At Home with The Classical Method – Teaching Reading

“The only thing I feel really sure of having accomplished today is that I taught Cliffie Wright that A is A.  He never knew it before. Isn’t it something to have started a soul along a path that may end in Shakespeare and Paradise Lost?” – Anne of Anne of Avonlea

Isn’t it something? How exciting that we’re able to teach our children to read!  I must admit that when I first approached teaching reading to my oldest, I did so with a certain amount of trepidation.  I did not know if I could do it. I wondered if he’d really learn to read.  But, as you might guess, he did! We went little by little and it clicked for him.  It felt like magic to me.  As I’m now teaching my second, it often still feels magical. 

Are you teaching someone to read right now? As Leigh shares in The Core to teach reading you need to do two main things: 

1. Teach phonics!  Phonics is essentially the system of sounds assigned to symbols/letters.  Once a student understands the system, they can decode words to read them.  The Core suggests that you can teach reading without a curriculum.  Knowing the basics (phonics, spelling, and punctuation rules) yourself will allow you to teach them to your child using any reading material.

For me, while teaching my oldest to read, I was also teaching myself to teach. Thankfully, friends recommended Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  It’s phonics strong and simple to use.  It literally gives you a script to say to your child with each short lesson.  I still laugh to myself as I remember my second oldest falling into a fit of laughter during our first lesson as he said, “Who is saying that? That’s not you.” He could tell the words and phrasing were not my own.  Nowadays, I could be freed up from the script, but I was so grateful for it in the beginning. 

Remember, even if your child appears to be a natural reader, teaching these basics is essential.  

Leigh shares that before leaving the grammar stage each child should:

– memorize the approximately 70 phonograms and 30 spelling rules
– master the 1,000 most commonly used words in over 90 percent of English
– learn to use a dictionary

Giving your child a strong language arts foundation will carry them far; not just in reading, but also in spelling, composition, and foreign languages.

2. Read with your child!  Read to them and listen to them read to you. “If we want our children to love reading, they need to spend time with people who also love reading.” (p.90)  I do love reading! I love stories.  I love reading with my children.  Sometimes, though, this can be hard.  With young ones, there can be lots of interruptions while reading aloud.  When it’s their turn to read, there are times of struggle with focus and decoding.  Impatience can reign.  Leigh encourages us parent teachers this way:  “Teaching core reading skills is best done alongside rather than in front of a student.  This is a great time to bond with your children.  Especially when they’re young, pull them onto your lap or put an arm around them as you encourage them to read difficult books out loud.  Touch helps to break down fear and self-doubt and any other emotional barriers. Often our struggles stem from a lack of emotional confidence.  It will help you encourage your child as it’s hard to get frustrated with someone you are cuddling with.” (p.91)

So, pull your little one close, open a good book, and get started.  But, before you leave to do that, I’d love to hear about the “magic” you’ve witnessed while teaching your child to read.  Can’t we all use the encouragement? Share below in the comments!

Interested in the rest of the At Home with the Classical Method series? You can find it here.


  1. says

    I love the quote at the beginning. 🙂 I love the picture of hubby with the kids too. It’s amazing the magnetic pull that books have on children, when you start reading to one and then others quickly drop what they are doing to come over and listen as well.

    My kids so far have all started reading later than other kids (at least it seemed so to me) so it can tend to get frustrating at times. I have to keep reminding myself of what I have heard older wiser moms say. Don’t push them. They will get it. Just keep reading aloud and letting them see your love of books. When other people’s 5-year-olds are reading chapter books and your your 8 y.o. is still struggling with basic phonics even after feeling like you have gone over these simple rules countless times, you have to keep reminding yourself of the stories you heard of kids who it didn’t click for until they were 12 at which point your couldn’t drag them away from their books.

    It is amazing though watching a struggling reader one day all of a sudden “get it”, and you can say, “look at you! You are reading on your own!” What a privilege to be able to walk them through to that point!

    • says

      Isn’t that quote great, Christy? When I read it, I found myself totally relating.

      Thanks for the reminder about taking our time while teaching to read. Can you remind me of this again in a few months? 🙂 I’m sure I’ll need it!

  2. Anonymous says

    As my six year olds master reading it has brought about my own love of reading. The magic also makes me feel like I can teach them anything!

  3. says

    Great post! That is exactly how I taught my son to read starting at age 3. He has become a great little reading at age 4. I’m starting it all again with my 3 yr old daughter and she is doing great. I let the memorization aspect of the rules and such slip, so we are going back there again next year just to get them stuck in our heads! The only problem I see is that reading well doesn’t necessarily translate to spelling perfectly. Maybe it will be better once he has all the rules memorized. Do you use any spelling resources/curriculum?

    • says

      Amy, am I really just seeing this? Who knows?? Sorry! :/ I use spelling workout with my older two – ages 6 & 8. they really enjoy them and seem to be learning a lot.

  4. says

    I am a single father, my younger daughter is on homeschooling and i love to teach her. she is getting stuff quickly.My 4 years son has already started reading with impressive fluency.
    well nice blog…!

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