According to Shane Michaels, “The entire premise of Reading Head Start really just makes sense—like how babies learn to speak by listening, Sarah Shephard uses the same principles of teaching kids how to read by having them listen to the sounds the individual letters make, rather than them just memorizing the association between words and certain images, the method most kids learn to read by in school. But perhaps what is most impressive about this system is that it is designed in a way to get parents involved with their child’s learning process in reading, so their child gets much more of a benefit than simply learning how to read words. They get a complete learning experience that is positive, encouraging, and gratifying.”
I’m the owner/director/teacher of a small preschool and in researching a new readng program for this year I stumbled on this program. I’m excited to give it a try this year. We had been using “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons”, but I found it a little dry and repetitive. I like the variety of activities and can see how I can easily adapt it to fit the classroom environment.
Why should it not be done? Unless it is stressing the child out or forcing him I do not see why it “SHOULDN’T” be done. That is a nice analogy but I don’t see how it is a valid one. Just because a child I advanced or allowed to be ahead of the game does not mean they are not being allowed to be a child. Maybe he is gifted maybe not perhaps he is interested in learning. Children love to learn so yes I agree Let him be a child.
Thank you for this informative and encouraging post. As my husband and I are both avid readers, we naturally did all of these steps with our oldest child and he learned to read before he was 4 years old. We didn’t do videos or flash cards, just a natural progression and I agree it is a wonderful approach. He just finished kindergarten and reads 4th grade level books with great comprehension. It is such a joy to see him love reading, but I have to keep reminding him to put his books down while walking in parking lots!!

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.


As your child becomes a more confident reader, continue to introduce a wide range of books. When it comes to reading aloud, look for two types of books — those that could be read alone and those that are above your child's current independent reading level. With this mix, your child can re-read some of these books independently, while you'll have to do the reading (or at least help) with the challenging ones that allow your child to enjoy a more sophisticated story and learn new words.
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.
In terms of outcomes, longitudinal research, the kind that follows kids for decades, tells a sad story. If your child is experiencing reading failure, it is almost as if he has contracted a chronic and debilitating disease. Kids who are not reading at grade level in first grade almost invariably remain poor fourth grade readers. Seventy four percent of struggling third grade readers still struggle in ninth grade, which in turn makes it hard to graduate from high school. Those who do manage to press on — and who manage to graduate from high school — often find that their dreams of succeeding in higher education are frustratingly elusive. It won’t surprise you to know that kids who struggle in reading grow up to be adults who struggle to hold on to steady work; they are more likely to experience periods of prolonged unemployment, require welfare services, and are more likely to end up in jail.
Parents, it turns out, are pretty crummy reading instructors, especially when they break out the flash cards, handwriting worksheets, rewards charts and other traditional tools we all know and hate. “You don’t know what you’re doing,” Willingham says of parents in general. “If your child encounters real difficulty, there’s a good chance the child will go to school and think, ‘Reading? Oh, that’s that thing Mom and Dad bug me about, and it’s hard for me to figure out, and I don’t like it much.’ Then the teacher has to try and overcome that first negative experience your child has had.”
It is at this stage that differences between your child and other children start becoming apparent, inside and outside the school environment. Teachers may have to plan special enrichment activities to meet your child's educational needs, while other children are being taught the basics of reading instruction. This is a positive indication that your child's early reading abilities are in fact the key to academic progress. Your child will already be ahead of her peers, from an academic point of view.

The Berks County Head Start program serves 695 children, located across 17 sites. All attempts are made to enroll children in locations close to their homes. Head Start services include:  school readiness development, parent engagement, social services, health/nutrition services, mental and behavioral health supports, supports for children with disabilities.
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?
Let your children become members as soon as they are old enough. A child’s first library card is a rite of passage, often the very first official membership card in a young life. Teach your children that library membership is a privilege and a responsibility. Most children really treasure their library cards, for good reason. It’s not just a ticket to great books, it’s a milestone.

