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]

Be on the lookout for children who might be suffering from dyslexia. Dyslexia is a not uncommon problem for many people, and it is often identified when children begin to learn to read. The brains of people with dyslexia process information differently than those who do not have it, and this can make reading a slow and difficult process. If you believe there is a child in your class suffering from dyslexia, it may be wise to refer them to a learning specialist at your school.[7]
Teaching your child to read is truly a process that begins at infancy. No, I am most certainly NOT advocating programs that claim to teach your baby to read using flashcards!  What I AM encouraging you to do is to begin reading with your newborn within days of welcoming her home!  Not only is ongoing reading time building a special bonding time for the two of you, it instills in her a love for books. Enjoyment while reading is one of the single greatest predictors of reading success in school-age children. If children don’t learn from an early age to enjoy reading, it will most likely hinder their ability sometime down the road.

Lest you leave this essay with the belief that I and the people who have contributed these stories have taught you something useful about how to "teach" or "help" your child to read, I assure you we have not. Every child is unique. Your child must tell you how you can help, or not help. I have no idea about that, nor does any so-called reading expert. My only advice is, don't push it; listen to your child; respond appropriately to your child's questions, but don't go overboard by telling your child more than he or she wants to know. If you do go overboard, your child will learn to stop asking you questions.

Something I had thought about is addressed in the book as well. Some words are always said differently than how we sound them out. Words such as 'SAID' 'TO' 'OF'. The book teaches the child to sound it out first (as they always should)...but to then explain that it's a funny word that is spoken differently. There's honestly no other way to teach this to a child other than some words in the English language are just weird, lol!
Hello ! I have been so interested, now that my children are adults, in the methods of teaching children to learn, while also being concerned about this. They have been so streamlined, and I have to say so limited to books and electronic teaching tools. I could not help but disagree that children should begin reading at about 6 years old. It’s a roadblock to have them wait so long. It is something that I would like to pursue and write a book about why they need not be pushed to learn how to read at a younger age. My children did learn to read at a much earlier age. One of my children, and only one of them is gifted. It had nothing to do with their skills at having so much fun from the time they started crawling with the exception that I simply made my own program for them. They, as babies. had no idea that they were learning to read. It was a game to them. Now that they are adults, they thank me for their success in life. How rewarding as a mom. I also taught them basic math when they were toddlers. All taught with tools from the outdoors. I worked, so many times it was difficult, but sooo worth the effort. I believe that the bonding time and a lot of love is what made it happen. I did read classics to them, but they were not children’s books. There is a way to raise children to love learning and the key is that they don’t even know it. Let me know if you have an interest in pursuing a conversation sometime on how I did it. My baby is now in Med School and will go on to Anesthesiology, so I feel competent to speak from experience at how she arrived, from infancy, to who she is today. Best Wishes, Karen Fega

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.)

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.)
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.
Be sure to keep an eye on the progress of each child. As soon as you notice one of the children is struggling, try to find some extra time to spend with that child. Talk to the child’s parents, and explain exactly what the child is struggling with. For example, if the child is having a hard time differentiating between a “d” sound and a “t” sound, spend some extra time practicing different words that make these sounds. Ask the parents if they can get involved and practice with the child as well.

But for information to zap from the visual area to the auditory area and finally to the angular gyrus, the connection between these three  -- a special circuit that develops only with time and practice  -- must be fully functional, says Reid Lyon, Ph.D., chief of the Child Development and Behavior Branch at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Eventually, as a child grows older and develops both his vocabulary and his letter-recognition skills, information travels that circuit almost instantaneously, and reading becomes second nature.
Twenty-one years ago two of my undergraduate students conducted a study of how students learn to read at the Sudbury Valley School, where students are free all day to do as they wish (look back at my essay on Sudbury Valley).[2] They identified sixteen students who had learned how to read since enrolling in the school and had received no systematic reading instruction, and they interviewed the students, their parents, and school staff to try to figure out when, why, and how each of them learned to read. What they found defied every attempt at generalization. Students began their first real reading at a remarkably wide range of ages--from as young as age 4 to as old as age 14. Some students learned very quickly, going from apparently complete non-reading to fluent reading in a matter of weeks; others learned much more slowly. A few learned in a conscious manner, systematically working on phonics and asking for help along the way. Others just "picked it up." They realized, one day, that they could read, but they had no idea how they had learned to do so. There was no systematic relationship between the age at which students had first learned to read and their involvement with reading at the time of the interview. Some of the most voracious readers had learned early and others had learned late.

