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.


I love this post! As a former first grade teacher, I am thrilled to see that the information you shared comes from experience. ;o) I feel exactly the same way you do on all points. One thing I realized when teaching my first graders is that parents would often push their children to read more challenging books, but never allowed for their child’s comprehension to grow with their reading skills. I also think that a huge developmental challenge for these little guys is confidence. My little 6 year olds struggled with confidence and so it was always hard to explain to the parents that they might be reading what seems to be “easy” books, but they can’t grow as a reader until they have the confidence to take chances and move forward. Great post! Thanks for sharing ;o) Consider it Pinned ;o) lol
In previous essays I have referred to the great Russian developmental psychologist Lev Vygotsky, whose main idea was that children develop new skills first socially, through joint participation with more skilled others, and then later begin to use the new skills privately, for their own purposes. That general principle certainly seems to hold in the case of reading.
I recently read an article by two cognitive scientists claiming that the next development in reading instruction is going to be individualized instruction.[1] According to the authors, modern brain imaging methods will be used to figure out the unique learning style of each child, and digital text-delivery programs will be used to teach reading to each child according to his or her unique needs and way of learning. The authors and their colleagues are, indeed, working on developing such systems. To me, this seems silly. 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, which the child himself or herself controls. I'll begin to believe these researchers' claims when I see evidence that brain imaging can be used to predict, in advance, the contents of daydreams.
No matter what their level of education, parents are better equipped to teach their children to read than teachers are. As both a mom and an educator, I know parents have what it takes – the ability to combine the affective and cognitive realms to turn their kids into readers who adore books. I highly recommend Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons because it gives moms and dads the tools they need to make the process joyful and effective. It gives them the information they need and they supply the all-important love and encouragement.
We are a homeschooling, mostly unschooling family. My children are 5 and 9. Reading is an extremely fun activity in our lives and the children have access to books, library trips, computer activities, and art projects that involve creative writing. My assumption was that they would learn to read early and through osmosis because reading is just what we do. But that didn't seem to happen. My 9 year old daughter began "reading" books at three by memorizing the story and then reading it back, she also wrote in pretend writing at that age. It seemed she was on her way. However, I had been a teacher in public school so when she was 6 I had this need to introduce "reading" because I felt self-progress had been slow. What a mistake! Within three weeks my daughter was totally off reading and I had unknowingly discouraging her honest attempts to learn in her beautiful self-directed manner. She a visual learner and extremely creative. We had encouraged cooking, music, dance and the visual arts as conduits for learning because she loved them so. Of course, I saw the error in the reading approach I had introduced and backed off. It took nearly a year for her to even approach reading on her own again.
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”.
Upon getting it in the mail, I read the introduction. It picks a few sounds to teach and has kids reading very basic words with the high frequency sounds, adding sounds and words to the mix as it goes along. Brilliant! How I never thought of this on my own is beyond me. On top of that, it's scripted, which makes it so easy. It instructs you exactly what you should do if your kiddo makes a mistake, and how to praise when they get it right.
Thank you so much for your article. I was one of those parents who wanted their child to be reading by age 2 and other unrealistic expectations like that. I bought certain programs promising my baby would be able to read, and she didn’t! I do not push her anymore and just spend a lot of time reading with her. Thank you for your article and I will definitely use some of your suggestions just to keep up with her love of reading.
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.
Terrific post! My 4 year old is starting to ask me what random words start with and I have known for a while it was time to move forward with “reading” but didn’t have a clue how to proceed. Alphabet games and crafts will be great to continue learning letter sounds. Also, thank you for using wonderful pics of completely normal home crafts (“S” and the bingo game), and not dolled up pinterest ones. It feels accessible to everyone.

Other ways to support the reading process is through educational toys and games. These can be as simple as handmade index cards and self-drawn posters or as expensive as computer programs and video games designed for young children. Montessori schools employ a number of excellent methods to strengthen a child's growing literacy. A child can learn to write letters in a tray filled with sand, or rice or pudding. Your child could make letters out of dyed mashed potato and eat her words! You could buy french fries in the shape of letters and spell out your child's name. You could buy a child's computer to introduce her to the keyboard. You could let her draw on your sidewalk in chalk. You could cover a wall with white board so your child can scribble, draw, and practice writing. This could even be the place where you leave her a daily message such as "I love you" or "Good night". Don't be surprised if one day your child writes the same words for you!
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…
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.

