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.
The strategy for learning sight words is, "See the word, say the word". Learning to identify and read sight words is essential for young children to become fluent readers. Most children will be able to learn a few sight words at the age of four (e.g. is, it, my, me, no, see, and we) and around 20 sight words by the end of their first year of school. You can teach sight words by playing with flashcards and using reading programs like ABC Reading Eggs.
Parents have 3 mantras to remember when teaching their children how to read: 1) Start with the heart. 2) When you're out and about, sound it out and 3) Comprehension is the key that turns sounding out into reading. By keeping these in mind, parents have what they need to turn children into proficient readers who love books and will turn to them for both pleasure and knowledge.
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.
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.

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.
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.

Have realistic expectations for your children. First of all, set realistic time limits on daily lessons. We do 30 minutes of a lesson and 30 minutes of reading a day. Even grown people have a hard time paying attention for longer than 30 minutes at a time. Second, they are little human beings. They are going to make mistakes, and they probably aren’t going to be prodigies in every single area. That being said, a lot of people are not clear on what a child is supposed to know or be able to do at a given age or grade.

I’m delighted to hear that you enjoyed my article and I’m very excited to hear that you are going to teach your daughter to read; I must admit that at times it can be a challenge but it is definitely worth the effort :) If you need any more help I have quite a few more articles on my website (www.teachyourchildtoreadin30days.com) which may be of help too.
“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.
“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.”
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.
It is essential for parents to create a healthy learning environment for their kids. it is imperative as it nourish urge of reading and learning in kids at early stagLearning is essential for every human being on earth. I am volunteering my services at a school which is running for poor kids. i feel so satisfied teaching and helping kids read and write.e...
Hi! My son is 17 years old and he does not enjoy reading at all. I have realised that he can read but cannot comprehend to what he is reading and so is bored . Please help or give me some suggestions which will help me to motivate him to read and comprehend what he is reading. I know i have missed those formative years of his childhood. But i believe nothing is impossible.

For children in standard schools, it is very important to learn to read on schedule, by the timetable dictated by the school. If you fall behind you will be unable to keep up with the rest of the curriculum and may be labeled as a "failure," or as someone who should repeat a grade, or as a person with some sort of mental handicap. In standard schools learning to read is the key to all of the rest of learning. First you "learn to read" and then you "read to learn." Without knowing how to read you can't learn much of the rest of the curriculum, because so much of it is presented through the written word. There is even evidence that failure to learn to read on schedule predicts subsequent naughtiness in standard schools. One longitudinal study, conducted in Finland, found that poor reading in preschool and kindergarten predicted poor reading later on in elementary school and also predicted subsequent "externalizing problem behavior," which basically means acting out.[3]


It actually misspells things at first (meaning writing the words (and the Alphabet!) as they sound, not as they are really written) and then switches over to the correct method. I didn’t have much interest or want of using this type of curriculum since I am a firm believer of learning the correct way since the beginning, but as of now, we are only on lesson 12; and she has improved at least about 60% if I’d have to scale it for you in 2 weeks and only in about 20 minutes a day!!


Parents, it turns out, are pretty crummy reading instructors, especially when they break out the flash cards, handwriting worksheets, rewards charts and other traditional tools we all know and hate. “You don’t know what you’re doing,” Willingham says of parents in general. “If your child encounters real difficulty, there’s a good chance the child will go to school and think, ‘Reading? Oh, that’s that thing Mom and Dad bug me about, and it’s hard for me to figure out, and I don’t like it much.’ Then the teacher has to try and overcome that first negative experience your child has had.”
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.
Once you’ve seen science-based reading instruction delivered well, you’ll want it for your kids. For six years, Kristina Matuskiewicz, a kindergarten teacher at Edna C. Stevens Elementary School in Cromwell, CT, believed that, like all the teachers at her tidy suburban school, she was helping to make good readers. She read them stories, she identified words and described their meaning, she offered them a variety of good books and worked to shift them to independent reading. “Each teacher had their own approach to teaching reading,” says Matuskiewicz.
Help us help you. We want this to be a resource that is constantly improving. So please provide us with your feedback, both the good and the bad. We want to know which lessons worked for your child, and which fell short. We encourage you to contribute your own ideas that have worked well in the home or classroom. You can communicate with us through email or simply post a response in the comments section of the relevant page.

