How to Teach a 6 Year-Old to Read Successfully


Teaching a 6 year-old to read is one of the most important things you can do as a parent. It can affect their chances of employment, performance in school, and even their ability to live a happy life.

However, teaching them to read isn’t always easy. With so many different opinions being thrown around, it’s even harder to know where to begin.

That’s where this article comes in!

We’ll show you step by step how to teach your 6 year old to read and why doing so is so important.


The featured image for the article on how to teach a 6 year old to read showing a mother and daughter reading in a park

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Should my 6 year-old be reading

At the age of 6, most children are in grade 1. They are working on mastering basic reading skills, including reading short vowel words and letter sounds.

If they’re still in kindergarten, they will be learning pre reading skills.

So while they may not be reading fluently at 6 years old, they should have a basic reading foundation in place.

Why it’s essential for 6-year-old kids to learn how to read.

The benefits


  • Reading is fun and can be a lifelong hobby
  • Assists in brain development
  • Helps them improve their ability to learn as they get older
  • Kids who know how to read proficiently often go on to do well in life
  • Improves their academic performance
  • Helps them with their language skills and allow them to be more fulfilled as a person as they become older

Because 6 year-olds are very impressionable, it’s critical to make sure they’re exposed to a wide range of topics and reading materials.

Making time for teaching your young child how to read should be a priority!

My 6 year-old is a struggling reader

While kids progress in reading at their own pace, many reasons may explain why some 6 year-olds struggle to read.

Children may struggle with reading because they:

  • haven’t received sufficient pre-literacy skills development
  • may have hearing difficulties
  • learning disabilities, or other developmental challenges such as dyslexia that are affecting their ability to read
  • they just need a bit more time and practice before they improve

If you suspect your child is struggling with reading, consider asking the school for screening by the literacy department. If your child does have issues with reading, it’s important to get help early to learn how to overcome them and enjoy reading for life.

A mother helping her son read on the sofa

Tips on teaching your 6 year old to read

Before we get into the actual steps of teaching your child to read, it’s crucial for you as the parent to always:

  • Remain patient
  • Display high energy
  • Be consistent

This is important because the best way to teach kids something is by showing them you believe in their ability. If they see your attitude change when it comes time to help them with reading, they will be less likely to want to learn.

It’s also vital to pick the right time and place to teach them. You don’t want distractions such as the television, other children, or music playing in the background. It needs to be a quiet, distraction-free zone so your child can fully focus on what you’re teaching them.

Focus on Phonemic Awareness and Phonics

Phonemic awareness is the foundation of all reading skills. It’s something you should start with when you’re trying to teach a 6-year-old how to read or helping them overcome reading struggles.

Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and tell the difference between different sounds in words.

The first step to phonemic awareness is helping your child develop an ear for the sounds that each letter makes.

Phonics is another crucial literacy skill that can be taught at any age but is vital for children in grade 1 and up.

Phonics is the link between sounds, letters, and words. The purpose of phonics is to help children understand how letters represent different speech sounds in words. They do this by associating the sounds with particular letters to form words.

Phonics also helps kids learn to blend or combine letter sounds into whole words and decode words into individual letter sounds. For example, “cat” is broken down into /c/ /a/ /t/.

Learning phonemic awareness and phonics requires explicit instruction, so give your child fun and formal phonics-based reading lessons every day at home. This will help them build a strong base for future learning.

Don’t worry; if you don’t know where or how to teach phonemic awareness and phonics, keep reading because we have an excellent recommendation later in this article.

The tips we will now discuss are also important and should assist in:

  • developing your child‘s vocabulary
  • increasing their love for reading
  • and improving general literacy skills

A father and daughter learning phonics with flashcards

Build-up Sight Word Knowledge

Sight words are high-frequency words seen most often in reading and common words that can’t be sounded out.

It’s best to start with just a few sight words, ensuring that your child has memorized them before moving on to new ones.

Read with Your Child

Studies show that children who enjoy reading in early grades are more likely to perform well in school.

But this doesn’t always happen without help!

That’s why you must read with your child every day! We know it’s hard to find the time, but the bond you’ll build is priceless.

Reading to children is an excellent way to open their minds to new concepts, expand their imagination, and help them grow.

