Archives for June 2010

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

Raising Rock Stars Preschool ~ Getting Organized & Planning Ahead

Krash is currently out of town and will be gone until July 1.  It is strangely quiet around here and I miss the boys a lot.  They are down south staying with their grandparents {who begged to have them}, so I know they are having a blast, but I still miss them.

I am doing a lot of planning while they are gone and hope to have our entire summer school planned out before they return.  Here’s how I am planning for Krash…

I made this chart to plan his weekly workboxes

Preschool Workbox Planning Forma

I decided I needed more of a plan to my plans so I could think less when gathering materials for the week ;-).  I may seem very organized and full of ideas, but I hit very brain-dead moments often and I don’t feel like thinking much. 

I made a list of all of our “Star Box” games and toys {the open ended fun stuff}, and plan to just rotate through those.  I even made my list online so you could see it too! The Star Boxes stay the same for 1 week and then I change them all out at once.

For the Letter Focus section, I plan to do extra activities somehow based around our RRSP letter.  I am pulling and printing ideas mostly from Confessions of a Homeschooler, Home Grown Hearts, Totally Tots Crafty ABCs {I am going to match the letter up now} and Making Learning Fun. 

For the 3rd row {123, Colors, etc.} I plan to use my own Preschool Printables rotating through the various activities I have made.  I will be using other peoples printables too!  I am currently printing off a few and will be organizing them into a rotation cycle, so I don’t forget certain ones!  I made a list of these also, combining all of mine and the ones I have printed {so far} from others, you can see that here.

Row 4 is for a Learning Toy, Puzzle or Activity with a defined ending point {opposite of an open ended toy}.  This is where I will rotate through our toys and puzzles that have more clarity as to what you are “supposed” to do with them!  You can see my list of these items here {I am still working on this list, it is not complete}.

I don’t plan anything for Day 5, as we don’t always do preschool on Day 5.  If we do, I just pull extra toys and puzzles, or we re-do something he enjoyed.  Our day 5 is actually Saturday because of our ministry work schedule {we have Friday off as a family}, so I don’t always feel like doing preschool on Day 5, especially in the summer!

Here’s a sample schedule that is mostly filled in from the week before we left for the beach{I hand write some of it}…

Preschool Workbox Planning Formb

If you want to download a blank version of my planning form, you can find it here.

My goal is to have 5 weeks of Preschool entirely planned before Krash returns!

More Preschool Links…

Be sure to visit Preschool Corner to see all of the other amazing home-preschool moms!

Labeling Your Home {school}

Labeling your home for early literacy development

Being a former Kindergarten teacher, my brain thinks in classroom mode sometimes, and early literacy development is on my mind a lot. But, my home is not a classroom, at least not by decorating standards ;-). I don’t think my husband would appreciate a house full of Kindergarten classroom decor.

However, there are ways to modify ideas that are wonderful for Pre-K and K students in a visually appealing way that doesn’t make your home look like 25 kids need to move in.

When I saw this post on Teach Mama I remembered my little tacky labels from teaching {that I actually used for Pac when he was homeschooled K}. I loved the sticker labels Amy used, but knew I couldn’t afford to do that! I saw the simple labels she made and offers for download {which are perfect for those of you who don’t want color or design} and loved them.

Labeling the classroom {or home for homeschoolers} is a wonderful way to bring print awareness into a child’s life in a natural way. A child automatically knows how to “read” the word since it is attached to a known object. This process increases a young child’s confidence and makes print come alive in a very real way. From these simple labels, many activities can be done, which I hope to share more about in the future.

I was inspired to make some home-decor friendly labels for our home {school}




I printed on white cardstock, laminated and put a tiny removable mounting square on the back {so I can easily take them down when we are done with them, but I can also pull them back out when it’s time for Ladybug to have them up}. The mounting squares I have are 1”, but I cut them to be smaller. They do carry smaller ones also. You can get them on Amazon or I have seen them at Target.

Supplies I used

Of course I can’t make something without sharing with you, right? You can download the labels I made here on my Misc. Preschool Printables page.

House Labels image

If you don’t like teal and orange {obviously I do}, you could print on grayscale for a black/gray/white version ;-).

A little giggle for you…my husband walked in after work on the day I put most of the labels up and came upstairs and told me he thought he walked into Sesame Street ;-). So much for making them home friendly huh? He giggled and told me he loved them.

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