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Can I Teach My Child to Read? A Parent's Guide







Can I Teach My

Child to Read?


A Parent’s Guide

by Mary Follin












About the Author

Mary Follin is a writer and marketing consultant in the Washington, DC area. She is the author of Teach Your Child to Read™, an online, phonics-based program for teaching children ages 3-6 to read.


To find out more about the program, visit www.teachyourchildtoread.com












eBook: Can I Teach My Child to Read?

Copyright © Mary Follin 2014. All rights reserved. www.teachyourchildtoread.com [email protected]








Table of Contents




Introduction xx
Chapter 1

Having Doubts. 1

Chapter 2


the Secrets of the Purple People. 7

Chapter 3

Phonics and Sight-reading

Lay Down Your Swords 13

Chapter 4

7 Tips to Make it Easy 18

Chapter 5

Getting Started (Lesson 1) 23

Every parent wants their child to be a strong reader. I know I did! That’s why I taught my children to read at home—before they started school. This early start gave each of them the confidence they needed to be good students and lifelong readers.

I know you want that for your child, too. But maybe you are unsure about how to teach your child to read. If so, you are not alone. Many parents feel the same way.

Inside these pages, you will discover that you are indeed the right person to teach your child to read. Take some time with this Guide for Parents. Then, get started with your first lesson, which begins in Chapter 5.

Before you know it, you and your child will be on your way!


































Chapter 1

Having Doubts

If you are a parent who wants to teach your child to read— but aren’t sure how—read on. Most of us believe that every child deserves to learn.








Sadly, many never do. According to the U.S. department of education, 32 million adults in the United States cannot read a simple newspaper, menu or this ebook.

Illiteracy is one of the highest contributors to

unemployment, dead-end jobs and low self-esteem.






Why can’t these people read?






Schools do not have the funds to provide the individual assistance a child may need.


A child cannot remain in the same grade forever. Literate or not, he is promoted through the school system in the hopes that he will one day “catch on.”


A child may be struggling with other issues when the complex task of reading is introduced. Does a first-grader have difficulty following instructions? Sitting still? Seeing the whiteboard?


Many early learning methods do not focus on phonics. Without phonics, reading becomes a guessing game for kids. And as with any game, some kids are good at it and some aren’t.






Reading is not just a subject in school. Reading is fundamental to every curriculum your child will take throughout her academic career. As your child grows, she will use her reading skills to take a metro bus, fill out a job application and keep abreast of what is happening in the world around her.


And how does one survive 100 years of living without being able to curl up in an over-stuffed chair and read a book?


The high rate of illiteracy in our world is

a tragedy. And for each child who

becomes part of that statistic, another life fully-lived is lost.


You can never go wrong in your efforts to teach your child to read. How far you get is up to you, but getting started early could make all the difference for your child.





Reading is not just a subject in

school. It’s how your child will live.










I’m not a teacher. How can I teach my child to read?


Many parents are intimidated by the idea of taking on such a daunting task. Only teachers know how to teach kids to read. Right?


Think about this. Who taught your child how to talk? Share toys? Get dressed? You don’t need a teaching certificate! You’ve been acquiring credentials since the day your child was born.


There are plenty of outstanding tools on the market to help you teach your child to read. And they are only a keystroke away. Whatever works for you, be confident that you are exactly the right person to introduce this life skill to your child.






You are a teacher. You CAN teach your child to read.









What about phonics? I’m sure I don’t know how to teach



Even if you didn’t learn phonics in your elementary school years, you do use it every time you read. English is a phonetic language—your brain figured that out years ago.


If you’re reading this, you know phonics!


But don’t worry about not being able to teach it. Simply invest in a program that teaches you how to teach reading using phonics. A phonics-based program will most likely have an audio component that teaches you how to pronounce the sounds. (Make sure it does!)







If you are reading this, you know phonics!








What is the best age to start teaching my child to read?


Many parents start the process at age 3, but the real answer is, when you and your child are ready to begin.