To ensure your child is reading at a high level, they should be reading for at least 10 – 20 minutes per day. You can’t expect them to absorb everything they read in one sitting, so making sure they’re reading throughout the day will ensure they’re learning new vocabulary and making connections with the text.

Many children struggle with reading comprehension, but reading aloud with your child can help them understand what they are reading.

Make reading fun for them – don’t force it. Reading aloud should be something you do for enjoyment and not punishment.

If they aren’t in the mood to read, you can always take a break and try again later.

The more you read to your child, the more they are likely to read on their own

Read one page aloud to your child with him following along, then have him read the next page. You can even read some pages together as well!

Keeping your child‘s attention can be difficult when they aren’t interested in the topic at hand.

To help ensure your child continues with their daily reading sessions over time without losing interest early on, make sure you read books about subjects they enjoy instead!

At 6 years old, your child is old enough to choose their own books. So tap into their interests and let them pick out the books they want to read. If they enjoy what they’re reading about – then it will all come that much easier.

Discuss the stories and ask questions

Discuss interesting words and points of interest, and think about how your child feels about the book. This encourages your child to pay more attention to the story and build listening skills. This also shows them that reading is a social activity, where you can discuss what you are thinking.

Ask questions

When you read books to your child, they must be engaged in the story. One way of doing this is by asking questions.

For instance, if reading a book about a lost dog, you could use that as a call to action for them to try and read some words. Ask questions like “can you find a word with an ‘o’ in it?” or “do you think the dog’s name had an ‘e’ in it?” or “what do you think the dog’s owner’s last name was?”

You can also ask more advanced questions.

For example, if you read a book with animals, ask them what they think of certain animals and how the animals might be feeling. Questions that encourage your child to give more detail in their answers will help build their speaking and writing skills.

Make a game out of predicting what will happen in the story. Start by asking your child, “What do you think might happen?” or “Why did character X make that choice?”. Then discuss their thoughts with them as we go along to see if those predictions came true at the end!

This is an engaging way to build comprehension and vocabulary.

Play Word Games

Word games can help your child develop their vocabulary and spelling skills.

Spelling words

Play a game where you spell out different words, like the name of an animal or object in the room. For example, if you’re reading about cats, say “C-A-T” and give them time to guess what word it is before telling them the answer. This game could also be played with objects in your child‘s environment, like their toys or items in a room.

Spell out letters

Spell out different letters throughout the book and ask questions like “Can you find an ‘H’? Where is it?” or “Does this sentence start with an ‘A’? What letter is next to it?”. This game can also be played with sounds, like the sound that an animal makes.


A fun word game to play in the car is I-spy. For example, if they look out the window at birds in a tree, you could say, “I spy something that is brown” or “I spy something with 4 legs.” Or you could say, “I spy with my little eye something that starts with ‘S'” and see if they can guess what it is.

There are dozens of other fun word games you can play with your child to help them build confidence and literacy skills.

Mom and daughter playing word games with letter blocks

What is the best way for parents who don’t know how to teach their children to read?

Invest in a step-by-step phonics-based reading program.

We recommend the Children Learning Reading program. It’s one of the best reading programs for 1st graders that teaches a child to read using a step-by-step approach.

The program is a very thorough and complete way to teach your child how to read, as it covers all the necessary components of building a solid reading foundation.

It’s also designed for parents with no prior teaching experience. The program walks you through each lesson, so it’s incredibly easy to teach your child.

It only requires a 10-minute commitment per day, which is why it’s also the best program for busy parents.

You can click the button below to learn more about the program or read our full review of Children Learning Reading.

Reading is a skill that takes time to develop, so practicing often is essential. Your child may not want to read at first, but by being patient and having fun along the way, they will learn to love it!

Like any skill, it takes time and effort to learn how to read. The most important thing to remember is that practice makes perfect. The more you practice reading with your child, the faster they will learn.

Reading is a life-long skill. Your child will continue to use their literacy skills the rest of their life, whether it’s reading street signs, restaurant menus, or newspapers.

Not only will reading help your child learn, but it will also build their confidence. They will feel more confident when it’s time for them to read aloud in class or when they have to answer a question in front of a group.

The early years are a crucial time to teach a child how to read.

At the age of 6, your child is at a vital stage in their language development. They have a lot of new skills to learn, including how to read.

It is a big job to take on, but you can help transform your child into a successful reader with the steps discussed above.