Many of the teaching techniques and games include variations for making the lesson more challenging for advanced students, easier for new or struggling students, and just different for a bit of variety. There are also plenty of opportunities, built into the lessons and games, to observe and assess the child’s retention of the sight words. We encourage you to use these opportunities to check up on the progress of your student and identify weaknesses before they become real problems.
My son, who is a staff member at Sudbury Valley, tells me that that study is now out of date. His impression is that most Sudbury Valley students today are learning to read earlier, and with even less conscious effort than before, because they are immersed in a culture in which people are communicating regularly with the written word--in computer games, email, Facebook, cell-phone texting, and the like. The written word is not essentially different to them than the spoken word, so the biological machinery that all humans have for picking up spoken language is more or less automatically employed in their learning to read and write (or type). I'd love to study this in some way, but so far haven't figured out how to do it without being intrusive.
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.
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

Say you're reading the word "cat" (as you've done just now): Your eyes perceive the cluster of squiggly lines, and send the image to the area of your brain that attaches meaning to things you see. This information is then shuttled over to the brain's auditory area, so it can be translated into phonemes  -- the K sound, the A sound, and the T sound. A third part of the brain, called the angular gyrus, then synthesizes the individual phonemes and their meaning as a group: the word "cat."


About reading Activities Advocacy Afterschool and community programs Assessment and evaluation Authors and illustrators Autism and Aspergers Background knowledge Brain & learning Celebrations Children's books Classroom management Classroom strategies Common Core standards Community programs Comprehension Content area Content Area Literacy Curriculum and instruction Developmental milestones Differentiated instruction Dyslexia Early literacy development ELLs Families & schools Fluency Gender issues Intervention and prevention LD Libraries Media Motivation Multicultural Oral Language Parent engagement Phonemic awareness Phonics and decoding Poetry Policy, Politics, Statistics Preschool and childcare Print Awareness Professional development Reading aloud Reading together School-wide efforts Social and emotional Special education Speech, language, and hearing Spelling and word study STEM literacy Struggling readers Summer reading Teacher education Technology Tutoring and volunteering Vocabulary Writing
Marie wrote, of her son, now age 7: "He is an artist and spends hours drawing things, especially stories and inventions. So naturally he wished to make his pictures "talk" with captions, titles, instructions, and quotations. ... There was a lot of ‘MOM? How do you spell Superdog wants to go home?' I would spell out the sentence and five minutes later, ‘MOM? How do you spell Superdog sees his house?'" This boy learned to read, at least partly, by reading the sentences that he, himself, had written.

