Robyn – At four, I would say that the important thing is not to specifically get her to colour or write, but to have general fine motor skills. Do open-ended crafty and arty things which are about having fun and experimenting, not producing a specific outcome like a coloured-in drawing or something that looks like a word. Look at pictures of different styles of art and talk about them with her, encouraging her to observe the detail, and have feelings and impressions about what she likes and doesn’t like. Encourage any fine motor activities that she likes, and don’t stress if writing or colouring is occasional. Writing probably feels very laborious to her if her other language skills are so good. Have you tried offering to help her write a story and just get her to help you with the occasional letter or word, so she feels like she is getting a story out that has the complexity she’s interested in without getting stuck on the work of manually getting down the first few words? I’d perhaps look at incorporating little moments of writing or drawing into daily life, rather than being a task in and of itself. So perhaps you could make labels for things together, or you could play a game of snakes and ladders but introduce a new rule that if she lands on a snake she can go down the snake or draw a snake or write an s (the choice is hers – I’d avoid making it something she has to do as well as going down the snake cause then it will seem like a punishment rather than an opportunity to escape a punishment). Look at ways to make games of it that make it a bit more exciting: eg. (“Let’s see how small we can write your name? Can we get it smaller?” Then take chalk or water and a paintbrush out to the footpath and say, “Now let’s see how BIG we can write your name?”) Decorate soaps, glasses, and t-shirts. Write in the sand at the beach or playground.
When reading a book to your child, you can do more than just read the story. Use rich vocabulary to describe the pictures. Ask your child questions about what she thinks will happen on the next page. These techniques will improve her storytelling skills. Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. Show your child how to respect a book by turning the pages gently and carefully. Ask her to place the book back carefully in its place, instead of leaving it on the bed or on the floor.
My six-year-old son has taught himself to read in the last year or two, and he is learning math in the same way. The concepts of addition and subtraction have been introduced to him early in his life because I like to talk about amounts. I guess it is the way I see the world. ("There are three apples on the table. Let's peel two of them so you can have one and I can have one. Then there will be one left and we can eat it tomorrow.")
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.

“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.
This book was just what my son needed to start reading. I was nervous that he was starting first grade unable to read, but this program helped him move along really fast. He was soo ready, while other phonics programs were going too slow for him and he just wanted to read! There was some slight confusion with some long vowels being introduced early when a supplemental program I was using only used short vowels, but he seemed to work it out pretty quickly.

Children enjoy copying words out onto paper. Write your child’s name and have him copy it himself with alphabet stamps, stickers, or magnets. Encourage him to “write” his own words using the letters. Your child will write letters backwards, spell seemingly randomly, and may hold his marker strangely — it’s “all good” at this age when a child wants to communicate in writing of any kind.

Teach your child rhymes. Rhyming teaches phonemic awareness and letter recognition, in addition to the most basic English words. Read nursery rhymes to your child, and then eventually make lists of easy-to-read rhymes such as mop, top, flop, pop, and cop. Your child will begin to see the patterns of sounds that are made when certain letters are combined - in this case, the sound ‘o-p’ makes.
Instead, we should think about our children as whole readers from the beginning. In his NYT piece, Willingham writes that “comprehension is intimately intertwined with knowledge.” He suggests that parents should leave the teaching up to teachers, and simply read with kids. Read often. Read everywhere. Read for fun. Read fiction. Read nonfiction. Explore different topics. Traditionally, the texts in early elementary grades “have been light in content,” Willingham writes. (“Mac sat on a mat,”etc.) Kids can soak in more complicated information and plots when you read to them than when they read texts themselves, so it’s important to keep at it, following their natural curiosity.
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.

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.
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.
I have read to my daughter since she was about 2 months old. We have made reading a habit most nights and sometimes dad even joins us. However, she hasn’t seemed to pick up on any words so far. She is being taught to read in school, but I am worried that she isn’t learning as fast as she should. I feel like I’m doing something wrong. Is there a way I can help her?
Why should it not be done? Unless it is stressing the child out or forcing him I do not see why it “SHOULDN’T” be done. That is a nice analogy but I don’t see how it is a valid one. Just because a child I advanced or allowed to be ahead of the game does not mean they are not being allowed to be a child. Maybe he is gifted maybe not perhaps he is interested in learning. Children love to learn so yes I agree Let him be a child.
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.
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 have 6 children. The first one learned to read at age 9; within 3 months, he was reading Harry Potter. I had tried to "teach" him a year earlier; but he just wasn't ready and was becoming frustrated. When I saw him at age 9 sitting with a book and straining to figure it out himself, I knew he was ready and tutored him in basic phonics for a few weeks, 15 minutes a day. That's all it took, because he was ready.

