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4 yr old says he wants to learn to read...wwyd?


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He has known his letters and the sounds they make for near on two years (simply by doing an alphabet snake puzzle my dad made for him over and over and over and over....) and has lately been spelling words out he sees. I know he is only 4 (will be five in January) and I am so not one to push my Littles into reading, but I also don’t want to miss a window, ya know? Yesterday when he was spelling words in his baby sister's board book I asked him if he wanted to learn to read and he said yes. What would you do? What would you use? I don’t know if what I used for his older sisters would work for him, since he is so young.  I am sure there are many out there who have taught their 4 yr olds to read, but teaching reading is not my favorite thing about hs-ing and I was not expecting to be here for another 2 years or so. I am just SO not ready for this! 🤦🏽‍♀️Posted in general education board as well, just feel like this is a bigger deal for me than it probably is. Did I say I was not ready for this yet, lol! 

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I'd probably start with Progressive Phonics (free online) and see how it goes.

You could also check your local library for The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading.  Mine doesn't have it, alas.

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I started mine with AAR Pre-level around that age but mine needed to learn their letters and sounds. It does have great exercises and games but if he knows letter sounds you could skip ahead to AAR1. The great thing about AAR is that it’s easy to customize, you can slow down or speed up as necessary. MP First Start Reading is a great series of workbooks that are very gentle if you want to try writing. 

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You aren't pushing if the child wants to learn, you are following his lead. ;-) I am also not one to push early reading but my second oldest son and my youngest daughter learned to read at age 4 and age 3 respectively not because I pushed them or wanted them to but because that was when they were ready and wanted to learn. It went just as smoothly for them as it did for my other kids who learned around age 6.

Logic of English Foundations is great for eager 4 year olds, especially boys, as it includes lots of games and active learning versus programs that insist they sit for the entire lesson or force you to come up with ways to make the learning more appropriate for a 4 year old. Even the author says you can skip the handwriting part if they aren't ready for it. Just have them use large motor skills like air writing and sidewalk chalk or tactile cards instead of actually handwriting with pencil and paper. If he knows all the letter sounds and has great phonemic awareness (can he "glue and unglue" words on his own? It sounds like he might from your OP) he will probably race through Level A in no time and go on to Level B fairly quickly. With a four year old who has no previous formal instruction, I really wouldn't skip Level A unless they were already reading fairly well. There are so many little skills taught along the way, not just letter sounds, that almost any 4 year old could benefit from Level A.

You can just start with the teacher's manual and the workbook. The first few lessons only require flashcards,  which you can make with index cards, and possibly a whiteboard and a marker until you know you want to continue with it. You can get Doodling Dragons if you want. My youngest son didn't care for it at all so we always skipped those parts of the Level A lessons.

Some other programs that would be appropriate for an eager 4yo would be Teach Your Monster To Read or Reading Eggs. Very hands off for you if he can use a computer or tablet with only some supervision. Phonics Pathways or Alphaphonics in short bursts could be appropriate for a 4 year old. All About Reading is another program I would be fine with working slow and steady with a preschool aged child. Teaching with BOB has lessons for using BOB books to teaching your child to read that would be appropriate for a 4 year old as well.

As long as you follow his lead, by dropping the lessons when he shows signs of frustration and just practice what he knows for a while until he is ready to move on, I think it is perfectly fine to teach a four year old who wants to learn how to read. He may be an early reader or he may take a while not actually start reading until he is 6 or so but imo, there is no reason to hold back just because he is not considered school age. If he wants to learn, let him try. Just be ready to back off when and if he gets frustrated. Good luck!

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1 hour ago, acresoft said:

Why not, one little lesson, or part of a lesson at a time!

Maybe The Reading Lesson book, would be an option. 

Another option is the Jolly Phonics Finger Phonics books.

Or maybe some workbooks like Explode the Code or Adventures in Phonics.

I am not familiar with the first two, will check them out. I do have the earliest ETC books waiting, just seemed they would sit in the bin a bit longer. You got me going to pull them out to look at them again...

 

15 hours ago, Kiara.I said:

I'd probably start with Progressive Phonics (free online) and see how it goes.

You could also check your local library for The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading.  Mine doesn't have it, alas.

I will have to check, though somehow I doubt they will...

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I used Phonics Pathways for my 4yo, but before that, we just sprawled on my bed with a pen and notebook and we played with words. We did some little 3 letter words of interest like cat and dog. I also showed her family names (but I wanted to stay w simple phonic words first). 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just go for it! I feel your remorse. I was so not ready when dd started begging for school books for her 2 yr birthday and Christmas. So we did R&S prek books, ETC A-C books, BOB books, and a bunch of other stuff but only as she wanted to.

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Many people like Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons for young children, because it doesn't require writing.

