Teaching My 4 Year Old to Read.

Updated on October 16, 2010
M.T. asks from Allen, TX
26 answers

Hi mama's,

My daughter is 4 years old and will attend kinderguarden fall 2011. She is super smart but she doesn't even know how to real atleast one word. I really want to know if there are things I can do that teach her to read. I really want to help her in anyway I can.
My fiance said his mom said he was reading before he even got ot kinderguarden. I would really like to help my littlle girl and see if I can help her read.

She is an super smart little girl and loves to dance, draw, paint, sing..... She can say and use words most 4 year olds cant. We haven't really focused on reading yet. So I really need to do that. So I wanted advice from you wonderful ladies!

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answers from San Francisco on

Read her favorite book EVERY night and point to the words as you read so she can learn the words and be able to recognize them. It doesn't matter if she wants you to read the same book over and over. Good Luck!! :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Abilene on

LABEL EVERYTHING! As she gets her clothes out of the drawers or off shelves labeled "underwear," "socks," "pants," "shoes," etc., talk about the word matching the item. Do the same thing with everything all over the house! Either label the item or the drawer or box used to store them. Painter's tape might work well because it will stick to anything, you can write on it with a marker, and it should come off without a problem.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lubbock on

I have a 4 year old and a 7 year old.. Both my kids are super bright. You can get Leap Frog Movies that help them learn phonic and how to put words together, and you can do flash cards.. There are so many things out their. My son was not ready till he got into Kindergarden. He learned quick! Little girls seem to learn early.. GOod Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Raleigh on

yep "Teach your child how to read in 100 easy lessons" book on amazon..........it's the best!!!!!!!!!!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

"Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons"
I used it with both of my kids. My son was first. He started around 45 months old, and it took around 6 months to do the book. We skipped lots of days during the summer months while on vacations and things, so it took a little longer with him. It is not necessary to do a lesson every single day... I tried to shoot for 5 days a week, sometimes it was 4 or less, depending. BUT, he was a boy, and did get antsy after about 10 minutes of sitting.
My daughter was anxious to learn to read. She came to me and wanted me to teach her. I pulled out the book, and started with her just past 3.5 years old. Sometimes she would beg me for extra lessons, and we would do 2 that day. She would come to me at 9:30 a.m. (after dropping her brother off at school) and say "Mommy, we haven't done my reading lesson yet." She finished the week before she turned 4. She is a great reader, and always has been.
For those who say that "all" the resources out there that parents buy to teach their kids to read early (meaning before school teaches them) are a waste, and that they all just teach kids to memorize sight words and not really read, and that they all even out by the end of 2nd grade.... It's just not true. Granted, a LOT of the stuff out there IS junk (Your Baby Can Read, that looks like rote memorization to me). But Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons is NOT memorization. It is phonics based comprehensive learning, designed to be easy for parents to do with their kids. And it is AMAZING. My daughter didn't learn sight words. She learned how to decode phonetically and put it all together and sound out things she didn't even know what they meant and had never seen before. Of course, I didn't push her to read that kind of material... she would have had no comprehension of the meaning. But she was reading (for FUN) her older brothers 2nd grade Science books when she was in K4. Telling me how a seed grew into a new plant. All her classmates were still learning to write the letters and what their names were. She was READING. Henry and Mudge. Frog and Toad. Minnie and Moo. She would read Beatrix Potter and ask me things like "Mommy, what's a 'macintosh'?"
If your daughter doesn't have any interest at all in learning now, then don't push her. Just spend lots of time reading to her. READ. READ. READ. We would read a dozen books a day, and do pages and pages of I Spy: A Book of Picture Riddles, every day. She LOVED books. And wanted so badly to be able to enjoy stories even when I was unable to read them out loud to her... like in the car. Or somewhere we needed to be quiet and not talk (her brother's karate lessons). She would sing hymns at church when she was 4... hymns she had never heard before and certainly hadn't memorized... she was reading fast enough that she could sing along...
Does it really all even out all the time? Maybe in some cases. Maybe not in others. My older child, son, 7th grade now, tested into AP Language Arts last year, due to his CRCT scores in READING and Language. My daughter has tested on other standardized tests (she is in 4th grade now) to a level considered "PH" (post-high school). Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe our kids are just smart and took to reading early because they are smart. Maybe reading early helped them learn other things more quickly and contributed to them staying out in front of the curve.. Who knows.

