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Is it too early to teach a five year old to read?

Hi Let's Go Learn, My daughter is 5 years old and just starts kindergarten this year. Is it too early to teach her to read? If not, could you recommend some materials? Thanks.

Hello, Thanks for your email. I apologize for not returning your email sooner, this last week has been crazy. Here are my thoughts: There are several schools of thought regarding when to teach children how to read. I got an email recently from the mother of a 19 month old by who said her son loved books so much she wanted to begin teaching him. On the very same day I got an email from someone asking me about "delayed reading," a program that does not teach kids to read until age seven. My own preferences are somewhere in the middle. I certainly don't recommend teaching babies to read, but it is probably not necessary to wait until the age of 7. This is what was a wonderful and wise speech pathologist that I used to work with said to me: "A child who is ready to learn to read will show an interest in sounds. Don't ask the child to say the sound or to repeat after you. Say the sounds yourself and when the child is ready, he or she will start repeating after you." That really stuck with me over the years. Learning to say the sounds in isolation should be fairly easy for the child who is ready to learn. Phonemic awareness is the processing ability that allows us to learn how to sound out words. Most scientists say that this develops by age 5, some say 6 or 7. If you decide that she is ready to learn to read, what programs should you use?  When choosing a program, remember that any good reading instruction should include these three things: 1) Learn to sound out words, 2) Learn to memorize words that cannot be sounded out, and 3) Learn to use contextual cues when reading. I hope this is helpful to you. Let me know if you have any more questions.

Tags: phonemic awareness, reading program, kindergarten reading

  1. Darnell Thomas
    Reply 01/05/12

    Its never too early to teach a 5 year old to read.

  2. J Hilton
    Reply 09/22/10

    I’m not sure of any of your situations but my son has been reading books since he was 3, he just turned 5 in August and reads entirely on his own books that are 1st-3rd grade reading. Its never too early to teach your child anything for they retain it and learn faster that way. My suggestion is to read to him/her every night before bed, and any other time you can, underline the words with your finger as you read an ask your child to say them. If he/she wants to try to read let them and have patience for he/she to figure it out don’t get frustrated. Most importantly spend time with your child playing, counting, reading, doing anything and they will learn tons.  Worst you can do is neglect your child an assume they’ll learn it, you must help them.

  3. Artraya McLaurin
    Reply 04/20/09

    I have a one year old that will be two in July he will be starting a early headstart program in September.can you give me some tips on how to prepare him for the program

  4. Artraya McLaurin
    Reply 04/20/09

    I really want to get my five year old ready for kindergarten.He has been going to headstart sents he was three but I feel like it is alot more he needs to know.

  5. lucy
    Reply 03/30/09

    Hi… this site intrigues me alot!! I have a 5 year old boy and he also shows interests in wanting to learn about reading.. at the moment he is able to sound the letters from A-Z but he is not able to combine the sounds together in order to pronounce it. How should I teach him??

  6. Thando
    Reply 03/29/09

    My daughter is 5, she could recite & write the entire alphabet since she was 4, but she has not progressed since then. I started trying to teach her 3 letter words but I am failing to get through to her because she is very stubborn, should I wait until she is older?

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