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Teach Your Child to Read: Homeschooling

Don't let the fear of teaching your child to read prevent you from homeschooling. It's very easy to teach your child to read regardless of your level of formal education as long as you know how to read. If you have the time, energy and desire to homeschool your children you will find the experience challenging, but mutually beneficial and rewarding. Your child will get personalized love, attention and guidance as you help him or her discover the world.

Stephanie Relfe summarized just how easy it is for parents who want to homeschool to teach their children to read. She has granted permission to post the information here:


Most schools teach sight reading instead of sounding out. This is why children cannot read past third grade. Basically, if you can't sound out a word, you can't read. Once a child can sound out a word they can:

  • Look up any word in a dictionary.
  • Read any name, town or street sign.
  • Learn new technology.
  • Read books from long ago when they used words that we no longer use.


Teaching a child to read is a remarkably easy process, that can be done in a matter of months, if you do it step by step, by simple sounding out. Teach for about 10-15 minutes a day. Don't do more than that so your child does not get tired of it.

Note that simple sounding out is not the same as phonics. Phonics teaches a lot of complicated "blends", which you don't need, and are confusing. Even if you learned sight reading yourself at school, you should learn the few simple rules you need to sound out any word:

Here are just about the only things you need, to teach anyone to read.

  1. For children, read lots of books to them, preferably from the time they are born. Enunciate words slowly and clearly. Have books in the house. Children are programmed to do whatever you do. If you don't have books, they will pick up that you don't think books are important.
  2. When they are about three or older, teach them the alphabet. First read a lot of alphabet books.
  3. Explain that a letter is a symbol that people write to represent a sound. Letters make up words. Each letter can be written in two different ways, as a capital letter or as a lower case letter. Capital letters are used at the start of a sentence or a name. A sentence is a group of words that tells you something, and that makes sense.
  4. To teach the alphabet and sounding out, say each letter twice. The first time you say the letter, say the normal way the letter is said to someone. The second time you say the letter, give the "sounding it out" sound. Don't move on until this is mastered. Continue to read lots of alphabet books. eg Say "A " (ay) "a" (as in cat), "B" (bee) - "b" (buh), "C" (see) - "c" (kuh), D "dee" - "d" (duh), "F" (eff) - "f" (fff) etc. Hang up a chart with the alphabet around the house. And, of course, sing them the alphabet song.
  5. The sounds for "th" (that), "sh" (ship), "ch" (chip), "ph" (phone), ck (clock), "gh" when at end of words (enough).
  6. Some sounds are silent. Just ignore them. eg know, lamb, write, light.
  7. 5 letters are called vowels. They are a, e, i, o, u. A vowel is a letter with a sound where you open your mouth. With the other letters, called consonants, part of your mouth joins another part of the mouth. Vowels join two consonants together. Sometimes 'y' acts like a vowel.
  8. There are short vowels and long vowels. Long vowels sound like the name of the letter. Short vowels sound like how you sound them out (eg long "e" is "ee"). The library has books about long and short vowels. Get them.
  9. When to use the long vowel sound (when an "e" is at the end of a word, and for the various vowel groups such as oa (road), ee (tree), ea (leaf), ie (relief).
  10. A few other changes to vowel sounds such as "ou" (counter), "ow" (now).
  11. There are a few words where the letters have a weird sound, like "e" in "the".
  12. Once they can read individual simple words, read simple sentences like "A cat sat on a mat." Remind them that a sentence is a group of words that tells you something, and that makes sense. It has a capital letter at the start. At the end is one of three things - either a period (.), question mark (?), to show it's a question, or an exclamation mark (!), to show it's very important or has a lot of feeling.

That's it. As I said, even if you learned to recognize "whole words", learn these simple rules, and pass them onto your children. Basic literacy is not literacy. You must have the tools to expand your vocabulary. Later if you aren't sure how to pronounce a word, a dictionary will show you how.

When you homeschool your children, it's a good idea to focus on the basics if they are elementary school age. This means reading, writing and math. You can incorporated social studies into the reading curriculum by reading about history. You can also incorporate mini-science lessons within the math curriculum.

Remember that there is an endless supply of resources for parents choosing to homeschool their children. You can join a local homeschool group. Many groups meet weekly or bi-weekly to have group instructional activities, field trips and physical education. You can also send your child to a tutoring center once a week for enrichment or extra support.

For more ideas and information about the benefits of homeschooling see reasons to homeschool.

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