3 Things to Do When You Think Your Child Is Ready to Learn to Read

Think your kiddo is ready to learn how to read? Today we’re sharing three things to do before you start working on reading skills.

3 Things to Do When You Think Your Child Is Ready to Learn to Read

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Teaching your child to read can be one of the most stressful, but rewarding parts of the homeschool journey. It’s not the end-all, be-all of education, but let’s face it, learning to read certainly opens doors not only in language-related learning, but all other subjects.

That’s why it’s important to make reading a part of your family culture via read alouds as early as possible. I came across this quote in Mem Fox’s Reading Magic recently. It makes quite a case for reading aloud if you aren’t yet convinced:

The fire of literacy is created by the emotional sparks between a child, a book, and the person reading. It isn’t achieved by the book alone, nor by the child alone, nor by the adult who’s reading aloud — it’s the relationship winding between all three, bringing them together in easy harmony.

Mem Fox

Beyond reading aloud, it’s important to work simple pre-reading activities like word puzzles into playtime. By including these exercises in your kiddo’s normal routines, you provide valuable opportunities to explore letters and words without the pressure of formal learning.

What to Do When You Think Your Child Is Ready to Learn to Read

That said, if you’ve been knee-deep in pre-reading activities and read alouds for a while, it’s entirely possible your child is ready for reading. Here are a few important things to do when you think your kiddo is ready to learn to read. Spoiler alert: it’s not time to buy curriculum yet!

1. Consider your why.

Learning to read is one of those things that takes as long as it takes. In other words, there’s no amount of rushing or pushing that will make it click for your child if he isn’t ready.

If your child isn’t necessarily showing interest in learning to read, it’s important to consider your motivations for starting the process. Are any of the following statements true for you? If so, don’t start those reading lessons just yet.

  • You want to start teaching your child to read because he’s a specific age. (There’s no “right age” to learn to read.) 
  • Other friends frequently reference their children learning to read. (It’s fine that your friends talk about the process, but avoid comparing your child to their kids. Their kids learning to read shouldn’t be the reason you begin shopping for curriculum.) 
  • Your child would be learning it if she was enrolled in a school right now. (Once again, there is no right age and the when doesn’t matter. All that matters is that they learn. This point from Sonlight says it quite nicely.)
  • You think your child will be a better reader if you start now. (Nope. There are countless articles like this one to ease your mind. In most cases, late readers catch up with their peers who began reading at an earlier age and read with the same proficiency by that point.)
3 Things to Do When You Think Your Child Is Ready to Learn to Read

If none of those statements have crossed your mind, you can go into the teaching process knowing your motivations are centered around your child and not what other children seem to be doing.

2. Consider your child’s reading readiness.

After taking time to check your own motivations for teaching your child to read, consider your child’s reading readiness. This will look different from child to child, but you can use the following questions for examples on how to assess readiness:

  • Is your child interested in books?
  • Does your child recognize letters and associate them with sounds?
  • Has your child asked to learn how to read?
  • Does your child pretend to read and write?
  • Does your child try to sound out words when he sees them?

For more help determining if your child is ready to learn how to read, take a look at these 5 reading readiness skills from All About Reading. If your child has a good foundation in these areas, chances are you’re ready to start the process of learning to read with your kiddo.

3. Evaluate reading programs.

There’s no shortage of reading programs available and, while most of them are solid in their own way, there’s no way to guarantee the first one you choose will work. That’s even true if you successfully taught an older sibling to read in years past. What works well for one kiddo can be a program that brings another to tears on a daily basis.

My experience with teaching my own children is a great example of the differences that show up when teaching your kids to read. You know the decades-old Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons book? Well, 100 easy lessons in that book did the trick for my son. Learning to read was a matter of working through that book with him. It was seriously that easy.

With my daughter, not so much. She was overwhelmed by that book by the time we got a third of the way through it. She didn’t become a proficient reader until we closed that book and shifted to an online reading program.

That’s why it’s so important to research when preparing to teach your child to read. One reading program simply doesn’t fit all kids, so it’s important to spend time weighing the options before you buy.

How to Evaluate a Reading Program

Need a starting point for the evaluation process? Use this Reading Program Evaluation Checklist to guide your purchase.

In closing, remember that shifting from pre-reading to teaching your child to read doesn’t have to be stressful. Follow your child’s lead and enjoy the journey. There will likely be good days and bad days somewhere between pre-reading and proficiency, but hang in there. Teaching your kiddo to read will truly be one of the most rewarding experiences of your days as a homeschooling parent.

Do you have tips for getting your kiddo ready to read? If so, share them with us in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.

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