Yes. You read the title right. Teaching a child to read can be done in only one easy step. So, here goes:
Step 1: RELAX!
Parents get so stressed out about teaching their 3 or 4 year old to read while not realizing that most children are not successful readers until 9 or 10. Sometimes it’s even later than that. I have a child who I thought would NEVER even be interested in books at all. He would run away when it was time for a reading lesson.
Teaching my children to read was my greatest fear as a homeschool mom. It seemed incomprehensible. How could I ever teach another human how to read?
I began homeschooling my oldest son when he was three years old. I bought him a little child-sized desk. I gathered some notebooks, pencils, crayons, and a fancy (and VERY expensive) curriculum. I had all of my ducks in a row. On the first day of school we sat down together and began with our letters. It ended in tears for both of us. But, I continued to press on because reading is the most important subject, right?!
As the days turned into weeks I began to realize that this curriculum was not working for my son. So, I sold it. I decided to buy a book (one that goes something like “Teach your child to read in 10,000 steps”). By this time my son had turned four. He wanted to learn and loved sitting at his little desk and doing little kid school work. But when that reading book came out, he hit the floor running.
So, I got rid of that book too. I then turned to the wonderful world of the internet. I researched and studied. I chose a printable reading curriculum (it wasn’t expensive) and off we went. My son liked this one because he could write on the pages. That was all he liked about it.
I began to wonder if he would ever be interested in reading. I love reading and want my children to have a love for reading as well. I started having conversations with my mother-in-law (who happens to be a retired Reading Specialist with 30+ years of experience). She calmed my fears and told me to relax. She said he was doing fine. At this point he knew most of his letters by simply doing puzzles and copywork of the ABC’s.
Fast forward to last year when my son turned seven and still couldn’t read. I began to panic thinking I had “relaxed” for far too long. My wonderful mother-in-law gave me “the talk” again. She said he would learn when he was ready. About a month later, he came to me and had a book in his hand and said he wanted to know what it said. Ha! A breakthrough! Success! That was only the beginning…
We spent most of last school year going over letters and letter sounds. We practiced with flashcards (easy enough and very relaxed). My mother-in-law gave me some “sight words” flashcards and told me to have him go over them once a day. That was it. She spoke with my son and told him to memorize them by the end of this past summer. Well, he did! It became a challenge for him to get all of the words memorized. We took him out for ice cream!
He has now become a much better reader. He brings books to me (I have a shelf of books that are on his reading level) and we read them together. He even gets a little angry when I tell him a word before he says it.
My advice to any parent teaching their child to read is…RELAX. It will happen and when it does you will celebrate. My son still has a long way to go (and I have two more to teach to read!) but we commemorate his successes even if they are small ones. Just get out a book a start reading to your children. Read your own books in front of them as an example. And, remember to just loosen up a little. They will read one day. Then, you can’t spell in front of them anymore…haha.