Teaching Kids to Read

Updated on October 16, 2008
S.S. asks from Milford, DE
27 answers

my SD is almost 6 and in kindergarten. for the past three years i've been working with her on her ABCs and sounds and reading, and she's been doing very well, but we seem to have hit a sort of snag transitioning from recognizing sight words to sounding out a word on a page. she knows all her letters and all the sounds they make, and i've done a little bit of phonics with her (the th/sh/ch sounds, vowel sounds together, that sort of thing). outside of words or books she can tell me all the sounds, but as soon as they string together into words she shuts down. its too hard, i can't, i don't know, you have to help me, and she'll work herself up into temper tantrums and hysterics over what sound an "o" makes. i havent been putting much pressure on her because i've always thought she would do it when she's ready but she's been at this stage for a while and i'm not quite sure how to get her past it. do you guys have any suggestions or tips that have worked for your kids at this stage? thanks in advance!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.K.

answers from Washington DC on

I'd say give her some space right now and don't work on the reading at all. Just read her books - lots of books - and if she chimes in on words she knows that's great. If you read repetitive books, with good language, she'll start seeing patterns in the words. She'll get reading instruction in 1st grade - she just may not be ready for this right now--even if she does know her letters and sounds independently.

My son was very slow to read at the same age, even though he knew his letters. I just backed off, and when he went to school, it all just clicked for him.

The main thing is to have reading be fun, full of good language, fun sounds and stories that you enjoy together. Don't worry about her reading - it will come.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

K.H.

answers from Norfolk on

I have to say I agree with everyone on that you should back off on having her read and you should just read to her for a little bit. Also when she is ready to start doing it the Dick and Jane books are great. They start off basic and there is a lot of repeating of words which is good. This will help her build her confidence. I would also find out how she is doing in school with her reading. Ask what her DRA level is and is she on target for her grade level. I know that by the end of Kindergarten she should be at around a level 4 or 5. I know that my oldest does not like to sound out his words when he is at home but will do it at school. He is in the first grade and is above reading level for his age but you would never know it by the way he acts at home when he comes across a word that he has to sound out. I hope this helps some.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

A.N.

answers from Charlottesville on

I wouldn't worry too much about it. Keep working on it a little at a time, but don't push it. Some kids just get it earlier than others. Something clicked for both of my sons in the middle of first grade, and they are now both reading well over their grade level. However, my daughter was in the middle of second grade before it clicked for her. She too didn't want to read because she felt like she couldn't. Now that she has confidence in her reading, she enjoys it!

More Answers

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

K.W.

answers from Washington DC on

I have two suggestions-
1. Talk to the kindergarten teacher. She's the expert on this subject and I'm sure she would have suggestions to help. Also, does the school have a reading specialist? If so, he/she would be a great resource to consult too.

2. Give your daughter more time. Kids move at their own pace and perhaps your daughter simply isn't ready to read yet. There are a lot of different factors that must come together for a child to start reading on her own. Kids learn sooooo much in kinderagarten, and maybe your daughter is mastering other skills at this time and just hasn't made it to the reading stage yet. On average, most kids don't start reading until near the end of kindergarten/ beginning of first grade, so she's not behind schedule. Hope this is reassuring!

2 moms found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

N.R.

answers from Richmond on

Please allow her to learn at her own pace with some loving encouragement from you. I promise you that your daughter will read when she is ready. I just read this in a book I purchased from another mom. It said that when a child or parent gets frustrated with learning/teaching, they should just simply stop. Knowing that she will read on her own one day, use this time to read to her more. Make learning fun again not just a goal that has to be achieved right away. Another thought is to set a goal for her to read 50% of time on her own and you want her to do that say by the end of 2008.(This is just an example.) Make it a very doable goal for her to reach. Now, work towards that goal each day. REMEMBER...the goal is by the end of the year not the end of today. LOL! I have to remind myself of this many, many times each day. I tend to be a 'hurry up, let's get it done already' kind of mom and that doesn't do anything to help my kids especially in an area they are struggling in. I'm sure you already do, but be sure to celebrate the little thigs she does each day. 95% of your focus should always be on her strengths and only 5% on weaknesses. We tend to get these 2 things backwards. My son is dyslexic and reading is not his strong subject. He is very good in math, science, history, all sports and comprehension(most of his work is verbal). Although we have to work on reading and spelling every day, we focus most of our time on everything else. He has taught us to back off when he doesn't quite see himself able to do a task. Most of the battle is within our minds. If we can see ourselves doing it than ususally we can do it.
You sound like a wonderful mommy who cares deep about her daughter. You are doing a GREAT job mom! Keep up the good work and relax. Enjoy her being little cause they sure do grow up fast! LOL!

