Edited to add: Be sure to read the comments and leave one of your own.
We have generally taught our children to read early, beginning around age 3 or4 and having proficient readers by age 4 or 5. Reading allows children to learn on their own and feeds that natural love of information that they have. Teaching them to read early allows me to be more relaxed about beginning other subjects because they are already learning on their own.
You may wonder how early reading fits with the natural homeschooling that I mentioned in my last homeschooling post. Our little ones are generally anxious to start “school” and love spending one on one time with mom or dad, so rather than teaching them traditional preschool information (colors, numbers, shapes, cutting, gluing, etc.) which they will learn on their own with little or no effort on our part, we spend 15 minutes a day teaching reading.
Some children are not ready to learn to read early. Don’t push it. If they struggle back off and give them more time. Remember children want to learn, but if they are not ready to learn to read you will just frustrate them. Learning to read should be work, but should basically be fun and the child should make steady progress.
We have had two children who did not excel with early reading. With one of our sons we did not even attempt to begin reading until much later. He wasn’t ready and we knew it. As a matter of fact, we have delayed much of his formal education. One of our daughters had difficulty remembering her letter sounds, but she did not want to stop trying to learn to read and so we used more tactile and visual teaching styles. If she had not been so motivated to learn, we would have encouraged her to just have more play time, but she wanted to learn to read and would cry if we suggested that she take a break, so we plowed on and by the time she was six, she was reading through the Little House series.
I’m telling you this, so that you will remember that your children are individuals. You know what is best for them, don’t let others dictate what you should do. God gave you, the parents, the responsibility to educate your children, He will give you the ability and the wisdom to accomplish what He requires of you!
Some things that we do before our children learn to read that I think may prepare them for success are:
- We read to our little ones, a lot.
- Our little ones sit through worship services and family worship from the time that they are born.
- Our little ones hear reading several hours each day during the bigger kids school.
- Our little ones do not watch any TV, rarely watch DVD’s and do not spend time on the computer, playing games or otherwise.
- Our little ones listen to a lot of audio books.
- We have books available in every room of our home, occasionally even in the bathroom.
- Books are a favorite plaything and we teach our children early on, how to look at books carefully, so books are never off limits to our babies.
We have successfully used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with our seven children who are old enough to read. “100 Easy Lessons” is a very simple, inexpensive reading program that maps out exactly what you, as the teacher, should say and even tells you how to correct mistakes when they happen. It is well suited to teaching reading early since it does not require the children to learn all the letter names and sounds before they begin to read. It introduces a few sounds at a time and by the third or fourth lesson the child is reads a real word. Since we teach reading early I skip the writing assignment at the end of each lesson. Our little ones simply do not have the coordination to do that without frustration.
After our children get somewhere between Lessons 50 and 75, we switch them to the Sing, Spell, Read and Write readers. (We have the readers that my mom used when she was homeschooling her kids.) I like these particular readers because they have whole books dedicated to several common phonics rules (“quiet e”, “two vowels together”, etc) and 100 Easy Lessons tends to be a little light on phonics. Another option to cover this step would be the Bob Books. (With our two strugglers we used a lot more beginning and easy readers.) Then our children move to books like The Cat in the Hat, Mouse Tales, Owl at Home, The Frog and Toad, Little Bear and the Bible.
Edited to add: This past school year we found and implemented Rocket Phonics. I still teach my children reading with 100 Easy Lessons, but rather than move from there to the readers, we move our children into Rocket Phonics. (Link will take you to my full review of RP.)
We have them start reading the Bible to us as soon as they are making progress in the easy readers. We start in Genesis or John (I don’t recommend beginning with Matthew’s genealogies). It is a large jump in reading level for them and when they start they may make it through one verse or less a day. We just have them read the Bible for the last 5 minutes of their reading time. We have told them from the beginning that the reason they are learning to read is so that they can read God’s Word on their own and they know that as soon as they can read the Bible, we will get them one of their very own. This is a huge incentive in our home, the children talk about getting their own Bible before they even begin to learn to read.
As soon as they are capable we have them begin reading through the Bible each year with the other children. They begin with reading just the New Testament assignments for each day until their speed improves and they can read the assigned passages in around 30-45 minutes.
We continue to have them read aloud as opportunities arise and talk with them about what they are reading to be certain that their comprehension is fine. Each afternoon the children have an hour to read and they may generally pick whatever they like.
How do you teach your children to read? What program do you use and what are your favorite easy readers? I’m always looking for more fun readers for those little ones.
Read more posts about how we homeschool . Raising Olives also has information on laundry management, teaching children to do chores, scheduling and saving money by doing it yourself. We’re also pretty funny so check out Not Me Monday’s or Giggles from the Grove.