How to Teach Reading to Children

how to teach reading to children

This site is all about how to teach reading to your child. We are the experts providing you with time-tested and proven learning methods that guarantee your children will be successful in mastering the written and spoken word.

We offer a wealth of expert tips and information as well as an exciting variety of specially designed early childhood reading products that help give your child a jump in their educational experience.

Our Preschool University Learning Products Include engaging reading game apps and learn-to-read printable booklets that incorporate the important step-by-step keys for learning to read. They follow a carefully designed sequence so your children will not miss any steps in their quest to master reading.

The Classroom is Our Laboratory

The learn-to-read products available on this site were produced by Richard Colombini, MA. He is an expert in early childhood reading education and has spent over 23 years perfecting his ground-breaking techniques where it matters most - in the classroom.

Students who are fortunate enough to be taught by Mr. Colombini are guaranteed they will learn to read well and love doing it! Mr. Colombini's philosophy is grounded in Montessori teachings, which provides a holistic approach to learning based on the child's stages of natural development as they interact with their environment.

One of the most important gifts you can give your child is the ability to read. Mr. Colombini is pleased to show you how to teach reading through his line of app games, printable booklets and the step-by-step information.

How to Teach Reading – Step-by-Step

There are several progressive but important steps to consider when teaching reading skills to your child. By learning this sequence, you can pinpoint exactly what reading level your child is at and where he might be struggling. You can then apply the explicit learning tools we produced to the areas he needs help with.

We have an excellent checklist that includes simple tests you can give your child to find out exactly which steps of reading mastery they are missing. Each of these steps includes our inexpensive easy-to-use products you can use with your children to strengthen those missing areas so they can move forward on a firm foundation to full reading mastery.

Sequence to Reading Mastery

Here we give brief descriptions of the sequence your child needs to master in order to be a complete master in reading. See our section: Steps to Reading Mastery for more information, examples and accompanying products we produced for each step.

1. Phonemic Awareness - Initial (Beginning) Sounds and Rhyming

Phonemic awareness is the first foundational skill your child needs to learn. If more teachers knew about this single basic primary skill, they could vastly improve their students' ability to learn to read. (Blachman et al., 2000). A child's phonemic awareness, or lack thereof, has been shown in numerous studies to be the best and most consistent predictor of future reading accomplishment.

Initial (or beginning) sound phonemic awareness is developed in children by helping them focus on the individual sound at the beginning of words. We're not referring to the letter name but the sound it makes. An example would be teaching your child that the word 'dog' begins with the /d/ sound, and the word 'cat' begins with the /c/ sound. A great way for children to learn these letter sounds is by listening to parents, teachers or fellow students modeling these initial sounds and then actively participating in the activity.

Children need to be able to memorize and identify the beginning sounds of words and work on the letter sounds not recalled. An indicator of mastery of this foundational skill is being able to tell you that the word 'balloon' begins with /b/ not because they memorized the word, but because they're able to analyze the word and pick out the beginning sound of it. Our phonemic awareness lesson products ensure your child is learning to analyze the words and say the beginning sounds.

Rhyming Games

Additionally, rhyming games are very useful in helping children understand that words are made up of sounds as well as recognizing sound patterns at the end of words. "The better children are at detecting rhymes, the quicker and more successful they will be at learning to read" (Bradley, 1988c, Bradley & Bryant, 1983, Ellis & Large, 1987).

When children play rhyming games that involve finding matching pairs of rhyming picture cards, they are engaging their minds to process the ending sounds of those words. To do this, they must analyze two words and decide if the ending sounds are the same or different. This process helps build brain pathways in phonemic awareness.

See more information about this skill and products you can use here.

2. The Alphabetic Principle

The second step is understanding that letters are used to represent the sounds of speech. "It's critical for children to understand the relationship between letters and sounds in order for them to be good readers and good spellers" (Ball & Blachman, 1991). Teaching your child this reading principle will help them avoid the reading challenges of children who have poor skills linking letters and sounds (Lyon 1997).

There are some basic guidelines that make it easier for the beginning or struggling reader to gain a clear concept of the alphabetic principle:

Teach Only the Most Commonly Occurring Sound for Each Letter

Yes, it's true that 10 letters make several different sounds and that some phonemes can be represented by different letters or letter combinations, but all of that can wait until later. It's best to help your child gain a strong working knowledge of the basics before moving onto advanced concepts. This is done by teaching only the most commonly occurring sound for each letter.