Take Care,
N. ;) SAHM homeschooling 3 boys 12, 7 & 2yrs old and married to Mr. Wonderful for almost 15yrs. We help moms, who want to become SAHMs, reach their goals!

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

L.S.

answers from Washington DC on

My son entered kindergarten fully reading...all down to an online program called headsprout.com He always loved to play on the computer, so when I found this website one day, I let him try it...he loved it and after 25 lessons he stopped all self motivated to read.

They give you the first 3 free to see if it works, if you like it, just push the button and pay for the rest. Besides the 15 to 20 minute lessons they have flash cards you can download and use, they send you little books to go with the lessons.

I used to sit with him at the beginning, then he didn't want me in there anymore...you can still check their progress by clicking on the scores.

Just keep in mind that some kids are wired to read early and some aren't. If they aren't ready, be careful how you handle it...by 8 or 9 they all catch up.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.R.

answers from Washington DC on

Ok, it's time to calm down. Don't push it. You say she's in kindergarten. Let the teachers take over. When she brings home homework, help her with that. She'll get it.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

B.D.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi Skye! I believe I can help you and your step daughter. Two of my sons were real strugglers starting out in school, especially with reading and math. It was so frustrating not only for me but for them. My son's speech teacher told me to try the Reading Center Kits with Usborne Books. After the reading kit worked wonders for them, I ordered math materials as well. In less than a year they were pronouncing all their beginning vocabulary and vowel sounds, consonant sounds, and reading on grade level. They also learned nouns, verbs, and adjectives. I was so impressed that I became an Educational Consultant with Usborne Books so I can help other children having the same problems. If you would like to take a look at the Reading Center Kit or other materials, go to my online bookstore at www.ubah.com/X2733. Any questions, you can reach me at [email protected]____.com.

B. Deck
[email protected]____.com
www.ubah.com/X2733

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.M.

answers from Washington DC on

I agree with most of what has already been said. My daughter will be 6 in November. She is in the first grade due to being advanced in math. When she took her exam to skip a grade, my concern was with her reading. She can read simple words like cat, car, tame, etc. However, she still struggles with two or more syllable words unless they are words she has memorized. Like one of the moms, I also thought my child could be dyslexic. When I spoke to the reading specialist, she informed me that it is part of the normal development of children to confuse the orientation of letters and numbers. Some do not pick this up until age 7. She also passed my daughter up to first grade due to her abilities in math and told me that my daughter would catch up in reading within the next couple of years. My daughter's first grade teacher also told me that while my daughter is extremely phonetic in her reading and spelling style, she is a bright learner and will catch up quite a bit this year. Hope this helps.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.M.

answers from Washington DC on

Someone already mentioned this but the Headsprout reading program on the computer (produced by Scholastic) is fantastic!It is a bit pricey (about $200) but is well worth it. My almost 6 yr old loves it! You can get info at www.headsprout.com
Also, remember, sometimes our kids do not want us to be "teacher" they want us to be "mom" and they resist when we try to cross over those roles. Just stay laid back so that you won't stress your child out and keep it fun.
Good luck!
S.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

R.H.

answers from Norfolk on

I understand your concern but don't be. All of this is normal for beginning kindergarten. I am a kindergarten teacher and we play games when teaching to blend letters into words. Memory is a good one but you have to change the rules a bit. Instead of 2 cards they pick up three (you can only choose three letter words). Another thing is a word mat with 3 or 4 divided sections and all the letters of the alphabet. You give them a word and they try to find the letters that make up that word. I always start with the 3 letter words then as they progress then I move to the 4 section divided mats. You can use playdough and have them roll out the letters to spell a word. Another idea would be to work on one word family a week, like the -at family. Write all the -at family words making sure at is your first word. Before you start asking what is the next word see if she can find any similarities in the words and hopefully she will see the at's. Once she has recognized the similarities in each word model adding on only the first letter.

My biggest thing I always stress to parents is never make it work! Make learning at home FUN! If you push a child to hard at an early age they may eventually hate school and you do not want that. I also read someone suggesting evalutaion. I can tell you from experience many places will not test until age 7 because so many "problems" people notice are common behaviors for children this age. Dyslexia they will not even consider until a child is, depending on doctor, 8 or 9. We always tell parents if your child is still reversing letters at the end of 2nd grade then you need to worry. I had to do this with my son but with the public school system, getting accomodations is challenging.

