How I taught my child to read before she started school

I introduced Anaya, my daughter to Home School Connect, in early February 2013 when she was aged 4 years, 1 month. This September 2013, Anaya went up to Reception class from nursery. She started school being able to read and is on Reading Scheme Stage 5/Book Band Green (this is approximately 1 – 1.5 years ahead of what is expected for her age). Her teacher is truly amazed, but I know it was simply down to a little effort on my part and the Home School Connect approach and child friendly materials (within the Reception Reading Pack).

I read the HSC parent guide carefully and was delighted to find out that there were actually just 5 key home activities I had to do! For some reason I thought it was going to be really complicated, but it just wasn’t. Below is our picture diary of how Anaya learned to read in 7 months from the very beginning.

I hope our story inspires you. I can’t thank Home School Connect enough for the pride and satisfaction I now feel, knowing I taught my daughter to read. Anaya’s confidence is soaring now with this tremendous head start and perhaps more importantly,  she has found an early love of reading books!


1. reading pic books

1. We read a huge variety of picture books together (nearly every day) and I asked Anaya different comprehension questions to make sure she developed a deeper understanding of stories and also increased her vocabulary. The HSC guide provides these questions, and the website recommends some great age-appropriate picture books for 3-5 year olds. We got ours from the library and bought a few of her favourites.

2. the sounds

2. I taught Anaya the “sounds” in the order that they are typically introduced in schools. Home School Connect corresponds to the DfES Phonics programme – Letters and Sounds (2007). She learnt all the phase 2 (orange) sounds and then also the phase 3 sounds (purple). The HSC website has a phonics soundboard so you can hear how the sounds are supposed to be pronounced. Really useful!

3. Making words3. For each set of sounds, we had to make lots of words together and practise blending the sounds. We used fun magnetic tiles, the wipeboard and phonic sound cubes to do this. The words to make and the order in which to make them were listed in the HSC guide – having the words all listed in front of me was so so useful! How parents can teach ‘blending’ is explained well in the guide. You can even watch teaching videos on the website.

4. HFW

4. I taught Anaya the high frequency words. There are about 100 to learn and I taught her about 5 words a week using a fun procedure described in the guide. Again the HSC website has demonstration videos so that if you are still unclear about anything after reading the guide, parents can watch videos of children being taught. I worked through the orange words, then purple, then lime green.

5. Read aloud

5. Finally I heard Anaya read a book aloud every day or nearly every day. This was so that she could put into practice all the phonic skills she was learning! As Anaya was not in school yet, she couldn’t get any books from school. Buying the reading scheme books were very expensive, so HSC recommended I join Reading Chest – a reading scheme book loan system that works through your letterbox! I joined and it was brilliant – Anaya received upto 6 books at a time through the post, and as Anaya finished reading them, we posted them back! For a small monthly fee, it was really convenient and a lot less expensive than buying the books, particularly as she was only going to read a book once and then move onto the next book! I believe now, HSC parents can even get a £5 discount on the first months membership by quoting a code.

So that’s it! The methodology was simple. The tricky part if I’m honest was making sure we always had fun, staying positive when progress was slower and also allowing Anaya to set the pace. The HSC guide now has an extremely useful section on ‘parent-child interaction’ which I wish I had! Anyhow, Dr Silva was always there to support us, whenever I e-mailed or phoned with a query. I didn’t feel I was just left to ‘get on with it’. I realise most parents will use the Reception Reading Pack while their child is actually in Reception to reinforce what their child is learning in class.  I just wanted to share my story with families out there to illustrate the power of Home School Connect and the Reception Reading Pack . For all those families who are super keen, and want to give their child a head start, HSC makes it possible to teach your child to read even before they start school!