Hi TripleAMom! I am a big advocate of preschool reading and I have looked at Starfall myself. However, personally I found that it didn’t work that well as most kids I deal with are visual learners. For this reason I developed my own system “Teach Your Child To Read & Reading with Phonics” and have had some incredible results, both with my own child and with many others. Many kids are visual learners, including children with disabilities such as dyslexia and autism, and phonics reading doesn’t work that well for them.
In marked contrast to all this frenzy about teaching reading stands the view of people involved in the "unschooling" movement and the Sudbury "non-school" school movement, who claim that reading need not be taught at all! As long as kids grow up in a literate society, surrounded by people who read, they will learn to read. They may ask some questions along the way and get a few pointers from others who already know how to read, but they will take the initiative in all of this and orchestrate the entire process themselves. This is individualized learning, but it does not require brain imaging or cognitive scientists, and it requires little effort on the part of anyone other than the child who is learning. Each child knows exactly what his or her own learning style is, knows exactly what he or she is ready for, and will learn to read in his or her own unique way, at his or her unique schedule.
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!
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.

Thanks for these ideas! I’ve got a (just turned) 2 year old, and he loves his letters. And he loves when I read to him. I feel like he might love learning basic words (which letters form the words he already likes to say), and then he would REALLY love reading. Most of these ideas are advanced for him, but I gives me some ideas for moving forward. Thanks!


Teaching your child to read requires consistent effort. It has to be done every day (be it for only a few minutes) but the secret lies in doing it consistently. It therefore requires your (the adult’s) full commitment and you will have to be disciplined and consistent in your efforts. It’s okay if you miss the odd day, but you should endeavour to do a lesson at least 5 days per week.
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.

We live in New Zealand & have 5 children, all home schooled right from the start. The oldest, our daughter, is now 14, & none of us can remember exactly when she went from 'learning to read' to reading. I do know that she used to make us laugh as she recognised all the big signs around the city: McDonalds, BP Petrol, etc when she was very little. Our next child, Mr 11, had dyspraxia when he was little, & has gone in the last 18 months from struggling patiently, to reading independently - because he wanted to. The other 3 are at the early stages & all are learning to read differently. Mr 9 used to just memorize, but now reads 'Green Eggs & Ham' to his 5 yo sister for fun. Mr 7 couldn't care less: he does only what he really wants to do. I'm happy that he likes to choose his own library books & have us read to him.


