Homeschooling Where to Start

Is Your Child Ready to Learn to Read? These 10 Tips Can Help You Find Out!

Teaching your child to read can be a fun and exciting process! One of the best ways to make sure it’s enjoyable, though, is to be sure he or she is ready to learn to read. Some children are ready at younger ages, and others need a little longer. The age at which a child learns to read isn’t nearly as important as waiting to be sure that child is ready to begin the process. If you try to start too early, it will be frustrating for both of you! If you wait until the time is right, it can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience for both of you!


Below you’ll find some tips to help you determine if your child is ready to learn to read. If he or she exhibits most of the signs on the list, it’s very possible that he/she is ready to get started!

If your child…
1. recognizes letters and understands that each letter has a sound
2. understands that the words on the page (not the pictures) are read to tell the story
3. can tell a story in her own words. For example, if she can retell a familiar fairy tale in her own words from memory.
4. can sit for a short period of time (about 10 to 15 minutes) and pay attention
5. enjoys listening to stories and/or having an adult or older sibling read out loud to him
6. can answer simple questions after listening to a story being read aloud
7. understands that books are read from front to back and left to right
8. can identify or tell rhyming words
9. pretends to read
10. asks, “What does that sign say?” or asks what particular sentences or words in a book say
…then he or she is probably ready to begin learning to read.

Just keep in mind that, if you begin teaching your child to read and determine that he or she just isn’t quite ready, it is perfectly fine to put it away for a few weeks or months and try again later. Some children simply need more time and maturity before learning to read. Some children (especially boys) just aren’t interested in learning to read at age 5 or even 6 or 7. If you try to force him to learn to read before he’s interested, it may cause great frustration for both of you! It’s probably not worth it! Just give him time to mature and develop an interest in learning to read for himself. I know some moms whose boys (or even girls) were 10 or 11 before learning to read. (When those children finally did learn to read, though, they all became proficient readers quickly! It was all about waiting until the time was right!) It’s ok. Try not to feel discouraged. He will learn when he’s ready!

Do you have tips for knowing how to tell if a child is ready to learn to read? If so, please share them with us in the comments!

About the author


Wendy is one of the owners of Hip Homeschool Moms. She lives in the South with her husband, Scott, and 3 children. She is a Christian, homeschooling, work-from-home mom. She is involved in her local church and her work for Hip Homeschool Moms, and she teaches Training for Warriors classes at her local gym. She and Scott were high school sweethearts and have been married for 26 years. Her oldest child, Hannah, is now age 22. She has autism, and Wendy began homeschooling her at age 2. Her son, Noah, is now age 21 and is the second homeschool graduate in the family. Her youngest child, Mary Grace, age 15, is the remaining homeschool student. Wendy loves reading, eating gluten free, and working out.


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  • Oh, WOW, I so needed to read this. I have eight year old twin BOYS. One reads very well. The other has no interests in learning anything in general and struggles with reading. I keep beating myself up over it and get so frustrated. As I am sure he does too.
    Thanks for sharing this about reading.

    • You are very welcome! I’m glad to have encouraged you! My son was not at all interested in learning to read! Once he learned, though, he was an excellent reader. He’s 16 now, and he loves to read. I wish I had given him more time and had a more relaxed approach. I almost squelched his love of reading by pushing him too hard. Have fun and he will get there eventually!

  • Thank you for the encouragement! I have 5 1/2 & 7 year old girls that I am working on this with & feel like a failure, especially with my 7 year old because she’s not reading yet. I get frustrated when she doesn’t “get it”. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I needed the “permission” to HAVE FUN! This is a gift to be able to teach them & I (& they) should enjoy it!

    • Tiffany, I’m so glad you feel better! You are very right! Have fun and allow her to get to the point where she really wants to learn to read. Let her have a good time and experience books as being fun. When she’s ready, she will “get it.” I know a young girl who was 10 or 11 when she learned to read, but now she loves it and is a great reader! Hang in there! It’s not always easy, but you will do great because you love your kids. And that’s what they need more than anything. 🙂

  • Much needed today. Thanks Wendy for the sound advice. My 5-year-old little boy is so wriggly and constantly looks at the pictures rather than the words. I always get so frustrated in trying to shift his focus to the words. These tips are a great reminder that it’s ok if he’s not ready yet!

    • I’m so glad to have helped you, Jennifer! I think we get the idea that kids “need” to learn to read at age 5 because that’s what school systems do, but I’ve seen many many little boys (and some girls too, of course) who aren’t ready until they are several years older. In the mean time, read to him and let him look at the pictures and enjoy the books along with you. When he’s ready, he will learn to read and enjoy it! Until then, let him have fun!

  • Nice piece! As an early educator (Family childcare Provider) this is right on the mark.
    My mantra has long been, as I read in your piece, “Trust children to succeed (they came wired to!); provide the environments in which they can.” Don’t force it, reduce the stress (as a parent I find it difficult to “eliminate” it) and enjoy the PROCESS. Children are born to succeed – brain development research supports this.