Anyway, my advice is make whatever you do with her FUN! Do not make anything work. They grow up way to fast so spend as much FUN time with her as you can. Best Wishes and contact me if you have any more questions.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.H.

answers from Washington DC on

Practice, practice, practice. Try the Bob books. You can find them on line or at B&N and recently I've been seeing them at Costco.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.W.

answers from Washington DC on

Skye, I wonder if she has dyslexia. People with dyslexia have an impaired ability to recoginze and use phonemes, which are the actual sound a letter makes when it is used to make up a word,not it's "naming" sound. Because of that, sounding out a word is next to impossible, but they can read by sight normally. A quick way to see if this may be a problem is to ask her to give you a word that rhymes with a certain word. If she has difficulties with phonemes, it will be hard for her to change one phoneme but retain the others. This is a little test you can do, but an educational phychologist can perform tests that will analyze all of the capabilities that she will need for school. If she is in public school, they can perform those tests as well, but it sometimes is hard to get them to perform them if she is doing well in school.

If she is identified as having dyslexia or another learning disability, it is not the end of the world, it means that she will need to be taught in a way that overcomes her weaknesses and gets the modifications she needs to succeed. This is mandated by a federal law, but only public schools who receive federal aid (all of them do) are required to provide these special education services. And it is not easy to get them to give the proper services, it all costs money. If she is identified, I suggest you learn as much as you can about her challenges (LDonline.org is a great place) and about her rights under the law (Wrightslaw.com is the best advocacy site out there) so you and her father can get her the appropriate education.

Being dyslexic does not mean she is stupid or can't accomplish a lot in her life. My son is a successful 24 year old and extremely dyslexic. Tom Cruise did well, as did Whoopi Goldberg, Paul Orfalea (the founder of Kinkos) and Charles Schwab. It just means that they learn to read differently, and need to perform reading tasks in a different fashion than most people do.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.C.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi Skye,
She may just need a bit more time. My son didn't really start reading until a few months into K. He does the phonics thing all on his own. We tell him to take a letter at a time, break big words into smaller words using your finger, etc.
Good luck.
M.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

E.H.

answers from Washington DC on

We have used the Hooked on Phonics system for Kindergarteners. It comes with books, flash cards, CD's, and a rewards chart, so for every book she reads without any mistakes she gets to put a sticker on the chart. It also starts out with very simple 3-4 word sentences, with very simple three letter words. And then each book there after gets a little bit more difficult. So far it has worked great and she seems to really enjoy reading. A game she played in pre-k (which she really liked) was site word search. The teacher would give them a pad of paper and the kids had to walk around the room and find site words, and who ever was able to find the most site words (of course write them down) in a certain amount of time got a sticker...It seemed to work and it was fun.
Good luck, make it fun. I find she does the best when it's just one on one, quiet and she's not tired (she has a 3 year old brother who is quite noisy)

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

K.H.

answers from Dover on

How is she doing in school? Have you talked with her teacher about your concerns? If your teacher says that she is on target and doing well, I wouldn't worry too much about it...it is probably just a step in the whole progress of getting to where you want her to be. My daughter is the same age, and still writes a LOT of words and numbers backwards..along with a few other creative ways of writing! I think too much pressure is put on children to learn everything so fast, we aren't allowing them to soak in what they've just learned prior.
Now for advice, creating a word wall in your home might be something fun and helpful for her. Get some notecards, and write the sight words she knows on them, tacking/taping them on a wall. Group similar words together that have the same spelling patterns. Then when you read together, have her try sounding out words that you know match a pattern already on the wall, and encourage her to find a word that is similar on the wall, and that should help her to know how to sound it out. One step at a time! If you do that, it might give her the confidence to tackle more difficult words that don't match anything on the wall! And with each new word she can read, add it to the wall! Good luck, and don't panic. We all learn differently and at our own rates...
K.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

L.R.

answers from Washington DC on

Skye, I won't add too much since you've gotten a lot of good advice here -- the most important of which is to relax yourself so she doesn't feel your tension about this, because even if you believe you're not pressuring her, clearly she is sensing pressure anyway.

