6 Secrets that really work when teaching emergent readers

Okay so I am not really bringing you Earth shattering secrets here but rather reminders of how to create a positive learning environment that will help you when teaching your emergent reader.

Teaching emergent readers can be both a rewarding and challenging experience. It takes time, patience and consistency to help young learners grasp the complexities of reading. But with the right strategies, you can help your students become confident and successful emergent readers.

In this article, I’ll share 6 secrets that really work when teaching emergent readers. From building a positive learning environment to making use of the right reading program, these tips will help you get your child reading without the tears. Read on to learn more!

If you are still wondering how to help your little reluctant reader be sure to read: 5 Amazing Ways to Improve Reading Skills For Reluctant Readers

Secret One: Phonics Over Whole Word Programs.

One of the most important things you can do when teaching emergent readers is to focus on phonics. Teaching phonics helps children understand how words are made up of smaller units of sound, and it is a crucial step in learning to read.


There are many different reading curriculums that focus solely on phonics. Of course I recommend my own, Dash Into Learning because it offers more fun interactive ways to get your child reading with an easy to follow teaching guide. I used to struggle with the boring lesson manual and my daughter would cry when it was pulled out. Now my younger children are learning with Dash and loving it!

The whole word approach doesn't allow for a full understanding of why words sound the way they do. Instead it focuses on memorizing each word. The lessons focus on what the text meaning is and the reader is to use their prior knowledge to work off of. This may be ok for older student who have a larger prior knowledge base to work from but it doesn't equate to easier learning for a young child just starting their reading journey. 

So if you want to lessen the tears and struggle using a phonics program that is gentle in it's approach will help immensely.

Secret Two: Be Consistent.

If you want to be successful when teaching emergent readers, there are two secrets you need to follow: be consistent. 

Being consistent means having a set schedule for reading time and following through with it every day. Five to ten minutes a day is all it takes. Even three minutes with a little daily work will work wonders.

Each time your child is sitting down learning will be adding to the previous building block they learned. Over time they will grasp the concepts better than if you try to force them to read for a long period of time. As adults we sometimes forget Rome wasn't built in a day. So a slow yet steady approach can greatly improve your child's reading.

Secret Three: Be Clear.

When teaching emergent readers, it is important to keep to remember to be clear. What does that mean exactly?

When you sitting down to your reading instruction demonstrate clearly for the child what the sounds sound like. If you're struggling yourself to form the sounds it will confuse your child. 

Once you've given the child the letters and sound they make clearly have them repeat it back to you. Correct them as necessary. It may take a few days for them get the concept of particularly tough blends.

Are you in need of a bit of help? This YouTube channel offers some helpful sounds to teach your child or you what sounds the letters are making RocknLearn.

Secret Four: Don't Give Clues.

When you're working with emergent readers, one of the best things you can do is not give clues. Making the sounds for them as they read or giving them cues only teaches them to rely on you for help. 

If they don't know the sound/sight word or how to blend tell them the correct answer and then have them repeat it correctly. Little tiny clues are not helpful in the long run. As tempting as it can be when you see your child struggling to 'help' them, after all  we are their moms and helping is what we do. That struggle they are having now is a vital step in their learning journey. 

Secret Five: Make It Fun.

That's right fun! Why would anyone want to learn boring lesson. Ask yourself did you ever enjoy or remember much of your education when it was presented in a boring way? It's likely you remember more the lessons that were fun. 

So gameify it for your young students! Kids love games! My kids love the reading activities included in the reading packs from Dash Into Learning. Sometimes doing them over and over. Boom learning. I like to do guessing games with words we hear. "Ssssstop Ssssign. Can you guess the sounds that it starts with?" Phonemic awareness in a fun way!

For more fun reading activities to add to your homeschool see our reading activities which are leveled to where your child is at in terms of learning.

Secret Six: End It On a Positive Note.

Ending on a positive not when teaching is so important. Ending when they are doing well in the lesson is so much better than stretching the lesson out to the point of frustration for either of you. 

Try to end while things are going well. This way they will want to come back later. If things just are going badly because the timing isn't right for your child or maybe they are really struggling it's okay to stop and let them have the break they need. 

The key to keep in mind is a happy child who is feeling good and doing well will develop reading confidence. A child who is struggling and feeling low about their success is likely to not enjoy the whole experience.

Taking a break from the whole experience may be necessary if you've been using the wrong program for your child, or before starting a new program. A break will allow your struggling reading time to decompress from the stress of that those reading sessions brought them so when you do start again it will be like a new experience rather than a repeat of the last. 

Have you started teaching your child to read yet? I would love to hear about how it's going for you both!

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