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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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.

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If you, for example, showed your child 100 objects, 10 at a time (like a duster, a cup, a pencil, a shoe, etc) and asked them to memorise these items, you can easily get them to recall and identify all 100 of these items in a few weeks. This is the exact process that you will use to teach your child the 100 most common words giving them access to half of everything written.

This is one of the great tragedies of the American school system. It is even more heartbreaking when you talk to scientists about how the human brain reads. Researchers estimate that somewhere between 2 and 5 percent of children, most of whom have developmental disorders or profound neurological problems, will never learn to read. The rest? If they are given what experts say is the right kind of instruction, they will learn to read, and most of them will be able to read well.
Willingham recently wrote the New York Times op-ed “How to Get Your Mind to Read,” and it’s fascinating. In raising readers, it appears that we’re doing it wrong. Parents and teachers tend to think about the learning process in separate blocks. When kids are very young—around 4, 5 or 6—we teach them how to “decode” words. It isn’t until the fourth or fifth grade that we move onto comprehension. That’s too late, Willingham says. “Decoding and comprehension are not the same thing,” he tells me. “There are times when you can read content out loud but not understand what you’re reading.” In the later elementary school grades, as texts become much more complex, comprehension becomes much more difficult. And therefore, children struggle.

Ok, so I was a middle school math teacher for over 15 years and thought: how hard can it be to teach reading to my preschooler. Well, I just attempted to start with what I thought was a great lesson only to frustrate both my daughter and me! We have subscribed to ABCmouse.com for a year and she really loves doing it. I dont see how it is going to teach her to read, but she is only at level 1 lesson 11. I want her to do a half day kindergarten in the fall but have been warned that she will not learn to read unless she is in a full day program. She will be in school all day for the next 15 years or so and forgive me for wanting to give her one more year of just being a kid! That said, I feel some obligation to supplement her learning in school with some learning at home. We have been doing basic things 3 days a week which she loves -art work connected to the letter of the week at preschool, letter recognition, letter sounds, etc and she has mastered all of that. I need to move to the next level and dont want to spend a fortune on several different programs….. My mother in law – along time 2nd grade teacher – is an advocate of phonics which is how I learned to read, and it worked obviously, but while I can teach your kid Algebra, I feel incompetent teaching her how to read! Help!!
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!

Hi. As you will see once reading my post, I’m feeling awfully desperate & unable to sleep over issues my kindergartner is having in school. He’s an “older” kindergartner (6.5 y.o.). I have done all the things in your list. He loves me to read to him, and I do often up to an hour 1 day (books of HIS choice). Once he joined kindergarten, I started hearing that the work is too hard, that he hates reading, he can’t read, won’t be able to for a long time, he’s a terrible reader, etc. Early on…probably 3 weeks into the year, they had a 20 sight words screening/test & then placed all the students in reading groups. He seemed upset by the requirements. We were told for homework, to have him scan his finger across the sentences of these black & white scholastic books…example, “I like pizza, I like corn, I like apples, What do you like?” He would get so upset and clearly extremely frustrated by being asked to do this process. The teacher was willing to remove him from the reading groups which seemed to reduce his anxiety some. The class, together, recites out loud the 20+/month sight words they are expected to learn via smartboard. He knows none of them. From my vantage point, this seems to be difficult for him. The teacher says he’s doing “great”. He still occasionally says negative things about his reading ability / confidence. This concerns me greatly & shared this w/ teacher. When the other kids rotate b/w free play time & their reading groups, he’s allowed to do free play but he spends alot of that time @ the computer car games (school considers apart of the free play curriculum). It’s now January & now they will begin journal writing & small sentence writing. I’m certain this will be something he finds frustrating. On one hand, I’m trying to determine whether it’s healthy for him to continue being in this environment or not. Have you ever seen kids move from 1 environment to another mid-year & do well? I’m considering just pulling him out to homeschool w/ more tactile, multisensory methods of learning for the remainder of the year but just not sure what is best. There is more pencil/paper/worksheets as compared tactile, multi-sensory methods of instruction and that is not how he learns best. He often says the paperwork is “too hard”. Last week he said he was scared to go bc of this. I’m very concerned about his confidence; wondering what the environmental impact is of him not being there is )ex:(a number of them are reading accelerated readers). The teacher feels he does not notice this but I don’t get this sense about how he sees himself. He’s very intuitive. I’m not sure what to do but just want to do what is best for my child. For many months now, since October, I have been observing other schools classrooms, visiting them. Most expect these kids to read by spring. And most seem to be. Mine does not though I have done all the things you have posted. Given all that I have said, do you have any recommendations? I believe in respecting where kids are developmentally & it seems to me he simply is not in a place to perform at this level though the teacher seems to think he is doing great.


