As homeschool parents, one of the greatest fears we face is teaching our children to read.

Whether we lack confidence in teaching reading because we do not fully understand phonics (a common concern for many of us “Dick and Jane” parents) or believe that reading can be taught only by those with a degree in reading education, teaching reading may seem overwhelming.

I want to take a moment to encourage you in the reading journey. Whether reading occurs naturally with nominal instruction or develops through blood, sweat and tears, your investment and love for your children will support, encourage and equip them for success in reading, as well as other tasks for their growing years.

There are a few things you can do to help your children develop their pre-reading skills. Research has shown that reading aloud to your child is the number one key to their reading success. Together read books that are written at their reading level. Read aloud to them books that are above their skill level as a way to stimulate curiosity and a desire to read. Preschoolers especially are drawn to a good quality story read aloud. As a family, read Charlotte’s Web or the Little House on the Prairie series together. Watch the spark ignite in the minds of your little ones!

Other fun things you can do to engage pre-readers: Look at a picture book together and have your little one tell you a story about the pictures and play rhyming games (say a word and have your child say other words that rhyme which is really teaching them to recognize word families). Introduce activities that work on visual discrimination: walking on a balance beam, dribbling a basketball, march in place while alternating right leg/left hand with left leg/right hand motions and playing catch are all valuable skills to coordination, focus and visual discrimination.

Mostly, I encourage you to enjoy the journey. Whether you are snuggling on the couch with your budding young reader or holding tightly onto an older struggling reader, your love, your support, and your belief in them will give them confidence in themselves and their abilities now and in the future.