Be consistent. This is pretty self-explanatory. And I know I told you how important it is to be consistent in my post about helping your kids in school… but, don’t use this as an excuse to stop doing it simply because you are struggling with being consistent about it. Every little bit helps! If you can’t be consistent on a daily basis, do what you can when you can and forgive yourself for the rest. This is also not a pass to excuse yourself from making time for these kinds of things. You get the point!
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.

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.


You seem very passionate about reading and I think that’s great. However, you seem very defensive about the method. Quite frankly my only goal is to help children learn to read and I have found that starting with sight reading is the easiest and best method. You, of course are entitled to your opinion as is Mrs Freeman. My son is now turning 10 and he is reading and memorizing Shakespeare (having learned to read from – YES – “call words”!). You are welcome to go to my website and see him doing it if you doubt it. And BTW, my son is 100% homeschooled and he too remains above grade level.
Talking to my daughter telling her what we were doing. "I'm putting your pink dress on you. Here it goes over your head. Now, let's put on your socks. Here's your left foot. On goes the white sock." You'd be surprised how much kids appreciate it when you talk to them about their daily activities. Now, my daughter will often ask me, "What are we doing today, mommy?" and I tell her our plans for the day.
You don’t need a Ph.D. to raise a happy, healthy, smart child. Parents have been doing it for thousands of years. Mothers and fathers successfully teach their kids to eat with a spoon, use a potty, keep their fingers out of their noses, and say “please.” These things can be taught pleasantly, or they can be made into a painful chore. Being unpleasant (e.g. yelling, punishing, pressuring) doesn’t work, and it can be frustrating for everyone. This notion applies to teaching literacy, too. If you show your 18-month-old a book and she shows no interest, then put it away and come back to it later. If your child tries to write her name and ends up with a backwards “D,” no problem. No pressure. No hassle. You should enjoy the journey, and so should your child.
Set small goals. This is the one time you shouldn’t focus so much on the bigger picture. It can be daunting and discouraging. It also might encourage you to breeze past foundational principles and push them past reasonable expectations. So, forget the “bigger picture” and focus on small victories instead. Remember we should be more concerned with improvement than achievement.
I love most of what you have advised. However, PLEASE rethink your comments on “sight words.” Memorized words have to go to the right side of the brain which has little language. Sight reading is the main cause of dyslexia. Training a “right brained” child to send words to the right brain (that child’s normal default) is a recipe for dyslexia. There is really no need to memorize any words by sight. Take a look at those in the bingo game pictured. ALL of them can be easily sounded out. If you teach your child all 70 English phonograms (Spaulding’s “Writing Road to Reading,” Sanseri’s “Spell to Write and Read” and many others), there will be very few words that can’t be easily sounded out once you understand how “said” is the past tense of “say” and the y is changed to I before adding the d.

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.
Practice often. You should practice reading with your students as often as possible, but keep the learning sessions short. This will help keep children from becoming frustrated and tired. Use picture books with short, easy sentences, and let the children practice sounding out the words. The most important thing you can do is be patient and encouraging. You should never make a child feel stupid for making a mistake as this will discourage them from wanting to read.[12]
Hi, I have a friend who lets her 6-month old son watch “baby can read” videos every day. She did the same with her older child, who, at 1 year old, is able to “read” words. Her daughter can decode common words such as house, but when the letters are jumbled so as to form another word, she couldn’t read it any more. I now have a one year old daughter. She’s recommending that I expose my baby to it too. What is your opinion on this? on the exposure of children to screen media?