Because reading habits are important to instill at an early age, reading activities were created to help guide children through this learning process. These activities encourage quick learning and expand horizons as children read about new things. Online reading activities are learning tools for kids of all ages. They help them develop skills such as spelling, vocabulary, reading and even grammar. This improves communication skills, which in turn, builds confidence in kids.

Yes! Parents are such powerful teachers. They can teach things to their children so quickly working one-on-one. Classroom teachers have so many students with a wide-range of abilities and interests and so often must "dumb down" the curriculum to reach everyone. Parents can let their children soar -- choosing books that interest them and challenging them with both fiction and non-fiction. Voted up.
Let your child build a personal collection. Children love collecting. Make your child’s book collection a point of personal pride and identity. Every child should have a special bookcase. Plan for long-term storage for the best of this collection. When your children reach adulthood and discover that you still have the books that meant so much to them in childhood, they (and you!) will appreciate it.

Wow! I've tried lots of things (6 or 7) to teach my kids to read and this is the only no-fail system. Yes, my kids hate this book after a month or so of it, but it doesn't make them hate reading. This is the only book they are successful at. Whenever I have them try to read the school reading assignments or Bob books or I see sam books, or reader rabbit, or starfall, they instantly stop progressing. Most of these other methods either introduce new information too quickly or discourage sounding o ...more


I’m also a former teacher – and reading at infancy is the key! I began reading to my granddaughter when she was 2 months old. By 1 year, she knew the correct way to hold a book and turn the pages front to back. At 2 years 6 months – she began reading! She is now 2 years 11 months and reading at the 2nd grade level – I’ve tested her! She reads at least 10 books a day.
Reading Rockets is a national multimedia project that offers a wealth of research-based reading strategies, lessons, and activities designed to help young children learn how to read and read better. Our reading resources assist parents, teachers, and other educators in helping struggling readers build fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills.
In 1997, Congress asked the NICHD, along with the U.S. Department of Education, to form the National Reading Panel to review research on how children learn to read and determine which methods of teaching reading are most effective based on the research evidence. The National Reading Panel developed recommendations based on the findings in reading research on the best way to teach children to read. They found that specific instruction in the major parts of reading (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension) was the best approach to teaching most children to read. They also noted that instruction should be systematic (well planned and consistent) and explicit. Although the National Reading Panel is more than a decade old, the findings on reading instruction are still relevant today.

Help the child sound out words. Once the child can identify the first sound of one syllable words, teach him to add the ending. Use a picture to break up the letters and make each individual sound, then ask the child what the word is. This will help him to understand how each of the sounds created by letters will work together to form words.[6] Have the child practice sounding out the words in the same way.


Introduce your own taste. You’ve been reading a long time, and you have a sense of what you like in grown-up books. As a parent, you have the chance to rediscover your taste in children’s books. Pull out your old favorites, and find what’s new that catches your eye when you’re in bookstores, libraries or friends’ homes. The good news is that the best authors and illustrators of children’s books aim to please their grown-up audience, too. Try it: Tweak the text when you’re reading out loud. Many classic children’s books are now considered sexist, racist, outdated and, in certain ways, downright awful. Feel free to make them better.
In other words, reading Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat is an incredibly complex task that requires significant understanding beyond just being able to sound out words. It's based as much on a knowledge of how the world works as it is on how language works. So even though a toddler or a preschooler may not be ready to translate letters into phonemes into words, she is able to start gaining the contextual grounding that will allow her to give those words meaning. "From birth forward, children are becoming readers and writers," says Cox. "Their listening, drawing, early wordplay, pretend reading, storytelling, and scribbling all set the stage for reading excellence and a love of books and writing later on."