If you are having fun teaching and your child is having fun learning, then you have chosen the perfect time. If you sense your child needs a break, skip a few days, then reintroduce your lessons for a fresh start.

And if it means putting your materials away for awhile, that’s OK. There are no deadlines.


As long as you let your child set the pace, you will find him or her to be a happy, eager pupil.

























Chapter 2 Phonics—the Secrets of the Purple People

By teaching your child to read, you are sharing wisdom that— until the last one hundred years or so—was imparted to only a chosen few.





Not so long ago, reading was reserved for the elite, the revered and the powerful.


And if you’re using a phonics-based method, you’re going all the way back to the early Greek alphabet, adapted by the Greeks from the Phoenician alphabet.







The Phoenicians were known to have used symbols to help native speakers recognize sounds of words they knew. In the beginning, the ability to read these symbols (consonants only—no vowels) was related to the culture, and a person needed contact with native speakers to understand them.


The Greeks changed all that. They added vowels and a system that made their alphabet more portable to other communities. The sounds were no longer attached to meanings. Rather, they were merely assigned to sounds in a word. A writer could actually mix them up to create new words, based only on the sounds. Then the Romans ran with it and created the alphabet we still use today.


In other words, it all started with the Phoenicians. The genius of a phonetic alphabet stems from the innovative nature of this early civilization. And did you know that Phoenician means ‘Purple People’? The Greeks dubbed them that because the Phoenicians made the purple dyes for the robes of Mesopotamian royalty, and the dye-makers’ skin would often be stained a purple hue.







Teach your child to read. On your lap.


Think of yourself as a mentor or a guide, passing on a wisdom tradition that as the ‘elder,’ you are being called upon to do. Kids don’t get enough lap time. If you have a preschooler or kindergartner, is he or she getting at least some time each day on your lap?

At the end of a long day—work, daycare, bills to pay, cars to fix, meals to make—is your child getting the one-on- one attention he or she needs from you?


Don’t blink. That soft, downy hair with the baby sweet smell will soon be a wistful memory. Much sooner than you know. And when your child is on your lap and turns to look up at you for reassurance with those bright, wide-open eyes, you will never feel so able to provide it as you do at that moment.










You are the elder. With your child on your lap, you are passing down knowledge to him or her that is endemic to a life well-lived. We text, email, post, blog—that’s our tradition. But sadly, many people aren’t very good at it.

And just as in 1,000 BC, lacking that skill can separate people. Keep them shut out. Limit their choices.


You’ve been chosen. You’re the right person to teach your child to read, opening up a world of choices for him or her.
















You are exactly the right person to teach your child to read.









Phonics-based teaching methods.


It seems odd to discard a tradition that has stood the test of (a really long) time. If you are teaching your child to read, I would encourage you to start first with a phonics- based method. Phonics can never harm your child’s effort to learn how to read. That’s because English is a phonetic language. You’re teaching your child exactly what is on the page (or screen) in front of him or her.


But you can cause problems if you skip it. Phonics is a code. Obvious to some, but to others, a mystery. If a child is not able to decipher that code, he will struggle.


And it’s much harder to teach phonics after your child has tried to learn another way but has failed. Because now you are dealing with much more than a missing skill. You will most likely spend years undoing the belief that has developed in your child’s heart that reading is hard and

he or she isn’t very good at it.










Nobody wants that for their child. Which is why we take our children on our laps and start teaching them everything we know. Like all the families, tribes and societies that have gone before us.


Tell your kids you are teaching them the ancient Secrets of the Purple People. They’ll love that.





















Teaching your child to read is your legacy.



















Chapter 3

Phonics vs. Sight-reading— Lay Down Your Swords

You may be aware that some educators are at odds over which approach is more effective—phonics or sight-reading (memorizing whole words at a time).





Schools seem to focus more on one or the other, and many parents are left to wonder if their child didn’t miss out on the ‘better half.’


You don’t need to worry about this.






