How to Teach a 4-Year-Old to Read & Write

By Chad Stetson

Teaching your child to read is one of the best gifts he can receive from you. The earlier you start with literacy lessons, the better off he will be. Children who learn how to read at an early age perform better academically throughout their lives. Also, children who learn how to write at an early age have better penmanship skills.

Read to your child. Do this every night, or as often as you can. By reading to your child, you will help him develop an interest in literature at a young age. Avoid letting the television babysit your child; instead, try to provide every opportunity for him to get acquainted with books.

Create flash cards to gently teach your child with them. The more you use these cards with your child, the better he will become at recognizing words. Start with fun pictures on the flashcards to keep your child's attention focused and to add a bit of fun. As he builds his vocabulary, you can add new words to keep him interested in learning.

Read street signs, billboards and menus with your child. Teach the names of people they are familiar with. Anything the child can interact with is a tool to help teach. You can also point to household items and say the name of the item slowly, and have your child repeat it.

Work with your child on writing skills. As your child learns new words, work with her to practice writing them down on paper. Of course you should first start with the alphabet, but as she progresses you can add words to the writing exercises. You can also teach her how to recognize her name and learn how to write it. Be patient during this step because it may take awhile for her to grasp the concept of writing.

Give your child small books to begin reading. Sit with your child every day to read books with him. As he makes progress, give him books that are more advanced. Slowly increase the difficulty of the books and work with him to increase his ability. If he goes to preschool, work with his teacher to see what else he is exposed to that allows him to learn about reading and writing.

Celebrate milestones of progress with her. Give appropriate rewards for significant progress made during this process. This shows the child her that learning is rewarding because it is path to long-term success.