Start with the letter A, literally and figuratively. I know that seems simple, but a lot of people don’t really get this part as well as they think they do. I simply mean start at the beginning and don’t skip important foundational principles. I am realizing that many people don’t always recognize foundational principles because they are so ingrained in the way adults process information. For example, the difference in the way we say “bit” and “bite.” It really takes around 27 separate pieces of information to be able to correctly distinguish between those words — and we don’t even think about it. I did my best to write out every piece in a logical progression for you guys.
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”.
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.
The message repeated most often in these stories of learning to read is that, because the children were not forced or coaxed into reading against their wills, they have positive attitudes about reading and about learning in general. This is perhaps most clearly stated by Jenny, who wrote, regarding her daughter (now 15) who didn't read well until age 11: "One of the best things that came out of allowing her to read at her own pace and on her own initiative was that she owned the experience, and through owning that experience she came to realize that if she could do that, she could learn anything. We have never pressured her to learn anything at all, ever, and because of that, her ability to learn has remained intact. She is bright and inquisitive and interested in the world around her."
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.
Other activities that support the child's growing intelligence and curiosity are activities designed to apply previously learned knowledge. So if the child learned shapes before, now he can match and group objects of the same shape. If she learned colors, she should be able to do the same. Puzzles are another useful toy at this age, as they improve hand-eye coordination as well as develop problem-solving skills.
A language is made up mostly of common words. These are words like and, as, at, the, etc. The 100 most common words appear in English literature (like books, newspapers, blogs, etc) more than 50% of the time. This means that, if your child can read these 100 words, then they are able to read half of everything that is written in English; and it doesn’t matter if it is a beginner children’s book, the Bible or a medical textbook.
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’).
Idzie, a 19-year-old unschooled but beautifully educated blogger, sent me a link to an essay, on her blog, about her own memories of learning to read. She wrote, in part: "When I was something like age 8 or 9, my mother was reading the first Harry Potter book aloud to my sister and me. But, well, she had things to do other than read, and if she read too long, her voice would get hoarse. So, being quite frustrated at how slow a process this was, and really wanting to know what happened next, I picked it up and began to read."
A language is made up mostly of common words. These are words like and, as, at, the, etc. The 100 most common words appear in English literature (like books, newspapers, blogs, etc) more than 50% of the time. This means that, if your child can read these 100 words, then they are able to read half of everything that is written in English; and it doesn’t matter if it is a beginner children’s book, the Bible or a medical textbook.
Others wrote about shared family games involving words, or about shared television viewing in which the onscreen guide and captions would be read for the benefit of nonreaders. Over time, the nonreaders needed ever less help; they began recognizing and reading more and more words themselves. The most often mentioned examples of shared participation are those of parents, or sometimes siblings, reading stories to nonreaders, often as part of the bedtime ritual. Nonreaders look on, at the words as well as the pictures, and sometimes read some of the words; or they memorize books that have been read to them repeatedly, and then later they pretend to read the books while actually attending to some of the words. Pretend reading gradually becomes real reading.
I have been using this book with my 5 year old twin girls, and have such mixed feelings about it. We are half way through. Some things I love are the structure, it is scripted and somewhat rigid. That means less work for me in terms of figuring out what to cover. I love how it teaches phonics, which is incredibly lacking in the school system near us. I also like the whole brain approach the book takes. As a neuropsychologist, it's nice to see the integration of writing, sounding out, comprehensi ...more
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.
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."
The principal, Lucille DiTunno, decided the school needed to take another approach. First, she asked her teachers to establish a “literacy block” — 90 minutes a day dedicated to reading. Three years ago, DiTunno paid $28,000 to Literacy How, then a division of Haskins Laboratories in New Haven, to bring consultants to the school every week for a full year to teach teachers about the scientifically proven methods that help kids learn to read.
Others wrote about shared family games involving words, or about shared television viewing in which the onscreen guide and captions would be read for the benefit of nonreaders. Over time, the nonreaders needed ever less help; they began recognizing and reading more and more words themselves. The most often mentioned examples of shared participation are those of parents, or sometimes siblings, reading stories to nonreaders, often as part of the bedtime ritual. Nonreaders look on, at the words as well as the pictures, and sometimes read some of the words; or they memorize books that have been read to them repeatedly, and then later they pretend to read the books while actually attending to some of the words. Pretend reading gradually becomes real reading.
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!
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! :)
It doesn’t have to be this way. No area of education has been as thoroughly studied, dissected, and discussed as the best way to teach students to read. Seminal research and longitudinal studies from the National Academy of Sciences and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, combined with MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and computerized brain modeling from the nation’s top academic labs, provide a clear prescription for effective reading instruction. And yet that information is virtually unknown among teachers, parents, and those who serve on school boards.
The Voyager programs are most often used by reading specialists in addition to the general education reading program. Voyager Passport is a small-group program for grades K–5. It includes letter-sound understanding, sight words and vocabulary. Voyager Passport Reading Journeys is for teens who struggle with reading. The program is taught in a group using science and social studies topics. There is also a Voyager Universal Literacy System. This is a K–3 curriculum that includes a program for struggling readers.

Incorporate writing in with the reading. Reading is a necessary precursor to writing, but as your child develops reading skills have them practice their writing in conjunction. Children learn to read faster and easier if they learn to write at the same time. The motor memory of the letters, listening to their sounds and seeing them in writing will reinforce new learning. So, teach your child to write letters and words.


