Say the sentence is “I have a flannel to wash my face”. And your child reads, “I have a flannel to clean my face”. That may be wrong but it's a good guess because your child is clearly thinking about the meaning of the sentence. (And you can just gently say, "Nearly. But does clean begin with 'w'?) A child who guesses “I have a flannel to watch my face” may have followed the letter-sound clues slightly better but are not thinking about the meaning at all.
Reading Rockets is a national multimedia project that offers a wealth of research-based reading strategies, lessons, and activities designed to help young children learn how to read and read better. Our reading resources assist parents, teachers, and other educators in helping struggling readers build fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills.
It is at this stage that differences between your child and other children start becoming apparent, inside and outside the school environment. Teachers may have to plan special enrichment activities to meet your child's educational needs, while other children are being taught the basics of reading instruction. This is a positive indication that your child's early reading abilities are in fact the key to academic progress. Your child will already be ahead of her peers, from an academic point of view.
Reading to your child is great — but what’s even better is something called “dialogic” reading. That’s when you ask your child to participate in the story. Before turning the page, ask your child what he thinks will happen next. You can also ask your child what other way the book could have ended. For example, with the classic book Corduroy, what would have happened if the little girl hadn’t come back to take Corduroy home from the toy store?
Thank you for this informative and encouraging post. As my husband and I are both avid readers, we naturally did all of these steps with our oldest child and he learned to read before he was 4 years old. We didn’t do videos or flash cards, just a natural progression and I agree it is a wonderful approach. He just finished kindergarten and reads 4th grade level books with great comprehension. It is such a joy to see him love reading, but I have to keep reminding him to put his books down while walking in parking lots!!
When my sons were in middle school, they loved participating in the “Battle of the Books,” a nation-wide program to promote reading. Kids formed teams and read selected books that were high quality and age-appropriate. Then they competed against other teams at their school and other schools, answering questions about the books: characters, plot, symbolism, etc. The team and competition aspect motivated my boys to read, and they had a fun time doing it. I also read a couple of the books aloud to them. Because the books were chosen by a committee of professionals, I enjoyed reading them and discussing the important ideas they covered (immigration, bullying, discrimination) with my sons.
Reading Mastery is very systematic. It starts by teaching word sounds and what the corresponding letters and words look like. Next, kids learn to read passages. Then they build vocabulary while increasing their understanding of what they read. Students are grouped by reading level. Reading Mastery is often used by general and special education teachers as a complement to other programs. It may also be used on its own. Teachers tend to use one of two versions. Reading Mastery Classic is for grades K–3 and Reading Mastery Plus is taught in grades K–6.

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.
But in many schools, in all kinds of neighborhoods, there is a shockingly large chunk of kids — about one in three — who don’t master the skills they need to learn to read in a sophisticated way. Their road is a difficult one: although many will try to use their intelligence to cover the holes in their skill set, as the work gets harder and the reading grows more complex, these children will find they are unable to keep up.
"There was also a time when, as an infant, I knew no Latin; but this I acquired without any fear or tormenting, but merely by being alert to the blandishments of my nurses, the jests of those who smiled on me, and the sportiveness of those who toyed with me. I learned all this, indeed, without being urged by any pressure of punishment, for my own heart urged me to bring forth its own fashioning, which I could not do except by learning words: not from those who taught me but those who talked to me, into whose ears I could pour forth whatever I could fashion. From this it is sufficiently clear that a free curiosity is more effective in learning than a discipline based on fear."
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.
Talking to my daughter telling her what we were doing. "I'm putting your pink dress on you. Here it goes over your head. Now, let's put on your socks. Here's your left foot. On goes the white sock." You'd be surprised how much kids appreciate it when you talk to them about their daily activities. Now, my daughter will often ask me, "What are we doing today, mommy?" and I tell her our plans for the 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.
Learning to read can be a long process, so it is never too early to prepare a child. While learning to read is a big milestone, it is important that the learning process be fun and engaging for the child. Reading should be something that the child comes to enjoy and can use to gain even more knowledge through books. If you remain patient and make the learning process a fun way to spend time together, it will give the child the best chance to successfully learn to read and love books.
As a former first grade teacher, teaching children to read is one of my greatest passions!  But because most children don’t start actually “reading” until around 6 years old (which is upwards of the targeted age range for my blog), I didn’t want parents to feel pressured that their 3-year old needs to start reading (which, by the way, they don’t!). However, the information shared below is general information that is beneficial for children of all ages, whether your child is ready to read or not. Don’t implement all of these strategies at once, nor should you expect your child to be able to do everything right away.  Learning to read is a process and the information below is simply for you to implement when you feel your child is ready.  
@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.
My other children have all learned between ages 5 and a 1/2 and 7. It's never been a painful process. When they get frustrated or tired, I back off. It's not my accomplishment, it's theirs. The emphasis the schools place on early reading can easily discourage kids who aren't ready. By the time they would have naturally picked up the skill, they already hate it. They've come to regard it as a slog and a bore and to regard themselves as stupid/slow. It's a shame we can't just let the kids be.

