I'd like to start by saying I'm not a homeschooling mom. However my oldest is going to be 4yrs old in a month and he's asked a few times to be taught to read so he can read his books by himself. I can't think of any valid reason why I should tell him that he has to wait two years for school to learn to read. Right now he doesn't even know his letters. Like I said I'm not a homeschooler so I'm at loss as to how to go about teaching him letters and eventually to read. How did you teach your kids?
I used starfall.com, letteroftheweek.com and readingbear.com. you can also look at allinonehomescool.com. We started with pointing out letters once my kids knew them by sight we started talking about letter sounds. Once they knew all of them we started blending sounds together to make words.
My son will be 4 in a few weeks. I started teaching him about five months ago. Capital letters we did one per week for I think three weeks, then it clicked and he learned the rest within a few weeks. Lower case took probably two months altogether. Once he got his lowercase letters down, he regressed a little with uppercase letters so we reviewed both upper and lowercase letters for a couple of weeks and during that time began to learn letter sounds. Now he is about halfway through his letter sounds, we practice beginning sounds and ending sounds. We use alphabet bingo as well, but I call out the sound, not the letter. We will continue like this until he gets them all and then we will begin the book "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons". :)
We started with letters and letter sounds.. then once we had that down we started learning how to blend sounds to make a word.. then started on some sight words 3-4 letter words. My oldest whom I am homeschooling for kindergarten learned in 3 weeks. She is now reading words on the close captioning. LOL We also got her some reading level 1 and 2 books.
I didn't plan on teaching my younger kids their letters etc. until age 4.....but at age 2 1/2 I let them watch the leap frog dvds (learning letters and the one with words) and they just picked the letters up from watching them a few times. I would start there...and then see if he can pick up more after that..... if he does learn his letters and their sounds....I then would use www.abcya.com (free site) you can set the Kindergarden level so it says the letter name and they click on the letter...OR you can have it say the sound and they click on the letter (you also can choose capitals or lower case...my 4 year old does a lot of the activities on there and loves them)
My oldest started learning to read in private school and we continued after we started to homeschool; our 2nd son self-taught using different methods (us reading, him "reading", sometimes used Reading Eggs (free trial) and the free Starfall) and just going to the library & continuing to read to him a lot. We never did letter recognition but he learned letter sounds when I would work with older brother. Now our 3rd son is 4 and he is reading but only when he feels like it!
One book that helped me greatly was The 3 R's by Ruth Beechick, it is geared towards homeschool but also can be viewed as "after-schooling" and won't hinder him if he goes into public or private school; she recommends teaching sounds versus letters, the memorization of the alphabet makes no difference when learning to read, however it is helpful for them to recognize letters and we did this by upper- and lower- case matching (index cards or puzzle pieces).
Take cues from your son, when he gets tired of having a reading lesson just quit then and be sure to continue reading aloud to him and emphasizing words he might recognize on his own!
My little guy loved Leap Frog videos. That gave him a heads up with his phonics.
Starfall.com is free for the most part. We used that, be we also used it in conjuction with All About Reading's materials, but those about $100 for each level... We've loved them though. It teaches based off of phonics and its multisensory.
An easy way though that I did when my little guy was 2, and I think gave him a boost with his reading:
Start with capital letters. Do a letter a week or a letter a day...depending on how fast he's learning. Go over the letter name, and then letter sound - all the different sounds (the A says "a" as in age, the A says "/a/" as in has, etc. AllAboutLearningPress has a free app on their website and for download that does all the sounds for each letter). Once he gets all the sounds of the letter, move on to the next. But while learning them - what I did with my little guy was find poems that emphasized those sounds. Alliteration was our best friend :) We would also go on hikes and find things that started with that letter. Some letters are harder than others....especially Q... I actually put up pictures of quails and queens and things like that to find on our walk lol. I would let him take pictures of these things as we found him, and when we got home, we printed the pictures out and had him practice writing the words next ot the pictures in a notebook.
After he mastered Captial letters, we went back and did little letters, which went a lot faster. We played matching games - the Mommy letters had to find their babies.
With a lot of his handwriting practice, I found worksheets online that were free, printed them out, put them in page protectors, and had him practice with a dry erase marker so he could do it over and over again. That way we could also go back and review after so many letters.
I don't really recall how my middle son learned his letters initially. He's always loved playing with flash cards (games like "pick up", "jump on", etc the letter cards) and playing with his letter blocks.
For learning the sounds, I cannot recommend anything other than Leapfrog Letter Factory.
Then we worked on blending CVC words.
Now he's moving into Primary Arts of Language Reading, which is a blended sight/sound approach to reading.