Lots of people have asked me about how I was able to teach my kids to read so well at such a young age. I’d like to take credit for it. But really, I can’t.
When my oldest daughter was two or three, I spent over £100 on a large selection of Jolly Phonics products. It contained loads of books, music and charts – the whole shabang. But after looking over the material, I wasn’t very happy with how everything was laid out.
The lessons didn’t seem to progress in a logical manner to me. And it seemed that some lessons required a bit of a jump in understanding or development.
I knew that I didn’t want my kid to struggle with reading and I felt that the process we used needed to be really gradual and smooth. That way, she would be able to progress quite easily, as opposed to meeting a roadblock and wanting to throw in the towel.
So I gave all of my Jolly Phonics materials to a friend and continued looking for another solution.
And I found one!
In fact, the method I’ve used is so simple, my 9 year old could do it with her baby brother when he’s ready to start reading!
So how did I teach my kids to read?
I bought a book called ‘Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons’ by Siegfried Engelmann. It’s AMAZING!!!!
I heard about this book in a homeschool forum I was chatting in and thought I’d look it up. It was going for £16 on Amazon at the time – which, after spending £100 on the wrong products, seemed like a steal. So I immediately bought it. (It’s currently on Amazon for £12.99 – see it here)
Like the ad says, it ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’. Really! Both of my girls were reading fluently by around Lesson 85. In fact, my second child didn’t even finish the book. As soon as she figured out she could read everything, she just got books from our bookshelves instead (the pictures were better!).
I started my eldest daughter on the book when she was 4. And in a few months she was reading like a pro.
My second child started the book when she was three and a half. And she was reading fluently before the age of four. She could pick up any book on our shelves and read them aloud to people very confidently.
In fact, one family member asked if she had memorised an entire book because they couldn’t believe our three year old had actually read it!!
I’ve recommended this book to ALL of my friends and family with young kids. And I even bought a copy for a friend because she didn’t seem convinced and I just knew that once she HAD it, she’d be sold!! I’m THAT passionate about this method.
Why I like this method
First off, the lessons in the book are really simple. I mean super easy. So easy in fact, that if you do this with an older child of six, let’s say, they’d be bored to pieces – at least for the first 15 lessons or so.
But it’s easy for a reason.
The lessons were developed by Professor Siegfried Engelmann who did a lot of research into how children learn and the best practices to use for instruction and mastery learning.
The psychology of success
The easiness of the lessons work on a psychological level. When a child achieves success with a task – like saying the sound ‘mmm’ – they feel good about themselves and it promotes an ‘I can do it’ mindset. This mindset encourages them to try other sounds because, until they’ve failed, they’re winners.
The simple lessons in this book build upon that success mindset which is at the heart of mastery learning. When a child has mastered something, moving on to the next level doesn’t seem daunting or unachievable because they have a firm foundation in the preceding level.
They continue moving through the lessons, mastering the sounds, building up their winning mindset and pushing forward.
In fact, my second daughter would bug me each day to take out her “reading book” so that we could do the lesson for that day. And when we had finished, she immediately wanted to do the next lesson and I’d have to tell her to wait until tomorrow!
But she was so eager to move forward that even though I would put the book down for the day, I would still see her pouring over the pages and trying to move ahead herself!
It doesn’t take a lot of time
The lessons don’t take long to go through. They also have a writing element included which you can do with your child. I didn’t do this with my children as we use another writing program. Although I’m considering doing it with my son when he’s ready as I see the benefit of learning the sounds and writing them at the same time to reinforce the learning.
If your child is struggling to read or you have a young child who is coming up to reading age, I HIGHLY recommend you purchase this book.
Tips for using this reading method
1. Don’t rush.
Start only – and I mean only – when your child is ready. Let them set the pace of the lessons – especially at the start. If you push them to go through the lessons when they are very young and they are not really willing, you’ll give yourself a headache. And they will develop a negative association with reading. That’s not what you want.
Remember when I previously mentioned that the lessons work on a psychological level? The lessons are really easy – honestly! But if your child develops a ‘no I can’t’ mindset because they just weren’t completely ready for the lesson, this will hinder any progress you may want to achieve. They might start feeling like a failure and as a result will want to reject the activity.
My advice in this situation is just to take a couple weeks off and perhaps casually pick it up again at a later time to see how receptive your child is to looking at it.
2. Make it fun
If “reading time” means cosying up on the sofa with mummy all snug in their pj’s whilst mummy does silly voices when she reads, you bet your kid will want to do “reading time” every day. And they won’t even know they’re learning!
If you keep it relaxed and fun, it will help to promote the ‘I can do it’ mindset that you want them to develop so that they will eventually be bugging you to read with them. And before you know it, they’ll be off reading by themselves.
3. Treasure your time with them
You know, I think this is perhaps the only bad thing I have to say about how I’ve used this method to teach my kids to read;
My kids don’t ask me to read to them anymore.
I still read books to my kids at bedtime and during our homeschool. But they don’t ask me to. They’re so proficient at reading to themselves that they pick up any book they want and just go ahead and read it.
And sometimes I really miss the snuggling altogether for a good book everyday. (At least I still have one more bouncing baby left to snuggle and kiss!)
So enjoy your reading time with them. It’ll be gone before you know it!
Other posts you may like:
- 5 Essential Skills Every Mother Should Have
- Why I Don’t Teach My Kids – Even Though I Homeschool
- How Quality Time Will Shape Your Kid’s Life