Holli wrote that when her son was "about 3 1/2" she began trying to teach him reading. "I think the Bob books are stupidly repetitive and inane, but I found ones that were at least moderately engaging and had him start practicing them. ... He really was not ready yet, I think, for actual reading, and whether he was or not, he resented being made to do something that wasn't his idea, so he resisted. ... Pretty quickly I realized that in spite of the progress he was making in reading skill, I was doing more harm than good to my son, because I was making him hate reading. I immediately ceased formal instruction in reading, and just went back to reading to him whenever he wanted me to." Holli went on to note that, roughly two years later, her son "entirely surreptitiously" began to look at books on his own and eventually to read, apparently hiding his interest and practice so as not to feel pressured.
Around Lesson 8, something changed in my son. He caught on. A switch flipped in his little mind and he began putting the pieces together about slowly sounding out the letters without pausing...and noticing how he was suddenly READING A WORD! He was stunned. I was stunned. The method works, everyone. It is monotonous and repetitive, but it works. Sounding out the words without pauses between each letter is brilliant. The dot method used in this book is brilliant. He uses his fingers to move to each new dot and sound and it keeps his mind on track.
When children classify a book into a certain genre, they have to first summarize the book in their head and recall details.  Then they have to use that information to decide which type of genre that particular books fits into.  Finally, your child will be recalling details from other books in the same genre, making connections between the two.  This simple activity that might take 5-10 seconds of your time after reading a book but it certainly packs a punch of thought and processing in that young brain!

It is definitely a steady (and at times slow) progression and it will be different for every child. I honestly can’t really estimate how long it takes…because it ultimately depends on your definition of “reading”. Some people consider “reading” sounding out words. I consider a child a reader when they no longer have to sound out the majority of words and can read steadily with inflection.
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.
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.
I have used this for my three oldest kids. Each child is different. My oldest did great with it and was reading by lesson 50. We breezed through it. My 2nd we started it about three times and then I just gave up using it with her. I think it helped her a little bit get how to sound out words but she pretty much taught herself. My third, we are using it now. This is about the 3rd time we stated it but she loves it now. I stated when she was 4 like my other 2 but she got bored and didn’tlike it. now she is 5 and she loves doing it. She is very excited to be reading stories. Sometimes though if it gets long or if she is getting a little bored or has worked really hard we split the lesson in two and do the story reading the next day. That makes the lessons not too long. The directions say that it should only take 20 min but sometimes it takes uslonger so splitting it is good for us.

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.
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.
There are a plethora of ways to incorporate multiple domains of development in regards to letter recognition and early-reading skills.  Alphabet crafts allow your child to learn the shape of a letter along with an association of the sound it makes all the while utilizing fine motor skills in the process of cutting, gluing, and creating!   Playing games that involve gross motor skills (like tossing beanbags on the appropriate letter) are also wonderful ways to include movement.  Of course, every child loves songs and rhymes!  Take an inventory of your child’s strengths and areas of interest and target activities to fit them!
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