Sometimes, parents are told early teaching is harmful, but it isn’t true. You simply can’t introduce literacy too early. I started reading to my own children on the days they were each born! The “dangers of early teaching” has been a topic of study for more than 100 years, and no one has ever found any convincing evidence of harm. Moreover, there are hundreds of studies showing the benefits of reading to your children when they are young.
Develop phonemic awareness. One of the most important steps in teaching reading is associating a spoken sound with a letter or letter-pair. This process is known as phonemic awareness. There are 44 speech sounds created by the 26 letters in our alphabet, and each sound must be taught paired with its letter(s) counterpart. This includes the long and short sound produced by each individual letter, as well as the specialized sounds some combined letters make (like ‘ch’ and ‘sh’).
Once your child is around 5 and can recognize the difference between real and make-believe, I would suggest starting to help your child understand various genres of books during your reading time together.  This might seem complicated, but it’s really not.  There are around 5 different genres of children’s books that I would encourage you to point out to your little one.  Of course you can use the term “type” rather than “genre” if that is easier to remember.

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.

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.


Even if your child is one of the lucky ones and is doing fine in reading, students who are poorly served by their primary schools end up being a drain on the public education system. Reading problems are the overwhelming reason why students are identified as having learning disabilities and assigned to special education, often an instructional ghetto of the worst kind.

My daughter is three and a half. I have decided to home school her, because that’s what i think is best for her, and because she is already interested in learning. She picked up the alphabet almost instantly,(Alphabet song, if I remember right.) and she has already learned the sounds of every letter. (Except q and x, she knows what they are just has trouble pronouncing them.) She is improving significantly since I started (three days ago)) on sounding out 3-4 letter words. My question would have to be, where do I guide her next? I don’t want to skip something to fast and her not completely master it, or go over something so repeatedly she gets tired of it. Like you said, learning should be made fun whenever possible, which is the approach I try to use. What is your opinion?


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.

Yes, it certainly is a balance! No greater emphasis should be put on one area over the others (with the exception of reading comprehension). Sight words are typically extremely beneficial for early readers who get frustrated when words don’t follow the “rules”. This is the only area of reading where I feel like memorization is beneficial, in context with all the other reading strategies, of course.


Set a good example. Show your child that reading is interesting and worthwhile by reading for yourself. Spend a minimum of ten minutes a day reading when your child is around, so that they see you enjoying the activity on your own. Even if you’re not an avid reader, find something to read - a magazine, the newspaper, or a cookbook all count. Soon they’ll become interested in reading on their own, simply as a result of seeing you doing it too.

I'm thrilled to see an article about this in a mainstream source. My sons learned to read "late", at ages 9 and 10, and were largely self-taught. We chose to allow their learning to read to be entirely self-directed because instruction via phonics when my first son was six years old was so disastrous -- he was angry, frustrated, and resistant. I shudder to think what would have happened if we'd continued to push him before he was ready. I've written quite a bit more about our experience here on my blog: http://fourlittlebirds.blogspot.com/search/label/reading


What a great post! May I ask for some advice? I am homeschooling my 7 year old daughter. Our curriculum has her learning about 15-20 new vocabulary words a day. She has a bit if trouble. She can read a sepecific word, and then have to read it in a sentence on the next page and completely blanks. What do I do? How do I handle this? She also tends to see a letter and assume what word it is (ex. Haul- she read as “hug”). How do I help her get through this? I have not been able to find any resources on reading for a 1st grader. Also what level she should be at, if that even matters right now. Your help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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