But if your daughter has an interest in learning to read, then get a copy of TYCTR in 100 Easy Lessons, it is SO WORTH every single penny.


If I might add, here is an excerpt from a 2003 literacy study that supports the idea that advanced reading ability in or before kindergarten IS maintained in later grades:
"The ECLS–K provides some of the first nationally representative findings on young children’s reading achievement and experiences during the first 6 years of elementary school. This special analysis has reported on the reading skills of children across kindergarten and 1st grade and the kindergarten class- room experiences of beginning readers. Findings from the analysis reveal:
! The differences in children’s reading skills and knowledge usually seen in later grades appear to be present as children begin school and persist after 1 and 2 years of school. For example, White children outperform Black and Hispanic children in reading, and children from poor families tend to have lower reading assessment scores than children from nonpoor families.
! The resources children possess when they start kindergarten, such as their early literacy skills and the richness of their home literacy environment, are related to their reading proficiency across kindergarten and 1st grade."

If I understand it correctly, that means that the difference in early literacy skills are related to reading proficiency across kindergarten and 1st grade, AND that these differences PERSIST after 1 to 2 years of school... which means that they DON'T all even out.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Check out the following websites for great phonics awareness, word recognition and preschool/kindergarten reading programs:


I'm sure that there are many more out there but these are the ones that I can think of off the top of my head. Also, the Bob books are great for beginning readers. You can find them at the book stores but I know that they are also available to check out at our local library. Dr. Seuss books like Go Dog Go! and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish are really great for learning to read as well.

Also, read to your daughter as much as possible and use your finger to track the words. This will help her more than anything and if she sees you reading then, hopefully, she will soon develop a desire to read as well.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

We read a lot to our daughter.. When she was 4 I went to the book store and purchased a set of BOB books..thinking I would teach her to read.. On the way home she read the entire set! I turned the car around and exchanged the books for the next level.. Your chjld may already know how to read.. Take her to the library and let her read some of the Bob books.. she may shock you..

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Topeka on

I have taught two of my kids to read by the age of 4 with a book called Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I believe fully in this book. My two oldest are 10 and 8 and have always been the top readers of their class. My youngest is 4 and we are halfway through this book and he is reading wonderfully. By the time they finish this book, they will be at a 2nd grade level or higher in reading. Just 20 minutes a day, depending on how fast they catch on. Some days we even do more than one lesson.... only if my child wants to and he is catching on.

I also use Walmart workbooks to teach numbers and letters. They have some that use dry erase markers so you can use the same book over and over again.

Don't wait till your child gets in school. I so believe that children learn at a faster rate than most people realize. And waiting till they get in school is not letting them reach their full potential. Learning should come from home first always.

Good Luck =) and raise up a smart little booger!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

All children are different. She may or may not be ready to read. I homeschool 4 of my children and started teaching them to read at age 4. Only one of my 4 learned to read young. Only one "got it" at that age. My others are very bright and great readers now but they didn't have a clue about it at that age despite of all my efforts. You can teach her some letters. Just a few minutes a day. Start with short vowels. A = Apple etc. I use the book, "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 easy Lessons" by Siegfried Engelmann. Don't worry about whether or not she's ready before Kindergarten. Reading to her at this age is way more important than actually teaching her to read. Make reading fun and she'll love to read. If you push it too young or when she's not ready, she may dread reading later on. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

Read to her. Otherwise, she will learn to read in school. Maybe she really can learn to read now, and maybe you really can learn how to do that successfully, but you really don't need to, and it will not help her be any more advanced than she would be otherwise by the time she begins 4th grade. Early gains are not sustainable. It is not a race, enrich her life, read to her and have her see you reading. Do everyday things that are interesting, and let her play. This should not be a priority, especially if it takes too much time from being a typical 4 year old. If you fiance learned on his own to read before he was 4, that is fine for him, but there is nothing wrong with your daughter not doing so, and there is certainly nothing in not doing so that will predict her future. She is 4. Let her be 4, and let her see how much you value learning and reading by doing it in front of her often. That will stick.