Hmmm…it sounds to me like maybe you need to look around at some other supplemental reading curriculum out there. When you say that she is learning 20 new “vocabulary” words a day, do you mean that she is supposed to memorize these by sight? If so, I think you might be better off spending at least a little bit more time teaching elements of phonemic awareness and phonics (to where she will have the skills to actually learn to decode a word and not just memorize it). I used a curriculum called “Pathways to Reading” (linked to above in the “phonemic awareness section) in my first grade classroom and it was AMAZING! It taught all of the vowel sounds as well as blends, digraphs, and phonics rules. I would say that with ANY reading curriculum you use, you need a healthy balance that focuses on: reading comprehension, phonemic awareness, phonics, sight words, and vocabulary. Hope that helps!
​​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.

A child who's really reading does more than just sound out a word like "cat." He must also be able to know whether a "cat" is a person, place, or thing; to comprehend the grammar in each sentence (Does the cat wear the hat or does the hat wear the cat?); to dramatize and contextualize the story in his head (cats don't normally talk and wear hats, do they?); and to empathize with the story's characters and understand the ramifications of their actions (that mom is sure going to be mad when she finds the mess made by that silly cat).


I bought the product back in September right before two of my children went to school. Everyday they came from school they wanted to hop on the computer to learn more because it felt like a game to them. At the same time it helped them learn to read and write. I got their report card and met with their teachers, they we're both above average in their class.
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 ABC Reading Eggs.
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.
At just a few months of age, an infant can look at pictures, listen to your voice, and point to objects on cardboard pages. Guide your child by pointing to the pictures, and say the names of the various objects. By drawing attention to pictures and associating the words with both pictures and the real-world objects, your child will learn the importance of language.
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.
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.

Reading Head Start can help you educate your youngster how to study permitting them to build important existence expertise and self confidence. This specific stimulates good results from the several years to follow since youngsters that be in the program typically examine with a amount 2 4 a long time over the age of them. With thousands of several hours price of looking at lessons are organized according to various expertise levels.
Hmmm…it sounds to me like maybe you need to look around at some other supplemental reading curriculum out there. When you say that she is learning 20 new “vocabulary” words a day, do you mean that she is supposed to memorize these by sight? If so, I think you might be better off spending at least a little bit more time teaching elements of phonemic awareness and phonics (to where she will have the skills to actually learn to decode a word and not just memorize it). I used a curriculum called “Pathways to Reading” (linked to above in the “phonemic awareness section) in my first grade classroom and it was AMAZING! It taught all of the vowel sounds as well as blends, digraphs, and phonics rules. I would say that with ANY reading curriculum you use, you need a healthy balance that focuses on: reading comprehension, phonemic awareness, phonics, sight words, and vocabulary. Hope that helps!
I just discovered this post and I love all the ideas listed in it, especially #5. I’m a retired 4th and 5th grade teacher and now I spend half the week watching my young grandsons. As a teacher, I loved using multiple intelligence strategies to help plan lessons that would engage my students and help them retain the concepts that were being taught. I now have fun finding and using such strategies to teach my grandsons their letter sounds, and reinforcing the concepts they are learning in their preschool and first grade classrooms. Thanks so much for this informative article!

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 :)
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.). :)

I purchased Reading Head Start for my 3-year-old daughter last year and she still loves it. Now, after one year, she is reading between 2nd and 4th grade levels. Obviously, we have been reading together through that time, but Reading Head Start was the right choice to teach her to sound out words and learn basic sight words. And we all love the letter sounds song! By: Brenda S.
Hey Sarah, thanks for getting back to me! Yes Ellie has been doing fantastic with Reading Head Start. We just started level three on Tuesday and she’s excited to get going. She loves your system so much that I’m not sure what to do next once she completes level four. You should keep making more levels lol. This has easily been the best investment I’ve made for Ellie to date and a bunch of my friends all picked it up for their children too. I’ll keep you posted on her progress!” *Disclaimer: Individual results may vary. – Samantha W.
From the point of view of reading, child development experts stress the importance of knowing the alphabet. You can sing the alphabet song along with your child, show him flashcards, or write the letters in sand, finger paint, or crayon. As the child gets older, you can start connecting the alphabet to the letter sounds ("d as in duh") and to words ("d for dog").You can name objects around the house and stress the beginning letters. You could also purchase specific learning kits and instructional materials designed to teach your child to read, through a step-by-step process.
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