Simple and Effective First Steps to Take When Teaching Your Child to Read


When you recognize that your child is interested in learning to read and ready to begin sounding out words, you might feel the need to jump into a phonics program or get out flashcards. Yet, less is often more when learning at home. You will notice that your child will start to examine words on signs and start sounding them out. Reading requires three different parts of the brain to work together to sound out words. So there's no need to force the process on a child before they are neurologically ready.

Quality over quantity

The type of instruction and words you are pointing out to your child will make more of a difference than the time you spend and the number of words your child is learning at one time. Maintaining the child's confidence and interest is the first and most important priority. Think of a time that you tried something new. Did you take up tennis, or running or learn a new software program for work? How did you learn the new skill? If you were given all of the information at one time, chances are that you didn't continue refining the skill over time. You might have quit, felt overwhelmed or lost interest. Yet, if you had a great teacher or program that introduced one concept at a time and allowed you to master each, perhaps you stuck with it.

Where to start?

So where to begin? We will keep it simple. Once a child knows all of the letter names and mostly all of the sounds (they can point out beginning sounds in words) then they can begin to decode three letter words. We call the first words that a child reads CVC words, which stands for consonant-vowel-consonant.

For a list of CVC words that you can practice, enter your email below and you will receive a download link! Enjoy! Feel free to email me with questions if I can help.

Short Vowels

Focus on short vowels and pointing out only one short vowel at a time. Practice that same vowel for about a week or two. The only thing you need to do is to recognize the letter or word as you are traveling or reading, seeing signs, and just going through everyday life. For example, a sign says, "No Dogs." You might say, "Oh look, that word has the short vowel o in it for o/octupus. D-o-g. It says dog!" You are modeling how to sound out a short vowel word. If your child is frustrated by this then back off. Most likely they just want control and might start pointing the letters out on their own after they watch you do it first.

How to keep it simple and practice at home

To practice, you might also want to put letters in the tub or magnetic letters on the fridge and practice CVC words during down times like making dinner or bath time. Make spelling and reading a part of play, and it will feel more natural to your child. You might also considering having a few decodable books around the house with short vowels. Raz-Kids is a great online resource and app.


Here are a few items that might make it easier to practice CVC words at home. The best products to teach this skill are the ones that differentiate the vowels by color. 

Wooden Alphabet with Vowels in Blue