How do I Teach My Child to Read?

How Do I Teach My Child To Read

This is a question I get a lot, via email and in comments ~ “How do I teach my child to read?”  Although I have only taught one child to read from birth ;-) and am working on my 2nd and 3rd, I did teach many children to read while teaching Kindergarten for 5 years! Teaching reading is one of my favorite things in life-I just love when a young child finally makes the connection and gets excited about the new world opened up before them in BOOKS!

My answers may not jive with you, and especially those of you who have different views based on your own successes and failures with teaching reading. I’d love to open up the comments below so we can all share together. There are no RIGHT or WRONG ways to teach reading-every child is different and every teacher/parent is different. There are many ideas and we can all glean wisdom from one another. I am even open to learning still-although I am college educated in this subject! Learning as a teacher is never ending!IMG_3670 copy

So, how did I teach public school children and my own son to read {and how am I currently teaching Krash}?

I use a mixture of a Whole Language approach, along with phonics . For those of you unfamiliar with the different approaches, here is Wikipedia on the topic of Whole Language. Here is a basic definition,

A whole-language approach represents a philosophy about reading rather than any one instructional method. According to this philosophy, language is a natural phenomenon and literacy is promoted through natural, purposeful language function. It has as its foundation current knowledge about language development as a constructive, meaning-oriented process in which language is viewed as an authentic, natural, real-world experience, and language learning is perceived as taking place through functional reading and writing situations.” (p. 458) (Lapp, D. & Flood, J. (1992). Teaching reading to every child. (3rd ed.). New York: Macmilliam Publishing Company.)

Here are a few more links if you want some in depth info about the subject and the different methods…

I taught Kindergarten for 3 years with a Whole Language approach and for 1 1/2 years with a Phonics approach {the school I was teaching with switched to Open Court} so I have seen all types of kids use both methods. Since I was college educated during the Whole Language movement, I was actually taught to an extreme. I remember being at the NAEYC conference and sitting in a workshop about how horrible Letter of the Week programs were! Anything that pulled letters, sounds, etc. out of natural context was BAD BAD BAD! I didn’t completely buy into that theory and then a few years later when a phonics method was forced upon me, I naturally learned to balance the two.

When it came time to teach Pac Man to read, I knew I had actually already started to teach him. When literacy is integrated into a child’s life from birth, reading is a natural progression. Pac Man was not an eager reader, and did not read early, but he is a wonderful reader now. I believe strong comprehension makes a wonderful reader! This is where I feel a Whole Language approach greatly benefits children. Pac Man has good phonics knowledge and continues to learn more and more, but most importantly he has great comprehension.


What exactly do we do?

We READ!!!!! Seriously, that is the very best thing you can do to teach your child to read. Teach Mama has a wonderful reading section on her blog. Another great blog to read is This Reading Mama, who also shares a very similar philosophy.

Here are a few basic pointers to get you started…

  • Read to your child multiple times daily {I know this seems like a DUH point, but seriously, don’t slack on this}. Read with enthusiasm, talk about the text {increase comprehension}, ask questions, discuss the pictures, point out letters and words, and enjoy the read aloud time together!
  • Integrate reading and literacy activities into normal life as much as possible, in a fun way! One simple idea is to begin doing a Morning Message with your child{ren}. This is something I did as a Kindergarten teacher, and then adapted for P when he was younger. I need to start this back up now that K is in this stage!
  • Have some easy readers available for your child who is interested in learning to read. If you are short on cash, print off your own or even make your own. I include a free printable easy reader with each Raising Rock Stars Preschool unit! Even if you don’t use the entire program, you can print just the mini books! There are also many online for free, here’s a few on Hubbards Cupboard. If you are interested in purchasing some easy readers, here is our Amazon bookstore with our favorites {you’ll notice some are phonics based, some aren’t}.
  • Work on sight words! Learning sight words is a big part of learning to read and really helps a child with confidence! The You Can Read program I developed is focused completely on teaching sight words in a fun way to young children.image
  • Integrate phonics into your teaching, but not in an unnatural and forceful way…try to make it fun! Work with word families {cat, mat, rat, pat, etc.}, teach phonetic sounds, watch Leapfrog Letter Factory, Talking Words Factory, and Code Word Caper. Bob Books are a great tool for working on letter sounds while learning to read! Here’s a post I did about teaching short vowel sounds. Word Families are another way to emphasize phonics.
  •  Starfall is an amazing and free website that we used TONS with Pac Man and now use with Krash and even Ladybug a little bit!


