Smart Start in Learning to Read and Write

Smart Start in Learning to Read and Write

By Donna Vail

Children are learning as soon as they exit the womb, watching and recording your every move learning by your example. Watching you read you can make it fun and interesting for your future readers by pointing out words as you go about your day.  Reading can occur most anywhere at any time. While you’re out driving, draw attention to traffic signs and explain that by reading them they assist motorists find their way and communicate to drivers things such as road construction or driving hazards, such as icy bridges.  Go out to eat and be sure to read aloud items of interest on the menu while you help them select a meal. Almost anything you can think of is a possible learning-to-read opportunity; a letter from a loved one, a utility bill, and of course a well used book for story time.

Through the course of natural living the child learns just how much reading is a part of everyday life and a little conscious effort on your part certainly helps.

Do not begin by teaching a “look-say” method. This is not true reading and can actually create other issues to overcome in the future. The course of natural living is all that is needed in the early phases of reading. Relax and continue to lovingly share, knowing that they will soon learn how to read as they grow and develop. There’s no need for elaborate reading programs that cost a lot of money and deliver marginal results. We have easy to use tools that incorporate daily lessons but before that can be started pre-reading skills and a readiness to read must be established.

From newborn and throughout his life the child should be read to on a regular basis. This teaches a child many important lessons before he even begins reading; lessons such as attention span, vocabulary, word pronunciation, comprehension, logical thinking and the desire to learn more.

Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” Emilie Buchwald

There is no particular age when reading should begin because every child is different. Some children may be ready to begin at age four while others I’ve seen begin as late as ten years-old. For most children usually begin between ages five and eight.

Your child will show signs of reading readiness by his interest in books and wanting to read it himself. Because you live a life that demonstrates the joy and importance of reading it’s easy for him to desire it for himself.

Signs of reading readiness:

  • Child pretends to read the book himself
  • Shows interest in books and desires to be read to
  • Child holds the book and turns pages appropriately
  • Understands the reader is focusing on the printed words to convey the story
  • Enjoys certain books being re-read and joins in regularly
  • Shows comprehension and relates to the story
  • Child roughly writes letters or shapes of letters without instruction
  • Rhymes words and relates words together that start with the same sound
  • Child may even talk about or be excited about “When I learn to read…”
  • Can follow directions
  • Can trace or draw a line with control
  • Cuts with scissors
  • Able to dress with help
  • Can use a fork properly
  • Can hop on one foot and is able to skip
  • Can catch a medium sized ball
  • Recognizes first name by sight
  • Speaks in sentences
  • Able to sit and listen to a story (10 minutes or more)
  • Identifies picture likenesses and differences
  • Identifies basic colors: Red, Green, Blue, Orange
  • Identifies shapes: Circle, Square, Triangle, Rectangle
  • Able to count by rote and count objects

When looking for signs of reading readiness, keep in mind at all times that every child is unique and has different talents and skills. Both Sir Isaac Newton and Thomas Edison were considered poor students in elementary school however we know they eventually discovered their gifts, pursued them and became extremely successful affecting the world forever with their work. The age in which a child begins his reading is no indication of intelligence or ability to learn throughout the years.

To help improve your children’s IQ, develop distinct motor, visual, auditory, and comprehension skills necessary for reading begin with a series of four books: Developing the Early Learner Books 1-4. These are very easy to use and are carefully sequenced preparing your child for reading and writing lessons. At this point, this is all you need to be doing in the area of academics or desk work.

Around age 4 watch your child for the signs of interest and reading readiness as described above. Start with Book 1 and follow the direction given in the book. Let them sit and do a few pages of lessons as you guide them through the directions. If they can sit and only do two pages that’s fine, end there and be done for the day. There’s no sense in forcing work which makes it non-effective, especially at this early age. Many children have suffered failure by being placed in a class that demanded accomplishments beyond their readiness. This is yet another problem with the grading system as it uses the “one size fits all” approach. Children are unique and special. They don’t operate like shoe sizes. Be conscious and keep the experience unique according to the child’s ability and readiness.

If you wait on the child’s timing and their learning ability, self-image and success will soar. It will be less of a struggle between you and the child as well. You want them to develop a love for learning not an attitude of “have to.” If the child is slow at first just allow it and as the child matures he will pick up the pace as he is ready. All children have genius and as parents, we must allow them the opportunity for self-discovery. Remember my mantra, “provide, guide and step aside”.

Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.” –John Holt

Parents Inspired to Action:

  • Read aloud to your children on a regular basis. It doesn’t matter their age or level of reading, by reading to them you will be increasing their vocabulary, comprehension and ability to learn to read.
  • Review the reading readiness list and consider if your child is ready to read. The more signs he shows from this list the more ready he is to begin reading lessons.
  • It you start and he just doesn’t get it, set the book down for a month and then try again later. There may be more reading readiness that needs to develop.

Children Inspired to Action:  

  • Take regular trips to the library and build on a love for reading. Enjoy read alouds together on a daily basis.
  • Look for games, stuffed animals and toys that are your children’s favorite characters from stories.
  • Bring the stories you’ve read into everyday life by eating a sandwich like Frog and Toad, having pancakes like Little Bear or watching for Peter Rabbit in the garden.

Which stories are your children’s favorites? Are there any you can recommend that are “must reads” for other families? Please join our inspired families share by leaving a comment below.

It shouldn’t be a lot of work or take hours and hours each day to create the homeschool you desire. That’s why I created the Mentor Mastery Inner Circle. It’s an easy way to stay focused on your homeschool and family, creating the balance you desire with education, work and life. Whether you’re a new to homeschooling or a long-time homeschooler looking to simplify, I highly recommend joining the Mentor Mastery Inner Circle so you can easily grow your homeschool and life each week.It keeps you inspired and you receive coaching directly from Donna in the critical areas needed to successfully set up and execute simple and effective homeschool curriculum and systems providing an education in excellence while creating family harmony. It’s easy. It’s affordable. Get started today at

About Donna Vail

Donna Vail is an education-parenting specialist, coach, mompreneur, homeschooling mother of six children, author and founder of An Inspired Education. She helps families create a lifestyle of true freedom by balancing education, work and life through self-education, entrepreneurship and inspiration. She is a highly sought after consultant for her successful guidance and resources that enable parents to let go of traditional parenting and education models, creating a lifestyle of learning where the whole family flourishes. You can find more of her resources at


  1. I love this list! It is very helpful! Thank you!


  1. […] lessons and writing practice. I won’t start her in a math curriculum she’s a skilled reader. Reading is the foundation of all learning and once reading if firmly established, everything else falls into place. Young […]

  2. […] lessons and writing practice. I won’t start her in a math curriculum she’s a skilled reader. Reading is the foundation of all learning and once reading if firmly established, everything else falls into place. Young […]

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