Step 1 in teaching my kids to read was teaching them their ABCs! (I was trying to channel my inner Dr Seuss with that sentence)
I took a memo cube from next to my phone. It happened to be one that I had been gradually using for nearly two decades. I guess I don’t really take many messages! Anyway, I only mention that to say that I didn’t need some complicated or expensive system. I started with lowercase letters, because most text is lowercase. I printed one letter on each slip of paper, so that I had… 26 sheets of paper. These were our first flashcards.
My kids are now at Montesorri school, where they are taught letter sounds instead of letter names. Later on, they are taught letter names. I see some benefit to this, as they instantly associate the letter with its most common sound, rather than thinking of the name and then secondarily having to think of the sound. However, when I taught my kids, prior to their official schooling, I didn’t do this. I know there are different theories on this, and I encourage you to choose the one you feel is most appropriate for your child. (Interesting article on this can be found here. I’ll do a post on this article soon, so stay tuned or Follow this blog to be alerted to it.)
I taught them the letter names, beginning with the first 5 letters: a through e. I showed my son the flashcard, told him the name of the letter, asked him to repeat it, and then put it face down on the floor (which is where we worked for some reason that my knees don’t understand). I then ran through the first letters several times, until he could name most or all of them. That was it for Day 1. I repeated this approach for the next couple weeks, until he could identify the letters by sight.
Once my son had a fair degree of fluency with his lowercase letter names, I made a second set of flashcards: Uppercase letters. We repeated the same exercises, and if he had trouble I would show him the corresponding lowercase letter and talk about how it looked the same or different.
Next Step… Letter Sounds