learning to read

Watching my 5 year old son learn to read has been a fascinating, yet sometimes frustrating process. Helping a kindergartener learn to read fluently presents the proudest moments, and also moments that make you literally want to pull your hair out. It takes consistency, persistency, and for me, guidance from others. I am not an expert in this field,  that is children learning to read. What I am, is a homeschooling mom of a 5 year old who is figuring it out as we go. In this post I will share what’s been working for us, and also a free printable reading log and sight words lists.

Thankfully, my son had the most amazing pre-k teacher – seriously this woman is a saint. She taught him the basis of learning to read, and by the end of his time in her class he was reading small beginner’s books. Between her and my teacher friends, I’ve had a lot of support and received a lot of good tips!

free printable reading log

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Learning to Read – Tips for teaching kids to read fluently

First, practice is key. When Kai graduated pre-k last school year, I made all of these plans (in my head) for how we would keep him reading over the summer. Then he read about 5-10 small books the entire summer. When we started our first year of homeschool in the fall, I was kicking myself for that. It would have been much easier if I had kept him practicing consistently, just like anything else.

Note: Not sure what “sight words” are? Don’t feel bad, neither did I when a first heard the term. I am not a teacher and Kai is my firstborn, so I am learning here too. Sight words are common words that appear again and again in your child’s reading material. Knowing these words “by sight” is essential for fluent reading.

When we started practicing daily I immediately saw an improvement in his confidence. The first few days were a struggle because he is a human, and humans don’t naturally like being forced to do things they aren’t already good at. After a few days, every day has become easier and more enjoyable. Kai even adds books because he wants to read more and more now.

This is where the printable reading log comes in. As a homeschool mom, I have been keeping a portfolio of Kai’s work throughout the year. This is important for documenting his progress. Once we started practicing daily reading, I realized I wasn’t able to track or show his progress in that area on paper. Reading is one of, if not the most important thing he is learning, so I wanted a way to document it. Without learning to read, he won’t be able to do….anything else.

Here are some things that have helped us with our kindergartener learning to read:

Bob’s Books

Kai’s preschool teacher uses these in her classroom and suggested we get a few sets. We did, and they have been the biggest reading tool we have used yet. The book collections are set up in different categories: beginning readers which helps to teach letter sounds, sight words, word families, compound words and more.

Before I knew about these books I was having Kai attempt to read other short books we had around the house, and it was not going well. Starting with books that are designed to build a child’s confidence as a reader is key. There is nothing better than that look on their face after they read “The End” on their very first book. Once they start to build that confidence it’s much easier to get them to take the time to sound out words they don’t know yet. Bob’s Books have been the key tool in learning to read so far. I highly recommend them!


Sight Words
Learning sight words has also been key to our success with learning to read. At first, Kai started learning sight words through games and flash cards in pre-k. His teacher even had them printed and laminated on the floor and the kids would walk the path of words each morning and read the words to their parents. She would periodically change the words out. She sent home lists and suggested we write the words on popsicle sticks to use as “flash cards” to practice with the kids. We would even have Kai arrange the sticks into sentences that he could make out of the sight words.

When we started our Kindergarten year of homeschool I went back through all of the lists, flash cards, and popsicle sticks we had with sight words on them a few times with him until I was sure he could easily recognize them all. Once he had them all very well memorized we stopped going through those, because he now sees them in the books he reads daily. Simply knowing those sight words easily by memory makes him so much more confident and able to take his time to sound out newer words he comes across that he doesn’t recognize yet.

Scroll down to download the free printable sight words lists.


Reading to your child
I made a mistake when Kai first started reading himself, and thought I should basically never read to him again. Before he started reading, I used to read him 2-3 books per day at least. I thought that because he needed to practice reading daily, I shouldn’t take up reading time by doing the reading myself.

After a while, I not only missed reading to him but I also realized that it would help him learn to read by watching me read to him. Now that he was starting to learn the concept of recognizing words and sounding them out, looking at the words as I read them actually helps him recognize new words. It also helps him understand how to read with fluency.

I was really surprised that once I got back into reading to him daily, he started to change his tone and read sentences the proper way depending upon their punctuation. For example, he would read questions with a questioning voice like I do, or sentences that end in an exclamation point with excitement. I giggled the first time I noticed this, because it’s not something I specifically focused on teaching him. He picked up on it by watching me read to him after he was starting to recognize words and sentences.

learning to read kindergarten

Repeating 5 books daily for one week
I told you I am just learning as I go, right? Thankfully, I have great friends who are former teachers. One of my friends gave me the tip to set up a book bucket or basket that has 3-5 books in it and repeat those books over and over all week before changing them out for a new set. Before that, I had this idea that we should work our way through every book for Kai’s reading level that I could possibly find, one at a time, and keep on moving. While he was progressing with his reading, he wasn’t reading fluently.

Once we started focusing on a set of 5 books per week, it was almost instantly that he started reading those books more fluently and actually sounding like he was reading a book to me rather than reading me one word at a time.It’s been amazing to watch him each week start a new set of books with more ease than the week before. I can tell he’s not just getting better at reading those 5 books each week specifically, but better at reading overall.

Using a Reading Log
I mentioned above that I started the reading log as a way to show on paper how much reading Kai is doing, mostly for his homeschool kindergarten portfolio. What I didn’t think of before creating it was that it would actually help him with reading. He gets excited to read more books because he wants to fill up his reading log. Seeing it on paper motivates him. Also, I have him write the book titles and dates on the log himself, so it gives him more writing practice (without feeling like I’m making him sit down for writing practice).

I haven’t told him yet, but I am considering offering a reward for every 30 books he logs (30 is a random number I am pondering in my head). I may offer a trip to the Target dollar bins or something comparable. While writing this out I realized a new book of his choosing would be a great reward!

Download the FREE Printable Reading Log

There are two different versions of the reading log available. When I first made it I included a column for Pages/Minutes. However, our books are currently all short reads, so we haven’t been using that column. What we do still sometimes struggle with is attitude. Some days, Kai is all about reading and other days he’s all about the “I can’t”, huffs and puffs, and says he’s too tired. That’s when I realized that, for now, we would have better use of an attitude column where I can simply place a check or an X. (Or you could do a smiley or frown face.)

If I do end up instituting a reward for every 30 or so books he logs, they would have to be books read with a good attitude.

Click on the image below to download the free printable reading log with Pages/Minutes column

Select Fit to Page before printing.

reading log homeschool free printable

Click on the image below to download the free printable reading log with Attitude column

Select Fit to Page before printing.

reading log homeschool kindergarten

Click on the image below to download the Sight Words Lists
(note: there are 4 pages included in the PDF)

Remember you can write these on popsicle sticks to use as flashcards! You can also write them on balloons and play a game where you throw all the balloons around and the child reads the word on each balloon they catch. Make it fun!

Select Fit to Page before printing.

sight words lists free printable

The last thing I want to share about helping your child learn to read is to hang in there. Every child is different. Watch them closely and pay attention to what they respond positively to, and what they don’t. Use those things to help them learn and enjoy reading more. In my opinion, there is no one completely right or wrong way, only what works best for each child to become a fluent reader who loves reading! This is, after all, the foundation for the rest of their education!

If you have tips and tricks for learning to read that have worked for your children, I would love to hear them! Comment below and share!

Related Post: The Top 10 Reasons We Chose to Homeschool

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