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!
I absolutely love this book- it's very easy to present and I was amazed how fast my boys (4, 5) were learning to read. However, as others have noted, it can be boring. To me, this is actually a bonus because I want my boys to learn that boring isn't bad and that sitting still is a skill just as much as reading. That being said, I try not to torture them since God created boys to romp around and physical activity makes information stick. We introduced the "hot lava" game for the individual word reading. The ground was hot lava and each sound was written on a safe "rock" (a piece of paper). They walked from rock to rock sounding out the word. When reading the slow way, they step from one sound to the next, if they're not sounding it out, they can't move- that helped with pausing. In the "fast way" they had to put their finger over their mouths while walking or jump from the beginning to the end. They started looking forward to it and after getting some more wiggles out, they were able to sit down to read the story.

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.
Yes! Parents are such powerful teachers. They can teach things to their children so quickly working one-on-one. Classroom teachers have so many students with a wide-range of abilities and interests and so often must "dumb down" the curriculum to reach everyone. Parents can let their children soar -- choosing books that interest them and challenging them with both fiction and non-fiction. Voted up.

Some of the kids with a keen sense of phonemic awareness are already moving on to what is called in teacher-speak “decodable text” — little books with single lines of text made up of words that can be sounded out with ease. After about thirty minutes, all the children stop their work and, using a broad hand motion for each sound, sing what is known as “the vowel song” with great gusto. When the chorus of cheerful voices begins to die away, North and Matuskiewicz look pleased. “The rap against phonics is that there is too much drilling,” says North. “But look at this classroom. No one is suffering here.”
This is an amazing hub! I have a son whose just about to turn 3 and he's known all his letters since before he was 2 and he now knows all the sounds as well. I have been thinking it was time to try to teach him to read, but I wasn't sure how to get him to sound out words. With your approach he doesn't have to. Now I'll be making flash cards of those 100 words! He already reads books... but I'm almost positive its from memory not from recognizing the words.
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.

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.
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.

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.
Last year, I spent lots of time with our brand new granddaughter, Emily. I drowned her in language. Although “just a baby,” I talked — and sang — to her about everything. I talked about her eyes, nose, ears, mouth, and fingers. I told her all about her family — her mom, dad, and older brother. I talked to her about whatever she did (yawning, sleeping, eating, burping). I talked to her so much that her parents thought I was nuts; she couldn’t possibly understand me yet. But reading is a language activity, and if you want to learn language, you’d better hear it, and eventually, speak it. Too many moms and dads feel a bit dopey talking to a baby or young child, but studies have shown that exposing your child to a variety of words helps in her development of literacy skills.
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!
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.
Upon getting it in the mail, I read the introduction. It picks a few sounds to teach and has kids reading very basic words with the high frequency sounds, adding sounds and words to the mix as it goes along. Brilliant! How I never thought of this on my own is beyond me. On top of that, it's scripted, which makes it so easy. It instructs you exactly what you should do if your kiddo makes a mistake, and how to praise when they get it right.
My son is 3 and has 2 full shelves of books. Every time we go to a store he always wants to get another one! He knows his alphabet and can recognize about 1/3 of the letters. I really have been wanting to teach him more but I don’t want to push him and have him lose interest. Anytime he sees words he will say look mom, ABCs! He doesn’t know what it says or what the letters are but he gets very excited to see them! Do you have any tips on how to get them to recognize the letters? We tell him what the letters are and what they say when he asks but is there a more structured approach that works better for a 3 year old? I can tell he really wants to learn, I’m just not sure how to teach him! lol

You don’t need a Ph.D. to raise a happy, healthy, smart child. Parents have been doing it for thousands of years. Mothers and fathers successfully teach their kids to eat with a spoon, use a potty, keep their fingers out of their noses, and say “please.” These things can be taught pleasantly, or they can be made into a painful chore. Being unpleasant (e.g. yelling, punishing, pressuring) doesn’t work, and it can be frustrating for everyone. This notion applies to teaching literacy, too. If you show your 18-month-old a book and she shows no interest, then put it away and come back to it later. If your child tries to write her name and ends up with a backwards “D,” no problem. No pressure. No hassle. You should enjoy the journey, and so should your child.


Willingham recently wrote the New York Times op-ed “How to Get Your Mind to Read,” and it’s fascinating. In raising readers, it appears that we’re doing it wrong. Parents and teachers tend to think about the learning process in separate blocks. When kids are very young—around 4, 5 or 6—we teach them how to “decode” words. It isn’t until the fourth or fifth grade that we move onto comprehension. That’s too late, Willingham says. “Decoding and comprehension are not the same thing,” he tells me. “There are times when you can read content out loud but not understand what you’re reading.” In the later elementary school grades, as texts become much more complex, comprehension becomes much more difficult. And therefore, children struggle.
Always follow up a story with a discussion or activity. Studies show that comprehension increases greatly when reading is followed up by discussing the book or doing an activity. Parents might ask: “What was your favorite part?” or “Who was your favorite character and why?” They might ask their child to draw a picture of an alternate ending or help them write a story with a similar plot or theme.

