Cut out simple cards and write a word containing three sounds on each one (e.g. ram, sat, pig, top, sun, pot, fin). Invite your child to choose a card, then read the word together and hold up three fingers. Ask them to say the first sound they hear in the word, then the second, and then the third. This simple activity requires little prep‑time and builds essential phonics and decoding skills (helping them learn how to sound out words). If your child is just starting out with learning the letters of the alphabet, focus on the sound each letter makes, more so than letter names.
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.
LANGUAGE! is for struggling learners in grades 3–12 who score below the 40th percentile on standardized tests. It is most often used by special education teachers. The curriculum uses a six-step format for each lesson. The first step is word-sound awareness. The second step is word recognition and spelling. Then comes vocabulary and then grammar. Listening and reading comprehension come next. Writing is the last step. There is also a version of this program that is specifically designed for English language learners.

I realize these are old comments now, but what the heck. Yes, I believe kids teach themselves math. At least mine did. He would count with us for fun at about age 4 and once he mastered that, he started adding then subtracting for fun. He'd make a game of it and challenge himself to add ever greater numbers. When he was getting into 3 and higher digit additions I asked if he wasn't interested in multiplication? He said no, not firmly enough for me to back off though. But I did just do a very quick introduction of what it was, that it was basically a more efficient way of adding larger numbers of sums. That took about 2 minutes. In a few days he was multiplying 2 digit numbers in his head. I'd give him a problem and he'd run off pacing back and forth doing the math. I even had him teach me how to do it without using pen and paper, but I never learned multi-digit multiplication that way as a child so I wasn't able to grasp it. That was in his first or second year of school, and into the third he had tired of doing math for fun. I was never able to convince his teachers that he was very advanced in math, because they said he worked out problems too slowly. Well, here he was having to add 8 and 5 when he was doing multidigit multiplication with ease. He was bored. And he's not at ease with a pen at all.
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 suggest you set aside an hour each night after dinner for reading. The TV is off as well as cell phones and computers. Your family gathers in a cozy room, and everybody reads something of their choice (a novel, magazines, comic books, non-fiction), but nothing work or school related. To make it more enjoyable, serve hot cocoa, popcorn, and dessert from time to time. During the last 10 minutes, have everyone share something about what they read. If this sounds impossible to do because your family is too busy on weekdays, do it just one night a week—perhaps, Friday or Saturday--when everyone isn't so frantic with after school activities and homework.

I realize many people have had success with this book but we did not. My children hated, just HATED this book. I do not want my children to hate reading. I want them to love reading so I quit using the book after only a few tries. It is not a child-friendly book. The book is structured like a textbook (columns, heavy text, few pictures, no color, chapters, etc.) and oversized like a textbook, which is inappropriate for a small child. I can understand why adults like this book as it is more appro ...more
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.

@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.
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.
I don’t agree with this 100%. There are a lot of great helpful tips and ideas listed here but my son learned how to spell AND write his name when he was 1.5, by age 2 he knew the whole alphabet by sight and sound, he’s almost 3 now and he has been taking an interest in reading. He asks his father and I (his mother), “What’s that say?” as he points to a word and after we tell him the word or even sometimes a sentence he’ll start spelling it out. This summer I am going to get serious about teaching him how to read and I do believe it is possible. Do I think he’ll be reading perfectly at a 1st grade level? Definitely not but even if he learns how to spell 5-10 words then he’s still learning how to read (he already knows how to spell 3 words) so technically my 2 year old is already starting to read.

It seems gimmicky, but I highly recommend this book! I have two very good readers after having worked through this book. This was recommended to me by several homeschooling moms that I know, all of which have good readers. It must be understood, though, that this is not a grammar book. This is simply teaching a child to read the words in front of him. It uses mainly phonics, but also incorporates memorization of “funny words”.


