Teaching your homeschooler to read

Nov 29, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. ET

In my 10 or so years of homeschooling, there have been some great accomplishments and some epic fails. My greatest accomplishment to date would have to be teaching my children to read.

Micah reading to his brother

There is nothing like seeing that lightbulb moment in your child, when they are learning to read.

Reading has such a magical learning process — before you know it your child is reading words, putting them together into sentences, then paragraphs, and on to whole books!

One of the common mistakes we make as parents is trying to keep up with a timeline. The beauty of homeschooling our children is that we do not have to follow a specific timetable, our child will not get left behind. When it comes to reading, we have the option to teach, learn and enjoy reading with our child one-on-one. Just as each child has their own style of learning, they may also learn to read at different ages too. Here are a few tips that will help you on the road to teaching your child to read.

Read to your child

Reading aloud to your children will not only give them a solid reading foundation, but it will also help them discover the joy of reading.

It's never too early (or too late) to start reading aloud to your child. One thing we can do to kick-start the road to reading is simply to read to our children and read to them often. Discuss what you have read with your child and ask questions before, during and after your reading sessions. Create a reading nook in your home and commit to reading aloud at least once daily. Keep books readily available and take them with you when you go. Reading aloud can take place anytime, anywhere.

Make reading fun

There are many different activities that will help a child build a strong reading foundation. Mastering letters and matching lowercase letters with their sound is very helpful when a child is learning to read phonetically. Let your reader make letters out of Play-Doh, whipped topping, shaving cream, sprinkles or sand. If they are learning sight words, they can create beginning sight words with noodles or pipe cleaners.

Be the example

Monkey see, monkey do. The best example we can give to our child is to show them our love of reading. It's one thing for us to tell a child they must read each day, it's another for them to see us reading each day.

Enjoy the journey

There might be days when you feel as though your child will never learn to read — it can be a daunting task at times. Remind yourself that you are giving your child a gift that will truly last them a lifetime. Embrace the struggles with the lightbulb moments and enjoy making sweet memories along the way.

Resources for learning to read

Dom reading

There are many great online resources that can help your child learn to read, and one of those is Starfall. Starfall.com is a free public service that teaches children to read with phonics. There is also a Starfall app that can be used on a smartphone or tablet.

I have always used a phonics-based approach to reading with my four sons. Critics of phonics-based curriculum will argue that a completely phonics-based approach is boring and old fashioned, but this was not the case for us. We used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessonswith all four of our boys. True to its name, your child will be reading after 100 short daily lessons.

Reading Eggs is a fun online curriculum that combines books with online reading games and activities. The Reading Eggs characters are a hit with the children and the curriculum is both phonics and sight-based. You can try Reading Eggs free with a 14-day trial.

If you are looking for a boxed reading curriculum with workbooks, All About Reading is a favorite amongst homeschoolers. All About Reading is fun, engaging, and most importantly, easy for parents to teach!

Whether your child is 4, 6 or 8, with patience and perseverance they will learn to read.

Tell us

What has been your biggest challenge when teaching your homeschooler to read?

Image credit: Tiany Davis

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