How to Teach a Child to Read

Teaching a child to read takes time and patience. Start by reading to your child every day, long before he's old enough to learn how to read.

Pushing your child to read before he's ready can make him lose interest in learning. The children who do best in school are the ones who enjoy learning, so try to make reading fun and not stressful [source: healthy children].


  • Teach your child the letters of the alphabet and the sounds they make. The sounds are more important than the names of the letters.
  • Start with common letters, teaching only one sound for each letter. When teaching vowels, start with the "short" vowel sound (e.g. "a" as in "apple).
  • Work on sounding out three-letter words once the child knows the vowels and eight to 10 consonants.
  • Let kids learn by doing. Children should learn to read using a combination of phonics-based (i.e. "silent 'e' makes the preceding vowel say its own name,") and whole-language method (i.e. using pictures and context [source: Teach a Child to Read]). Memorizing too many rules can distract children when they're trying to read.
  • Take a break if the child doesn't catch on as quickly as you would like. Re-visit the lesson later when you both have more patience.

Using a combination of learning methods will help ensure that your child succeeds at learning to read no matter what his personal learning style. Multisensory learning methods include:

  • Visual Looking at words and corresponding pictures
  • Auditory Listening to a story while following the text
  • KinestheticTracing letters with his finger or drawing letters in the air
  • TactileDrawing a letter with his finger on sandpaper or molding it out of play-dough