Best Way to Teach Reading to a 3-Year-Old Child

Kaden's first library book.Three-year-old children are usually pretty ready to start learning to read. They want to be just like the big kids and learn how to read the stories for themselves that are read to them.

This is part of their desire for independence and that can be a great learning motivator. The best way to teach reading to kids at this stage is to blend a few fun strategies that work for your child.

I’m going to share with you a few strategies you can use to engage your child in picking up reading skills naturally as you read and play together.

Select Appropriate Books

With kids of this age, you want to use storyboard books along with rhyming books and song books to help him understand how to read.

You want to pick books that he likes and read them together over and over until he’s familiar with the book. Many kids are able to retain words simply because they see them more often. That’s a big way for them to learn reading.

So if your child is bugging you to read a particular story to him for the umpteenth time, do it with enthusiasm.

You also want to make sure that you use plenty of reinforcement outside of books. Point out simple objects or pets in the home and spell them out for your child.

Kaden is 3.5 years old now. Recently he has started to ask me how to spell certain words. I’m not sure if he can assimilate what I’ve spelled for him. But for him to ask me to spell words for him indicates his interest in learning to spell words.

You can take a look at these best books for three-year-old boys and best books for three-year-old girls.

Learn Reading Through Puzzles and Games

At this age, kids also learn how to read through the use of puzzles and word games. Play word games that group together words that rhyme. These words should have the same endings.

You want to start with only three-letter words so that you can build a base of words that are easy for her to grasp. Using simple words, you can create picture cards and letter cards to help her associate the picture with the word, and also to help her understand how these simple words sound when read out loud and look like when spelled out.

For example, you can have two cards, with one being A and the other one T. Put the two together to form AT and make sure that you leave a space in front of the card A. Choose pictures of words that end in AT, such as cat, hat, bat. Place these pictures on the table above where you put the AT letter cards.

Then, using a wooden letter block with the first letter of the picture (for example, C for cat), point to the picture, say “cat” and then put the C block in front of the letter cards AT. This will help your child to learn how to understand simple words.

Use an Effective Phonics Programs

Besides books and word games, you can also use phonics programs. While some parents make their own phonics lessons, you can also find ready-made lessons online that fit your child’s age. What these programs can do with your help is to teach your child how to sound out the words that he reads.

Some words just by how often they’re used are called sight words. Because these words challenge the usual grammar rules, they’re harder for a 3-year-old to sound out, as it won’t come out right. You have to teach your child how to recognize their sounds when he sees common sight words.

You might want to look into Children Learning Reading program, which I’ve used to teach my son to read. He started when he was 2 years and 3 months old, he’s 3.5 years old now and he’s able to read simple stories.

What other methods have you found to be very effective in teaching your 3-year-old to read? Do share your tips and strategies with us here so more parents can benefit from your sharing!

The standard edition of Children Learning Reading program.

2 comments for “Best Way to Teach Reading to a 3-Year-Old Child

  1. December 29, 2014 at 3:45 am

    Thanks for this great information. I really like your suggestion on creating puzzles and games to help teach your kids how to read. I am also a fan of phonics programs. I find that they are effective in helping kids read.

    • Fion
      January 2, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      Hi Patty,

      I’m glad you like the idea of creating word puzzles and games with young kids! :) Yes, the right kind of phonics programs can be effective in helping a young child learn to read. And I find that a reading program that is based on phonics and phonemic awareness instructions such as the Children Learning Reading program that I’ve used with my own child is highly effective in teaching him to read.

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