When your child reads, get her to retell the story or information. If it’s a story, ask who it was about and what happened. If it’s an informational text, have your child explain what it was about and how it worked, or what its parts were. Reading involves not just sounding out words, but thinking about and remembering ideas and events. Improving reading comprehension skills early will prepare her for subsequent success in more difficult texts.
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.

If you’re nervous about teaching your child to read and the task is daunting, then 100 Lessons is an excellent resource. The book is scripted, which takes away the stress of wondering if you’re doing it right. And, although it can get boring for the kids as there is no color or flashy pages, I actually found this to work in our favor as my daughter got used to simple formats and responds well to my own homemade worksheets. It was also good for her to see that sometimes we have to work hard and press through to gain the benefits. There was great satisfaction from both of us when she finished the book and was reading far better than other kids her age and older.
Great news Mama Kim! You just have to be patient, it will not happen overnight but it will happen sooner than you think. It takes consistent effort over time. Children are remarkable and learn without you even knowing they are doing it. Just keep at it on a daily basis but always avoid overloading him. Also don’t worry too much about testing what he knows, just keep showing him the words and move on. By 30 days he will be showing you his great reading skills!

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.
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.
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.
Make it warm and cozy. Many parents fall into the trap of reading to their children at bedtime when they're exhausted from a long day. This often makes for an unsatisfying experience for both parent and child. It's far better for parents to choose a time when they're feeling fresh, energized, and involved in the process. Most importantly, they should make reading a warm and cozy experience: sitting under the shade of a tree, sipping hot cocoa by a warm fire, or cuddling together in bed on a lazy Sunday morning.
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!
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.
The strategy for learning sight words is, "See the word, say the word". Learning to identify and read sight words is essential for young children to become fluent readers. Most children will be able to learn a few sight words at the age of four (e.g. is, it, my, me, no, see, and we) and around 20 sight words by the end of their first year of school. You can teach sight words by playing with flashcards and using reading programs like Reading Eggs.
I'm so appreciative of the work you're doing, Peter! When we first started on our unschooling path, I wanted to start a Sudbury school where we live - it seemed so *ideal* to me, and just made sense. But I soon found I'd rather spend the energy I would have spent on starting a school, by being with my boys and creating our unschooling life. That's one thing Sudbury can't do - help form stronger connections in families. All of the research I put into Sudbury, though, helped me *so much* in our earlier unschooling days, helped me have faith in the process of learning.
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.
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…
Three-year-olds can be chatty, and by age 4, it can be hard to get a word in edgewise. Take advantage of your child’s interest in talking by writing a book together. Start out with something simple, like describing a fun day at a park or visiting friends. Staple a few pieces of paper together, and write out one or two of your child’s sentences on each page. Then, read the story to her and let her illustrate it.
My own children also learned to read by osmosis. When you are surrounded by books and parents who always have a book open, I think it is hard NOT to learn to read. By 4yrs, my eldest was reading the New York Times. He started as a toddler, looking for the "Hess" gas signs on the highway. #2 was a bit older, around 7 yrs old, when she decided to learn, but the most interesting was my youngest, who refused to pick up a story book at all and only wanted to do math problems. At 4 yrs of age she was very shy and clingy, so came with me when I taught at religious school. My teenaged students wanted to know why I "made" her sit and do math, and found it hard to believe that she actually LOVED it. I think it was the math book that taught her to read - she had to learn in order to do the "word problems."
This article is phenomenal!!!! Thank you for emphasizing the importance for creating a love for reading and not a ‘system’ for learning to read. I’m a 1st grade teacher and mother of 2 preschoolers. Even with all my background knowledge on teaching children to be successful readers, I still find myself stressing out when it comes to my own children by comparing them to others (mainly family members around the same age). I’ve always said there’s so much more to reading than just sounds/words on a page. I look forward to reading more on your blog.
As children decode words with more frequency, they will become more proficient at automatically identifying that word.  Sometimes this task is tedious, though, so it’s important to find creative ways to make it fun.  When I taught first grade, I used to buy little finger puppets that my students could use to point to the letters as they were decoding.  This was a huge hit and made this process so much fun!

Sightwords.com is a comprehensive sequence of teaching activities, techniques, and materials for one of the building blocks of early child literacy. This collection of resources is designed to help teachers, parents, and caregivers teach a child how to read. We combine the latest literacy research with decades of teaching experience to bring you the best methods of instruction to make teaching easier, more effective, and more fun.


The distinction is between being able to read a book and being able to master a book. I regret that I came upon Adler's book years after I finished college and that its lessons on reading never got ingrained in me. As a result I fall short of my potential in my mastery of the books I read. When your child gets into high school, or maybe even sooner, consider introducing him to Adler's four levels of reading.
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.

By using the Blog, you agree to these Terms of Use. If you do not agree to these terms of use, do not use the Blog. All content (including photos) are the property of Raising da Vinci and copyright laws apply. When commenting or leaving feedback your conduct shall be guided by common sense and basic etiquette. By using the Blog you agree not to: Post material you have that is illegal; Abuse, harass, stalk, threaten, or otherwise violate the legal rights (such as rights of privacy and publicity) of others; Spam or try to promote yourself.
This is an amazing hub! I have a son whose just about to turn 3 and he's known all his letters since before he was 2 and he now knows all the sounds as well. I have been thinking it was time to try to teach him to read, but I wasn't sure how to get him to sound out words. With your approach he doesn't have to. Now I'll be making flash cards of those 100 words! He already reads books... but I'm almost positive its from memory not from recognizing the words.

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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
Scaffolding. When reading to young children, parents should keep in mind the image of a scaffold—one piece placed on top of another to make something bigger and stronger. If the bottom of the scaffold is weak and wobbly, the entire thing will collapse. Little children have limited experiences so parents should build upon what they already know. Reading a book about butterflies to a child who has never seen a butterfly is largely meaningless. However, reading a book about butterflies to a youngster who spent the afternoon watching them fluttering around her garden is immensely powerful.
Children's songs and nursery rhymes aren't just a lot of fun—the rhyme and rhythm help kids to hear the sounds and syllables in words, which helps them learn to read. A good way to build phonemic awareness (one of the most important skills in learning to read) is to clap rhythmically together and recite songs in unison. This playful and bonding activity is a fantastic way for kids to implicitly develop the literacy skills that will set them up for reading success.
×