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answers from Los Angeles on

Your daughetr will have enough pressure when she starts school. There is no need to add to it at home. I promise that she will earn to read as soon as she starts school. My youngets son just started school in September and already has about 2 doz. sight words he has learned to read. My oldest son was the same when he started kindergarten. I think the only thing you should worry about is making reading fun for her. You should try and read at least a book a day together. Also, take library trips together and make it a field trip. She can pick out some books for you to read to her. I am a serious book worm so my kids have always seen me reading something. I guess I passed the worm to them because we read all the time together and they are now excited because they are now well on their way to reading on their own. Best of luck to you and your daughter!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

There are two things you can be teaching her now- sight words and the sounds that the letters make.
Sight words are: the, and, is, me, he, she, no, yes, etc...
If you go to any teacher store, you can find posters, flash cards, etc... with those words. There are also a ton of GAMES for teaching sight words, as well- puzzles, matching games, etc...
The second thing is to start teaching her the sounds of the letters, starting with the short vowels at first.
The Leap Frog company has some great DVD's out that teach the letter sounds. It starts with the sounds of letters, then the next DVD teaches putting the sounds together to make words, then it gets into more complex words. They also have a numbers DVD and I used all of their DVDs.
Just my two cents,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I taught al mine to read befoe kinder with the book Teach Your Child To Read in 100 easy Lessons.
With my son it was harder than my daughters. He wanted to run and play.
In Kinder they learn to read, the learn to sit still and cut out shapes. It is not a necessary prerequisite to know going in.
THey should know the alphabet, nursery rhymes, their names, your name and Daddy's, colors, shapes, etc.
YOu could also get What your Kindergartner needs to know books, there is a whole series that spells out what they should be learning in Kinder and subsequent grades.
She'll be OK if you work a little bit each day or each couple days.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dover on

READ, READ, READ! Let her have fun with it. Read to her, read it again and point to the words. Let her retell stories to you and/or act out parts of the story for you. This helps with comprehension too. If you can find things to do to supplement the story that is great (example: read THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR by Eric Carle. Let her act like she is eating the food. Get the puzzle or game. Let her "read" or retell the story to you. Get books about other caterpillars or butterflies. Look for them outside. Let her color or make her own). If you make it fun, they will enjoy learning and the rest will follow.

Also, there are great dvds by Preschool Prep Company that helps them learn site words.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

My son just turned 4 last week and recently started reading books. I have been doing Hooked on Phonics- Learn to Read for Kindergarten. He loves it. I highly recommend it.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I wouldn't worry that she isn't reading- plenty of kids are not reading when they enter kindergarten. My daughter is also 4 and we are working on reading but not putting preasure. The first step is definitely letter recognition and phonics. Does she know all of her letter by sight? Does she know what sound they make? From this point , it's just about learning to look at those letters and made each sound slowly and then faster to sound out each word. It also helps if you have some small recognition vocabulary words each week- Mom, Dog, Dad, Cat, things like that- then she understands how those words are made up of the sounds of each letter. Don't put too much presure- just make it fun and don't worry!

