Maybe you’re a new home schooling parent. Maybe you are a novice, but need a reminder. Maybe you have a young child at home and you’re just curious about it. When should you start, how do you go about it, but most importantly, is your child ready to start learning how to read? And what should you do about it?
After having two kids show very similar signs of being ready to read around a similar age (age 4), I have a list of helpful things to look for if you’re wondering when your child will be ready to learn how to read.
- They love being read to. My kids aren’t quite the type who have their nose in a book at any available second (they are quite different from their mother in that sense). But, they love their bed time stories! They love curling up at the end of a long day and reading something with my husband or myself. It helps that we usually read the most comical and lackadaisical books we can find! Does your child love being read to at some point in the day?
- Your child has at least a mild understanding of what words are and what they do. Does my child think I am making this story up by looking at the picture? Or, did they find out that I’m not this funny and creative, they noticed I know the words to this story by this line of letters across the page. These are telling me what to say. (It helps to read The Book With No Pictures by B. J. Novak). Once they notice that, their curiosity is piqued.
- Asking how everything is spelled. Or as my youngest likes to ask, “What is car spelled? What is Minecraft spelled? What is poop spelled?” Followed by fits of laughter. They don’t really listen to or soak in how to spell these words, especially the bigger words they ask about, but spell it out to them anyway. Don’t think you’ll successfully quiz them later, and if you do, and they can tell you how to spell elephant when you told them once, quit reading this right now, and go write your own blog post about having a genius 4 year old. Seriously! But, they’ll keep asking you and you just have to keep answering them. You’re feeding their hunger for knowledge.
- They know some basic sounds to letters. I’m under the assumption that your child already knows the alphabet or most of the alphabet before you’re too concerned about this next step of learning to string the letters together to create ideas. And with some practice (at times when your child is ready and willing to listen, kids don’t have big attention spans!) they will start to remember and repeat what sound(s) a letter makes and they may even be able to sound out some small words here and there. (Note mama: you may tear up the first time your ‘baby’ sounds out the word car!)
- They start scribbling out letters and stories. They don’t look like words or letters, but your child is showing an interest in sharing their ideas in written form. They have made the connections, and perhaps are ready to start the slow and rewarding journey of learning how to read and write for real.
- This one seems a little obvious- but when you, as a parent or caregiver, get in your own head about your child’s education, whether you school them at home or they go to a school, you might not think about this detail. They say that they are ready to read!
They may dabble in any one of these areas for different periods of time. They may spark up some interest today, and then they are on to something different tomorrow. Give them the time, give them the space, and try to always be ready and open to them with help in any of these areas. Be ready to spell cup, pup, dinosaur, or even poop. Be calm and have patience, you’re teaching them for life, but it takes So. Much. Time. So much time. Seriously, especially at this young, just getting started age, it takes so much time! So have patience, and remember- the day you plant the seed isn’t the day you eat the fruit.
When they show all of these signs (especially number 6), then you are ready to start the journey of helping them learn how to read. You still have a way to go. Just because your child is ready, doesn’t mean it will be easy by any means. A few resources that can help you on this journey are:
Books. Read all the books, all the time. The calm books, the fun books, and the funny books! Kids are always ready to soak up the learning when they think something is fun enough to pay attention to.
The library. This is one of your most powerful tools as a home school parent especially. Computers, a child area (in most libraries), your librarian just might become one of your best friends, and of course, the cheapest way to have a plethora of books at your finger tips with out needing a visit from Marie Kondo anytime soon. Ha!
Reading apps. There are paid apps and some free apps, you might even be able to download certain books from your library. Visit your library’s website to find out more. Almost anything you choose will be helpful and fun for your child.
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. This isn’t for everyone. I know plenty of people who just didn’t like this curriculum. But, my oldest and I personally LOVED it! It’s simple 5-15 minute lessons, some can go a little longer, but it depends on your child’s attention span for that day. And before you know it, your child is reading small stories and going around reading everything they can! (Time to find a shirt that doesn’t say, “Mommy needs a f@#&ing nap.”) The joy on your kid’s face when they read the first word in the curriculum is something you’ll never forget, and it just grows with sentences, paragraphs and stories! You’ll be reminded of why you wanted so badly to be a part of this journey with them!
Listening to these steps doesn’t equal an avid reader. It just means you have a child ready to start. I could dive deep on a different day all about having an avid reader, but I’m still learning about that while I take my oldest one this next part of the reading journey (He’s 7). Lastly, once they get started the most important part of it all, after having patience, is practice with them. At least daily practice, for small increments of time will help them continue and expand on their journey. That’s all teaching really comes down to, initial teaching of an idea or concept and then slowly expanding on and practicing the idea in real life.
I hope this has helped you not stress so much about this first really big step in the journey of teaching your child to read. I hope you found some direction, a lifeline to grab onto after this first step to take teaching your children seriously. If you have any tips or tricks, feel free to discuss in the comments! I love to hear from other parents, and I LOVE talking about education, and teaching, and I’m always learning new things myself. Parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual, but a village sure does help! Remember you are capable, you are right for the journey and all you need is the desire to do it!
Until next time friends!
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