I taught my son to read by the time he was four. Some years later, I taught my granddaughter to read (my son’s child) by the time she was three. I had never had any instruction up to that time in teaching children to read, but much of what I did is intuitive to both the teacher and the student.
I suspect I used a combination of the whole language technique and phonics. This combination worked superbly well. First, I selected books that were of interest to my children. I read them over and over again with them sitting on my lap in the beginning. Over time, I pointed out words and pronounced them. Then I had them pronounce them. I also pointed to letters and asked if they could show me, for instance, all of the “h”, or “th” sounds in words on a page.
Gradually, I would trade reading to them for their finding and saying words that I would select. By sight and by sounding out letters and syllables they began to read more and more words. Soon, they were reading whole sentences in exchange for my reading of the rest of the book.
Before long, when I offered to read to them, they would patiently chide me, and say that it was okay, but they could read for themselves, and did not need me to read to them anymore. They both fell in love with books and read every chance they had. They still read a great deal to this day.
The interesting thing is, the more they read, the greater their vocabulary and comprehension grew. Only seldom did they have to ask me the definition of a word or explain an idea. Most of the time they could figure out the meaning of words by the context of the sentence or paragraph in which it was found.
I never bored them with theory, nor practiced by rote memorization. I never included any over-intellectualized sounding, academic instructional material from some one’s doctoral thesis. There was no reading “jargon”. I never wanted them to dread the idea of reading and equate it with drudgery. We just had fun.
The only conclusion I can arrive at is that early reading and a love of books leads to self-confidence, an expansion of vocabulary skills, an innate ability to sound out unfamiliar words, and consequent success in school. The ability to excel in all of your child’s academic endeavors will be enhanced when they enjoy reading and can understand what they read.
Remember, the more your children read, the better they get; and the better they get, the more they will love reading.