I would add that she needs to see you and her dad reading, all the time, all kinds of materials, and you both should be reading to her as often as possible -- there is no such thing as too many books. Yes, work on her with books appropriate to her level, but also focus on reading her exciting, engaging books that she won't be able to read by herself for quite some time. Why read these? Because you want her to learn that once she can read, huge new worlds open up to her. Read her kids' mysteries like the Boxcar Children series, the Bobbsey Twins (yes, they're still around), the new "Nancy Drew Notebooks" which are short chapter books with a third-grade Nancy, school/family stories like Judy Moody series, and there are scores of others. I think that being read somewhat more advanced stories really helped my daughter want to read because she was being read books that really enticed her with plots -- "Go Dog Go" is perfect for practicing her own reading but there isn't much adventure or information there, so supplement those books with real stories to make her WANT to read! Also, mix it up -- reading isn't just books, it's magazines (check out Highlights for Kids at the library), poetry (my daughter loves funny poems by Jack Prelutsky), even the newspaper--check out the Mini Page in every Sunday's Washington Post. Don't push these things at her, just make them available. And also read them yourself, then exclaim, "Oh, this article about penguins (or whatever) in the Mini Page is so interesting --you love penguins! Let me read it to you...."

Good luck and talk to the teacher soon about your frustrations too.

S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

you sound like a great step mom and i understand your concern, but please please please relax. it's really okay. i'm glad you haven't been putting much pressure on her, but if she's melting down she's feeling your anxiety anyway. of course sometimes kids need to put their noses to the grindstone, but if you make reading about stress it will stay that way for a long time, maybe forever. reading should be joyful. back off the lessons and read her books she loves, interspersed with fun ones like dr suess. bring back the bliss. THAT's what you want to stick with her forever, not how soon she reads, KWIM?
khairete
S.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

B.H.

answers from Norfolk on

Hi!
Just wanted to tell you that if you need a tutor, I can help! I taught kindergarten for three years, third grade for one. I LOVE teaching kids to read, it's my altime favorite thing about teaching!

Currently I teach three year olds at a daycare so I have more time with my own kids, and am 38 weeks pregnant. I couldn't commit to starting to tutor her until mid to late November, but I'm sure I can help!

We can work out fees and such before then. Just let me know if I can be of any help!!

:)

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.F.

answers from Washington DC on

You're right to recognize that good reading skills are crucial to learning. But I would say she's too young. My kids just new the preschool basics when they started kindergarten, alphabet, sounds, how to write their names, spell "mom" and "dad" and siblings names. I let them follow their interest/curiosity and I think all children get to a point at around kindergarten age when they _want_ to know how to spell things and read words. When I noticed their interest, then I responded. My oldest is reading beyond his grade now, because _he_ enjoys it and he likes reading. My second just started kindergarten and is right on target so far.
I guess I'm trying to say, be careful that you don't turn her off to reading and learning. And also, don't worry that she's behind her peers or not ahead of them. They don't all "get it" by a certain time. If you're worried about her progress, ask her teacher. Also, keep in mind that lots of parents are holding their kids back a year before starting kindergarten, so some can be a whole year older than others in the same class. That makes a big difference.
One thing I always try to keep in mind is that modeling behavior and habits is probably the best way children learn anything(!) I love reading and always have at least two books by my bed, the newspaper on the kitchen table and current issues of magazines in my car. Our kids see us reading every day!
GOOD LUCK!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

A.G.

answers from Washington DC on

It sounds like what your little girl needs is a confidence boost. I used to work at Sylvan learning center so I have seen similar cases although of course all kids are different.

First and foremost the advice you have gotten to read to your step-daughter is the best thing you can do. Read to her and make it fun. You should keep asking her to help you read, but don't allow her to get worked up - back off when she struggles.

Kids should always have access to books below, at, and above thier reading level. You need to find some books with lots of sight words. Help her read those until she starts to gain confidence and then little by little add books with words she has to sound out.

When she asks for help, help her, but instead of saying the word sound it out for her telling her what you are doing. For example the word "share" I would say "I know s makes a shound like snake, let me see if I can figure this out . . . until you have figured out the word together"

Once you think she could actually read the book by herself, I like to pretend that I need help or tell the story a little differently and see if she catches it.

One other thing that you really should teach her to do is how to guess what a word might be from the picture - its a useful skill at all times.

Go to the library and have her help you pick out books that she is interested - remember the babyish ones are great for confidence building and the hard ones are great for you to read together.