All children are different and some will benefit from a strong Whole Language approach with minimal phonics instruction. Another child will be totally lost without direct phonics instruction. I think an approach that attempts to merge the two is a great place to start and then you can adjust as you see fit. Also-almost all kids will catch up with each other by 2nd or 3rd grade. Just because your friend’s 3 year old can read and yours can’t- don’t stress!!! Krash is WAY more interested in reading than Pac Man ever was. However even at age 4 I am not pushing Krash. He will learn at his own pace and I am in no big rush to push him. Pac Man caught on slowly but once he caught on he went wild ~ quickly! He now has the most amazing comprehension skills, vocabulary, and reading ability!

As for an actual program for homeschool, I began reviewing All About Reading in 2011 and love it.


You can see more about why we chose to review this program here in our Current Curriculum post, look under FAQ. Ladybug is using All About Reading Pre Level 1, and Krash is using All About Reading Level 1.  If you feel the need to have a complete program to assist you I highly recommend All About Reading.  You can see all of my posts including All About Reading here.

Technology is another great tool when it comes to learning to read!  We personally own an iPad and use it a LOT for schooling.  You can see many great literacy apps for children here in my educational iPad apps post, and also here in iPad Apps part 2!

If you have more questions that I did not answer, feel free to leave a comment. Also-if you have input-please jump in, I am certainly not the only one who knows something about teaching kids to read!!! I highly recommend seeking out other moms online who are also educated in this area {educated either by college or experience}.

A few more reading related posts:

Happy Teaching!!!

This post was originally written in June 2010, it has since been updated in 2012, and again in 2014

Tot School ~ Only Child

~Ladybug is currently 14 months old~

I have been living the only child life around here with the boys gone, so Tot School has been going on TONS!  I have spent so much time just soaking in every ounce of my sweet baby girl.  It’s a wonder I have gotten any work or planning done, she just mesmerizes me with her cuteness.

I gave her spools in an empty pitcher and a paper towel tube.  She played for a long time by herself and then I showed her how to put the spool into the tube, she immediately caught on and loved trying it herself!  She was quite challenged but could do it!IMG_2078

Bubble wrap and balls…so simple yet so much fun!


Then I added in a laundry basket for her to dump the balls in and roll them around.  She was hilarious trying to reach in to get them out!!!IMG_2208


She is in LOVE with my little magnets.  I don’t even remember when or where I got these.  She puts them on, takes them off, stacks them, and adores them!IMG_2139


She is a piggy bank master now!  This is one of her favorite toys and has been for awhile.  I highly recommend this toy for babies {Krash loved it too and still does}. IMG_2129


My mom got her the Melissa and Doug magnetic dress-up doll at a consignment sale recently.  I knew she was too young for it but wanted to show her how the magnets work, I am glad I did—she loved it!  The girl had some funky outfits when Ladybug was done with her!IMG_2214


A metal bowl, wooden spoon, and some play food goes a L-O-N-G way with a tot!  I taught Ladybug how to stir and she was so cute trying to actually stir them herself!IMG_2284


I gave her this watering can we have that has a small hole on the top.  She had LOADS of fun putting things into it.  I found lots of things that just barely fit so she would ahve to work at it!IMG_2258


This is one of her favorite toys. It was also the first toy she learned to “work” many months ago.  She still giggles at it and will push the button over and over again to make them go around.IMG_2110


This girl adores books!  She reads by herself all the time.  This is in her bedroom…IMG_2103 Her new favorite place to sit-the couch.  She loves for me to put her up there to sit and read! IMG_2083


Life School

She is learning to eat with a spoon and doing really well!IMG_2408

She is a standing machine now, not much movement, but lots of pulling up…finally!IMG_2383

On another note-she saw Elmo this week and I do believe we have a fan.  Neither of the boys cared much for Elmo, but I think Lbug might be different.  She was so funny watching it!!!!