Most children learn to read by 6 or 7 years of age. Some children learn at 4 or 5 years of age. Even if a child has a head start, she may not stay ahead once school starts. The other students most likely will catch up during the second or third grade. Pushing your child to read before she is ready can get in the way of your child's interest in learning. Children who really enjoy learning are more likely to do well in school. This love of learning cannot be forced.

"When I first began to teach kindergarten 26 years ago, we didn't even start the alphabet until Christmastime," says Carol Schrecengost, a teacher in Stow, OH. "But now I begin teaching letter sounds during the first month of school  -- in part because students are learning their letters earlier, but also because parents and administrators expect it."

With four levels in total, children of all ages can benefit. With 10 weeks worth of lessons in each level, your child will benefit from thousands of reading hours. Education is the key to success and by encouraging children to start reading sooner, they can develop key life skills that will promote long-term growth. She is now helping thousands of children improve their reading skills, supporting their future success.
ABC Reading Eggs incorporates all five components of reading in its online lessons. Children are introduced to a range of interactive activities that reinforce letter sounds and symbols, building phonemic awareness and phonics skills, as well as vocabulary and comprehension. The e‑book at the end of each lesson allows children to apply the skills they have learned. Free trial.

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!

Hi TripleAMom, nice to see you again. Sight reading works really well for all kids, those with learning issues and those without. I think it’s simply a matter of preference really… and don’t get me wrong, I believe that phonics is essential for children to learn, I just believe that there’s a way to do it that is easier, especially for very young children. In the end reading is reading and I’m glad we both agree that this is every parent’s primary goal… not the method in which it is achieved. Thanks for stopping by, I really enjoy chatting to you :)
​​My 2 year old son absolutely goes mental for Reading Head Start! He’s actually choosing the members area over television and its the first thing he wants to do when he wakes up after his nap. No word of a lie but I absolutely get why. If I was his age again, I’d  love it too! Just wanted to send out my quick thanks!” *Disclaimer: Individual results may vary. – Carol Ruby
Reading the Alphabet is the framework I use for teaching my boys to read — but because my older son has been recognizing words and starting to sound them out for quite some time, I move at an accelerated pace.  My three-year-old still needs some alphabet reinforcement, so I just do the simpler activities with him.    They’re both learning and growing – at just the right pace for each of them.
My son is 3 and has 2 full shelves of books. Every time we go to a store he always wants to get another one! He knows his alphabet and can recognize about 1/3 of the letters. I really have been wanting to teach him more but I don’t want to push him and have him lose interest. Anytime he sees words he will say look mom, ABCs! He doesn’t know what it says or what the letters are but he gets very excited to see them! Do you have any tips on how to get them to recognize the letters? We tell him what the letters are and what they say when he asks but is there a more structured approach that works better for a 3 year old? I can tell he really wants to learn, I’m just not sure how to teach him! 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

Many people consider middle-grade books the best of children’s literature, because they focus on the golden years of childhood, before the transformations, challenges and responsibilities of adolescence. These books don’t contain the level of violence or sexuality acceptable in young adult novels, though some middle-grade books intended for the older end of the spectrum may include mildly violent scenes or a first kiss.
He says that parents can help kids read by taking advantage of situations where reading has some utility. “In our house, for a brief period of time, my youngest just thought it was hilarious fun when we’d ask her to clean her room but would do so by writing down on a slip of paper each task. ‘Put away all your toys.’ She would read the slip of paper, then go off and do it, and then come back for another slip of paper.” (UM, brilliant.)
As you know I am a new teacher from Iran with no experience and love teaching kids so much, I have 3 ESL kids, they are 5-8 years old, after only 5 months now they know their ABC’s. they know the letter and the sounds I am so proud of them, they learn very fast and also learn the vocabulary very fast, when I show them letter “Aa” they loudly say ‘a, a, a is for apple, alligator, ambulance, ant’ wow and the same for the other letters. But now we have a 2 weeks holiday and in about a week will start new course, but do not know what I should teach them, we do two ESL for kids curriculums but its more about talking and listening and learning new vocabularies but I want to teach them phonics and also their parents want. Now they know their alphabet what would be the next step. I have made a phonic book with this order for them,
Hi! My son is 17 years old and he does not enjoy reading at all. I have realised that he can read but cannot comprehend to what he is reading and so is bored . Please help or give me some suggestions which will help me to motivate him to read and comprehend what he is reading. I know i have missed those formative years of his childhood. But i believe nothing is impossible.

