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If you are the parent of a small child you may feel overwhelmed at the idea of teaching your child to read. You may have many questions such as — when should I start teaching my child to read? What method should I use? What products will I need to buy? How much time will it take?

I’ve put together this guide after tackling this task for my own daughter. Hopefully by reading over the pages I have here you will get a better idea of what is involved in teaching your child to read and what you will need to do.

There are many things you can do to help your child to read but it is important that you have an established system in place that you follow regularly (such as the Children Learning Reading system). Once a system is in place there are many other tools out there that can help you along the way such as books, websites, reading programs, and more. However, without the fundamentals in place, these extra tools will not be as useful as they could be.

As you work on this task, remember that you will be teaching your child one of the most important skills in life.

The importance of teaching your child to read

Reading skills form a foundation for your child’s intellectual and academic development. The ability to read as well as the practice of regular reading can offer so much to your child in the early years as well as throughout their life.

By getting an early start you can help your child to excel in school, develop a greater knowledge of the world, and increase the overall vocabulary. There are countless studies that show a high correlation with early reading ability and improved academic performance.

Many parents wonder what the appropriate age is to start teaching reading to their child. While there is no fixed age, an early start will ensure that you child has a good and strong foundation in their reading ability. To learn more you can read about “when do kids start reading“.

Before getting started, it is important to understand there are two main approaches to reading — phonics and whole word.

Phonics vs. whole word

The “phonics” approach to reading focuses on learning the individual sounds that make up words. These sounds are combined to make full words. This allows the child to read words they haven’t seen before as well as provide help in spelling words.

The “whole word” approach (also referred to as “look-say” or “sight” reading) teaches children to recognize whole words without much insight into the sounds or letters that make up the word. Given that the English language is not always read as it is written some people believe this to be a good approach to learning reading.

There is some controversy about what method is most effective. I won’t go into details here but from my research I believe the phonetic approach to be superior. There have been many studies done on the two approaches and they seem to favor the phonetic approach.

In order to read with phonics your child needs to develop their phonics skills.

What are Phonics Skills?

In order to learn to read using phonics, your child will need to develop the ability to look at the letters in a word and understand what sounds they make. They will then have to combine the separate sounds together to make a word (this process is called “blending”). By developing these phonics skills you child will learn to read.

In addition to being able to understand how to combine sounds to make a word it is useful for a child to hear a word and break it down into separate sounds. By practicing this your child develops better phonemic awareness which can aid in their reading as well as spelling. Your child can also practice phonemic awareness activities to improve their phonemic awareness.

Independent reading

The ultimate goal of teaching your child to read is to have them read on their own. This is an important step in their development as it allows them to further their intellectual development in an independent manner.

Independent reading requires that you child shifts from reading individual words towards general reading comprehension and understanding the overall message being communicated by the words they are reading.

At this stage, children will:

  • Develop a better appreciation for their reading skills and be more willing to apply them to reading
  • Become more interested in reading as well as writing
  • Discover they can enrich their understanding of a subject on their own
  • Grow their vocabulary and be exposed to new ideas
  • Perform better in school

Get started teaching your child to read

Teaching your child to read starts with a commitment to create a plan and follow it. Once you are familiar with reading with phonics for children you can design your own system but this can be a challenging and time consuming task. You should consider purchasing a complete system. Once you have a system in place you can add in extras to further enhance the learning experience.

Personally, I use the Children Learning Reading system with my daughter. It is an effective, complete system that does not require a big time commitment. Click here to read my Children Learning Reading review.

More Information

When do kids start reading?
What is phonics
Reading with phonics for children
What is phonemic awareness?
Phonemic awareness activities
Reading comprehension skills