One thing that teachers and parents should keep in mind when teaching children how to read is that it is never too early to start, though a child under four should not be expected to develop too much reading comprehension. It is also important to remember a few tricks that can make early reading easier, such as the use of lowercase letters when first learning to read, teaching reading and writing together, and making time each day to read. Anyone teaching children how to read should also focus on ways to make reading fun and interesting for them.
Teaching children how to read should typically begin as soon as possible, though children under about four years old should not be expected to develop too much reading ability. No harm can come from starting before the age of four, however, as long as parents or teachers are patient and understanding. Even if a young child does not seem to develop much in the way of reading comprehension, the early practice may make later reading easier for him or her.
There are a number of different approaches that can be used when teaching children how to read, though most methods are either phonetic or based on whole words. Phonetic approaches can be helpful, as children are taught to sound out words based on separate letter sounds. This approach is somewhat flawed, however, as many words are created using letters that sound unusual and exceptions to most linguistic rules are prevalent. The whole word approach, which teaches children to recognize entire words, gets around many of these failings, and both methods should be used when teaching children how to read.
Other tips for teaching children how to read include the use of lowercase letters when teaching reading, rather than uppercase letters. While many books and programs use uppercase letters, many more do not and learning uppercase letters before lowercase ones can make the process of developing writing in lowercase harder. It is also a good idea for a teacher or parent to teach reading and writing together to a child. Learning is often easier when it is an active process, and the muscle memory developed through learning to write can make recognition of letters and words easier.
It is also important for anyone teaching children how to read to make time each day for reading. This means that parents should find a time, not just at bedtime, to read with a child and allow the child to practice reading. It is also important for reading to be a fun activity for a child, so reading should not be used as a punishment or equated with an undesired task. Children should be allowed to read books they find interesting, as this helps develop a natural interest in reading and demonstrates different types of books that are available to them.