How to Teach Kids to Read

This morning I dropped Ashleya off to the PEAC (Primary Extension and Challenge) Orientation day, then dropped Kale and Jewel at school. Kale received the end of year academic award in his class. He was meant to be in year two but was put up a grade to year three. Jewel is in pre-primary where she has a customised learning program to extend her, because she is an A grade student and reading fluently. I’m very proud of my kids for doing their best.

Sometimes people ask me how I ended up with clever kids. I’m sure a lot of it is due to a gene mutation! But regardless of genetics, the education of my children is my primary responsibility! The teachers are my support. It seems many parents have this in reverse and think the teacher at school is primarily responsible. A shift in mindset from ‘my teacher is primarily responsible for my child’s education’ to ‘I’m primarily responsible for my child’s education’ is the key.

I trialled home schooling Ashleya when she was five. I only lasted a year ha! But I learned that the best way for a child to learn anything, is by you reading to them. So I would put baby Jewel down for a nap, give toddler Kale endless amounts of food and I would read for hours to Ashleya. We’d go to story time at the library and get out a massive stack of books. We also had library audio books on in the car. This was easy because Ash naturally loved reading. I have caught her in the middle of the night reading instead of sleeping! As a toddler, Kale didn’t have a natural love of reading. He loved ‘In the Night Garden’ DVDs so I read him those books. He started off sitting still for only a few pages, but with persistence, he learned to love reading. Now he’ll read endless books about statistics, like Guinness Book of Records. Jewel naturally loved reading like Ash.

After you teach a child to enjoy reading (teach by reading stories they like), the next step is teaching the names of letters. I’d read ABC books and sing the alphabet song. Once they had mastered that I’d move on to sounds and teach them what sound every letter makes. Just like a dog makes the sound ‘woof’, the letter ‘S’ makes a ‘sss’ sound. Once they had mastered the sounds, I get out phonetic books from the library and get them to sound out words, e.g. ‘c-a-t’ is the word ‘cat’. Then I’d move on to slightly more difficult books and then they were able to read! I also made it a personal goal of mine that I wanted my kids to read before they went to school.

I must confess my fourth, Elijah, he doesn’t yet know his letters and sounds and he's nearly three! Shock horror! Ha! Life is busy when you have four kids and work! I don’t beat myself up about it, I just do the best I can. He loves reading already, so I aim to read him three books during the day and a bed time story. He speaks very fluently and has a huge vocabulary so I’m sure he will learn his letters and sounds by the time he starts school. Only one year to go ;)

It’s not about putting pressure on yourself or your child, or comparing to others. It’s about being AWARE that you are their first teacher and doing the best you can. I’ve told my kids that their self-worth doesn’t depend on their brains. They know one day someone may be smarter than them or they won’t get an award and that doesn’t matter because it’s not a competition. They know they are loved for who they are.


-You are your child’s first teacher for everything.

-Learning is easy when it’s fun.

-Read bedtime stories to your child from when they are in the womb.

-If your child can read, they can teach themselves anything from any book.

-Start off with one book a day and build up to a minimum of three books a day.

-Do the best you can with it.

Do you have tips for teaching kids to read?