On your mark. Get set. Do not go! This is not a race. Calm down. Take off your running shoes. One of our main goals should be to develop a solid and strong foundation. Like all things built to last, learning to read is going to take some time. Even if you think your child may actually be behind, they will never catch up without a solid foundation. We need to be more concerned with improvement than achievement.
This article is definitely very true to my experience. I homeschool my children, but we haven't been unschooling, yet we are tending more and more that way. Despite employing different reading methods, I found that my son did not start applying any of his skills outside reading lessons until he had the desire to do so. For him, it was when I was reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to the kids, one chapter a night, and he didn't want to wait to find out what would happen. Then he devoured book after book.

Vincent Lopez, a staff member at the Diablo Valley School, a Sudbury model school, sent me this sweet example of age-mixed learning: "In the art room they are making signs to imitate a TV show that had just started. It is in my opinion, a dumb, low-ethics, media-driven, free for all dating show; I've let this be known before. In their own way they are processing the future to come. ... but I digress. The jewel of this snippet is that the 5-year-old is attempting to read the sign with the help of his multi-aged peers. ...Students learn because they want to get the jokes, be more advanced like the peers around them."
We start off each lesson with a picture book (child's choice) then a chapter from a chapter book (my choice). Then we read the lesson. Sometimes we stop in the middle of the lesson (depending on attention span and how well the lesson is going, etc.) We always peek ahead to see if there is a "new sound" coming up. (A very exciting development, if you can imagine.) After the ...more
My mom wrapped this up as a birthday present for my third birthday as she had for my two older siblings, and later did for my two younger siblings. I learned to read with this book and was definitely ahead of the other kids in my kindergarten class by the time I started school. My mom gave it to her friends and they taught their children to read with it as well. It's a great program that makes reading simple for any child, and will teach children to become avid readers. Also, I probably wouldn't ...more
I’m a K teacher and it seems that you are more interested in blaming his former teacher for where he is in his development more than anything else. Since this is a whole year later….I’m sure that he has picked up reading. However, I just want to say as an educator of 15 years who has a reading specialist endorsement, that reading is developmental—and each child is in a different part of that developmental process. As a parent, you are truly your child’s first teacher. Please revaluate pointing the finger at the teacher–as I’m sure that there was learning taking place in his classroom after all!
Teach your child to read using explicit phonics. Traditionally, children are taught to recognize a word based on its size, the first and last letters, and the general sound. This method of teaching is known as implicit phonics - working from the largest piece down. However, studies have shown that readable vocabulary dramatically increases (from 900 words to 30,000 words by the third grade) when taught in the opposite fashion: breaking each word into the smallest parts, and building them up into a full word - explicit phonics. Help your child to begin reading by having them sound-out each individual letter without looking at the overall word first.
Parents, it turns out, are pretty crummy reading instructors, especially when they break out the flash cards, handwriting worksheets, rewards charts and other traditional tools we all know and hate. “You don’t know what you’re doing,” Willingham says of parents in general. “If your child encounters real difficulty, there’s a good chance the child will go to school and think, ‘Reading? Oh, that’s that thing Mom and Dad bug me about, and it’s hard for me to figure out, and I don’t like it much.’ Then the teacher has to try and overcome that first negative experience your child has had.”
In some cases unschooled children progress from non-reading to reading in what seems to observers to be a flash. For example, Lisa W. wrote: "Our second child, who is a visual thinker, didn't learn to read until he was 7. For years, he could either figure out what he needed to know from pictorial cues, or if stuck, would get his older brother to read to him. I remember the day he started reading. He had asked his older brother to read something to him on the computer and his brother replied, "I have better things to do than to read to you all day", and walked away. Within days [my Italics] he was reading quite well."
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!
Young children don’t hear the sounds within words. Thus, they hear “dog,” but not the “duh”-“aw”- “guh.” To become readers, they have to learn to hear these sounds (or phonemes). Play language games with your child. For instance, say a word, perhaps her name, and then change it by one phoneme: Jen-Pen, Jen-Hen, Jen-Men. Or, just break a word apart: chair… ch-ch-ch-air. Follow this link to learn more about language development milestones in children.