Reading Head Start will help you teach your child how to read, allowing them to build key life skills and self-confidence. This encourages success in the years to follow, as children who participate in the program often read at a level 2-4 years older than them. With thousands of hours worth of reading, lessons are organized based on varying skills levels.

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I have a 7 year old with autism. He is in public school autism class (first grade). When he was a toddler all he wanted to do was listen to books. Now I cannot sit him down. He literally fights me and my 3 year old (who is homeschooling) makes it harder because she gets jealous and throws fits during the time I try to make him sit down and look at a book. He is nowhere near reading now.
For your children to grow smart, it is a must for them to become bookworms early.  The benefits of reading to children cannot be overemphasized.  You, as a parent, can form your children’s reading habit by starting them early – from babies to preschool kids.  The loving environment created by reading to your young children will help them associate reading with your warmth, and this conditions their minds to feel that reading is a positive, pleasurable activity.
He says that parents can help kids read by taking advantage of situations where reading has some utility. “In our house, for a brief period of time, my youngest just thought it was hilarious fun when we’d ask her to clean her room but would do so by writing down on a slip of paper each task. ‘Put away all your toys.’ She would read the slip of paper, then go off and do it, and then come back for another slip of paper.” (UM, brilliant.)
For your children to grow smart, it is a must for them to become bookworms early.  The benefits of reading to children cannot be overemphasized.  You, as a parent, can form your children’s reading habit by starting them early – from babies to preschool kids.  The loving environment created by reading to your young children will help them associate reading with your warmth, and this conditions their minds to feel that reading is a positive, pleasurable activity.
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.
Begin giving your child complete stories. Odds are, your child will be in school by the time they are able to read and will be given their own reading material by their teachers. Help them to read these whole stories by encouraging explicit phonics use, and recognizing vocabulary. As their word recognition increases, they’ll be able to more fully understand story plots and meanings.
Picture books are bigger than board books, with (be careful!) rippable pages and, usually, a slightly longer, more developed story. You can introduce picture books into the story time mix right from the newborn days, but the sweet spot for picture books is later toddlerhood and beyond. Your child’s awareness of the world is always expanding, and picture books tell more ambitious stories, going to new places, and helping the child to understand and navigate each stage of life (a new sibling, the beginning of preschool, conflict with a friend, fear of the dark, picky eating, and so on).
Another great free tool my mom used to teach me to write is by drawing shapes on the sidewalk with paint brushes soaked in water. My mom recently wrote a book explaining how she taught me to read at 3 and my sister at 2. Its really brilliant and the ebook is only $5. Its on amazon and called, A Thrifty Parents Guide To Teaching Your Child To Read Write And Count. In April I graduate with my doctorate and even in my doctoral program my friends commented on how quickly I read and assimilate information. I wish every child’s parent taught them with this method.

Don’t push Harry Potter too early. We love Harry Potter, but also feel there is no reason to read Harry Potter out loud to your child. If children are attracted to fantasy, they will come to love Harry so much, they’ll want to read the books on their own. In other words, Harry Potter is the dessert, not the vegetables. There are a lot of great books for kindergartners, but even the first Harry Potter book is not one of them. In fact, the sweet spot for the first four books in the series is the second through fifth grades; it’s fifth through seventh grade for the later books. There are some dark themes in the later books; the author, J.K. Rowling, wrote those understanding that her readers would grow into the later books as they worked their way through the series.
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.
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!
When children classify a book into a certain genre, they have to first summarize the book in their head and recall details.  Then they have to use that information to decide which type of genre that particular books fits into.  Finally, your child will be recalling details from other books in the same genre, making connections between the two.  This simple activity that might take 5-10 seconds of your time after reading a book but it certainly packs a punch of thought and processing in that young brain!
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