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.
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I'm an English teacher but at the secondary level, meaning when they come to me, they are already expected to know how to read. Because of this, I have no formal training in how to teach kids to read. I become painfully aware of how naive I was to the processes of reading when my daughter was at the age that she should be knowing her letters and stuff. Despite the fact that my husband and I are voracious readers, and that we read to our daughter daily, she had developed a loathing towards all things letters. When she was still mixing up her letters and sounds, and resistant towards all reading games at 5 years old, I began to worry. The summer before she was to start Kindergarten, I decided to take matters into my own hands. We were going to spend a summer learning to read, gosh darnnit! Or, at the very least, she would know each letter and the sound it made. So I scoured the internet for various books and programs to help me, as I, by then, understood fully I knew jack squat about how to teach a kid to read. And so I came across this book.
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”.
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.

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."
Teach vowel sounds. It is important to begin with the short vowel sounds (e.g. the “ah” sound as in “apple,” the “eh” sound as in “elephant,” the “ih” sound as in “igloo,” the short “o” sound as in “octopus,” and the “uh” sound as in “umbrella.” When children begin reading and come across a vowel where there is a long sound (e.g. the “u” sound in “universe”). A good way of explaining this is to say, “In this case, the vowel says its own name when it is pronounced.”
Hi, My 8yo daughter went to kinder. in public school almost the whole school year, then we pulled her out because of this, she was struggling, still isn't reading, but she will, but the summer after that she finished teaching herself math, has done worksheets on her own at night in her free tiome, well whenever we are awake is our free time, over the years she has taught herself to add double digits in her head while making her own math worksheets. Unfortunately, my family only notices she isn't reading yet. I know she will when she is ready. Thanks for the essay, it was great.
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?
Hi, my daughter is 3 years old (turning 4 in 2 months) she also knows the letter’s names and sounds, and some sight words, and she reads a lot of simple words, but with words that are not very familiar for her, she will only say the sounds of the letters of the word, but can’t actually say the word and sound all the letters together :-( like she would see the word “glass” and would say the sounds of each letter separately not being able to say the word.. Should I just tell her the words so she can try and remember for next time, or should I wait until she gets it by herself?
I’ve taught 1st grade for five years. I’ve also taught 2nd and 4th. From my experience reading is not only about word call and decoding. Your child needs to look at the print, slide their finger under what they are reading, get their mouth ready and sound it out. Work with word families and use an easy reader that has the word family in it. When you begin a story reload the vocabulary. You can use magnetic letter, dry erase markers on a table to to sound out main words in the story. For example if you have an easy reader that uses the family -op, then work and teach words that are in the story like mop, top, etc. Then when the child sees the word in print in the context of the story they should be able to recognize the family and use decoding skills to figure out the word. Don’t ever tell them the word b/c then they will get use to having someone read the words to them and they do not use the strategies taught. One last thing, your daughter is only five. Fluent reading normally doesn’t kick in til mid first grade. She just may not be developmentally ready to just pick up a book and read. Keep doing what you are doing and use the suggestions above and you will see progress. Don’t stress. Your daughter is already ahead of most of her kinder peers already.
My daughter got her first book from the hospital at birth ;). I love that hospitals are even promoting reading at birth. Can I just say I hate hate hate sight words. My middle daughter is 9 and sight words were the death of her. Now that she is being taught all of the rules and exceptions through the Wilson program she is doing much better. I get that most kids learn to memorize sight words, but not all of them do. And I truly wish so much stock wasn’t put on memorization in reading. Especially since the amount of sight words or high frequency words they expect children to memorize seems like an awful lot of words that don’t follow the general rules of reading. They can be taught to break down every word. My oldest did fine with sight words though so I know my middle daughter is probably the minority here. However, I have also noticed that my oldest doesn’t have the skills to break down a word she doesn’t know the same way my middle daughter can.
Often times, we want to force our children to learn letter names by a certain age.  We buy flashcards or DVDs claiming to teach our children their letters.  We drill our 2-year old over and over for minutes on end.  Don’t buy into this…allow your kid to be a kid and take advantage of the “teachable moments” as they come along!  Children’s minds are like sponges and are certainly capable of memorizing the alphabet from drilling, but that’s not the most effective method that will produce the best long-term results. Your child will be curious about the print he sees around him and will ask questions.  That’s your chance to jump in with a practical application that actually has real meaning and significance to your child.
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