Teach Lowercase Letters First

95% of written text is made up of lowercase letters and only 5% capital letters. It's just common sense at this stage in reading development to teach just one letter format, which is clearly lowercase letters. Using only lowercase letters will also help avoid confusing your child with various shapes for the same letter.

Teach the Sound of the Letter Instead of the Name of the Letter

It's essential to focus on what's most important. In this case, regardless of the strong cultural model of teaching the name of the letter, it's much more effective to teach the sound of the letter. Many classrooms throughout the world, especially Montessori classrooms, have tremendous success teaching their young students the letter by its sound as if it were the name of the letter.

Use Key Pictures in Conjunction with Letters

A key picture is using a consistent letter paired with an object, such as showing the letter "a" paired with an "apple". Your child can use his phonemic awareness to identify the beginning sound of this word, the /a/ of 'apple', and then, by association, identify the alphabet letter. Your child sees the letter on the card paired with the 'apple' and then he identifies that letter as the letter that says /a/.

It's important for children to be able to use their previously acquired phonemic awareness skills to figure out this association independently with the help of a key picture attached to each letter. Later on, various matching games can be played matching letters first to the key picture and then to other pictures that begin with the same sounds as the key pictures.

There are several great reading game apps and printable booklets we developed using this and all the other learning methods mentioned.

3. Phoneme Blending

It's been shown that problems in reading usually begin at the level of reading single words (Foorman, Fletcher & Francis 1998). It is, therefore, wise to give your child the right tool needed to be successful at this juncture. This would be mastery with phoneme blending, which could also be called auditory reading. An example of this process is teaching your child to turn the three sounds /c/ + /a/ + /t/ into the word 'cat'. Phoneme blending involves no letters. You say two or three letter sounds in succession and ask the child what word those sounds make.

When practicing this skill with your child, it's best to start off with words that have two or three phonemes before moving to words with four or more.

See more info here and our letter blending activities.

4. Phoneme Segmentation and Word Building

Segmentation is recognized by teachers and educators as the most important beginning reading skill. It involves taking a word and breaking it down into its constituent sound parts. Segmentation is like spelling but by sounds not letters. An example of segmentation would be a child seeing a picture of a dog and saying, 'Dog': /d/ + /o/ + /g/. This ability to segment words has proven to be the best predictor in kindergarten and first-graders whether they will be successful readers or not. Children who have difficulty segmenting words are bound to have reading problems (G.R. Lyons, 1995).

After a child has demonstrated mastery with phoneme segmentation, they can pair this skill with their previously gained knowledge of the alphabetic principle to do word building. In word building a child first segments out a word into its sounds and then places the corresponding letters in order beneath the word. Word building gives children who are not yet writing the opportunity to build words successfully and to experience how spoken and printed words relate to and correspond with each other. Word building is not spelling, but encoding, which has been shown to be highly effective in helping students who are struggling with decoding.

See more info and our letter segmenting games and activities here.

5. Word Decoding

Words are the building blocks of sentences. Earlier, we said that most reading difficulties stem from the inability to read words. The fact is, your child won't be able to read sentences if he cannot read words well. To read words well, it's essential to have good decoding skills. Learning how to decode words first requires mastery of the previous four reading skills discussed.

Decoding uses the understanding of letter/sound connections to read a word correctly. Good readers utilize the phonemic awareness skills of the alphabetic principle along with blending and segmenting. The beginning reader needs lots of practice reading words to build confidence and gain mastery at reading words.

We have very effective game apps and printable reading booklets which teach your child how to quickly decode and read words.

6. Reading Sentences

Before jumping straight into books, you need to give your child practice at reading short, simple sentences. Sentences are the building blocks of books. Helping your child practice and master reading sentences will help them be successful and confident when they get to decodable readers that can have many sentences on each page.

Take advantage of our professionally designed sentence reading app games and printable booklets.

7. Decodable Readers

The final step is giving them lots of practice to gain success reading specially designed decodable readers. The best types of readers have organized, distinct levels of reading that gradually introduce more sight words and spelling rules in an organized fashion.