Teaching our 5 year old how to read.


Both our kids have special needs.  It doesn’t define our family, but it does make an impact in a few ways.  One was the decision to wait an extra year to send our older son to kindergarten.  My heart ached as I watched my Facebook feed fill with happy pictures of his peers taking off a year ahead of him.  Doubt slipped in, and I wondered if we’d made the right decision.  My son is sharp as a tack academically, but this would be his third year of pre-k.

Last Wednesday, we were sitting around the dinner table, trying to think of productive non-video-game oriented activities for our son.  (You’re going to learn that we really have a love/hate thing with “screen time” at this house!)  Frankly, the kids were driving us up the wall.  My husband looked at me and said, simply, “He needs to know how to read.”  It was like the lightbulbs lit up–as if saying it out loud made us realize how profoundly true it was!  All the academic building blocks had already been put in place for our boy with two years of preschool.  His love for books and stories had always been strong.  His curiosity about how words work had made every car trip a spelling bee where my husband and I would answer hundreds of queries.  It just. made. sense.

So Thursday evening, when the questions came about iPads, cartoons, and video games, I whipped out the Hooked on Phonics app.  By the end of the night, he was reading this:


I can’t even tell you the emotions that came from seeing my baby read sentences like that!  My husband literally hit his head on a wall when he heard my son deciphering the words.  When he was recapping his day before bed, my child said, so matter of factly, “Well, I learned how to read, today!”  Tonight, he sped right through a page that said, “Rams, pigs, cats, rats, and kids.  What a big, big gig!”  I mean, come on guys.  That’s a lot of different combinations and sounds for someone that had never read a single word a week ago.

I’m not an educator or an over-achiever, but seeing my son find the gift of reading has got to be one of the most rewarding projects, EVER!  As much as I’d worried about keeping him back a year, it’s partly because of that decision that he got to learn to read at home, and we got to be part of this process with him!  Just SO, so exciting!

Note: So, the Hooked on Phonics app is free, but every unit (there are 12) costs about $8.  I was very fortunate that I had previously downloaded the ($50) classroom edition for free when they were having a Teacher Appreciation Day promo.  (SO LUCKY!)  It comes with all the content and extra ebooks, plus ways to manage multiple students.  If you are hoping to teach a few members of your household at the same time, I would recommend that version.  The results we’re seeing are amazing, but I also like to think we just have amazing children.


If you are looking for similar deals on educational apps, I recommend following this blog.



2 thoughts on “Teaching our 5 year old how to read.

  1. Good for you!!! And good for your son!!! I also have a special needs child, and I understand the difficulties and struggles that can come with that. I’m not sure how old your youngest is, but this is a simple game I’ve used to help my daughter learn to read, and CONTINUE to want to learn and it creates great family fun. And, while I did not, you could easily make this yourself. Scrabble Magnets. Amazon sells them for $9.95 for over 100 magnets. Place magnets on refrigerator and whenever you, husband or kids walk by, make a word! It’s too complicated to have “turns” in my opinion. Then when my daughter correctly SPELLS a 7 letter word (she’s 11, so for your boys you may want to use a smaller number, like 4) we reward her with either an extra special snack, or she gets to pick the movie on movie night, or something like that.

    Of course, what you’re doing is great! I didn’t even know they had a hooked on phonics app, I am going to look at that right now for my daughter!

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