teaching kids to read

Teaching Kids to Read: A Crash Course

Teaching kids to read has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done. 

I am a voracious reader and writer, so watching my kids learn the alphabet was like uncovering a treasure one gem at a time. 

Seeing them struggle with phonics rules, fight discouragement, then emerge stronger was the most intense rollercoaster of my life. 

Odds are you are just embarking on this journey. It’s a big responsibility, but in the end, it will be one of your proudest accomplishments. 

I am here to hold your hand and help you find all the tools to teach your kids to read!

Teaching Kids to Read: What is the best way?

There are 2 methodologies used for teaching reading

Phonics, the most common method, associates sounds with letters and encourages students to “sound out” words. 

Sight-reading depends on teaching kids to recognize words by sight alone rather than sounding them out. 

Many curricula use both phonics and sight words in their scope. 

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Sight Reading

Teaching sight-reading, or sight words to avoid confusion with learning music, is used to teach words that don’t follow the phonics rules or are so common that recognizing them on sight is a significant boost to reading. 

Check out this list of sight words!


Systematic phonics instruction has been shown to promote comprehension, the ability to decode never before seen words, and to help children better use context clues. 

Phonics instruction has also been shown to strengthen reasoning and deduction skills. 

And according to this Standford study, phonics instruction grows the parts of the brain responsible for literacy and language skills. 

Teaching Kids to Read: Integrating the 2 Styles

So I primarily focus on teaching my kids phonics. I continue that phonics training and word study style until they reach middle school.  

My goal is to teach my children all the tools they need to read and understand every word in a text. 

I also teach them the steps and skills needed in the reading process. 

Comprehension tends to flow naturally. 

Teaching Kids to Read: The Steps!

Teaching a child to read starts before you ever teach them their first letter! 

There is evidence that reading to babies as young as six months can increase their vocabulary and early literacy skills. 

Another study found that the more stimulating reading time a baby experiences, the higher their language and social communication skills were. And even a little reading time is better than none. 

So even babies can learn from books! But what exact skills should our preschoolers have?

Step 1: Preliteracy Skills

These are called preliteracy skills and can be taught from the time they pick up their first toy book. 

Preliteracy Skills: 

  • Directionality — Tracks reading from left to right, top to bottom
  • Holds book in the correct orientation
  • Turns the pages 
  • Has a strong vocabulary
  • Phonological Awareness
  • Alphabet Knowlege

The first 4 skills are things your child will pick up easily from reading and following along as you read to them. 

Phonological awareness and alphabet knowledge require a bit more instruction. These skills are different for every child. Some may pick them up easily while others need quite a bit more practice. 

Phonological awareness is the ability to hear and distinguish different sounds. This is an important skill because reading and spelling require recognizing individual sounds. Sounds coming together form words. 

Part of teaching phonological awareness is teaching kids that words are made up of sounds. Each sound matches a letter. 

Reading is simply using the letters to figure out the sound. And spelling is using the sounds to figure out the letters. 

Here are some awesome, free phonological awareness games.

Alphabet knowledge is the skills of recognizing letters, their names, and sounds so that your child can blend their sounds into words (reading) or break down their sounds into letters (spelling). 

Get this free alphabet bingo printable!

Do you need resources for teaching preliteracy skills? Let me know in the comments! I will create content JUST FOR YOU!

Step 2: Phonics Rules

Teaching kids to read with systematic phonics instruction sounds really technical and intimidating. 

But it really just means that you teach the rules one by one. Focusing on that same rule until your child masters it. 

You can’t teach EVERY phonics rule in a year so relax! 

Basic Phonics Rules: 

  1. The alphabet is made of 2 different kinds of letters. 

Consonants only make 1 sound (except C and G which have hard and soft sounds). 

Vowels have a short variation like the A in “car” and a long one like the “A” in “care”. The vowels are A, E, I, O, and U. 

Apples and Bananas is a favorite song around here to teach kids about syllables and vowel sounds!
  1. Words are broken into syllables. 

A syllable contains one vowel. This rule is the earliest you can teach sounding out words (called decoding). 

Our simplest words contain 1 vowel: a and I. 

Then we have 2 letter words: an, am, on, to, go, in, 

  1. Consonant-Vowel-Consonant (CVC) Words

A lot more opportunities for reading open up once you get to CVC words like “cat”, “bug”, “top”, “pin”, and “bud”, 

This is when teaching rhyming and word families come in handy. 

  1. CVCe — Silent E

Whenever an E comes at the end of a CVC word, the E is silent and the vowel is long. The best way to teach this to kids is to say that the vowel says its name. 

Using this rule “PAN” becomes “PANE” and “MAD” becomes “MADE”. 

  1.  Digraphs

Digraphs are 2 letter combinations that make only one sound like “CH” in “CHEESE” or “PH” in “PHONE”. 

There is a ton of other rules, but these will give you enough to keep your homeschool busy for the next couple of years! 

If you want me to make more content on phonics rules, let me know in the comments, and I’ll make it!

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Fluency and Comprehension

The next major step of learning to read is ensuring the child understands what they are reading. 

This skill is made of 2 parts: Fluency and Comprehension 

Fluency is the ability to read with speed, inflection, and accuracy. 

Comprehension is the ability to understand, recognize literary devices used, and integrate the text with prior knowledge. 

Both abilities are skills that can be learned with consistent practice. Each has its own strategies. 


Now you know the basic process of teaching reading to kids. 

Take this guideline and start checking stuff off the list! 

And are you worried about socialization? Homeschool provides the best socialization!

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