Teaching Reading: 4 Moms

moms of many manageWelcome to this weeks edition of 4 Moms, 35 Kids: How Moms of Many Manage.  This week we’re talking about teaching reading.

Be sure to visit the other 4 Moms to read what they have to say about this topic:

KimC at Life in a Shoe
Connie at Smockity Frocks
Headmistress at The Common Room

Apart from pointing your children toward a relationship with God, teaching your kids to read can arguably be the most important task of any parent. Reading makes the Word of God accessible and opens up the world of human knowledge.

So far, I’ve successfully taught 7 of our children to read and am in process with the 8th. Each child is different, but here are some things I’ve learned along the way.


Learning to read begins before you sit down and start teaching your child the sounds of letters and diphthongs. Here are some things that we do before officially teaching our children to read that may help prepare them for success.

  • We read to our little ones, a lot.
  • Our little ones sit through worship services and  family worship from the time they are born.
  • Our little ones hear me  read to the big kids several hours each day.
  • Our little ones do not watch any TV, rarely watch DVDs and do not spend time on the computer.
  • 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 not off limits to our babies.
  • We set an example of loving to read.
  • We do not teach letter names, we teach letter sounds.

We begin teaching reading when we see that our children have a desire to read on their own and we believe that they are ready. If we start and our child isn’t making regular, fairly easy progress, we stop until they are a little older.

Most of our children have started learning to read around age 3 or4 and become proficient readers (reading “Little House” books  independently) by age 4 or 5.  A couple of our children weren’t ready until much later, not being proficient readers until 8 or 9.

Teaching Reading

Once we believe that our child is ready to learn to read, I spend a few minutes each day working with them.  So far we’ve successfully used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with all of our children. Some have required additional help and review but most of them have gone through the first 50-75 lessons (we’ve never finished the book) directly to easy readers.

As soon as our children move into easy readers we begin having them spend the first 2-5 minutes of their reading time, reading from the Bible. We introduce new sounds and combinations as we come across them and give them lots of help with long and/or unfamiliar words.

As their reading improves we increase the amount of time that they read from the Bible, working up to the point that they are comfortably reading a chapter at a time. At which point they begin to read the Bible independently in the mornings with the rest of the family.

Reading and beyond

Our children continue to have time each day to read aloud (in addition to reading to themselves) for a long time. Each morning at the beginning of our school day I sit down and listen to, teach or read to the youngest 5 or 6 children individually. With the beginning readers we continue to work on expression, talk about punctuation and diction. It’s a nice way to spend some one-on-one time with each of the younger children. Even when they graduate from reading aloud to me each day, there are still many opportunities for the children to read aloud, whether to their younger siblings or to the whole group.

Each afternoon we have an hour of time for free reading while the younger ones nap. I try to have a list of books that are appropriate for the reading level of some of the younger readers, but they are welcome to read other books if they prefer.

What tips do you have for teaching your children to read?

Visit the other moms of many to read their thoughts and ideas:
Smockity Frocks
Life in a Shoe
The Common Room

Recent 4 Moms topics:

For more Moms of Many posts visit the 4 Moms page.

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28 Responses to Teaching Reading: 4 Moms
  1. marla
    February 3, 2011 | 8:08 am

    Question about a child that I didn’t start out on the right foot with. I did not know ANYTHING about educating children when my first was born and didn’t become interested in homeschool until she was 3 or 4. But even before that, she was not the kind of child who wanted books read to her. She wouldn’t sit to be read to for more than 5 minutes, wouldn’t allow the reader to handle or control the book, etc. I didn’t know a lot then about directing this kind of behavior, and didn’t realize I should be seeing it as a discipline issue to make her learn to sit still and so forth. I just thought she would get interested eventually, I know so much more now about discipline and training. I started kindergarten with her and she has resisted learning from day one. We are half way through first grade now and she will only read what she MUST and takes forever to get through a reading assignment and phonics. I catch her reading words here and there outside of homeschool time, but if she knows I am paying attention she stops trying to read it. She won’t pick up a book and try to read it on her own although she has finally come to a point where she loves to be read to! So my questions is, is it normal for a child to resist learning to read? I always thought a child would jump at the chance to have that world of words unlocked for them. I taught myself to read when I was 4. I knew one book by memory and just began to see that certain alphabet letters made the same sound each time they appeared in the text. Combined with some basic phonics I learned from tv shows like sesame street, etc., and I figured it all out on my own. But she seems to be resisting it with all her might. I am a newby at homeschool and this has totally taken me by surprise. I take it slow but at this rate she won’t be able to really read till well into 2nd grade or even later. Did anyone out there face a similar struggle and if so is there anything I can do to help her want to learn to read. Her two year old brother already knows the entire alphabet and will probably be sounding out words soon if he keeps up this pace. So she really has me stumped as to why she resists it so.