Phonics and sight-reading are perfectly compatible. If you are teaching your child to read at home using phonics and your child is learning to memorize whole words at school, you will find that they both work together. Since your child is learning to master the ability to sound out words phonetically, it’s OK to introduce sight-reading.

Phonics is a wonderful foundation. It’s the building block of the English language. Your child must be familiar with those building blocks to effectively tackle new words. However, you don’t want him to have to ‘rebuild’ every word he reads.

Sight-reading practice will help him absorb whole words at a time, thereby more readily catching on to the larger meaning of a sentence or even a paragraph.





Phonics and sight-reading work together.









What about the Whole Language method of teaching?


Introduced to schools in the 1980s, Whole Language takes a holistic approach to teaching children how to read. Words are deciphered by using the context of the story, the pictures and the sentences. (There is a lot of sight-reading in this method, too.) Simply surround new readers with the written word in fun and meaningful ways, and they will start to get it. The Whole Language approach is loosely based on the premise that children can learn to read the way they learned to talk.


One of the problems with this notion is that toddlers are motivated to learn how to talk. If someone is babbling at them, they want to know what’s going on. When the big kids are playing a game, the little one is all ears. And except for when babies are sleeping, they are practicing all the time.


As far as young children are concerned, reading is optional. (OK, it’s not really. But they don’t know that yet.) Some kids are motivated to learn how to read, but for others, it’s too much work to figure out. If reading is presented to this kind of child as an unstructured ‘guessing game,’ he’s not going to get it. And then later, when he realizes that being good at this game informs everything else he does, the anxiety sets in.







Another issue with the Whole Language method is that when the words become harder and the pictures in books go away, children don’t have the tools to ‘guess’ anymore. They can be challenged to read words they’ve never seen before.


Even a strong reader (a smart guesser!) can start to display signs of trouble by fourth grade. And by then, it’s really late to do something about it.


More recently, the Whole Language method of teaching reading has fallen out of favor with a lot of educators.

However, many schools still incorporate this style of learning—they just don’t call it that.










But don’t worry if that’s what you suspect your child’s school is doing. Most likely, your child is getting the best efforts of a teacher who cares about his or her well-being, which counts for a lot. And if your child learns the code from you, he or she will thrive, not matter what. The neat thing about phonics is that it’s sequential and logical. Once you’ve learned it, you’re done with it.


From then on out, reading is something you simply know

how to do.














Learning phonics is short and finite.

Once you know it, you can read.

























Chapter 4

7 Tips to Make it Easy

Children want to learn how to read, but let’s face it, sometimes it feels like work.







In the early lessons, there are some basics that need to be covered before the real fun begins. Learning all the sounds of the alphabet can take a long time for some kids, but until they know those, they don’t get to enjoy sounding out words and, well, reading.






When you are working with your child (or anytime, for that matter!), does she wiggle a lot? Does he want to show you what’s on the bottom of his shoe ? Does she look at everything but what you are trying to get her to focus on?


If so, good! Your child is perfectly normal. And

fortunately, teaching reading with phonics is simple, straight-forward and works like building blocks. Over time, even the most distracted pupil can learn how to read. But until that happens, you may want to use the following 7 tips to keep your child focused.








The following 7 tips will make it easy for you to teach your child.









7 tips to help you teach

your child to read





p((((())<>{color:#000;}. Keep it short. Three to five minutes a day, three to

five days a week is the maximum amount of time you

will want to spend on lessons. This will help make sure your child stays engaged during each lesson. (As an added bonus, you will always leave your young pupil wanting more!)



Praise your child. Reward her with hugs and applause, even when things seem to be moving slowly. There are certain personality-types that will do anything for praise. If your child is one of those, hang a chart on the wall and put a gold star on it each time you finish a lesson. Take her to tea when she earns a week’s worth of stars.


3. Be creative. Draw a picture of a word after she reads it. Or balloons when she gets her sounds right.






7 tips (Cont’d)





Get moving. To keep your child physically engaged, let him blow bubbles or throw a ball each time he gets a word right. p<>{color:#000;}.  


