How to teach your preschooler to read.pdfI have successfully managed to raise two amazingly voracious readers.  This in spite of my youngest telling me he would never learn to read because he didn’t like it. He loved (and still does) being read to, but had no interest in reading to himself.  Now, when I hear only quiet in my house and wonder what mischief the kids are getting into, I usually actually find them on the couch next to each other reading.  READING! Not mischief!

I encourage early reading.  Why?

  1. It comes in handy at the doctor’s office and other waiting times.  Instead of relying on apps, I hand them a book or the kindle app on my phone.
  2. It helps us go deeper and broader.  I can focus on history and science in kindergarten because I don’t have to focus on the mechanics of learning to read.  They already know how.
  3. It keeps them out of trouble on rainy days.
  4. It keeps the car very quiet.
  5. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities for them and allows them to learn lots while enjoying themselves.
  6. It allows us to have meaningful conversations and share the love of books together.

My method is rather simple and incorporates a lot of Montessori’s principles.  I panicked with my son and bought All About Reading, but if I had just been a little more patient, I would have done fine without it.  At that moment, though, I wanted something pre-done for me and scripted and visible so that J-jo would feel compelled to join me for it.  He has always pushed against all things Montessori and preferred workbook formats.  The AAR games helped a lot to entice him. However, if I were starting over, I might consider Logic of English: Foundations as it incorporates more kinesthetic games which are good for boys.

My method:

1. Teach only letter sounds.
This is so important.  Here is a cute little girl demonstrating what I mean. Skip the letter names. or another version

2. Point out letters everywhere and name the sound they make. 
Look that sign starts with /t/.  /T/ /t/ Target.  Look at that stop sign.  See the /s/?  With the FedEx envelope, I had her find each letter sound I called out.

3. Do a letter of the week if you want, but focus on the letter sound.

I will be posting on this later this week. Letter of the Week is the least important part of learning to read or even learning letter sounds.  Truly, the most significant thing in learning letter sounds is number 1 and 2 (the modified alphabet song and pointing out letter sounds everywhere).  Some Letter of the Week curriculums are mere busy work and of little value for a 2, 3 and 4 year old.  Here is an example of H is for Hen.  I didn’t blog much of the letter sound of the week things I did, unfortunately.

Here are some more ideas of ways to practice letter sounds.  I remember Bear loving the alphabet sound hokey pokey. and the If You’re Happy and You Know it Letter Sound version.

The next few steps are key to transition your child from knowing letter sounds to learning to sound out words.

4. Talk about Words
As soon as the child has a good basis of the letter sounds, (well, even before) start showing your child how letters work together to make a word.  “Oh, look (as you put a C, an A, and a T magnet on the fridge).  We have /c/ (pause) /a/ (pause) /t/(pause).  What does that sound like? ” Say the three sounds faster and faster to demonstrate blending and then announce “cat!”  Or maybe your child will beat you to it.

5.  Play “I spy” a lot.
I spy something that starts with the sound /b/.  You might have three objects on the table to start, but then you can play with anything in the room.  Also play this with middle sounds and ending sounds.  There’s an iPad app my husband and I developed to get J-jo to play this game more often (like while I was busy teaching Bear)  The app also practices the blending game.

  

6. Play the blending game (or Guess What I am saying).
This is like I Spy, but you do it by separating the sounds. I spy a /t/ pause /r/ pause /ee/.  Both times around my children have had difficulty hearing what word they are sounding out.  They will say /c/ /u/ /p/ and then tell me cat instead of cup.  This stage lasted a couple months, but this game can help the process along.  It seems to be a common stage to get stuck for younger beginning readers.  I talk about this in this post.

7. Make an alphabet box

Collect objects (toys) from around the house and have children sort them by beginning sound.  I stored ours in a fish tackle box.  You can see it in this post.

8. Use the Montessori pink series as independent activities to practice the reading of CVC words.


There are free ones available if you do a Google search, but it was fastest to link to my favorite source of Montessori printables (not affiliate).  This one is more like a worksheet and the kids could glue the labels on.
The pink series is the reading of CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words like cat, top, pan, etc.  The blue series has double consonants (like truck, duck, stop, etc).  The green series introduces the vowel digraphs like ee, ai, oy, etc.  They are all available at Montessori Printshop.

By this point, my children have been reading to do shared reading with me (they read the words they can in a shorter picture book while I read all the others) or to read Bob Books.  I use the list of Sonlight readers to assist me in choosing books at the right level for them.  J-jo is currently in the second and third grade list.

So you see, it is entirely possible to teach your preschooler to read and also do so without expensive curriculum.

Written by Julie Cerdas
I'm a stay-at-home Catholic mom who loves playing with and teaching my two children.