Begin Teaching Your Child to Read


Have you ever wondered how to teach your child to read? Reading involves a complex set of skills that are taught to children beginning at birth and extending throughout their entire educational careers. Learning to read has five components: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency.

Several of these components can be taught by parents to young children through experiences that occur naturally in our everyday lives. Here are some ways you can begin teaching your child to read at home. In a way that's fun and won't kill their love of reading.

Teach Your Child To Read

Most parents probably think the first step in learning to read is understanding phonics, the connection between letters and their sounds, but the actual starting point should be phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness is understanding that words are made of individual sounds, known as phonemes.

While we have 26 letters in the alphabet, we actually have about 40 phonemes in the English language (consider sounds that are made of two letters, like /sh/ and /th/). Teaching children to recognize that words are made of sounds, and these sounds can be blended, segmented, and manipulated in various ways, is a great way to begin teaching your child to read. Phonemic awareness generally involves speaking and listening activities.

Teaching reading skills to your kids at home.

Tips for Teaching Your Child Reading Foundation Skills

  • Segment words and ask your child to blend them (e.g. say the sounds /c/ /a/ /t/ and ask your child to say the word).
  • Teach your child to recognize rhyming words (e.g. "Sat, bat, and cat rhyme. Can you think of another -at word?).
  • Clap out the sounds in words so children recognize words are made of multiple sounds (e.g. cat is /c/ /a/ /t/ and clap when you say each sound).
  • Look for items in your house that begin with a particular sounds (e.g. "What begins with /b/?"). You can incorporate fine motor skills by looking through magazines and cutting out pictures with that particular sound (e.g. like the "lion" below that starts with /l/).

Cutting Pictures With Specific Sounds - Tips for Teaching Reading to Kids

I begin phonemic awareness activities with children as early as two years old, depending upon your child's interests and abilities. Learning these skills prior to reading text will provide a great foundation for future reading skills, like decoding (sounding out) words and encoding (spelling) words.

What's important is to keep children engaged in learning by making it fun! If the child loses interest, it becomes tedious and seems to be work. Provide opportunities for your child to make choices and allow your child to lead activities to gain confidence in early reading skills!

What types of early reading activities do you do with your young children?

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Dr. Carrie Wells is a college instructor, blogger, and work-at-home mother to two young children, Lydia (age 5) and Bryce (age 3). Carrie graduated from the University of Florida in 2001 with a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education and in 2002 with a Master’s degree in special education. After teaching children ages 3 – 21 with varying abilities for several years, she completed her Doctorate in special education in 2008 from Nova Southeastern University. In March 2010, Carrie began writing Huppie Mama, a lifestyle blog focusing on family, food, fun, fashion, and fitness.

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