Marie, an unschooling mom, wrote about her son, now age 7: "[He] found the incentive to become a better reader through acting at a local theater. He has always been passionate about putting together ‘shows,' but now he is old enough to have real acting experience. He sees that reading is an integral part of this activity that he loves and it has given him a strong reason to grow and develop as a reader. He recently had a part in A Midsummer Night's Dream and had to read and memorize Shakespeare. It took no instruction on the part of a ‘teacher' whatsoever."

My almost 5 year old really wanted to learn to read so we recently started this program. It took me a while to get started doing it b/c 1) I was waiting for her to be little more ready, 2) As the parent, you do have to read through the instructions and do a little preparation in terms of practicing sounds (to make sure you teach them right) beforehand and I kept putting that off. But we did start and it wasn't a smooth ride for the first two weeks. It was easy for ME because they give you a scri ...more


“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.
The message repeated most often in these stories of learning to read is that, because the children were not forced or coaxed into reading against their wills, they have positive attitudes about reading and about learning in general. This is perhaps most clearly stated by Jenny, who wrote, regarding her daughter (now 15) who didn't read well until age 11: "One of the best things that came out of allowing her to read at her own pace and on her own initiative was that she owned the experience, and through owning that experience she came to realize that if she could do that, she could learn anything. We have never pressured her to learn anything at all, ever, and because of that, her ability to learn has remained intact. She is bright and inquisitive and interested in the world around her."
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."
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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!"

As children decode words with more frequency, they will become more proficient at automatically identifying that word.  Sometimes this task is tedious, though, so it’s important to find creative ways to make it fun.  When I taught first grade, I used to buy little finger puppets that my students could use to point to the letters as they were decoding.  This was a huge hit and made this process so much fun!
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."
My son started playing starfall.com games when he was 6. Shortly after that, he began copying pages of books. He had no idea what words he was writing, but he would fill whole pages. The desire to write definitely came first. He slowly learned to read and is just now becoming fluent at age 10. For the past 2 days, he has sat on the couch doing nothing but reading because he is determined to finish reading his first novel.
First of all, I would recommend concentrating on making reading fun and enjoyable for both of you. He has plenty of time to get the mechanics, but will be turned off to reading altogether if reading becomes something he is forced to do and doesn’t have any confidence. Spend more time reading with him than having him read to you…model proper inflection and fluency. Read engaging stories together. I would also start to work on sight words and word families. Don’t stress. He will get it! :)
This book does a phenomenal job of teaching kids to read !! After having tried other reading methods (hooked on phonics, etc) that did not work with my oldest child, a friend recommended this to me and I couldn't be happier. By the end of the book, she was reading like a pro (she was 4.5 years). Now at the end of 1st grade (7 years) she reads at a 5th grade level. I used it on my second child (she was 4) and she will go to kindergarten in a few months but already reads at a second grade level. B ...more

You don’t need a Ph.D. to raise a happy, healthy, smart child. Parents have been doing it for thousands of years. Mothers and fathers successfully teach their kids to eat with a spoon, use a potty, keep their fingers out of their noses, and say “please.” These things can be taught pleasantly, or they can be made into a painful chore. Being unpleasant (e.g. yelling, punishing, pressuring) doesn’t work, and it can be frustrating for everyone. This notion applies to teaching literacy, too. If you show your 18-month-old a book and she shows no interest, then put it away and come back to it later. If your child tries to write her name and ends up with a backwards “D,” no problem. No pressure. No hassle. You should enjoy the journey, and so should your child.
Always follow up a story with a discussion or activity. Studies show that comprehension increases greatly when reading is followed up by discussing the book or doing an activity. Parents might ask: “What was your favorite part?” or “Who was your favorite character and why?” They might ask their child to draw a picture of an alternate ending or help them write a story with a similar plot or theme.
But perception doesn't always jibe with reality, as Carol Hamlin, of New York City, learned. While her older son, Will (now 12), enjoyed combing through the sports section of the paper on his bus ride to kindergarten, his brother, Tim (now 9), was still struggling to read when he entered second grade. "At first, we were concerned that there was something wrong," says Hamlin. "But it turns out that he only needed time and practice. Now he's in a program for gifted children. He's just a kid who has to do things his own way."
Thank you for your response and suggestions. There are times that we both feel frustrated and lost. I’m glad that kinder teacher isn’t at his school any longer else whole class will have the same issues. I failed to mention that there are 4 other children in his class that can’t read either and they had the same kinder teacher. I will read your book and being to implement the suggestions from your book and email. Thanks again.
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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