Helping Child Learn to Read

Question: My first-grader has only been exposed to a total phonic-based reading program since kindergarten. She is no closer to reading now than she was last year. She just does not get phonics. Is there any way to help her? -- Need a Solution

Answer: One thing that you can do to make learning phonics easier for your child is to introduce her to the word family approach. For example, "pan," "man," "tan" and "van" all share the -an ending, so these words are all part of the -an word family.

It will be much easier for your child to treat the -"an" sound as a unit and to only sound out the initial consonant rather than trying to blend the sounds of several individual letters together. Plus, your daughter is probably familiar with rhymes making word family stories easier and lots more fun to read. Think of how easy it would be for her to read: Nan ran. Nan ran and ran. Nan ran to Dan.

Online, you should be able to find many word family stories. Our website ( has 42 word family stories in our Skinny Books series. We also have instructions about how to use word family readers as well as helpful worksheets.

In addition, be sure to check her reading level on our website. She may read better than you think.