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answers from Las Vegas on

if she likes to draw, get her an easel if you don't already have one and then on it.. you can begin to write basic words and then sentences.. this way, it seems like she is doing art while at the same time she is learning to read.
start with the ABCs.. additionally, before my son attended Kinder, we would while driving for instance, point out words.. e.g. stop sign.. and then use it in a sentence... or we also play this game of looking for license plates from out of state.. we say the word and then we actually name what the capitol of that state is.. sounds advanced in that regard, but by the time my son was 5 he knew and still knows all the state capitols... you can make learning fun just by using your surroundings.. food for instance.. when he was eating Cheerios, we'd sit there at read some of the box.. same with milk or whatever it is you eat. I also have a book about veggies/fruits and what types of vitamins each one has. so whenever we'd eat a specific fruit or veggie, my son would say, look up what vitamins this has.. so I would, show him the pic of it and read what it said.. sounds crazy and to some, boring.... but I will say this.. my son knows more about the food he puts into his mouth , has a GREAT vocabulary and too, by using our surrounding to help us learn, it helps him become MORE aware of his surroundings and where he lives on this planet.. it's a win win situation..
best of luck

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answers from St. Louis on

Like most have said, don't push her, or you'll both be frustrated. My daughter knew all her letters by 18 mo, knew her all her letter sounds by the time she turned two (after watching the letter factory video a few times) and I felt like she was the only two year old at the playground talking about vowels. I thought she would be reading early, so I didn't push but tried to encourage her. I got hooked on phonics, but she resisted, so I put it away. She turned four over the summer, and while she can read some words, reading still hasn't "clicked" for her. I remember when that happened for me, about her age, and all of a sudden I "got it" and could read. The letter factory and word factory videos are entertaining ways to introduce the concepts to her.



1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Please don't pay attention to anyone else when it comes to reading. Children are hard wired to start to read at a certain age and any attempts to teach them before this time are futile and frustrating to both of you. By the time they are in third grade it all evens out and studies have shown that early readers have NO advantage over late readers in school. And many kids who can "read" that young have memorized words(like the teach your child to read DVD they advertise). She is doing EVERYTHING that she should be right now...please don't push her.

That being said I strongly encourage you to get the Leapfrog letter factory DVD. This will teach her her letters and their sounds in a super fun way. My son watched it over and over and it definitely did more than I could in teaching him to read. They then have a talking words factory for learnind small words and putting sounds together to make them.

Also-get her the letters that can go in the tub. My son had so much fun plaing with them and we would talk about their sounds and then I would show him how putting a couple together made a word. Little by little he was making his own words.

So I guess the gist of my advice to you is to make it a really fun process for her with NO pressure. I wouldn't even let her know that you are trying to teach her anything.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

I imagine you are already reading a ton to her. That is important. With our littles, we start pointing out letters in the titles and ask what letter it is. Eventually, they know all their letters (upper and lowercase) by sight. Then we work on sounds of letters. Another good resource is Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. It's a book that you spend a few minutes a day with your child going over a lesson. We never do the written part of it because we do something different for that. We just concentrate on the reading. It doesn't work with every kid, but it sounds like it might work well with yours. Do it while they are enjoying it and wanting to do it. Don't force it or you both will end up frustrated and hating the process. Enjoy these days!



answers from Dallas on

Modeling good reading habits is the first step. Setting aside time to read to her everyday is the most important thing you can do. Point to the words as you read and ask her to identify objects in the pictures that you are reading about. Pointing at words will teach her print is read from left to right and from top of page to bottom. Talking about the picture will teach her that the words and pictures go together. Make reading enjoyable and a part of everday, not a chore or assignment. Take her to the library so she learns how to choose her own books that interest her. Help her select books of all genres so she is reading fiction, nonfiction, poetry, etc. This is the beginning. I wouldn't try to teach words until she shows interest in learning them. She may do this by asking, "What does this word say?" As a teacher, I just don't believe in any "quick and easy" method of teaching a child to read. Reading should start when our children are babies and build from there throughout a lifetime. It isn't something that can be taught in a few weeks or months. Developing a love, or at least a like, for reading is the most important thing you can do for your daughter. After that it just takes lots of modeling, practice and patience. Good luck!



answers from Atlanta on

First I want to agree, and repeat, 100% with Jaimee on all points. As a new mom I used The Phonics Game to teach my two daughters to read. It was fun and it worked effectively. My oldest was reading in two weeks. My youngest was reading well within a year. They are both smart but my oldest is my grammar kid.....my youngest excels in Mathematics. If you're interested, you can usually find a used game on ebay. Look for missing parts. Most homeschool moms that resell these games will notate if anything is missing or not.

