Nothing is more thrilling than hearing the sweet voice of your first homeschooled child reading. That is something only another homeschool educator can fully appreciate.
Teaching my first homeschooled son to read set me up for success in teaching his younger siblings. Twenty plus years later, I’m here to tell you the reading process is the same as it was then.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the push of the educational word into thinking that teaching reading has to be difficult or overly structured.
Striking a balance between using play to teach reading to a child and using a developmental approach to curriculum to guide a homeschool educator is absolutely vital.
Here are six solid how-tos for getting your kids to read successfully and quickly.
6 Solid How-Tos Tips for Teaching New Homeschooled Readers
1. Understand the reading program parts. It has at least two parts.
2. Knowing the names of ALL the letters is not necessary.
3. Teach the sound the consonant represents; begin with the short sound for vowels.
4. Introduce consonants and vowels in a strategic order so a child reads sooner than later. Do not introduce letters in ABC order.
5. Multiple letter sounds should be introduced at one time.
6. Search play vs. structured teaching approach for PreK and Kindergarten levels.
I’m diving into this first point which is to understand the vital parts to a balanced reading program.
(1) The Key Parts to a Beginner’s Reading Program
In the past I’ve shared what I did to teach my first son to read which was to purchase Dr. Maggie’s phonic readers from a teacher store.
What I learned from the Dr. Maggie set of phonics readers was that reading has two parts which are the very basics of any reading program.
One component is a systematic way to teach phonics and the second component is a way for your child to practice reading his new learned skill.
Both of these components I learned while using the phonics readers. This is what I noticed in the readers and that will help you as a new teacher.
- Dr. Maggie’s phonic readers had a book devoted to most of the vowel and consonant sounds.
- The books progressed in order so your kid could start reading right away while learning letter sounds.
- I learned that not only did a child need the introduction to the sound, but putting the sounds together to form words can happen right away.
A laid out reading program pairs a phonics reader with the sound being introduced. You can easily do that. Look below at a few choices I listed for the two components.
Best Books to Get Kids Learning to Read
Create Your Own Reading Program
Choose one phonics program AND choose one or more set of phonics readers.
Get Ready for the Code.
Explode the Code.
Modern Curriculum Press Phonics: Level A.
Adventures in Phonics Level A Workbook.
Spectrum Early Years: Phonics Readiness, PreK.
Carson-Dellosa Spectrum Phonics Workbook, Grade K.
Also, you can purchase a curriculum where your reading program is laid out. And be sure you’re subscribed to my YouTube Channel How to Homeschool EZ.
Choose a Laid Out Reading Program.
(2) Letter Names Are Not Important In the Beginning
The second point is to understand that your child doesn’t need to know the names of letters.
Although I drilled the alphabet and names of the letters with each of my readers, I soon learned that knowing all of the letter names is not necessary to begin reading. Identifying sounds of letters is the first place to start.
Don’t wait until a child knows all of his letters to begin teaching him to read.
Eventually readers learn the letters; they become important when learning to spell.
Besides, learning to spell is a skilled learned later. A child reads long before he can spell.
(3) Why Teaching the Sound of Consonants Is First
Pointing to a plastic letter tile like “D” and mouthing the sound /d/, then doing the same with plastic letter tile “o” and plastic letter tile “g” helps your child to begin decoding right away.
By introducing the short sounds of vowels, kids learn to read right away.
(4) Create a Strategic Order for Consonant and Vowel Introduction
Reading should be rewarding. Even budding readers understand the concept of intrinsic value.
In the beginning, my mistake was not having a specific order in which to teach the letters. Teaching the letter sounds in alphabetical order was my mistake.
Teaching the consonants and vowels in a planned order which allows your child right away to blend sounds and make easy CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words is how to do it.
I concentrated on consonants used most often and introduced a vowel right away because every word has a vowel in it.
The vowels are a ,e, i, o, u and sometimes y. At this point, focus only on the short sounds of a,e, i, o, and u.
Easy Reading Lesson Plans
Here is a sample of what I do.
- introduce /k/ for c, /b/, /m/, /h/, /t/, /r/, /p/, and /s/ sounds;
- introduce the short sound of the vowel a;
- introduce the “- at” family; and
- introduce the sight word “The” (more on this in a minute).
