One thing that has long been on my mind is how to teach your kid to read. When are they ready? How to do it? I’m not a teacher, just a mom who wants to try this out. I know they will learn in school, but I’ve noticed that my son wants to read! He is asking me what things say all the time. Plus, I would LOVE it if he could read to himself for entertainment and open himself up to a whole new world of imagination! We are using the book below with my 4.5 year old because it has been recommended to me so much from other parents who have successfully used it.
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How to teach your kid to read
I want to first say that there are many ways a parent can teach their kids to read. So find one that you like, even if it’s not this book. From books, to programs, to apps, there are a ton out there. I am using the below book because I know it has worked for tons of other early readers, and it has been great for my son.
When can a kid learn to read?
Maybe much younger than you think! My 4-year-old has been asking to read and pretending to read books, so those are signs I’ve seen. His attention span is getting better too, where he can focus around 10-15 minutes which is long enough to make daily reading progress.
If you are interested in how to teach your kid to read, even at 4 or 5 years old (or younger if you are crazy ;-), then I highly recommend the book called “Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons“. We are starting it now that Nigel is 4. He can sit still and concentrate for at least 10 minutes, which is about half a full lesson.
Why I know it works
I’ve seen Peter’s two sisters use this book successfully so far on 5 kiddos, and I’ve met several mom friends who have also used it for their boys around 4/5 years old. This book has won awards for how effective it is, and research has shown that kids who use this method read better than kids who learn with other methods. So, I’m convinced I can at least try it!
To be honest, this teaching my kid to read thing intimidated me A LOT because I honestly didn’t know how. But, this book literally gives me word for word what to say and how to teach! Plus it tells me when it’s Nigel’s turn to repeat me.
What NOT to do
Try not to be so focused on doing the book perfectly that it becomes a bore and a chore. Come with LOTS of patience. The book can teach a kid how to read but it can’t make them love to read. That’s my job!
At first I thought we could never stray from the exact wording. Or I would get frustrated when Nigel was being a normal silly kid or slumping all over the couch or would keep getting it wrong or just start guessing. These are pretty normal things I think and it’s my job to make it fun and be encouraging! How to teach your kid to read is a big thing to tackle, and there is more than one way I’m learning.
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How to make it fun
So I’m trying to make it fun by cheering for him when he gets it right or high fives. I allow him to talk about the words and get off course now and then. We stop if it’s not going well, and come back to it later. We both enjoy it more that way, which is half the battle. We give him a treat when he is done. It used to be a piece of candy, and now he gets to watch a show when he is done.
And let me tell you that motivates my boy!
It has a mini writing lesson for each day too.
We did most of the reading book before trying the writing. His attention span was shot by the end, and he didn’t have an interest in writing yet. And that’s ok! That’s the beauty of it, you can come back to it later.
I could tell he wasn’t ready because he didn’t want to try writing out any “sounds” we were practicing and got too frustrated too soon. So I put that off for a while and waited till he was literally asking me how to draw some of the sounds (aka letters) we were learning.
I ordered these traceable ABC Write and Wipe cards off of Amazon to practice writing. They have been awesome and they are reusable! These ones are lowercase and they also have uppercase cards and numbers!
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How to know if it’s too early
We tried it when he was 3 just for fun because that’s how old Peter’s little brother was when he started this book. It was WAY too early for us. Nigel was too distracted, couldn’t sit still, and didn’t show any interest.
It was more an experiment to see if he was ready at all. When he turned 4 he got frustrated that he couldn’t read books. So that’s when we tried again! I’ll update you below as we go through chunks of the book.
Before you start the book
Before sitting down with Nigel, I spent a good hour just looking at what the book said to do and how it was formatted. That was really helpful so that when I sat down with a squirmy boy for 10-15 minutes the time is used efficiently and I’m not trying to figure out how the book works.
Don’t skip this part or you will be a little unsure of how to do it! Every word is set up for “the teacher” to say to the child. So no matter if Peter does the lesson or me, we are saying the exact same words to Nigel as we walk him through a lesson.
How to teach your kid to read using the book
It is divided into red and black words. Any words in red I read out loud, which tell Nigel what to do and say with the black words. The beginning focuses on a ton of individual sounds (up to lesson 10 or so). A letter gets associated with a sound. And eventually, sounds get combined to make words. It’s so cute to see the lightbulb go on in his brain when he recognizes a word!
In each lesson sounds and later on words have two components. “Sounding it out”, and “saying it fast”. As the teacher, I tell Nigel to “sound it out” while touching underneath each letter. (after I’ve modeled how to).
Later as sounds combine to form words he slides his hand under each letter and sounds out the individual sounds. For example he learned the sound “r” which he learns is sounded out “rrrrr”. Then he has to say it fast. Same for words. For example, when seeing the word “ram” for the first time he sounded out “rrraaammm”. Then he had to say it fast like this “ram”.
Everything gets sounded out. This video is awesome if you want to see the book in use by a mom teaching.
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Update: So far from lesson 15:
He is sounding out short words such as sad, mad, eat, meat, read, am, ram, me, seed…just to name a few! It is so amazing to watch him run his finger under the sounds in each word and say these! I was a bit surprised it works to be honest! Some short sentences he has read by lesson 15 of 100 are “see me read” and ” and “mad at me” and “see the ram eat”
We often do half a lesson a day which also works well or do two half lessons each day. Just so long as it’s every day. But how cool that from the day you start, your kid could be reading in 3-6 months! If you want this book for later, just get Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and have it around!