Make it cozy. Ideally, lesson time is on-your-lap time. If your child doesn’t get enough of this on most days, spending time on your lap will help keep him still. (Not too much time, though. You’ve got a short window before your child will want to get down.) p<>{color:#000;}.  


Check your child’s vitals. Make sure your child is comfortable, well-fed and rested before you begin each lesson. p<>{color:#000;}.  


Give it up. If it becomes too much of a struggle, stop and pick up where you left off next time. p(((((<>{color:#000;}. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to set the materials aside for a few weeks—or months. Take your cue from your child. She might be letting you know that she’s not ready yet.







You CAN teach your child to read.


In any reading program, the lessons really must stick to a 5 minute limit to accommodate the short attention span of a small child. (Or a busy parent!) One of the biggest downfalls is the overzealousness of the

parent. It’s tempting to keep pushing everything along

so that you can start seeing results.


If this is how you feel, please don’t rush your child. There are no deadlines. Try to remember that each lesson is a time of enrichment, not measured success. ‘Showing off’ your child’s reading skills to friends and family may put undue pressure on her. Believe me, as your child’s confidence grows, she will proudly display on her own what she has learned!












So now you know that your at-home teaching efforts will pay off, why phonics is important (and that you can teach it), and how to keep your child engaged during your lessons.


It’s time to start teaching your child to read! Let’s begin

with STEP 1.





































Chapter 5

Getting Started—Step 1 of

Teach Your Child to Read™

To help get you started, I have included in this guide the first step of my online, phonics-based reading program, Teach Your Child to Read™.


Ready? Let’s go!






Teach Your Child to Read™

Online, phonics-based program



Learning the Sounds






Before you begin STEP 1

Please note that the lessons in this book have been adapted for you to use offline. If you want to make it easy on yourself, go ahead and sign up for a 7 day free trial of my online program. It’s much easier to learn how to do this lesson when you hear me describe it. Then, if you prefer to continue with STEP 1 using this guide only, you can cancel your trial, at no charge to you.


Online, I will guide you through the lesson and pronounce all of the sounds for you. That way, you will be confident that you are pronouncing the sounds correctly when you work offline with this book.


But don’t worry if you are not prepared to start your free trial now! You can still use this guide to begin teaching your child to read with phonics.






Learning the Sounds

In order to sound out words, your child must be familiar with the sounds of the letters of the alphabet. Knowing the name of each letter is not necessary. In fact, throughout the process of teaching your child to read, you will refer to the letters only by their sounds—never by their names.

Before we begin, read the following ’5 key things for you to know about STEP 1.’ Learn them by heart. They hold the secrets to success in this most important step!








5 key things for STEP 1


Be sure to pronounce the sounds correctly. When each letter is presented, you will need to pronounce its sound for your child. When you pronounce each of the sounds, do not put an ‘u’ on the end of the sound. For example, ‘m’ is pronounced ‘mmm,’ and NOT ‘mmuh.’ p(((((<>{color:#000;}. When you are working with your child, you will pronounce the sounds the way you hear them in these words:


p<>{color:#000;}. apple
p(<>{color:#404040;}. h
p(<>{color:#000;}. hand
p={color:#404040;}. o
p(<>{color:#000;}. off
p((<>{color:#404040;}. w
p(<>{color:#000;}. win


p(<>{color:#000;}. egg
p((<>{color:#404040;}. l
p(<>{color:#000;}. lamb
p={color:#404040;}. t
p(<>{color:#000;}. toy

*(pronounce the letter ‘x’ like ‘ks’ instead of ‘ex.’)





5 key things for STEP 1(cont’d):


For letters with multiple sounds (vowels, c, g and y), we use the short vowel sounds (apple, egg, igloo, off, up) and the hard ‘c’ (cat) and ‘g’ (go) sounds. ‘Y’ is pronounced ‘ee.’ p<>{color:#000;}.  



