How to Teach Your Child to Read… EASY!
When my eldest son was just beginning to learn his letters and sounds, I really had no idea if I was doing it the right way. Although I had been teaching preschool for about 2 years before he was born, I didn’t have the clearest clue how to teach him the basics of reading (what I should do first, then second, then third, etc).
I WAS STRESSED!
After doing some tireless research, I located a homeschooling mama on YouTube named Jady Alvarez. At the time, she only had 2 little girls. (She now has 4 girls and 1 boy! Oh, how time flies!) Jady presented a simple method to teaching young children how to read. And I found it to be so encouraging – and I want to share these same tips with you.
Disclosure: Hey! Just a quick note: some of the links in this post may be affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase or to join, I will earn a commission, at no extra cost to you. But just know that I recommend these companies and their products because of their quality and my experience with them and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you. I love and appreciate you regardless! You can review my full disclosure here. xo, Tessa
How to Teach My Child to Read – STEP #1
Read to Them Everyday!
Exposing our children to various types of books and literature while they are young (even while still in the womb), is one of the best foundational habits we can establish to help our children inherit a lifelong love of reading.
Choosing to read aloud to our children has many benefits like teaching them how to hold and care for a book properly, how to turn the pages, and which way to read the words on each page. Reading aloud also helps to build our children’s vocabulary and exposure to new words and sentence structure, which in turn helps them to become confident speakers as well.
When we read aloud, we should make sure to use animation in our voices as we change our voice intonations depending on the story’s plot or who is talking in the story. I remember the first time I heard my daughter reading to her dolls in her room. She held the doll in her lap and read a story with such excitement and animation – just like I had been reading to them since they were babies.
Our children pick up on our love for reading. If we love it, they will grow to love it too. If they see us reading often, it will plant a seed and one day, we will see them reading often too. And then, they will teach their children to love reading… and the tradition goes on and on from generation to generation – building lifelong readers who truly enjoy reading.
Best Books to Read Aloud to Children
- books that interest them (let them choose!)
- thematic books that correspond with what you all are learning about or plan to learn about or what your child wants to learn about
- rhyming books that promote phonological and phonemic awareness
- books with easy to understand plots, problems, and solutions to encourage conversation and discussion which builds on their comprehension skills
- Interactive books that encourage your child to flip up, unfold, feel, touch, and even smell
How to Teach My Child to Read – STEP #2
Teach the Letter Sounds!
Early childhood experts state that teaching children the letter sounds before the letter names will encourage them to start reading earlier because children need to know the sounds of the letters in order to put the sounds together to read words rather than the name of the letter.
In my own experience, I have taught my children letter sounds while they simultaneously learned the names of the letters (singing the “ABC Song” did this). It was quite natural for us to learn the names and sounds of the letters simultaneously rather than separating the two. So to this, you choose which works best for your child and your situation.
Now, when teaching the letter sounds, you should first focus on the basic consonant sounds (no soft “g” as in giraffe or “c” as in city) because those are a bit more advanced and children need to learn specific rules regarding using soft consonant sounds. Additionally, stick to teaching the short vowel sounds (/a/ as in apple, /e/ as in elephant, /i/ as in igloo, /o/ as in octopus, and /u/ as in umbrella) before teaching the long vowel sounds (/a/ as in acorn, /e/ as in eagle, /i/ as in ice cream, /o/ as in oval, /u/ as in universe).
Best Activities to Teach Letter Sounds
- Flash cards for quick review (with JUST the letter and not any distracting pictures)
- Alphabet letter chart for pointing and speaking activities (you can have different charts that mix up the letters on each page so your child is not learning the sounds in a specific order)
- Flashcards with just a picture and no letters (when they see the picture, they will name the beginning letter sound of that picture)
- LeapFrog: Letter Factory (a family favorite for teaching letter sounds on the go to fun and catchy tunes)
- Sensory bins with different materials that they have to dig through to find alphabet letters and when they find a letter, they have to say the letter sound
Whichever activities you choose, make sure to keep it hands on to engage multiple senses which will help your child learn more effectively.
How to Teach My Child to Read – STEP #3
Teach Two-Letter Blends!
After your child has learned all letter sounds, they are ready to put sounds together to create two-letter blends (e.g. ba, be, bi, bo, bu). We begin with two-letter blends before introducing three-letter blends because, well, two-letter blends are a smaller chunk and we want your beginning reader to master putting two sounds together before putting three sounds together. Baby steps… But remember, we are only practicing consonant sounds and short vowel sounds.
Best Activities to Teach Two-Letter Blend Sounds
- Two-letter blend ladders. Your child will begin reading from the bottom of the ladder and work their way to the top of the ladder. Make sure they point to each letter sound as they say it one at a time, then have them run their finger under them both putting the sounds together. Do not move on to the next blend ladder until they have mastered the current one. Review all ladders during each session to ensure they are continuously practicing for fluency.
How to Teach My Child to Read – STEP #4
Teach Three-Letter Blends!
After your child is able to read the two-letter blend ladders fluently without hesitation, they are ready to add a third letter. We call these CVC words or consonant-vowel-consonant words (e.g. CAT, PEN, RIB, MOM, PUP). At this point, you and your child are going to be so excited! They are finally reading words. Their fluency will only continue to increase as they spend more time practicing these three-letter blends everyday.
Best Activities to Teach Three-Letter Blends
- Use these basic flashcards to help practice time be quick, easy, and simple. Focus on one vowel set at a time beginning with short a. Once your child has mastered short a words, add in short e words and so on and so forth. Some words are “silly” or “nonsense” words, but these are still great for your child to practice. Aim to practice as long as your child wants to, but for at least 5-10 minutes everyday.
- Bob Books are great to introduce to your child at this point because most words in the beginning reader Bob books are CVC and only gently introduce sight words with each new book. I recommend checking out the Bob Books website for more information as they have many other resources to help your new reader soar!
- Make things more hands on by having your child write their newly learned words in a journal. Since they are able to read three-letter blends, they are also ready to begin spelling these words as they practice listening and sounding them out. This will prepare them to write sentences in the very near future.
How to Teach My Child to Read – STEP #5
Teach Pre-Primer & Primer Sight Words!
At this point, your child is reading Bob Books which is such an accomplishment! But let’s keep up the momentum by introducing intentional sight word practice. Now, Bob Books do a great job of slowly introducing new sight words in their beginning readers, but there’s nothing wrong with extending this sight word practice which can speed up your new reader’s ability to recognize these sight words.
Best Activities to Teach Pre-Primer & Primer Sight Words
- I recommend Jady Alvarez’s Pre-Primer/Primer Sight Word Bundle. She explains exactly how to use this resource to help your new reader learn sight words in a fun and hands-on way! This is the exact resource I used to teach my children to read sight words when they were in preK. (They were reading prior to beginning kindergarten!)
These are the top 5 steps to easily help your child begin reading without being stressed about what to do next. Remember, there is no specific timeframe that each step will take. Every child is different and progresses at a different speed. The most important thing is to have fun!
If these tips have helped you, please comment below your experience. I’d love to hear all about it!
As always, happy teaching!