Update: So far from lesson 30:
I’m officially sold this book works! It builds well on previous lessons, and we do one 10-15 minute chunk every day. Sometimes I’ll review the lesson from the previous day and get halfway through a new lesson if he’s not ready to move on.
At lesson 30, he is sounding out “An ant can eat a seed. That seed is in the mud.” Then I ask him questions about the sentence like “where is the ant?” We also talk about the picture next to it of an ant playing in the mud. Now at lesson 30 he can also identify the whole word if I ask him to spot it. We are also practicing writing some of the sounds on our erasable flashcards and it is working well!
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Update (02/22/18): So far from lesson 55.
We have continued to do this every day with exception to the weekends and Nigel still asks for it daily, mostly because he is allowed to watch a show after which is the carrot we hang from a stick. When Laila starts this book I’ll have to find a different incentive because she could care less about shows, usually 🙂
Every lesson there is a story to go along with a picture. The stories started getting noticeably longer around lesson 43, with around 8 or 9 lines to read instead of 4 or 5. There is supposed to be two readings of each story, so it started getting too long for Nigel’s attention span.
To solve that I have him either do just the first reading (which is sounding out each word and then saying it fast before going to the next word). Or sometimes we trade off sentences which sped it up and made it more enjoyable for him. Then later we could come back and read it again or start there the next day.
Formatting changes as the lessons progress
I started to notice that he seemed ready to just “read the story the fast way” by pointing to each word and saying it, rather than sounding out each word and then saying the word. Then, starting lesson 55 just a few lessons after I thought that, the book changed to have him read it the fast way the first time. And if he came to a word he couldn’t read the fast way then he was supposed to sound it out. The timing was near perfect for Nigel because he naturally began to just sound out words in his head instead.
Also, they have started to introduce what Titles are, question marks, and quotations, and “The end”. I like that as we go, all the words are sounds they know. Here’s a sample of what he’s reading from lesson 54 (all lowercase still): the girl said, “can I have a pot for a little fish?” the man said, “this is a pot for a little fish.” the girl said, “i will take this pot home with me.”
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Update to lesson 70
Some noticeable changes have happened at this point. The stories have gotten much longer and the font has gotten smaller. Nigel always points out the letters are shrinking :-). But he is able to read at a little faster pace.
New sounds have been introduced like “ing” and “oo” and “ar”.
He is sounding out longer words like “sitting”, “fishing”, “swimming”, “inside”, and “under” to name a few.
He knows when to say a hard sounding vowel vs soft vowel because of the symbol on the word still. For example the word “gave” has a line over the a, but the word “sat” does not.
I’ve found it is super important to follow the book in asking him the questions about each story when we read it, or he can tend to not comprehend all the sentences.
When he tries just guessing words, we either take a break or I’ll help him with the first sound as a clue.
Update to lesson 73 (April, 2018)
This is the first time they have introduced the names of letters to match the sounds he’s learned! The book has the alphabet written largely and we pointed to a-J saying the sounds. (we sung them, as he knows the song already).
I was pretty sure he wouldn’t remember the names of any, except he did remember a few! In the next lesson (74), they reviewed letter names a-j and introduced the names k-u. Then, for the first time the book had him point to a few words and say each letter name. A few were o-l-d, t-o-l-d, c-o-r-n, and b-o-r-n.
While he got a lot wrong, I feel something like this just takes a ton of practice when learning how to read and eventually the brain remembers. When he got tired of it, we just moved on.
Big changes in 74
This is honestly the first place that I have felt like we need to go backwards in the book and make reading fun again. Or just take it much slower. They are introducing taking out hints (so lines over letters) so that words look normal.
Nigel has really struggled with that and has starting guessing more. He’s having a hard time knowing which sound to say. For instance the word “road” will confuse him because there is no longer has a line over the O and the a is not shrunken, which used to be a pronunciation hint.
I’ll update this with how it goes. I can also say that we took about 4-5 days off around this time and that we saw major regression. I see that kids really need the short spirt of time constantly or they do forget in these early stages! Good thing is we can just back up a few lessons, easy peasy.
Update lesson 82 (May 2018):
We went back about 10 lessons when my son was having a hard time (see last update), and it worked wonders! He needed more repetition reading, and once we got back to the point where they read without the clues, he was able to recognize the words much more easily without them.
To combat the overwhelm of the long stories, we just took a blank piece of paper to cover the whole story except the one line he was reading. This is my best tip for this update!
They have just introduced capital letters, and are now using them in the book! My son can now name all the letters in a word if I point to one, which is an exercise taught in the book.
Every kid is different:
Why is comparing so easy to do and dumb at the same time?! Some learn fast, some learn later when their attention span is better. I figure when my kids seem interested, and I’m willing to sit down and do this every single day, then it will happen!
I have felt self-imposed pressure to teach my boy to read even before he was ready. And as sad as that is to admit, it’s true. I’m sure everyone has that about something when it comes to their kids. This post is to show you a tool that works if you want to do this at home! But really, when they are little there should be no pressure. Have fun and leave a comment or question with your thoughts on this!