You could do Spalding. It's very adaptable to children of all ages; it teaches to read by teaching them to spell, and simultaneously teaches penmanship, capitalization and punctuation, and simple writing. With a 4yo, you could have him do initial "writing" with his finger, and move to an actual pencil (or pen) when he's ready. You only need the manual (Writing Road to Reading) and a set of phonogram cards, and you're good to go forever.

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Since he likes to spell you might just have him spell orally for a while and not commit to a curriculum or even carve out "time" for phonics lessons.  Don't hold him back, but rather use what he's already doing to expand his knowledge.  Spelling to learn to read is actually the traditional way and it is very effective.

So, let's say that you're cooking and your son nearby spells out a word in his sister's book: tell him what he just spelled and repeat the spelling using the sounds of the letters instead of the names and then blend them back together again.  Repeat with another word so long as his interest holds.  He may spell out the whole book, he may lose interest after a couple of words. After a while if he's still interested you may start giving him words to spell to increase his phonemic awareness (stick to CVC word families at first only changing the initial sound).  For a more "formal feel" use refrigerator letters or blocks and have him copy the words from the book.  The point is to just go as far as he wants to instead of thinking of this as you "teaching him to read" with a preset agenda.

If you want something really formal use the refrigerator letters/blocks to teach him the syllabary.  Again, no need to buy anything or experiment with different curriculum that may or may not be a good fit, it wouldn't need to take more than 5 minutes a day and would lay a solid foundation for more formal phonics lessons later on when *you* are ready to commit to more than 5 minutes here or there.

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  • 4 months later...

If your child has a solid ability to recognize sounds within a word (e.g. figuring out beginning or end letters), I don't think it's too early at all. 

I used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with my 4 year old last year. It seems to be a favorite with many homeschool moms and I really liked it too. It's scripted, which made it less intimidating for me. It is phonics based. Many of the rules are learned implicitly, which I think is a bit easier on younger learners. There are bound to be hiccups along the way, and Google is your friend to figuring out what's worked for others. It's just a book, so if your library has a copy you could try it out first. The font/orthography is a little weird, but it didn't pose any problems for us.

I did make up a few little games & word cards to practice & increase fluency. This helped a lot when we were a bit bogged down in the middle & lack of speed was hampering progress.

My daughter took about 9 months to work through it. By the time we finished, she felt very confident in her reading abilities and is doing well. I think the book is well suited for younger learners and their stories didn't contain too many things that needed explanations. She's just now about to turn 5 so we haven't done handwriting. When we practice spelling (every once in a while), I'll just cut up some squares and write letters that she can move to make the words. Or magnetic letters would work well too.

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I would just play around with some magnet letters for a few minutes each day--keep it short and fun! Make simple CVC words and show him how to sound them out. Change one letter at a time to help him read new words: cat-sat-sap-map, and so on. Have fun with it, and if he starts to catch on to blending, then look at getting a program. If he doesn't quite get how to sound out words, then you can wait awhile.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I start with word building using a movable alphabet and a few of my kids were that age when they started.  We orally sound out words, then pick the right letters to go with it.  After they have been doing that for a while we move on.  I used Progressive Phonics for the first time with my current 5yo, who was one of my 4yo word builders.  He loved the online books and worksheets.

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  • 6 months later...

Mine is 3 and interested in reading. His self-chosen toddler obessesion from the start has been letters. I'm opting for casual. Bath letters and a word building card deck. He also has some Bob books that I'm not sure he's ready for yet, and we play Kahn Academy Kids for about 15-20 minutes most days. 

I like the looks of the OPG, but it starts with learning to recite a rhyme that my little perfectionist stresses too much about. Trying to teach a 3 year old that things don't have to be "perfect" is a trip. I swear I have not forced any of this; I want learning to be something he enjoys.

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Mine was ready about age three, spelling and sounding out things everywhere. She never asked to read, just constantly asked about letters, sounds, signs, how to spell words, etc.  So at night, for bedtime reading, I used easy readers like Bob books, and then moved into the level one readers from the library, just explaining sounds she didn't know as we went. She was reading chapter books before we ever moved into more formal schoolwork. I didn't use a program or workbooks (though she loved schoolwork and workbooks when we started them!) If she's anything like mine, you won't be able to stop her from reading. But you can make it easier by providing good materials at beginning levels. 

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  • 2 months later...

I used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons when my now 25 yo learned to read. This year I will be homeschooling a kindergartener and using the same. Ran across some printables at teacherspayteachers.com by GlimmerCat. 

Looking forward to Round 4!

Shalom, Teresa

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Follow that kid! Nothing too intense or too long, but give it a whirl! If it doesn't click, let it go for a few months and try again. 

I started teaching dd at 4 because she started spelling 2-letter words on her own. 

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