Teaching your young children to read is one of the most daunting events for parents. A lot of people use this as a measuring stick to compare against other families (and other parents). Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- It’s not a race. Rest assured, unless you’re a completely horrible parent, your child will eventually learn to read. Take your time, and be patient. Don’t push too hard, or else you’ll burn your child out (and yourself).
- Keep books in the house. And read them often. It’s no surprise the best readers are raised in houses where their parents are avid readers. Starting at a young age, children want to do what their parents do—that includes reading.
- Start by reading books to them at bedtime. This can be done as early as age 2, or even earlier. Books with lots of pictures keep children interested, and you can point out big words associated with the pictures. Starting a daily ritual allows your children to look forward to reading. We did this with our son for 2-3 years before my wife actively started teaching him to read.
- Once your child is ready to start reading, buy him starter books. Set aside an hour or so a day & work with your child on reading. Hooked on Phonics and Bob Books by Scholastic are just two of the products out there. Our son likes Bob, and my wife usually spends at least an hour in the afternoon, 3-5 days per week with him.
- If your child isn’t interested, give her a break for the day. Maybe you’ve spent a lot of time recently, and she’s interested in Play-doh. Let her do it. When you see that she’s just saying no so that she can go watch TV, make sure that she knows she can do something else productive, but isn’t allowed to watch TV.
Our son is entering kindergarten this year, and already reads at the level required for first-grade. It’s probably not because he’s super-smart—he’s a normal 5-year old boy, with normal boy interests. However, we do think that our lifestyle has helped us show him that reading can be fun-not just as a kid, but as an adult. Good luck!