    Kath Reply:

    I would say, don’t worry. Some kids just aren’t ready to read until later. And realize that your own history is probably making her progress seem more tedious than it actually is. I have a 7 year old who doesn’t like reading either. She can do it, and we make her read the directions and stuff on her school workbooks as well as just reading practice but she doesn’t ever pick up books and read to herself. It’s okay, it will come. I help it along sometimes by telling her when she asks for a pet hamster or goldfish that she can’t have anything like that until she can read well enough to do her own research on how to care for it 😉 She also likes to cook, so if she wants to cook she has to read the recipe and directions. In the meantime, we focus on subjects she does like, like math and art.

    I would say address the discipline as required of it’s own accord, but recognize that the reading is not wholly related to discipline.


    marla Reply:

    Thanks for that encouragement Kath. it helps to hear from someone else that it is normal. all my friends children are voracious readers and have been reading long before my 6 year old. It is just so new to me. Great idea about the pet AND cooking. Mine wants a pet and she LOVES to cook. These could be helpful motivators. the one thing I didn’t mention is that we are missionaries in Japan and she has learned the basic elementary alphabet used for writing here and is beginning to love reading Japanese children’s books. She is always picking those up to read them. but each symbol has ONE sound and all her peers are reading Japanese so she is motivated. she is the only one learning to read English and the phonics is much more difficult so the two language thing comes into play here too. Anyways, I am rambling here. I need to get to bed cause it is very late over here. Just wanted to thank you for your comment.


    Melissa Ward Reply:

    I accidentally replied to your question in the wrong place… it’s about 9 or 10 comments down 🙂


  2. Lisa
    February 3, 2011 | 8:49 am

    I really like the idea of teaching letter sounds as opposed to names. I’m studying Sanskrit and in Sanskrit there actually aren’t letter names, just sounds. One question though, unlike English, in Sanskrit, a letter only has one sound (the vowles that are transliterated as long or short English letters are actually different letters entirely in Devanagri [Sanskrit script]); since Latin vowels have both long or short forms, how do you teach them? Do you teach teach just the short sounds and add the long later, or do you teach short and long from the get-go?


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:


    I initially teach one sound for each vowel. When we begin 100 Easy Lessons we simply teach the sound of the letter that they introduce in the order which they introduce them.


  3. Taryn
    February 3, 2011 | 9:03 am

    I recently ordered The Reading Lesson($22)-kindergarten level-from Timberdoodle for my 4 granddaughters. Timberdoodle uses Phonics Pathways($26) for first grade.I, also, ordered the Christian Light Education early readers-(I like that they have drawings of girls with dresses-Christian Liberty Press’s preschool readers look good but they have drawings of girls in pants).We have used- Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons- but only used the beginning of the book. I liked Abeka’s Handbook for Reading-the 6 easy steps to reading. Next, I’m ordering the Rod and Staff readers(no Disney/New Age personalizing of animals)-good catalog. I like that you teach sounds first. Years ago, we used Sing,Spell, Read and Write but I wouldn’t use it again. We do not like DVDs-especially for young children-that is why I would never get that early reading program advertised on tv.


  4. Samantha
    February 3, 2011 | 9:53 am

    We didn’t like that one. My daughter liked HOP, but I didn’t. We are going to use The Reading Lesson for our 4 year old.


  5. Taryn
    February 3, 2011 | 10:01 am

    My third granddaughter,Reagan(22m.), has a Dick and Jane board book. Those are the readers we used in the early 1960s(I’m 55-home educating since 1985)-whole word method. I taught phonics/sounding out/decoding words first(with our 6 children) but the Dick and Jane books have such lovely drawings. There is no personification of animals and the girls are wearing dresses. I teach the short vowel sounds first before their letter names. We have a little song we sing-a is for apple,e is for eskimo, i is for igloo,o is for oxen,u is for umbrella. Then the consonants- then the consonants and vowels together-ba,be,bi,bo,bu,etc. Then short vowel sound words-bat,etc.-then the long vowels. I use index cards to write them on.


  6. Taryn
    February 3, 2011 | 10:15 am

    Our oldest granddaughter,Shealeigh, is turning 4 next month-that’s why I ordered The Reading Lesson. I hope we like it. Hannah(2) turns 4 next year. I think 4 is a good age to get a phonics book/program/primer readers. We use the King James Bible-lighthousetrailsresearch sells KJV Bibles for children without a picture on the front-as does Abeka(easy-to-read type $12.25).


  7. Melissa Ward
    February 3, 2011 | 12:10 pm

    One thing I’ve done with my reluctant reader is give him an incentive to read. I let the “readers” read in bed for 30 minutes after the younger kids are in bed with lights out. The prospect of having that extra half hour is enough to encourage him to read, without me nagging during daytime hours.


  8. Breen
    February 3, 2011 | 3:43 pm

    I found a contest about reviewing books on mykidsrank.com. Kids review books on video and then the site posts them. I’m going to use it as motivation for my four! I think they’ll like it. I know they like watching the videos of the other kids!


  9. Taryn
    February 3, 2011 | 6:54 pm

    Other books worth mentioning that we liked are the McGuffey Readers(keepersofthefaith.com), the Amish Pathway Readers(Timberdoodle)-I omitted one story in a book(First Steps), and The Victory Drill Book(teaches phonics). Page V of the Victory Drill Book says to not allow too many picture books or sight-word readers to rob your child of his/her interest in reading. They may find too many words that he can’t pronounce and they may develop the habit of word guessing. The McGuffey Readers and the Amish Pathway Readers do not have many pictures.