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! :)
Phonics is knowing that sounds and letters have a relationship — it's that simple, and that complex. It is the link between what we say and what we can read and write. Phonics offers your beginning reader the strategies she needs to sound out words. For example, she learns that the letter D has the sound of "d" as in "doll." Then she learns how to blend letter sounds together to make words like dog.
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
We live in New Zealand & have 5 children, all home schooled right from the start. The oldest, our daughter, is now 14, & none of us can remember exactly when she went from 'learning to read' to reading. I do know that she used to make us laugh as she recognised all the big signs around the city: McDonalds, BP Petrol, etc when she was very little. Our next child, Mr 11, had dyspraxia when he was little, & has gone in the last 18 months from struggling patiently, to reading independently - because he wanted to. The other 3 are at the early stages & all are learning to read differently. Mr 9 used to just memorize, but now reads 'Green Eggs & Ham' to his 5 yo sister for fun. Mr 7 couldn't care less: he does only what he really wants to do. I'm happy that he likes to choose his own library books & have us read to him.
Teach your child the alphabet. When your child has developed word awareness, begin breaking down words into individual letters. Although the alphabet song is the most classic means of teaching the alphabet, try getting creative. Explain each of the letters with their name, but don’t worry about trying to incorporate the sounds the letters make yet.
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Amazing tips and ideas I’ve been using Michael Kors Blouse sz S small oversized or M medium fitted. Plaid black and off white sheer long sleeves. Excellent condition no holes, no stains, no flaws, no defects. Color is off white/cream. Beautiful metal eyelets details on neck area, eyelets may have some minor scratches. Invisible button down with Michael Kors written on it. Long sleeve with button cuff. Excellent quality, great condition. Pet and smoke free home
Although it has been quite a few years since I used this curriculum, I keep the book for my grandkids. When I wasn’t homeschooling my children, I was using other programs to add to their education. When my son was in “pre-1st”, the public school told me he wasn’t learning to read. I taught my son to read in this book within two months time of working on it daily. It is thorough and complete in my estimation of teaching the sounds of each letter and starting where a child can make sense of their reading right away. It reminds me of how I was taught phonics in the 60s. This truly is a phonics program and works easily and well.
By listing and organizing the main points made by each story, I did, however, extract what seem to me to be seven principles that may cast some general understanding on the process of learning to read without schooling. I have chosen to organize the remainder of this essay around these principles and to exemplify each with quotations from stories that were sent to me. Some of the people who sent stories asked that I use only their first names and not their children's names, so I will use that convention throughout.
I took my son out of school aged 10 and a half because of extreme bullying and Special needs that were not being met. I tried to 'teach' him from then on, but when you are trying to 'teach' a child to read who cries and thumps his own head in frustration because he 'can't' read and believes that he is stupid (even to sayoing out loud 'I can't do this Mum, I'm too thick') you have to realise when enough is enough.
I was trying to find an effective and easy way to make my child read at an early age, after a long time I found one of the best methods to make a 2yr old child read. U may also have a look at this – kidzlover.com/reading-tips (click link above) Learning to read is very different from learning to speak, and it does not happen all at once. There is a steady progression in the development of reading ability over time. The best time for children to start learning to read is at a very young age – even before they enter pre-school. Once a child is able to speak, they can begin developing basic reading skills. Very young children have a natural curiosity to learn about everything, and they are naturally intrigued by the printed texts they see, and are eager to learn about the sounds made by those letters. You will likely notice that your young child likes to look at books and thoroughly enjoys being read to. They will even pretend to behave like a reader by holding books and pretend to read them.
My little girl and her brother are now just turned 8 and 6.5. Both are avid readers, reading well above grade level. The 6.5 year-old began reading when he was 5, by sitting down and reading me all of Green Eggs and Ham (not memorized), and is starting to delve into chapter books. My 8 year-old is in the midst of Anne of Green Gables, and my 3.5 year-old is asking me to spell random words at random moments.