Some of the kids with a keen sense of phonemic awareness are already moving on to what is called in teacher-speak “decodable text” — little books with single lines of text made up of words that can be sounded out with ease. After about thirty minutes, all the children stop their work and, using a broad hand motion for each sound, sing what is known as “the vowel song” with great gusto. When the chorus of cheerful voices begins to die away, North and Matuskiewicz look pleased. “The rap against phonics is that there is too much drilling,” says North. “But look at this classroom. No one is suffering here.”
By the time your child is four, she will have an extensive vocabulary and be able to speak in sentences of about 5 – 8 words. She will have become a communicative being! If you have begun teaching her to read, she will be able to read independently from simple phonetic readers. She will be accustomed to visiting the library and know where the children's section is located. She may have a small collection of her own favourite books at home. By the time your child joins junior or senior kindergarten, she may have read over a hundred small books. She may also have written, illustrated, and decorated her own little books.

Hi Mama Kim. I’m sorry to hear that things are not going so well. Firstly let me assure you that he is NOT too young to learn to read; as a matter of fact he is the perfect age for you to start. Secondly, the flash cards really do work; they only get boring if you are trying to “hammer” the words into your sons head. No child has that much concentration that’s why lessons are really, really short (I’m talking 5 seconds at a time here!). If you do only 5 words at a time several times a day you should find that he is progressing without it getting boring for him or for you. If you want more details on how to do this you will find everything you need in the “Teach Your Child To Read & Reading with Phonics” reading method. I hope this helps and I'm sure your son will be reading in no time at all! :)
I came across this article on Pinterest and I love it. I am a kindergarten teacher and a mother of a 2 1/2 year old. I agree so much with what you have written and love how you have compiled it! I was wondering if you would mind if my kindergarten team used what you have written in a packet for parents at kindergarten roundup (we may change parts that are specific to you…curriculum used, etc.). :)
About reading Activities Advocacy Afterschool and community programs Assessment and evaluation Authors and illustrators Autism and Aspergers Background knowledge Brain & learning Celebrations Children's books Classroom management Classroom strategies Common Core standards Community programs Comprehension Content area Content Area Literacy Curriculum and instruction Developmental milestones Differentiated instruction Dyslexia Early literacy development ELLs Families & schools Fluency Gender issues Intervention and prevention LD Libraries Media Motivation Multicultural Oral Language Parent engagement Phonemic awareness Phonics and decoding Poetry Policy, Politics, Statistics Preschool and childcare Print Awareness Professional development Reading aloud Reading together School-wide efforts Social and emotional Special education Speech, language, and hearing Spelling and word study STEM literacy Struggling readers Summer reading Teacher education Technology Tutoring and volunteering Vocabulary Writing
The principal, Lucille DiTunno, decided the school needed to take another approach. First, she asked her teachers to establish a “literacy block” — 90 minutes a day dedicated to reading. Three years ago, DiTunno paid $28,000 to Literacy How, then a division of Haskins Laboratories in New Haven, to bring consultants to the school every week for a full year to teach teachers about the scientifically proven methods that help kids learn to read.
Read, Write and Type! Learning System is a software program to teach beginning reading skills, emphasizing writing. The program was developed for 6- to 9-year-olds who are beginning to read, and for struggling students. The main goal is to help students become aware of the 40 English phonemes, or word sounds, and to associate each with a finger stroke on the keyboard. Read, Write and Type! is often used as a supplement to other reading programs.
Kid's can learn of the above mentioned strategies simultaneously. When we teach kids to recognize words by their shape, we teach them site words. Some whole words are considered "sight words"--words that you don't usually use letter sounds to figure out. The word 'the' is a great example of a site word. The word 'the' starts with the /th/ sound. Beginning readers usually don't have any understanding of how the 'th' spelling makes a sound like /th/. As it turns out, kids can recognize the word 'the' even if they don't have a grasp of the letter sound in it.
Last year, I spent lots of time with our brand new granddaughter, Emily. I drowned her in language. Although “just a baby,” I talked — and sang — to her about everything. I talked about her eyes, nose, ears, mouth, and fingers. I told her all about her family — her mom, dad, and older brother. I talked to her about whatever she did (yawning, sleeping, eating, burping). I talked to her so much that her parents thought I was nuts; she couldn’t possibly understand me yet. But reading is a language activity, and if you want to learn language, you’d better hear it, and eventually, speak it. Too many moms and dads feel a bit dopey talking to a baby or young child, but studies have shown that exposing your child to a variety of words helps in her development of literacy skills.
ScottDavid mentioned reading in foreign languages and said it's easy part. I can't agree - when I was learning Arabic reading was a hell. Writing was way easier. It was the same with English (it's a foreign language for me). I could write and speak in moderate mode but reading was tricky. Now I observe the same thing as my daughter learn English and she can write anything you tell her but when asked to read the text, she's like muted. My son, who is 5 now, was not taught reading in pre-K, kids there were just playing with letters when they wanted. He had some issues with other boys so he was spending much of his time sitting on the floor and copying names from kids' chairs, book titles from the shelves, signs andfelt board titles. Once he even copied a company stamps from under the table. And one day we were getting home by car and he read aloud things written on other cars. I realized he can read realy well if he reads from a moving surfaces!
Are you concerned that your child might have a learning disability? As with almost any disability, early intervention can prevent problems in the future. In the preschool years, speech delays are much more noticeable than the learning disabilities that may affect a child’s efforts to read. Ask your pediatrician for advice if you are concerned that your child is speech delayed.
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
Beatrice told a similar story about her youngest daughter, who learned to read before age 5. "She learned to read from her desire to express herself through the written word. Starting from the time she could hold a pencil, be it writing a poem, a song, designing an ad, she needed me to tell her the spelling: ‘How do you spell beaver, how do you spell suggest?'"
Incorporate writing in with the reading. Reading is a necessary precursor to writing, but as your child develops reading skills have them practice their writing in conjunction. Children learn to read faster and easier if they learn to write at the same time. The motor memory of the letters, listening to their sounds and seeing them in writing will reinforce new learning. So, teach your child to write letters and words.