Can you see right away that a child can read the word “at” from blending the sounds?
Next, take each of the consonant letter tiles c, b, m, t, r, h, p and s.
Place each letter tile at the beginning of “at” and say each word. Finally, tell your new reader that when he knows one word he knows many. Rhyme the words for him.
The last step is taking a word that he can recognize by sight like the word “The” and put that word in front of each word — cat, rat, hat, and bat.
For free lists, look at this page for free lists of sight words. Because reading does involve recognition of some words without decoding, add the sight words in slowly with each lesson.
Reading easy sentences like “The cat”, “The hat”, and “The rat” gives immediate rewards. You now have a budding reader.
Reading Pace Matters
Here is another example of a word family.
I choose another short vowel like o and I’m planning intentionally to create CVC words with my consonant choices.
For instance with the vowel o, choose the following consonant letters to introduce.
- /l/, /g/, /d/, /p/ and “Go” as a sight word.
Review the consonants your child learned in earlier lessons and put with these new consonant sounds to work on the sound /o/.
You can now create these words: log, dog, top, hog, got, pot, rot, mop, dot, bog, and hot.
Can you create more? Make sentences like “Go dog”, “Go hog”, and “Go rat”.
Using the word rat from your previous lessons reinforces what he was introduced to. Keep using CVC words previously introduced as you build his reading vocabulary.
(5) Keep Your Reading Pace Moving
The next seasoned veteran tip I want you to know is that there is no need to study a letter a week.
A child can move a bit faster, but you don’t want to overwhelm a budding reader.
Each child is different in how fast you want to introduce sounds.
For example, when my son was four years old, he learned to read.
However, our reading time was in short spurts throughout the day. Fifteen minutes here and there throughout the day are normal. Introducing at least two sounds a week is fine. Go slower as needed.
If a child is closer to six or seven years old which is still right on target for learning to read, you may be able to spend closer to thirty minutes before he is ready for a break.
As you’re introducing new consonant sounds, review letter sounds you previously taught.
Don’t be discouraged if a child seems to remember the sounds one week and forget them the next. Constant review and interaction with the sounds will help him to master them.
Teaching at this age is like putting together a puzzle. You’re constantly looking over new pieces and adding them to your framework.
(6) Developmentally Appropriate Means Making A Child’s Development Priority
For many years, I’ve read dialogue back and forth between the camp of overly structured teachers and teachers who feel this age should be play all day.
I’ve learned that a combination of both approaches is needed.
First, understanding the natural inclination children have to play should have you include ideas for teaching reading that are play.
Too, the structured curriculum is for the teacher, NOT the child. Most new homeschooling teachers want a direction in how to introduce reading to their child.
Reading aloud is the single most important thing I did with all of my children. It teaches them to love words and by the inflection of your voice they learn to let their imaginations soar.
Forcing a child that age to sit at a table for long hours or do worksheet after worksheet does not recognize a child’s development.
Use teaching skills where a child learns through play while developing fine and gross motor skills is imperative.
The bottom line is that using a formal curriculum with PreK and Kindergarten is excellent as long the curriculum recognizes the child’s need to learn through play.
Learning Through Play Resources
Huge letters work great and you want to be sure you have lots of lowercase letters too.
Learning CVC words should be hands-on too.
Although these letter tubs are more pricey, if you have multiple budding readers you get your money’s worth. Using these tubs for two or more years with each reader saved my sanity.
I ordered these tubs and they’re perfect for teaching each new reader a letter along with corresponding objects which represent the letter sound.
I have more tips to share with you on learning through play, but wanted to be sure you understood how the reading process unfolds. Does this make sense?
Look at these other tips:
- Awesome Reading Aloud Tracking Time Homeschool Form
- What You’ve Got To Know About Teaching Reading Comprehension
- 5 Easy Steps to Putting Together Your Own Homeschool Phonics Program
- How to Know What A Homeschooled Child Should Learn Yearly?
- How Early Should I Begin Homeschooling My First Child? (and checklist)
- Homeschool Colorful Reading Journal to Motivate Kids
- Teaching Homeschooled Boys How to Read – When to Panic!