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Tips For Teaching Your Preschooler To Read- It's fun!

Updated: Jul 19, 2018

Teaching reading is one of those topics that can really scare a homeschool parent.  We wonder, are we doing it right?  Can I really teach my child to read?  Where do I start, phonics or sight words?  I know teaching our children to read can be one of those things that cause us to delay the process or find someone else to do it.  I want to encourage all parents that want to teach their children to read at home.  You can teach reading.  It will take time, patience and a sense of discovery!

See, the thing is, we already know how to read and most of us can't tell you how we know how to read.  We just know how to read.  Right?  Well, there was a process you went through to learn this skill.  What we have to do to teach reading to our children, is break down the process into small steps.  I will share with you the steps I have used and continue to use with my children and other children I have taught to read.  Remember, it is a process.  It is not going to happen overnight.  However, it will happen! :)

Start with Joy!

This is the key to all learning for our homeschool.  I have discovered that when I am happy and excited, my boys soak it up and it becomes their joy.  I try my very best to create a sense of fun and a time we can love to be together when we are learning.  I do not accomplish this everyday during every learning sessions, but it is always the goal I aim for with the boys.  If I can get them to enjoy our school time, it makes all the difference when the learning takes on more structure and requires more time as they advance to the next learning levels.

Teach the Alphabet Song

I always teach the alphabet song to all my boys.  In fact, I sing it to them when they are infants just as I would sing a lullaby.  By the time they are speaking, they can sing the song with me.  I make sure that they can sing the alphabet song on their own without any assistance from me.  Children learn so quickly when information is put to a melody.  I don't know the science behind it, I just know it works.  My boys love music and singing and dancing.  I incorporate all of these active learning strategies into our reading time.  Learning the alphabet song teaches the letter names.  Once they know the song, they know how to say each letter name.  I connect the song to the actual alphabet by showing the letter to them as we sing the song.  I started this process at different stages with my boys.  This can be done with alphabet books, flash cards and alphabet videos.  Each of the boys liked a different method.  I used the method that held their attention the longest.  We simultaneously sing and look at the alphabet every day.  Sometimes, many times a day.  The repetition cements this knowledge that they will use for the rest of their lives.

The ABC song is one of the most important songs your child will learn for academic success.

Teach Uppercase and Lowercase Letter Recognition

I teach the letter name of the uppercase and lowercase letters.  Preschoolers need to be able to recognize that 'A' and 'a' are the same letter and later know they make the same sound.  I describe the letters as having two shapes.  The larger shape is for the uppercase letters and the smaller shape is for the lowercase letters.  Just as with the alphabet song, we use books, flashcards and videos to learn the uppercase and lowercase letters.  My boys have accomplished the first level of this step when they can say the alphabet without singing the song when they see the uppercase or the lowercase letters.  The second level of this step is to show them the letters out of order.  When they can read each letter, whether uppercase or lowercase, correctly.  This step has been achieved.

Letter Sounds

Preschoolers do not have to fully accomplish letter name identification before they move on to letter sounds.  Or. vice versa. They can do them at the same time.  I teach them during the same learning session.  I just make sure to have them say the letter name and the letter sound.  I have found that this approach has worked best for us.  Knowing the sounds letters make is so crucial to reading.  Learning the sounds will eventually allow them to sound out an unfamiliar word.  Most preschoolers will connect the sound with the letter after many, many learning sessions.  I try to mix it up a bit here.  We read books and point at letters and say the sounds they make.  This helps preschoolers understand that the sounds make words when we put them together.  We practice letter sounds with flashcards.  I show them the card and they say the name and sound.  My boys like to play with the cards on their own.  So, after we finish a session, I give them the cards to read.  I used to give them their own flashcards.  What a mess that was!  I would find them everywhere sprawled out all over the floor.  To save me the cleanup time, I keep a bin with various flashcards that we use during school time.  They are free to use them and put them back when they are finished.

Introduce Sight Words

Once my boys are pretty solid with the letter names, sounds and saying the alphabet in order without singing, I begin to teach them basic sight words.  These are the words you see over and over and over in children's books.  The boys like reading the words.  This process is very fluid.  We could stay on one sight word for weeks.  I begin with the word "a."   This is so fun because now the boys are reading!  They can read the word when we come to it in a book.  I move on to words like "the", "am", etc.  These words are so common that reading a children's book provides many opportunities for practice.   I really like this little booklet I got from the library several years ago.  I have used it as part of our sight word learning time since I started with Isaac.  It uses the sight words in a sentence with a picture.  By the time we finish it, the boys have memorized the whole booklet.  We also use flashcards during our reading time.  Much like with the alphabet, I show them the card and they read it.  My boys like to hold the card they read successfully.  I keep the word card that needs more practice.

Teach Consonant Vowel Consonant Words (CVC)

There are two groups of CVC words I teach in our homeschool.  The first group are those words that they see everyday like, "cat", "dog", "God."  Because preschoolers see these words so many times in children's books, they learn to recognize them.  The other group I am more intentional with are word families.  For instance, I teach the sight word "at" to the boys.  Once they can successfully read this word, I add the beginning letters of "c", "b", "h", "m", "s", "f", "p", "r."  The preschoolers I have taught learned these words within different time frames because learning to blend sounds was easier for some than others.  The more exposure to the words and practice reading the words from left to right help facilitate this process.

Teach Beginning Sounds, Ending Sounds and Vowel Sounds of CVC Words

The key to long term reading success is the ability to recognize the sounds of each letter in a word.  When preschoolers have reached the point of being ready to read new words, one learning strategy to increase their reading skills is to focus on how to decode words.  I really like the method of taking words from word families and creating activities around identifying the beginning sounds of the words, ending sounds and the vowel sounds.  This is also a great technique that can be used to teach children how to spell words.

Teaching your child to read can be a wonderfully angst-filled journey for some of us.  With patience and consistency, you will see your preschooler's world expand each day as he begins to discover an ability that was always there.  She just needed a guide to show her how to access it.  I believe that guide can be you.  Let me know if any of these tips work for you and your littles.  :)

To Learning and Laughter!


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