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!


The lessons are all basically the same, but as the child progresses, they start to teach newer techniques such as "READING THE FAST WAY". Admittedly, we stumbled at first. It's a tricky thing to teach a young child to sound it out IN THEIR HEADS, and when the know the word, just say it fast. It took one or two days of frustration before he caught on....and now it's no problem! If you think about it, that's reading. We say the words in our head. This book just adds the step of having them say it out loud, too!
Reading books aloud is one of the best ways you can help your child learn to read. This can be fun for you, too. The more excitement you show when you read a book, the more your child will enjoy it. The most important thing to remember is to let your child set her own pace and have fun at whatever she is doing. Do the following when reading to your child:
A language is made up mostly of common words. These are words like and, as, at, the, etc. The 100 most common words appear in English literature (like books, newspapers, blogs, etc) more than 50% of the time. This means that, if your child can read these 100 words, then they are able to read half of everything that is written in English; and it doesn’t matter if it is a beginner children’s book, the Bible or a medical textbook.

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.


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.
Many teachers do a little talk (or write a letter) to explain to parents the method(s) they're using to teach children to read. (If your child's teacher doesn't do this, ask them for some pointers.) The favoured method du jour is (some form of) Phonics – decoding words by sounding out all the different letter sounds they contain. Try to bear this in mind when listening to your child read at home: if they get stuck on the word “dog”, for example, it's probably more helpful to say, “Let's sound it out: d-o-g” than “It begins with d and sounds like frog”.
Let’s be real. There are countless other things kids are more interested in than learning to read. Shoot! Plenty of grown people would prefer to do countless other things rather than teach their children how to read. If you’re one of those parents, please believe I’m not judging you — remember, I’m the parent with the occasionally funky-breathed, sleepy child.
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.
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.
As a former first grade teacher, teaching children to read is one of my greatest passions!  But because most children don’t start actually “reading” until around 6 years old (which is upwards of the targeted age range for my blog), I didn’t want parents to feel pressured that their 3-year old needs to start reading (which, by the way, they don’t!). However, the information shared below is general information that is beneficial for children of all ages, whether your child is ready to read or not. Don’t implement all of these strategies at once, nor should you expect your child to be able to do everything right away.  Learning to read is a process and the information below is simply for you to implement when you feel your child is ready.  
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