Saturday, November 23, 2013

How Early Is Too Early to Teach a Child to Read?

Blog author’s note: this is the second guest article on my blog. And just as the first one it tells about reading with kids. I hope parents and teachers will find this information useful.

Learning how to read is an important step in a child’s life, and it’s often the parents’ responsibility to start teaching their children how to read. Because this task is placed in the hands of parents, it’s often questioned when a child should learn how to read. Some parents think they should wait until their child is in school while others feel like it’s something that can be taught before their child has reached their first birthday.

how to teach children to read
Image by Marc Levin
So when it comes to deciding the right time to teach your child how to read, how early is too early?

Pushing your child to read too early will not help him or her be successful.

Some parents believe that if they teach their toddler how to read by the age of two, he or she will be more successful when it comes to school and academics. However, this is not true. There is no solid evidence that proves a child who learns how to read at an early age is more successful in school than a child who learns how to read at a later age. Yes, a child who can read at an early age will be able to read books and sentences their peers are struggling with, but as your child and his or her classmates get older, the ability to read will even out, giving your child no major advantage.

Baby reading programs are considered bogus by professionals.

Many parents want their child to read at an early age, so they run out and invest in expensive programs like Your Baby Can Read. But these programs aren’t necessarily teaching children how to read. Peter Vishton, a professor at The College of William and Mary states, “There has been little to no evaluation of the effectiveness of programs like ‘Your Baby Can Read’. Most researchers are confident that the children are not really reading, but just responding to shapes in a stimulus-response fashion.”

Only the United States seems to be pushing children.

It has everything to do with parents wanting their child to be the best or to not have your child look inferior when compared with other children, but the United States seems to be the only country that puts such a strong emphasis on getting children to read at a younger and younger age. In Finland, children don’t start learning to read until the age of seven. In Germany, children are eight before they learn to read.

Introduce your child to reading naturally.

Instead of forcing your child to study flash cards or use expensive reading programs, developmental psychologists say that allowing children to learn to read naturally is the best way. Reading to your child will encourage him or her to become interested in reading, and it will also start to teach reading comprehension skills instead of simply developing a strong vocabulary. Plus, through hearing your voice, seeing pictures and seeing the words, children will start to associate what they hear with the words they see (known to some as sight words), and this will help your child learn to read naturally.

Elizabeth Adkins is a retired school teacher who devotes her time to helping children learn to read. Elizabeth often writes articles that provide tips and resources she has found beneficial in her own offline efforts.


  1. It is essential for parents to create a healthy learning environment for their kids. it is imperative as it nourish urge of reading and learning in kids at early stage... HOP help kids read and understand words.

  2. "In Germany, children are eight before they learn to read."
    Sorry, but that's nonsense. Kids sent to school are younger and younger, now many children start school while beeing still 5 years old and they start learning letters, words and how to read from the beginning...