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.
It is good to teach your child the letters of the alphabet and their sounds. Once you have this concretized you can move on to simple word families such as ‘at’ and ‘an’. You can do games such as having your child try to add different letters before the word family to form different words such as cat, mat, sat etc. Also have your child match pictures to words. You can also use http://www.starfall.com when doing this activity as there is stories which follow after your child has learnt the words. It is also good to teach your child high frequency words. Model reading and also read with your child.
Teaching your child to read requires consistent effort. It has to be done every day (be it for only a few minutes) but the secret lies in doing it consistently. It therefore requires your (the adult’s) full commitment and you will have to be disciplined and consistent in your efforts. It’s okay if you miss the odd day, but you should endeavour to do a lesson at least 5 days per week.
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.
The first meeting, says Literacy How consultant Wendy North, was a disaster. “We got off on the wrong foot,” says North. The teachers felt like they were being blamed for the struggles of kids they hadn’t taught in years. Instead of directing the anger at the inadequate instruction they had been given at teachers college, she says, they felt humiliated and angry that outside experts were being brought in to teach what they already knew — how to teach reading.
The general assumption in our culture is that children must be taught to read. Vast amounts of research go into trying to figure out the scientifically best way to do this. In the education stacks of any major university library you can find rows and rows of books and many journals devoted solely to the topic of how to teach reading. In education circles heated debates--dubbed "the reading wars"--have raged for decades between those who believe that most emphasis should be placed on teaching phonics and those who take what is called a "whole language" approach to reading instruction. Many controlled experiments have been conducted comparing one instruction method to another, with kindergartners and first graders as the guinea pigs. The phonics people say that their method has "won" in those experiments, and the whole language people say that the experiments were rigged.
I think the key here is that children's brains develop at different ages and stages so, I believe that developmental readiness is when a child will learn any subject. I've unschooled my son, he started to read at around age 6, then didn't have much interest and didn't really take off in reading until age 8. But parents of public schooled kids, or kids that were being taught to read at home at an early age, were impressed that our son would just take a book off the shelf and start reading whenever he felt the urge to read, or look at picture books. We never pushed it, I did read to him quite a bit and modeled reading every day. He started by asking me to let him read the words he knew, then having me read a chapter, then him a chapter. We had quite a lot of fun reading books together through his younger years.
Parents and teachers are often overly impressed with children who have decoding skills, incorrectly labeling them as “readers.” But, of course, reading involves much more than merely sounding out words on a page; it also includes comprehension, which is more complex and harder to teach. To comprehend successfully, children must not only have solid decoding skills, they must read fluently and find meaning in the printed text. Once again, when it comes to teaching comprehension, parents are best suited to the task.
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.
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!
It is two years later. Oral family reading time is integral to our day and the Harry Potter series is our most recent read. A younger friend visiting had not read the Harry Potter books so he asked my daughter to read to him. I wondered how she would handle the request and then she started "reading" to them. The younger childeren were captivated for over an hour listening to the story as she went through it chapter by chapter. I thought she was reading it because of the vividness and vocabulary use in her telling, but I had never heard her read so well. As she continued the story it became apparent that it was all from memory. Obviously she is developing fabulous comprehension skills!
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.
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!!

If you have been raising your child in a literate environment and fostering a love of reading from an early age, by the age of three, you could start teaching your three-year-old preschooler to read. What's more, your child will be able to do so successfully. If you are teaching your child to read through a method based on phonics, she should be able to learn to spell and write at the same time. This is often a highly rewarding period for parents.
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.)

You, their parent, know what your child’s interests are and if you include these words into their lesson, you will soon have an enthusiastic child who will not only look forward to their reading lesson, but soon they will give you words that they want to learn to read, for example my son was crazy about dinosaurs, Winnie the Pooh and aliens. The best fun we had was making sentences using these words, one of his favourites was, “My daddy is a green dinosaur.”
As your child gets older and her understanding grows, you can move on to slightly more complicated picture books , with a tad more text to read (hurrah!) and even the outline of a little story. Look for simple, colourful illustrations and toddler-friendly subjects: mainly animals, vehicles, animals doing toddler-type stuff, vehicles doing toddler-type stuff and, of course, toddlers doing toddler-type stuff!
p.s. I hated to read when I was little (I really didn’t enjoy the public school reading curriculums) but now I love reading. My husband loves to read even more than I do and so do the men at our church, young and old. In fact, one of our friends grew up in a home where his father literally had thousands of history books and had read most of them. Now his son is also an avid reader.
my 3 1/2 year old hyper active daughter knows her alphabet and I am trying to teach her to real the two letter words “in, if, is, it , of , on “. However she does not seem to be able to differentiate between “if” and “it” or “of”. however I am not sure if she can’t differentiate or she is not interested. How to teach a child who CANNOT sit quietly.
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.
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.
I am homeschooling my children, although the oldes is 4. My son began interested in writing very early. He was able to hold a pencil with the tripod pencil grasp early, too. He was able to write his name, independently, by the age of three. Since then he has been asking me to help him spell words. I've gone over different phonic sounds with him while driving in the car. We'll play rhyming games, too. We've never used a curriculum. He has always been surrounded by books. We read several times a day. We have a dry erase board and a chalkboard-painted wall where he can practice his letters and words, or drawings. Yesterday while looking at a book in the car he said, "Mom, P-O-O-H spells Pooh!" That was the first time he's read a word that wasn't MOM, DAD or his own name. It was pretty amazing.
Also, it’s important to note that not all books will fit into one of these genres, especially books that are considered “phonics readers.”  I would suggest that you do this exercise only with high-quality children’s literature, not with books that are attempting to get your child to “sound-out” on their own.  Most picture books found in children’s libraries will fit into one of these genres.
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