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.
The playing field between early readers and other children usually evens out by the second or the third grade. That doesn't mean that reading shouldn't be taught with some rigor in the first grade. But drilling 3- and 4-year-olds on phonics and expecting 5-year-olds to be fully literate isn't the best approach. "It may squelch their natural enthusiasm for books," says Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a professor of psychology at Claremont Graduate University, in California. "When kids are young, it's more important that they imagine themselves as the pirates, runaways, and explorers in stories than they read every word. You want them to develop a love for reading before they try to master the mechanics."
One great way to introduce kids to literacy is to take their dictation. Have them recount an experience or make up a story. We’re not talking “Moby Dick” here. A typical first story may be something like, “I like fish. I like my sister. I like grandpa.” Write it as it is being told, and then read it aloud. Point at the words when you read them, or point at them when your child is trying to read the story. Over time, with lots of rereading, don’t be surprised if your child starts to recognize words such as “I” or “like.” (As children learn some of the words, you can write them on cards and keep them in a “word bank” for your child, using them to review later.)
School reading books are usually a weird old mixture of really good, new, phonics-based texts and rather dire, old, death-by-repetition ones. If your child has the misfortune to keep bringing home books of the “The hat is red. The hat is green. The hat is yellow” variety, you may want to search out some more exciting books to keep at home. Choose books about things that'll really catch their interest or make them laugh. Get right away from those ploddy reading primers into riddles and rhymes, rude poems and silly plots.
My son, who is 6, is definitely learning math just from life. He is constantly asking me what 7 plus 3 is, or more complicated stuff. Sometimes I can tell it's related to something he's doing, sometimes I have no idea what it's connected to. He gets annoyed sometimes if we try and "teach" him, like trying to get him to count it out on his fingers. He just wants the info. He often amazes me by figuring out math in his head. One thing I've noticed is when we're driving in the car he's always watching the counter on the CD player.
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.
Hi. I came across your page quite by accident as I was so frustrated with trying to get my son to read. He received absolutely no instruction in Kinder and now, in first grade, is terribly behind and I am at a loss as to how to help him. He will see a word, can sound it out, but if you turn the page, it becomes a totally new word. He doesn’t remember what he has just read. He can spell his word wall words like a champ, can write dictation like a hero, but reading? He is failing miserably. I am so worried he will fail first grade because he can’t read. I don’t know how to help him. I have just purchased your book, but it seems as though I have failed him already as we did NONE of this prior to school as I had no idea about any of this. How can I help him learn to read at this late stage in the game and save him from failing first grade?
Once you’ve seen science-based reading instruction delivered well, you’ll want it for your kids. For six years, Kristina Matuskiewicz, a kindergarten teacher at Edna C. Stevens Elementary School in Cromwell, CT, believed that, like all the teachers at her tidy suburban school, she was helping to make good readers. She read them stories, she identified words and described their meaning, she offered them a variety of good books and worked to shift them to independent reading. “Each teacher had their own approach to teaching reading,” says Matuskiewicz.
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.
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.
Hi. As you will see once reading my post, I’m feeling awfully desperate & unable to sleep over issues my kindergartner is having in school. He’s an “older” kindergartner (6.5 y.o.). I have done all the things in your list. He loves me to read to him, and I do often up to an hour 1 day (books of HIS choice). Once he joined kindergarten, I started hearing that the work is too hard, that he hates reading, he can’t read, won’t be able to for a long time, he’s a terrible reader, etc. Early on…probably 3 weeks into the year, they had a 20 sight words screening/test & then placed all the students in reading groups. He seemed upset by the requirements. We were told for homework, to have him scan his finger across the sentences of these black & white scholastic books…example, “I like pizza, I like corn, I like apples, What do you like?” He would get so upset and clearly extremely frustrated by being asked to do this process. The teacher was willing to remove him from the reading groups which seemed to reduce his anxiety some. The class, together, recites out loud the 20+/month sight words they are expected to learn via smartboard. He knows none of them. From my vantage point, this seems to be difficult for him. The teacher says he’s doing “great”. He still occasionally says