Learning to Read With McGuffey's Readers
My children both learned to read with McGuffey's Readers. Thanks to Gutenberg, everyone can use McGuffey's readers for free. As there are several volumes, you can find them on the catalog page by typing McGuffey in the title search box. You can even read the history of the books here.
After the child has learned the alphabet and letter sounds, reading lessons should begin with the Primer. Stay on each lesson until the child can read it without hesitation and with confidence. It took several weeks before we moved beyond the fifth lesson, so don't be afraid to take your time.
I found it helpful to write the words for each lesson in large print on a chalkboard (or dry erase board). I also wrote each word of the lesson on an index card with a black Sharpie marker. The index cards were used as flash cards at least once a day, in addition to the reading lesson from the Primer. The lesson's number written on the back of the card helped me keep the cards in order. My children also liked having the lesson's words printed in large type from the computer so they could hang it next to their beds. When tucking them in at night, we would again practice the words.
Each new word was learned by sounding it out. If it was a sight word, it was learned by sight and memorized. I wrote the Dolch sight words on index cards also. Hence, my children learned to read phonetically and by sight. Both methods are needed to learn to read. Many English words are not phonetic and are quite frustrating to young readers. Memorizing the sight words helps the child read real books sooner, which gives the child much satisfaction. However, children who are taught to read solely by sight are done a huge disservice. They will never know the delight and independence of coming upon an unknown word and correctly sounding it out. Reading phonetically helps the child when spelling as well. Many times in Spelling my children have correctly spelled a word which they have never heard before simply because they could sound it out.
The best tool for teaching reading is patience. If the child is not progressing, if either of you is repeatedly becoming frustrated, if your child exclaims that she hates reading, then it is time to put all the reading materials away. Take several weeks (or even months) off reading lessons and come back to them later. Mark Twain said, "The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them. " I say, " The child who hates reading has no advantage over the child who can't read." The mere ability to read is not important if the child detests reading and avoids it at all costs.