  10. Nicki
    February 3, 2011 | 9:23 pm

    Wow! I am just starting this homeschooling journey and the thought of teaching a child to read scares the pants right off of me! Thanks for this wonderful post! I CAN do this…..right?


    Dawn@OneFaithfulMom Reply:

    I have taught 8 of my 10 to read and am working with #9 now. After you get past the fear, teaching a child to read is one of the most fun things you will ever do!! And lest anyone think I haven’t had any problem readers, I have 2 who were well past 9 when they finally became fluent readers!
    I still LOVE teaching kids to read!! Have fun!!


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:


    Yes, you can do this!

    It’s one of the blessings of being a homeschool momma.


  11. sillygeese
    February 3, 2011 | 9:37 pm

    Teaching reading is one spot I seemed to have failed at, which is why my husband is for paying for private school. He sees our girls struggle with me and how well our oldest has done and won’t let me take them out now and make a go of it now that reading and discipline is firmly established.

    I am expecting our 3rd this month and am taking notes, maybe I can be successful this time around!


  12. Hannah
    February 4, 2011 | 2:44 am

    Oooh, I just discovered your blog. I can already tell it’s going to be the cause of lost sleep tonight. 🙂

    Looks great! I’m excited to explore.


  13. Taryn
    February 4, 2011 | 8:45 am

    I was reading the Rod and Staff Publishers,Inc. catalog-page 83 says-Few pictures are included in the readers,since comprehension is improved when pupils are allowed to form their own mental images.The readers have phonics workbooks. Rod and Staff doesn’t have kindergarten-they have preschool then first grade(PO Box 3,14193 Hwy.172,Crockett,KY 41413.


  14. DJ
    February 4, 2011 | 1:00 pm

    Thank you. You’ve just inspired me to get off the computer and read to my baby! I’ve been focusing on other things so I’ve been slacking on that. I feel bad, but now I am going to correct it.


  15. Serenity Summers
    February 5, 2011 | 7:13 pm

    I have used 100 Easy Lessons with our two oldest kiddos and my husband is teaching our third right now. For some reason, I did not occur to me to stop using the book once the child could read! I love teaching reading BUT I start to dread the thought of how long the program is. Thanks for “permission” to quit when its time!!!!


  16. Taryn
    February 7, 2011 | 11:52 pm

    Lesson/chapter 8 of The Reading Lesson introduces the silent e rule-only they call it the magic e rule. I prefer calling it the silent e rule. Someone recommended Landmark Freedom Baptist’s Champion Phonics Reader so I’ll be ordering that next($18).


  17. Taryn
    February 9, 2011 | 6:08 pm

    One book I was reading suggested using lowercase magnetic refrigerator letters to teach the sounds of letters and not using flashcards with pictures(or words) on them(they slow the child’s thinking). For some reason, I used words(a is for apple,e is for eskimo,i is for igloo,o is for oxen/ostrich,u is for umbrella) with the short vowels.


  18. Leigh Ann
    May 26, 2011 | 1:52 pm

    I whole-heartedly agree that reading is THE most important subject we teach our little ones; giving them the ability to read God’s Word for themselves. What a thrill!! Can’t think of any more rewarding job & feel sorry for those who miss seeing their children take those exciting first steps toward independent reading. I really enjoy reading your blog & LOVE your pictures!! Happy reading! – LA


  19. Jo
    September 18, 2011 | 8:58 am

    Hi – Can i ask you – you say you give your children a bible each of their own when they can read – what translation do you give them – do you give them a story bible for the little ones, niv for slightly older and king james for older? or do you all have the same?
    I Have just found your site – it’s amazing – a real boost of encouragement and inspiration at a time when i really need it – I am mum to a 10yo, 8yo, and 1yo (all boys!) and have been home schooling for one term so far and really struggling on a steep learning curve myself! thank you from all the way over in a wet, blustery, Devon (U.K)


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Jo. We give our children the same version of the Bible. This makes it a lot easier for memorizing Scripture together.

    I’ve posted about our version preferences and about why we typically avoid Bible story books, if you’re interested in more on this topic.

    Praying that God will bless your family and homeschooling efforts. 🙂


  20. Tonya
    March 12, 2012 | 6:01 pm

    What do you use for a language arts curriculum when you move on from 100 easy lessons? Other than working on independent reading skills.


  21. Mary Faith
    April 2, 2016 | 10:57 am

    My 7-year-old has autism. I have been trying to teach him to read in hopes that he could then type what he is thinking. He can say words and ask for food like “I want juice,” but he cannot hold a back-and-forth conversation. He is very smart and can memorize so we sing the days of the week, months of the year, alphabet sounds, numbers, and he also knows several nursery rhymes. He loves to sing. Often he knows things but I don’t know he knows it because of the communication issue. Although he can sing the alphabet sounds and count to 30 fairy well, he does not understand putting sounds together to make words or one-to-one correspondence when counting. We have tried blending sounds, sounding out words, counting objects including his toys. Nothing seems to work. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you for your help.


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