If you would like some suggestions about books you can send me a personal message, but I'll warn you ahead of time that I am biased since I sell some awesome books for beginning readers as an independent consultant.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

E.S.

answers from Richmond on

Skye,
Something that has worked great for my 6 yr. old it to clap the sounds as she is looking at the word to sound it out to figure out what the letters when spell put together. Good luck, this is such a great age but it can be so frustrating!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.S.

answers from Washington DC on

i'm homeschooling my 5 year old son for kindergarten and he can have quite a flair for the dramatic as well... and i think as mom's we get to deal with a different kids than teachers do... i never saw kieran put on the performances for his tiny tots teachers that he does for me... "i can't... i just can't do it"... tears and everything... so, i feel you there... that said, we started by introducing a word family... we started with "in"... once he recognized "in" as a word, we added a "t"... and to his surprise, he could sound it out... he was so proud of himself... then we added more from that particular word family over a couple of days... kin, bin, chin, etc... once he was doing well with those, we began the "it" word family... he was able to sound out sit, bit, lit, kit, etc.... we still occasionally have emmy worthy performances... but it was so worth seeing the "a-ha" moment when he realized he could do it! good luck to you guys!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

P.S.

answers from Washington DC on

Hello Skye,

I suggest you get her tested? Public schools will test for free. Some may think it's too early but it's better to catch something early on than later.

When my son was in pre-K I noticed that he had problems with sounds and letters. During kindergarten it was little progress so I requested that he be tested for possible learning disorders. To make the long story short my son was diagnosed with ADHD Other Health Impaired and as having a reading disability. He was diagnosed with the reading disability towards the end of 2nd grade. My son is currently in 5th grade and continues to get the support that he needs in school.

I am not saying that your daughter has a disability but I am suggesting testing to rule that out. If it turns out that she needs assistance you can receive it early and her tantrums will subside.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.W.

answers from Washington DC on

She will--one day it will just make sense. Teach her to recognize whole words--use Hop on Po or Go Dog Go. One day they can't and the next day they can!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

R.C.

answers from Washington DC on

This is a tough one. I would first ask her teacher for recommendations. Is she bringing beginning reading books home yet? Use those if she is because those will be at her reading level. When students are first learning to read you really and they come to a word you don't know you first want them to think, "What would make sense?" Often checking the picture will help them answer this question. You will find beginning readers are very repetitive for this reason. If it is structure word like is have your SD reread the sentence and ask, "What would sound right?" LASTLY, you want the students to use just the first letter of the word to help them think about what the unknown word could be. Most importantly remember the MEANING is the most important thing so ask her, "What would make sense?" Sounding out is the least effective strategy because it doesn't always work and it slows reading down. Hope this helps!!!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

D.K.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi Skye,

As a Homeschooling mother, I suggest that you do your best with her at home after school. My son (now 6) wasn't learning anything in Kindergarten in public schools last year so I took matters into my own hands. In just one hour a day for 1 week, I managed to teach him to read and simple addition. I then decided to homeschool full time this year. My best piece of advice for reading is to start with the Dick and Jane series of books. It sounds like a throwback, but it WORKS. The words are very short and simple and there is a lot of repetition to assist with remembering how the sounds go together. A few weeks of working with these books and my son had gained an enormous amount of confidence. I also recommend explaining the mechanics of reading to her. It sounds like she's feeling overwhelmed. My son had a similar problem (which I myself suffered from as a child). He always thought that there just had to be more to it. It couldn't be as simple as it seemed and he felt like he didn't have all of the information he needed. I explained to him that it's actually exactly as simple as it seems and really held his hand through the first few chapters with effusive praise for every word he read. Eventually his confidence in his own ability began to increase. Make sure she knows that you're there to help her learn to do this so she won't ever have to feel like she can't again, and that you would never laugh at her for trying so she doesn't have to be afraid to make mistakes. It could be that she's also like my son in that if she can't do it perfectly the first time she gets frustrated with herself and won't even try any more. I have to tell my son almost every day that it's ok not to be perfect and mistakes are part of the learning process. I also explained to him what kind of life he had to look forward to if he didn't learn how to read, and didn't learn how to do his personal best in every situation he's confronted with.

The Dick and Jane books now come in volumes of three called The Storybook Treasury of Dick and Jane and can be found at just about any book store. I got mine at Borders. My son just turned 6 in April and he's already reading the Frog and Toad stories at a second grade level, and doing double digit addition and subtraction. All it took was confidence, which sounds like your little girl's biggest problem. Just start small, and cherish small victories every day and she will soon become more confident in her own ability.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions

Related Searches