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Lessons I Learned From Teaching my Child to Read

Our first daughter came out talking…not quite, but pretty much. To this day she can out talk just about anyone I know. By the time she was two, she was speaking in full sentences. Therefore, when her third birthday rolled around I had a little lightbulb moment… Why don’t I attempt to teach her how to read?

I thought, this would be the perfect time to try it out. If I couldn’t teach her, either I knew she wasn’t quite ready,OR teaching wasn’t for me…or both… and neither of us would be the worse for it.

Eloise wilkins picture book treasuries

(Amazon links are included in this post.)

When Jovie turned three years old, I purchased the Alpha Phonics reading book and the Bob’s Books. Not a fancy curriculum, just simple little lessons that we could do each day.

Of course being practically a toddler, her attention span was about five minutes starting off, so we worked with that. Every morning after Mr. Coppertop went to work we would cuddle up in the recliner and read through a little lesson together. Once we were done I would read a couple fun books out loud to her.

A year later…

Not much has changed as far as our schedule, except now her little brother joins us, but would you believe it?… She knows how to read! She is reading level-1 to level-2 books!

She wasn’t the only one who learned something, I took quite a few things from this experience that have really changed my way of thinking when it comes to teaching my kids.


Lessons Learned From Teaching My Child to Read

1. I am capable. I have a degree in education, but when it came to my kids and actually being able to teach them, I was a little unsure if I was capable. I’ve heard people say that teaching your own kids is next to impossible, but I would like to debunk that myth and say that it is possible.

2. Develop good habits. I really don’t think this experiment would have worked if we hadn’t done it regularly. Persistence– not perfection– was the key.

3. Children love routine. She came to expect her reading lesson every morning after Daddy left for work and if for some reason I got distracted with anything else, she was quick to remind me what time it was. ๐Ÿ˜‰

4. Connection is key. I realized pretty quick that she equated this whole reading thing as snuggle time with Mommy. Initially, I thought there might be a pause from the parent/child feel to a more stoical teacher/student moment but there was no differentiation in her mind. She knew when we sat down together she had my undivided attention.

5. A little goes a long way. Here I come from a classroom setting where you spend 30-40mins on a subject. How could 5-15 minutes add up to anything substantial? This is the one that blows my mind to this day: not only can 5-15 minutes be substantial, it can be incredibly productive.

6. Progress is progress. In the beginning, we would spend weeks on one lesson. Sometimes it took longer than other times to grasp a concept, but with gentle persistence she would always progress.

7. Encouragement is big. Our daughter is externally motivated, and when we encouraged her with stickers or complimented her efforts, she flourished.

8. Praise effort, not accomplishment. So much of learning something new is messing up and trying again. Reading was no exception. Not only did it encourage her for us to acknowledge her effort, but it encouraged me to look past her accomplishments to her diligence.

Obviously, our children will all learn and develop differently, however, don’t discredit yourself as a parent and your ability to teach. Whether itโ€™s reading, teaching them to fold laundry, or helping out with math homework, take those small teachable moments and know that a little instruction can go a long way. <3



Book Lists

Don’t forget to read aloud to your kids as well as teaching them to read! There are lots of wonderful book lists to get you started reading aloud to your kids. You can check out our book list page or jump straight to one of the following:

*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.


What things are you teaching your kids right now?

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  1. This post brings back so many memories. My son was an early non-stop-talker too and was reading bits and pieces early too. It’s not one of his favorite things to do, but he does it well. I so agree, routine, structure and those small consistent efforts make such a difference. He’s 14 now and in fact just asked me to read Lord of the Rings aloud with him as he finishes a project for school. You’ve started a life long habit that I’m sure he and you will benefit from for many years to come. Glad to visit from the By His Grace FB page.

  2. The lessons you have learned are lessons I can apply to my own life, and maybe others too, in disciplining myself when it comes to devotional times.

  3. I have homeschooled our little ones from the very beginning with our oldest shooting for 3rd this fall. Discipline has been key for me, remembering that it’s not about keeping up with all the other kids we know but helping my children to learn at a pace that works for them individually.
    I started reading out loud to them as soon as I could. Even though they can both read now, they enjoy it when I read to them. Our 8 year old is finishing the Magic bicycle series by John E.Bibee and it’s impressive how much he enjoys it. We usually are ready to go right after breakfast and we are absolutely flexible if they need help with something specific.Thankyou sis for your words of wisdom?

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this! I love hearing how other moms teach their kids. I’m going to check that book series out and put it on our reading lists for later when my son gets older!

  4. I love this post! You did a great job! ๐Ÿ™‚ It can be a little scary to teach our own kids, yes. My oldest daughter doesn’t have a great attention span with me, so that’s tough. I will check out the Bob Books! Thanks for the recommendation. She knows all the letters and letter sounds and is constantly asking how things are spelled – and can help me spell them – so I think she’s ready to learn how to read.
    Right now I’m teaching her to write the lowercase alphabet, but it’s hard – she says she wants to learn it, but she won’t sit down with me for more than a minute. She’s also working on numbers above 10.

    1. Thats awesome! Sounds like she is learning all sorts of wonderful things! Great Job, Mom! Attention spans are really short with the little people…haha…I know. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But the cool thing is, five minutes here, ten minutes there, adds up! Watching our kids learn is so exciting. I’m over here reading your comment, getting so excited about what your daughter is learning. So motivating! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Growing up, I never thought I would be a good teacher. I wasn’t good at tutoring or coaching people or any of that. When I got older, I feared that it would prevent me from being a mother. Now, I’m just doing everything I can to learn how to teach so that I can teach my children right!

  6. What a great post! I can picture the two if you curled up together as she learned the wonders of reading. I love tgat you focused on diligence and effort as that instills self confidence. Great job, Mom!
    Have a blessed weekend.

  7. Jessica this is beautiful! Yes we can!
    Even with Bible study with children it may feel awkward trying to get through but as we continue together we will find how best they learn?
    Blessings to you

  8. I think my son is hyperlexic. He’s been reading since he was 2, and nobody taught him. He just staring reading words he’d see randomly to us from labels and signs. So with my daughter I’ve been struggling where to start with teaching her. She is almost 3.

    We do sit and read regularly every night though. You are right. At first they were so hard to keep their attention. Now they will bring me books and listen for about 45 minutes. That feels like a miracle!

    1. So cool! Yes, reading regularly plays such a huge part in their learning to read. My kids can listen for a long time too…I usually tap out before them. haha!

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