Considering some of the first articles we chose to publish were on children's books, it shouldn't come as a surprise that we're big fans of reading! We've actively worked to help our children grow up loving books too and this article explains why, as well as recommends a reading program that you can use at home to teach your kids how to read at an early age.
So, When Should Your Child Learn to Read?
Every child is unique and special, and that includes how they learn to read! Some kids may pick up reading before they turn five, while others may take a bit longer. It's all completely normal and okay. In general, kids start to show an interest in reading and understanding the printed word around the age of three. They may start by recognizing familiar words and reading simple picture books. As they get older, they become more skilled at decoding words and really understanding what they're reading. It's such a fun journey to watch, and every child will have their own special path to reading success.
It is not that uncommon for children to learn to read before the age of five! In fact, many children start showing an interest in reading and learning to read as early as three years old. As a parent, it can be so exciting to see your little one starting to sound out words and make connections between letters and sounds. Watching them progress and gain confidence in their reading skills is just a wonderful feeling!
Of course, every child is different and some may learn to read a bit later than others. But with a little bit of patience, encouragement, and some fun reading activities, most children can learn to read at an early age. And let's be real, as a parent, getting to cuddle up with your little one and a good book is a pretty awesome way to spend a cozy afternoon.
What Are We Recommending & Why?
Reading Head Start is a reading program that helps you "get a head start" on teaching your child to read and can be taught as early as two years old. It is a unique program that was created by a mother and English teacher of 14 years, who successfully taught all of her kids how to read before they were 3. It's based off of phonetically sounding words out and not learning based on sight words. It's not an app or recording you just put in front of your child, and you will have to actively teach it, but it only takes about 15 minutes a day (which is about the best you can get out of most toddlers' attention spans anyway).
So, why? Learning to read is such an amazing gift we can give our kids! It has a huge impact on their lives and sets them up for success in so many ways. When kids learn to read at an early age, they tend to do better in school and are more likely to graduate from high school. And that's just the beginning - they're also more likely to continue their education and have successful careers. Plus, reading helps kids develop their critical thinking skills and improves their communication and self-expression- some pretty powerful skills to have!
Let's Expand On That Critical Thinking Point:
Reading is a fantastic way to boost critical thinking skills. When kids read, they have to actively engage with the text and make sense of it. This means they're analyzing and interpreting information, and making connections to what they already know. All of this takes some serious critical thinking skills, like analyzing, synthesizing, evaluating, and applying what they've learned. It's such a powerful way to strengthen those skills and set kids up for success. Plus, reading can also help improve memory, concentration, and problem-solving skills, which can be super helpful in school and in life. And the more they practice these skills, the better they'll get at them! So encourage your child to read as much as they can – it will be such a valuable and enjoyable activity for them!
We understand that parenting is hard and adding one more thing, even just 15 minutes a day, can feel overwhelming. So we just want to say, regardless of whether you use a reading program like the one we're recommending or if your child learns to read at an early age or not, you're still an awesome parent! You're here scouring the internet for answers to your questions on when your child should learn to read and the best way to accomplish that. You CARE, and that's what makes you a wonderful parent.
Keep Up The Great Work & Happy Reading!
Commonly Asked Questions:
How Can I Help My Child To Read?
There are many ways you can help your child learn to read. Some things you can try include:
- Reading to your child every day
- Encouraging your child to recognize familiar words and letters
- Teaching your child phonemic awareness (the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds in words)
- Providing your child with age-appropriate reading materials
- Encouraging your child to sound out words and read aloud
- Using fun and engaging reading activities and games
- Providing plenty of praise and encouragement
What Are Some Good Reading Materials For Kids?
There are many great reading materials for kids, including:
- Children's books with simple text and colorful illustrations
- Beginner reader books with repetitive text and easy-to-decode words
- Magazines and newspapers for kids (We like Highlights)
- Online articles and stories for kids
- Poetry and nursery rhymes
How Can I Encourage My Child To Read More?
Here are some tips for encouraging your child to read more:
- Set aside a designated reading time each day
- Create a comfortable and inviting reading space in your home
- Let your child choose their own reading materials
- Read aloud to your child and have them follow along
- Visit the library regularly and let your child pick out books
- Encourage older siblings or family members to read with your child
- Offer rewards or incentives for reading a certain number of books: Remember those free Pizza Hut pan pizzas we got in elementary school for reading at home? That was a pretty awesome way to encourage reading in our opinion.
What Are Some Common Challenges When Teaching Kids To Read, And How Can I Overcome Them?
Some common challenges when teaching kids to read include:
- Struggling with phonemic awareness
- Difficulty decoding words
- Poor reading comprehension
- Lack of interest in reading
To overcome these challenges, you can try:
- Providing extra phonemic awareness and phonics instruction with a program like Reading Head Start
- Practicing sounding out words and reading aloud with your child
- Asking your child questions about the text to help with comprehension
- Finding books that match your child's interests and reading level (Dinos and Robotics were a hit in our house)
- Using fun and engaging reading activities and games
- Seeking help from a teacher or reading specialist if needed
What's The Difference Between Phonetic And Phonemic?
"Phonetics studies the sounds we actually produce in speech. Phonemics studies the way we understand those sounds."- StackExchange English Language & Usage
How Can I Tell If My Child Is Ready To Start Reading?
Traditionally these are some signs that your child may be ready to start reading:
- They show an interest in understanding the printed word
- They can recognize familiar words and letters
- They have a good understanding of phonemic awareness (the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds in words)
- They are able to sound out simple words and read them aloud with some accuracy
- They have a good attention span and can focus on a task for an extended period of time
- They have the desire to learn and try new things
However, Sarah Shepard, the creator of the Reading Head Start program suggests that children do NOT need to have any knowledge of even the alphabet to be able to start the reading process. She even suggests that the program can work for children that have shown no previous interest in reading.
How Can I Help My Child With Reading Comprehension?
Here are some ways you can help your child improve their reading comprehension:
- Encourage your child to preview the text before they start reading. This can help them get an idea of what the text is about and what they should be looking for as they read.
- As your child reads, encourage them to stop and think about what they are reading. Ask them questions about the text to help them better understand it and make connections to their own experiences and knowledge.
- Encourage your child to make predictions as they read. This can help them engage with the text and make connections to what they already know.
- Help your child create a mental picture of what is happening in the text. Encourage them to use their imagination and think about what the characters and settings look like. Using the pictures for clues is a good way to start.
- After your child finishes reading a page, ask them to summarize what they read. This can help them process and retain the information they just read.