Teaching a child to read will probably be the single most important thing you’ll ever do in your homeschool because once a child can read he can learn anything. It’s been awhile since we were in that stage, but I pulled some resources from the archives, dusted them off, and added some new favorites to present to you my 10 favorite resources for teaching a child to read.
1. Penny Gardner’s ABC’s of Reading. This, to me, is one of the most practical, sensible approaches to teaching reading that I’ve ever read. My younger two kids made great progress in their reading, when they were first learning, using a slightly modified version the echo reading described in this article.
2. Scaredy Cat Reading System. This reading system was developed by Joyce Herzog following her 25+ years of work in the public school system with readers of all ages and abilities, including those with learning disabilities.
Scaredy Cat Reading System, a reasonably-priced, mastery-style program for teaching reading, is a bit old-school (as am I), and it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles one might find in a newer reading program. However, Level 2 was an excellent fit for my kids. (I didn’t care for Level 3, and my kids were beyond the need for Level 1 by the time I discovered the program, so we started with Level 2.)
3. Mrs. Perkin’s Dolch Sight Words List. I found these lists to be an excellent resource when my kids were younger. I taught a combination of sight words and phonics because having a good base of sight words increased my children’s confidence when they were learning to read.
I would print off these sight word lists on cardstock to use as flash cards and game cards. We played games like:
- Fishing by attaching a paper clip to the word cards and fishing for them with a magnet tied to a dowel rod
- Reading bingo – I’d print the words randomly on a blank bingo card, then use the printed sight word cards as call cards
- Go Fish or concentration (using two printed sets of the same list)
4. Games to Make. This was another favorite. the site offers printable games to learn both sight words and CVC words in varying degrees of difficulty. Make sure you’ve got plenty of ink in the printer before you visit!
5. PPS Leveled List. I frequently used this list of books, that can be sorted by author or reading level, to determine my kids’ general reading levels and look for new books on that level. Users are instructed to find a book that your child can read easily and look it up on the list to get a general idea of the level at which they’re reading.
6. Starfall. Starfall was launched in September of 2002, just a month after we began homeschooling. It’s a fantastic resource for beginning and early readers even if you only use it to supplement occasionally as we did. It even features early math activities and lessons now. And, of course, there’s an app so you can use it on your phone or tablet.
7. Explode the Code books. Explode the Code was one of the first learning activities my kids would do independently since the workbooks (one of the few homeschool workbooks I’ve always loved – Easy Grammar and Daily Grams were the others) follow a predictable pattern. We used them as a supplement to other reading instruction that we were doing, rather than as a stand-alone program.
8. All About Reading. Oh, how I wish All About Reading had been around when my kids were younger. I firmly believe that using it alongside All About Spelling would have saved us many tears. If I were teaching reading again (or if I ever get to teach my grandkids), this will be my go-to program.
9. Rocket Phonics. Rocket Phonics teaches phonics through a step-by-step approach using guided reading techniques and games. While it didn’t completely eliminate the struggles my dyslexic boy was having, it did help him progress. Read my review of Rocket Phonics to learn more.
10. Lexercise. Finally, after my severely dyslexic son’s struggles with reading, no blog post about resources for teaching this priceless, lifelong skill would be complete without mentioning Lexercise. I honestly don’t know where were would be without their online dyslexia tutoring. Check out my reviews page to find my three reviews of Lexercise and their services.
If you suspect your struggling reader may have dyslexia, I urge you to have him or her take Lexercise’s free online dyslexia screener.
What are some of your favorite resources for teaching reading?
updated from an article originally published May 14, 2009
Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.