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Why You Shouldn’t Teach Your Child to Read – And What Some Parents Are Doing Instead

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We all want our kids to be [URL=""]great readers[/URL] – and we spend lots of time looking for the best resources to help them learn.

But the other day, I was talking with a preschool teacher at Stanford’s Bing Nursery School. She gave me the best reading advice ever:

“Don’t teach your child to read. Raise a reader.”

Aha! So that is why some kids feel like reading is a painful, boring chore… and others see it as a journey.


So how do you [URL=""]raise a reader[/URL]? Start by reading with your child every day. For at least 20 minutes. No matter how young they are. Hold them, cuddle with them, and be expressive. This is your chance to make reading a fun and meaningful part of the family routine.

Parents who “raise readers” also make a big effort to[B] connect their kids to what they’re reading.[/B] This doesn’t just mean pointing out how useful reading is in life (e.g. shopping lists, emails, signs). It also means creating an emotional bond between your child and the text. Try using:


Finally, it’s important to explore reading materials that aren’t books. The more ways your child can interact with reading and writing, the better. We recommend:

• Magazines -- StudyDog experts love National Geographic Kids.
• Graphic novels -- run, don’t walk, to the library if you haven’t read the Owly series yet.
• Wordless picture books – you will love Carl Goes Shopping at least as much as your child does. Amirite?
• [URL=""]Computer and video games[/URL] – exciting characters and fun lessons leave kids asking for more. For best results, pick a game like StudyDog, which is 1) designed by experts; 2) research-based and validated; and 3) able to customize each lesson to your child’s specific level. Get a [URL=""]free trial[/URL] of StudyDog now to see it in action.

Don’t forget: reading isn’t just a journey for your child. It’s a journey for you, too. You will learn from each other. You’ll struggle. And you’ll celebrate.

And that is part of what makes it beautiful.

[B]Parents: What tricks do you use to keep your child motivated?[/B]
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  1. darkelf's Avatar
    I had never heard of "Owly" before. I got the 1st two books and WOW! Love them! My boys love them! My youngest son sat with his father and "read" him the first story. He chattered away. He has already "read" both. And I don't think this kid has ever picked up a book before. I'll have to make sure to separate the two youngest and let them read Owly alone.
  2. crunchynerd's Avatar
    Your suggestions for how to make reading an enjoyable journey of discovery were very helpful, and yet could be combined with additional methods if necessary. My daughter needed systematic phonics, because just "picking it up" was resulting in sight-reading only, such that she couldn't figure out unfamiliar, or long, or similar-looking words, and was doing a lot of contextual guessing, skimming, and skipping things...and it wasn't getting better with time, but she also had trouble hearing syllables, and hearing the differences between certain vowels. So we intervened, and it helped. Another mom whose only child taught himself to read at 4, without any help, honestly believes that no children actually need to be taught, that they would all do as her son did, given the chance, eventually. It's human to assume that our experience is universal, until proven otherwise. I don't see teaching them actively, to read, as something that is wrong in all cases, with all children, any more than it is right and necessary, in all cases, with all children. But that's part of what makes homeschooling so wonderful, is having the opportunity to fit our philosophies to our children instead of the other way around.
  3. redww6's Avatar
    I completely agree, my youngest son hated to read...hated to even listen to a book for to long but it wasn't until I realized my own love for reading lead by example along with all the other members in our household who all love to read, he also realized his own love for reading. he's 8 now, he is a really great reader & loves to read, .
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