Studies show that children with weak phonological awareness become weak readers. Parents can almost guarantee their youngsters will become proficient readers by starting early with phonological awareness. They should forget flashcards, workbooks, and pricey kits such as “Hooked on Phonics” and just keep it fun, light, and simple. Phonological awareness is about being silly with words, making it a game, and celebrating the magic of language. There's no need for parents to sit their children down and give formal lessons. Instead, parents should teach it throughout the day in a fun and organic way by remembering the mantra: When you're out and about, sound it out:
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.
You could also try putting magnetic letters on the fridge door or buying foam letters to float about in the bath. Once they know some letter sounds well, you can 'spot' the letters when you see them on street signs and food labels, as well as in books (“Look, yuh for yoghurt.”) You could also think up some other letter-sound games to play together, from good old I Spy to more modern, splashy stuff…
I just found your post! Thank you for the info! I was looking because my daughters teachers wanted to keep her back in Kindergarten because she is not reading yet, and they wanted us to “do a lot of catch up work to get ready for 1st grade”. She turned 6 at the end of January. You say that they are not expected to be reading until mid-1st grade so why are our teachers so persistent that she should already be reading? (They kept my son back for the same reason, I was even lied to by the Special Education Class Teacher on what type of books, how many words, length of the books they should be reading in first grade to help me make up my mind.) She loves to be read to, she is also the youngest and the older 2 have always done everything for her (ie talk, answer, cleaned up, carried her, etc), even when I tell them not too. I think this is why she won’t read for herself.
I checked through his school books again and found yet again that the school had not progressed his reading book in the 3 months prior (they hadn't changed it at all or made any comments on the messages I had left in the book), so I double checked what age he actually was in reading ability. The school still had him on Year 1 books which he couldn't read. So I stopped trying to 'teach' him to read. 9 months later he read out a leaflet that had been put on the windscreen of the car, with no coaxing from me at all.
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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.
Yet, if reading comes easily to them, they will become readers; and this is the primary idea behind teaching your child to read a book in 30 days. It is important to build your child’s confidence and you do this by getting them to read a book (and doing it quickly). Once your child has managed to read one book, not only will their reading ability go through the roof, but soon they will have confidence in their reading and will want to read more and more.
When your child is able to read books, you can fine tune their reading more easily. You can also spend more time on the basics, ensuring that they read better than even children who are older than them. This will ensure that when they get to school (if you’re not home schooling), they will be fully prepared and can have more fun and be more relaxed in their classes; and when learning is fun it is more easily retained.
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.
Once your child starts school, they will be taught not only the basic letter sounds (each one usually with its own rather snigger-worthy accompanying action) but also the more complicated ones, such as “sh” and “ch” and “ai” and “oi”. They'll bring (sometimes crashingly boring) reading books home, along with, at some point, a set of “key words” to learn by heart.
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!
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 know I am responding to an older post; however, I will go ahead since it may benefit someone else. Since it is now spring, take your little ones outside and practice colors, shapes, numbers, letters, writing, etc. using sidewalk chalk. It never fails to entertain and teach at the same time. Sounds like you’re doing a great job with your (now) 5 year old, just don’t be sucked in to pressuring her to handle more than she is ready to handle.

The key thing to holding your nerve here (and therefore helping your child hold theirs, too) is remembering that no two children learn to read at the same speed and pace. Some zoom off from (literally) the word go and then slow down; some plod along gradually; some stutter at first and then speed up – with all sorts of variations in between. And, whatever Smug Mum of Speedy-From-The-Off Reader may imply, there's no great connection between speed of learning to read and speed of brain cells in general.
Hi, This really is very interesting and informative. I have an 11 year old and he still struggling with reading. Right now I am paying a private school for him, “They claim they can teach him” But I am very concerned, he is an amazing kid and he is so smart, but when it comes to reading, even if someone mentions it, he gets very frustrated, he loves books, he would love to read like all the kids his age, I have hundreds of books at home, and I read to all my kids, I always try to promote this skill, to encourage them (specially him) I just don’t know how to help him, I feel like I am not doing a good job as a mom, just because I can’t make him learn as fast as he want to.
Several weeks ago (see post of January 6, 2010), I invited readers of this blog who are involved in unschooling or Sudbury model schooling to write to me with stories about learning to read without formal instruction. Eighteen people--most of whom identified themselves as parents of unschoolers--kindly shared their stories with me. Each story is unique. Just as my students found in their study at Sudbury Valley, there seems to be no pattern to how unschooled children today are learning to read.
This program is the “gold standard” for teaching reading to kids with dyslexia. It focuses at the word level by teaching the connections between letters and sounds. Orton–Gillingham also uses what’s called a multisensory approach. It taps into sight, sound, movement and touch to help kids link language to words. Students learn the rules and patterns behind why and how letters make the sounds they do. Orton–Gillingham is the basis for a number of other reading programs. These programs are mostly used by special education teachers.
Beatrice wrote, of her daughter who learned to read at age 8: "I too am guilty of trying to ‘make her' read, when she turned 6, worried that the kids at school would be learning this skill and not wanting her to be left behind. After a couple of weeks of insisting she read and keep a journal with me spelling everything and she copying it all out, she told me flatly to ‘leave me alone,' that she would have no part in my scheme and would learn to read when she was ‘good and ready.'"
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