‘Q’ is not included in these lessons. ‘Q’ is almost always followed by a ‘u.’ The concept is confusing—and too advanced for your beginning reader. p<>{color:#000;}.  



Be sure to applaud wildly when your child gets a sound right! p<>{color:#000;}.  



Remember, no more than 5 minutes in one day. Do not move to a new letter until your child has mastered all of the previous ones, and do not introduce more than one new sound in a single lesson.





What you will need:

The only tools you will need to teach your child the sounds of the letters is a dry-erase board and a wipe-off cloth.


A small board that you can hold on your lap will do.








What to do:


Day 1: With your child on your lap, draw a lower-case ‘a.’


Say this to your child: This is ‘a.’ Can you say ‘a’?


Remember, you will always refer to the letters by their sounds, never their names. Pronounce the letter ‘a’ as you do in the word apple.


When your child repeats the sound, you’re done for the day!






What to do (cont’d):

Day 2: Repeat your Day 1 lesson. If your child knows the sound of the letter ‘a’ without prompting, you are ready to move on to the letter ‘b.’


With your child on your lap, draw a lower-case ‘b.’


Say this to your child: This is ‘b.’ Can you say ‘b’?


Remember, you will always refer to the letters by their sounds, never by their names. Pronounce the letter ‘b’ as you do in the word ball.


When your child repeats the sound, you’re done!






Continue through the rest of the alphabet until your child knows all of the sounds by heart. At the start of each lesson, make sure your child remembers all of the prior sounds before introducing a new one.


What you will find is that your child’s ability to remember sounds does not require ‘recall.’ Rather, he will instantly recognize sounds in the same way he recognizes a chair as a chair and a table as a table.


When your child knows all of the sounds of the letters of

the alphabet, you will have completed STEP 1.













In STEP 2 of Teach Your Child to Read™, we add the sounds of the letters together so that your child can read short words. This is where the fun begins, as your child will actually be reading.


Are you starting to see how simple this is? Teaching your child to read with phonics is a step-by-step process that advances your child into reading naturally.
















Thank you for exploring reading concepts with me by using this guide! If you would like to use Teach Your Child to Read™ to teach your child to read, here is what you can expect from my online, phonics-based reading program:


p((((())<>{color:#000;}. First, your child will learn the sound of each of the letters.

p((((())<>{color:#000;}. Then, he or she will combine those sounds to read words.


After reading short words, you will move on to practicing the phonetic blends. (sh, th, ch…you get the picture!)


p((((()))))))))<>{color:#000;}. Your child will then learn to read words that have phonetic blends in them.


p((((()))))))<>{color:#000;}. Now it’s time to move on to learning about the long vowels. (Like the “a” in cake.)



And finally, your child will read Teach Your Child to Read™ p(((((())<>{color:#000;}. eStorybooks to you. All 10 of them!









Teach Your Child to Read™

Phonics-base, online reading program


By now, you know that teaching your child to read is something you are quite capable of doing. And if you use my online program, I will be there to guide you, step-by-step.


Sign up for your free trial so that you can make sure

this is the right program for you and your child.


Have fun teaching! You are truly offering your child a lifelong treasure. Please keep in touch and tell me your stories! I would love to hear from you.


[email protected]





Can I Teach My Child to Read? A Parent's Guide

Many parents want to teach their children to read but don't know where to begin. This free guide for moms and dads (grandparents, too!) will help you get started. "Can I Teach My Child to Read?" discusses the joys of working with your child at home, why phonics matters, and tips that make it easy to teach your child to read. In Chapter 5, you will begin teaching your child to read with LESSON 1 of the phonics reading program, TEACH YOUR CHILD TO READ™. By spending just five minutes a day with your child, before you know it, he or she will be reading bedtime stories to you!

  • Author: Mary Follin
  • Published: 2017-01-14 18:35:54
  • Words: 4067
Can I Teach My Child to Read? A Parent's Guide Can I Teach My Child to Read? A Parent's Guide