Moms Favorite IMG_2269


This Weeks Tools

Tot School @ The Beach

~Ladybug is currently 14 months old~

Ladybug got to spend the past week with her extended family {Daddy’s side} down in NC at the beach! IMG_1383She had a wonderful week, we all enjoyed her so very much ~ she is such a sweet & fun baby! Here’s a few highlights from her time at the beach…

She loved the pool we had set up underneath the house…IMG_0996

Riding in the golf cart with Daddy was a BIG HIT, she loved it!IMG_1055

We let her try a popsicle, her reaction was amusing…


She hung out inside a lot with Nana, one of her favorite activities was playing with the cups on the cooler {putting them in and out of the holes on top}IMG_1291

She got LOTS and LOTS of extra snuggling ;-)


She wasn’t crazy about the ocean, but she didn’t hate it either. We only took her on one day, mainly so I could take her picture ;-)IMG_1697IMG_1747

Her BIG accomplishment of the week, she can now pull up on her own! This a big deal for our little lazy-bones. She mastered this on the last day and is now a pull-up master!IMG_1842

She did a really great job getting even cuter this week too. Those little gappy teeth just melt my heart!IMG_1911


Raising Rock Stars Preschool ~ 1st Review Unit


I created the first review unit for Raising Rock Stars Preschool! I hadn’t planned on creating this but the idea popped into brain and I thought it would be good for Krash. As I have shared before, I need things simple and similar, I am a creature of habit and will often feel very scatter-brained with out structure. This is the whole reason I designed RRSP with the main board and notebook {see a new video about the notebook here} in mind. I created the review unit the same way, so as we move along I can add printables from each review unit to the rings and have a complete set when we are done!

You don’t necessarily need to take a week to do a review unit, but could use these materials as a supplement for ongoing review. We will probably do an entire review week when we get home from the beach {we are actually there right now-this post is set to auto-publish}. I will have another post to share how we use our review materials.

I printed the pages on regular paper and laminated, punched a hole and used a metal ring to attach different parts. Included in the review unit:

  • Find the Letter Sheet {I included 2 of each letter-upper and lower case, I laminated ours and plan to have K use a dry erase marker to find certain letters}
  • Bible Verse Cards
  • Sight Word Cards {which K will not be using much yet, he is not grasping sight words at all, and that’s totally fine! The light will click soon enough and we’re ready when it does!}
  • Letter Writing Cards {3 versions so you can choose which you like best. I used 2 and laminated back to back so I can have Krash trace on either} This photo show the front of E and the back of F.


  • Beginning Sound Cards {these can also be used for tracing inside of the letter, which is why I made the letter puffy}


  • Number/Shape/Color Cards {I laminated them back to back so K could work on identifying the number and then flipping the card over to count to check}


The review units are only in the RRSP Bundle!

Behind the Scenes ~ Biblical Discipline

image I am in no way a perfect parent or an expert on discipline. I don’t believe there is a human being alive who can claim to have the right answers regarding this topic! I have however, found some excellent resources that have helped me along in my journey of learning how to be the best Godly parent I can be. That is what I hope to share with you here.

First, it is important to know my faith beliefs, you can read what I believe here. My discipline beliefs are based entirely on my faith. I grow as I go too, adapting and changing as I learn more and am led by the Holy Spirit.

Below I will share links to books, and sites that have helped me grow as a parent. Before I link to anything I want you to know that I do not stand by every word in ANY book, on ANY website, or ANY blog.  I have found nuggets of goodness that have helped me grow within these resources, but ultimately I take it all to God and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me. Just because there are links to books or sites I have found helpful, please don’t take that to mean I am affiliated with every word they say.  There is much I tend to disagree with also.  We all need to seek His will and discern using His guidance. I am not here to tell you how to parent!

If you are really struggling as a parent with Biblical Discipline, I recommend setting some time aside to read through all of Jill’s posts over on Totally Tots in our feature: From Tots to Teens ~ Biblically Based Parenting, or spend your time devouring the information found online at Raising Godly Tomatoes. You can read on their website for free, or you can order their book {they have it here on Amazon, or on their site}. Be sure to have some time carved out before you go visiting, I promise your heart will be rocked and you will want to just soak it all in. Even if you are a parent who feels a bit more “together” with discipline, these 2 sites alone can really get you thinking, praying, and listening {to the Holy Spirit leading you as a parent}.

We all love a good book, and although I don’t believe you should overwhelm yourself with every Christian parenting book available, here are a few that have really helped me. Some I have read more than once and have little tabs and notes all throughout!

Most of all, be sure to go straight to God’s Word and soak in what He is saying to YOU as a parent. We can read wonderful sites and books, but ultimately we need to be going to THE BOOK for our final advice. Here’s an article entitled, What does the Bible say about being a good parent? which includes many other Bible verses focused specifically on parenting.

Prayers for us all as we navigate through this world as a parent! I leave you with Proverbs 22:6…

Train a child in the way he should go,

and when he is old he will not turn from it.