negative things about his reading ability / confidence. This concerns me greatly & shared this w/ teacher. When the other kids rotate b/w free play time & their reading groups, he’s allowed to do free play but he spends alot of that time @ the computer car games (school considers apart of the free play curriculum). It’s now January & now they will begin journal writing & small sentence writing. I’m certain this will be something he finds frustrating. On one hand, I’m trying to determine whether it’s healthy for him to continue being in this environment or not. Have you ever seen kids move from 1 environment to another mid-year & do well? I’m considering just pulling him out to homeschool w/ more tactile, multisensory methods of learning for the remainder of the year but just not sure what is best. There is more pencil/paper/worksheets as compared tactile, multi-sensory methods of instruction and that is not how he learns best. He often says the paperwork is “too hard”. Last week he said he was scared to go bc of this. I’m very concerned about his confidence; wondering what the environmental impact is of him not being there is )ex:(a number of them are reading accelerated readers). The teacher feels he does not notice this but I don’t get this sense about how he sees himself. He’s very intuitive. I’m not sure what to do but just want to do what is best for my child. For many months now, since October, I have been observing other schools classrooms, visiting them. Most expect these kids to read by spring. And most seem to be. Mine does not though I have done all the things you have posted. Given all that I have said, do you have any recommendations? I believe in respecting where kids are developmentally & it seems to me he simply is not in a place to perform at this level though the teacher seems to think he is doing great.
Thank you for the information and to everyone else with their questions/replies. I am a single parent who has just recently started reading heavily with my 5 year old. He is aware of the sounds and has a few of the basic words down, but struggles with reading. This really makes me frustrated, but after reading this post/comments I am glad to know that what I am forcing him to do is way ahead of his time. Pushing him to read every night and being angry when he doesn’t remember might hinder him from future learning and I definitely do not want to do that. He truly enjoys the last part of the night where we open the books together and I want that feeling to last forever. I greatly appreciate the advice and will completely back off of my son as he still has time to grow into reading whole stories. Due to a late birthday he is currently in Pre-K so I think the pressure of wanting him to do well in school, being a single parent, and my own childhood misfortunes are having a negative impact on me. I plan to regroup for tomorrow nights reading and take things a lot slower with him and make sure that he knows that he is doing a great job. Thank you so much for you have saved me from me in a way.
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.
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
In nearly every conversation about reading instruction, educators talk about different pedagogical approaches and different philosophies, as if one is equal to another. And perhaps because some kids seem to learn to read like they learn to run, from observation and for the sheer love of it, it can appear like almost any kind of reading instruction can work with varying levels of success — for at least some kids. But researchers say they’ve come up with a straightforward formula that, if embedded into instruction, can ensure that 90 percent of children read.
Hi! I have a 5 and 4 month old daughter who is really interested in learning to read. She won’t start kindergarten until the fall as we are in CA. I love these steps and they help A LOT. I’m wondering if anyone can chime in with how much to put into this now and over the summer before she starts kinder. She seems ready. Would I look into a program like Pathways to Reading? Or just keep it simple and focus on basics? What about ABC mouse? She knows all her letters and most of the sounds (though she sometimes forgets) and seems to enjoy sounding out words together, but maybe only 2 or 3 before she gets bored. I’m in no rush, but she seems ready.
Parents have 3 mantras to remember when teaching their children how to read: 1) Start with the heart. 2) When you're out and about, sound it out and 3) Comprehension is the key that turns sounding out into reading. By keeping these in mind, parents have what they need to turn children into proficient readers who love books and will turn to them for both pleasure and knowledge.
Diane wrote, "My first daughter could not read when she turned 5 in March but by the end of that year she could read fluently, out loud, without pause or hesitation." And Kate wrote that her son, at age 9, "taught himself to read" in a period of just one month. In that time span he deliberately worked at reading, on his own, and progressed from being a hesitant, poor reader to highly fluent reading, well beyond what a standard school would have regarded as his "grade level."
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.
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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