Hope this helps.... but please don't stress over her schedule of learning, only if she is or not....all kids are beautifully different.




answers from Dallas on

I haven't looked at everyone's responses so sorry if this is a repeat. Zoophonics is an amazing program. It is spendy but it had my 4 year old reading and using phonetics to try to spelling things out.



answers from Sacramento on

First, remember that each child develops differently. While there are milestones, each child gets to it in their own timeline, and sometimes in their own order.

Children learn best through play. When you take something and turn it into a task, they shut down, just as most anyone would.

So, first, I would reccomend you teach her her letters and their short sounds; if she doesn't already know these. The video Letter Factory by leapfrog is a great support to this. They have a whole library that builds on itself. They use the Phonics method.

Choose a letter a day to work on. Do it in a couple of short bursts throughout the day, and do not push it. I like to start out writing the letter in upper case and lower case. Then draw a picture that starts with the letter. Then spell the word.

An example:
A a
*clap* aaaa *clap* aaaa *clap* aaaa the A says "aaaa"!
Let's draw a picture of an apple! (you can each draw and colour one, or do one together)

Then, says "The A says aaaa aaaa aaaa, like in Apple!

Then write the word apple.

Make an A with a dotted line. Let her trace it. it a couple times.

Now, with all that, keep in mind. Most kindergarteners go in to kindergarten with the expectation that they may know how to spell their name, they may be familier with some letters, and know some shapes.

For my son, the END OF THE YEAR, when he was DONE with kindergarten expectation was the following:

Count to 100 by 1s, 5s, and 10s. Count to 20 by 2s.
Recognize basic shapes: Circles, Squares, Rectangle, Triangle, Hexagon.
Recognize the alphabet upper and lower letters.
Read 36 "site" words. These words were simple words such as me, my, she, he, yes, no, you, see, this, have, look, want....and so on.
Know basic colours (red, blue, yellow, green, orange, purple, etc)

My point in this, is do not be to worried if she isn't ready to be reading before kindergarten. There are things you can do to prepare her, but don't stress or push her. Each child is different. There were some children in my sons class who did not know their letters when they started. They passed on to first grade just fine and are all reading now.

One thing my son's preschool did, that I think was very helpful was having a placard with the child's full name on it. They would have the children sign in every morning. It didn't matter what it looked like, it was just the process. They could look at their name printed and practice. As time progressed, so did their accuracy.

Also, the had cards with pictures and the words written down. Like a picture of a cat, and then the word Cat written next to it. They would let the children pick one out and then write the word down. Again, if it wasn't accurate, it was ok...it was part of the learning process.

I hope this helps, enjoy your day



answers from Dallas on

Learning to read is a progression of skills that build up on each other. Start by teaching her the alphabet, upper case and lower case. She may learn upper first and that is okay. After she can recognize them in random order then see if she can identify the sound associated with the letter. Once she knows her letters in random order and can make the sound each one makes, she is well on her way to learning sight words.

Leap Frog has some great things to help: Letter Factory is really good for visual learners on learning the sounds. Super cute; my daughter at 3 learned her sounds in two weeks by watching it once a day. They have Word Factory, and on and on. Each DVD is very cute and helps put the words together and the Storybook one shows the kids Tad trying to learn to read as he narrates the script for a play on the Three Little Pigs. Super cute.

Reading to her is a great way for it to start coming together; research shows this to be the most effective way to teach a child to read.

Good luck and have fun!!!



answers from Philadelphia on

This is a a great book to teach your child to read. "The reading lesson" By Michael Levin, M.D. and Charan Langton M.S.
I taught my 6 1/2 yr how to read with it. Now I am currently teaching my 4 yr daughter to read with it.

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