslexia are often included in the program at first. But research has questioned how effective it is for these students.
As you’ve probably noticed, there is no “magic formula” to teach your child how to read.  The points we’ve discussed in previous posts have highlighted simple, effective strategies that are easy to modify for your child.  After all, every child learns differently!  This series is not to be used as a “checklist” and think that once you’ve covered all the strategies your child will be proficiently reading.  Rather, this series provides valuable information to you so that you can guide your child while creating a print-rich, learning environment to foster his/her growth as a reader.  Don’t rush and don’t stress!  While it’s important to take advantage of the prime-learning time, it’s even more important to let your kid be a kid!
You can ask questions after you finish reading, but you can also stop to ask questions during the story too. For example, ask them what you think the main character should do about a problem they’re having. Ask them at various points throughout the story how they think a character is feeling. For example, are the probably sad, mad, happy, or tired?
Nobody is better equipped to teach a child how to read than her own mom and dad. That's because reading involves more than sounding out words on a page. At its most powerful, reading is an emotional undertaking as well as an intellectual one—an interlacing of the written text with one's own life experiences. If a youngster is lucky, she gets to experience it as a warm, loving time when she sits on Mom's lap and turns the pages, walks to the library with Dad for afternoon story time, and cuddles in bed with her parents on Saturday morning as they read her favorite stories.
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!
Great information. Speaking from personal experience, homeschooling is definitely the way to go, better than social schooling in my experience, but the parents do play a major role on how well educated the child will be. I have found a very informative FREE pdf file that coached me every step of the way on how to home school my children. If anyone is interested..it’s free
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.
Literacy expert Timothy Shanahan shares best practices for teaching reading and writing. Dr. Shanahan is an internationally recognized professor of urban education and reading researcher who has extensive experience with children in inner-city schools and children with special needs. All posts are reprinted with permission from Shanahan on Literacy.
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.

And Kate, a homeschooling mom in the UK, wrote, concerning her attempts to teach reading to her son: "By age 9 he was resistant to any English and reading became a regular battle. He resisted it and found it boring and he was distracted, so finally I got over my own schooly head and tried a new policy of letting go. I said that I would never make him read again or even suggest it.... Over the next month he quietly went to his room ... and taught himself to read.... I had spent four years teaching him the basics [when he wasn't interested], but am now sure that he could have learnt that in a few weeks."


I found this system very, very useful right away, even after the first 3 lessons! She learns what sounds the letters make and make together after learning what each letter sounds like individually, this way she is learning to read the word through sounds instead of guessing (which she is slowly getting out of the habit of doing) what the word really is or associating it with a picture. It is the fundamentals of letter sounds that helps her to learn to read correctly so I’m hoping it continues to go well and I can get her out of that ‘guessing’ the word.
Marie wrote, of her son, now age 7: "He is an artist and spends hours drawing things, especially stories and inventions. So naturally he wished to make his pictures "talk" with captions, titles, instructions, and quotations. ... There was a lot of ‘MOM? How do you spell Superdog wants to go home?' I would spell out the sentence and five minutes later, ‘MOM? How do you spell Superdog sees his house?'" This boy learned to read, at least partly, by reading the sentences that he, himself, had written.
“If children don’t learn at an early age to enjoy reading, it will most likely hinder their ability sometime down the road.” I do not agree with your statement. My mother worked to support her family, and I didn’t have the opportunity to read books until school. I learned to read at 5 and was very successful throughout school/college. Not every child has the opportunity to be read to, or even access to books.

Thanks so much for posting this! Our son just turned 2 and LOVES reading books. He would have us read to him for hours…in fact when his grandma comes over I think she really does read to him for multiple hours through the day. We read board books about trucks and tractors and animals and also read a lot of Dr. Seuss and Bible stories and Curious George. For many months now I have set aside time for him to color with crayons and I would write down the alphabet or short words and go over the letters. We sing the ABC’s a lot and have worked on his saying vowels. He began to recognize the letter “A” in many places at the beginning of the year. Last week we were at the doctors office and there was an alphabet rug and he began naming them through “F”. And he just got an etch a sketch for his birthday, so as I wrote down the first few letters of the alphabet or wrote down his name he began naming them! I was amazed! Not that he does it perfectly but I really didn’t know the capabilities of a 2 year old. I’m really wanting to find more fun ways to encourage him but not push him too hard in it. I look forward to putting your suggestions into practice as he continues to learn!
Most children learn to read by 6 or 7 years of age. Some children learn at 4 or 5 years of age. Even if a child has a head start, she may not stay ahead once school starts. The other students most likely will catch up during the second or third grade. Pushing your child to read before she is ready can get in the way of your child's interest in learning. Children who really enjoy learning are more likely to do well in school. This love of learning cannot be forced.

I checked through his school books again and found yet again that the school had not progressed his reading book in the 3 months prior (they hadn't changed it at all or made any comments on the messages I had left in the book), so I double checked what age he actually was in reading ability. The school still had him on Year 1 books which he couldn't read. So I stopped trying to 'teach' him to read. 9 months later he read out a leaflet that had been put on the windscreen of the car, with no coaxing from me at all.


I'm an English teacher but at the secondary level, meaning when they come to me, they are already expected to know how to read. Because of this, I have no formal training in how to teach kids to read. I become painfully aware of how naive I was to the processes of reading when my daughter was at the age that she should be knowing her letters and stuff. Despite the fact that my husband and I are voracious readers, and that we read to our daughter daily, she had developed a loathing towards all things letters. When she was still mixing up her letters and sounds, and resistant towards all reading games at 5 years old, I began to worry. The summer before she was to start Kindergarten, I decided to take matters into my own hands. We were going to spend a summer learning to read, gosh darnnit! Or, at the very least, she would know each letter and the sound it made. So I scoured the internet for various books and programs to help me, as I, by then, understood fully I knew jack squat about how to teach a kid to read. And so I came across this book.
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!

Marie wrote, of her son, now age 7: "He is an artist and spends hours drawing things, especially stories and inventions. So naturally he wished to make his pictures "talk" with captions, titles, instructions, and quotations. ... There was a lot of ‘MOM? How do you spell Superdog wants to go home?' I would spell out the sentence and five minutes later, ‘MOM? How do you spell Superdog sees his house?'" This boy learned to read, at least partly, by reading the sentences that he, himself, had written.

My daughter is also the same. I have been having anxiety for my child not being able to catch on. My daughter turned 6 in December. She can only recognize a few letters in her name. My oldest daughter, who is 8, is a great reader, and my youngest daughter, 3 1/2, can also recognize most of the alphabet and is starting to sound out small words. We read to them every day. I also feel desperate to help my child as I do not know how I can help her. I have been giving her alphabet worksheets and doing the best I can at home.
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.
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.”
We're back to homeschooling again as of the beginning of this year and he's slowly getting back into learning for pleasure. Since he hates measuring and more practical stuff (just doesn't see the need for it yet, perhaps he will once he starts building stuff, which he wants to do), we did some introductory algebra recently and he loved it. He's really into abstractions and gets irritated with 'real world' problems. Which aren't really real world, but I digress.
Learning to read should be an enjoyable process in order to keep kids motivated to improve. Sometimes a child might be full of excitement and eagerness to learn at the beginning, but once they hit a wall can feel overwhelmed and give up easily. As a parent, it can feel impossible to pick up again and know where to fill in any gaps that may be causing frustration.
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