Methods for teaching children to read

Reading is one of the basic skills for learning. It is no coincidence that it is one of the first lessons children receive at school. However, although reading opens up a world of possibilities for little ones, deciphering the first words is not an easy task, neither for the learner nor for the teacher.

Teaching to read requires a lot of patience and the use of good methods. In this sense, there are two main methods for teaching children to read, as indicated by a study carried out at the University of Palencia: synthetic methods and analytical or global methods.

Methods for teaching children to read children

The synthetic method

The synthetic method is the most traditional, which is why it is usually the one most used in schools to teach reading. It is based on the fragmented analysis of each word, to then unite all the parts and give them a meaning. In other words, the letters and their sounds are taught first and then they are joined in various combinations that give rise to syllables, words and later to phrases.

This method is based on Most of the methodologies currently used in primary schools, such as the alphabetic method (based on learning vowels and consonants), the phonetic method (based on learning the sounds of letters) and the syllabic ( based on learning syllables), according to a study by the University of Valladolid.

The benefits:

  • It uses a simple procedure that It relates each letter to its phoneme or sound so it is quite easy to learn.
  • It offers quick results because once the child has learned the sounds of the letters, he can read new combinations by applying deduction.
  • The association of didactic resources (such as images, sounds or movements) are m Very effective in facilitating learning.
  • As the child progresses in learning the combinations of letters, they will be able to read words and some simple phrases more easily.


  • Stimulates mechanical reading, so the child takes longer in understanding words and their meaning.
  • During the first part of learning it is difficult to understand words as a whole, which is why syllabification is common.
  • It does not favor a speed reading, most children who learn with this method do a visual reading (with sound); that is, they move their mouths while reading, which makes reading slower.
  • It does not promote understanding of words, so learning to read is usually less motivating.

How to Teach a Child to Read

The analytical or global method

The global method is based on working with the word as a whole, associated with a meaning. Instead of first teaching the letters and then joining them, with this method the words and their meaning are first learned and later, by deduction, the sounds of each letter and each syllabic combination are learned.

It is usually associated with images that represent the meaning of each word, for example: the word elephant is presented accompanied by the corresponding image. In this way, when children see the images, they are able to identify what it is and quickly understand its meaning.

The benefits:

  • It allows you to teach reading from a very early age (even at 3 years of age) because it is a very intuitive method.
  • It is very effective for quickly understanding the meaning of words and reading more fluently .
  • After several repetitions, children are ready to read complete sentences, which will gradually become more complex.
  • Children are highly motivated with this method because they are able to understand what they read.

The drawbacks:

  • More misspellings are common, especially when the sounds are similar as in the case of “b” and “v” and “s” and “c”.
  • Sometimes it is difficult to read words that are difficult to represent, as in the case of emotions, concepts abstracts or onomatopoeic sounds.
  • It is difficult for the child to learn to syllable and spell.
  • It can increase the chances of developing dyslexia.

What is the best solution for teaching children to read?

Although at first glance the analytical and global methods may seem opposed and even incompatible, the truth is that they can be used in a complementary way to enhance learning to read. Therefore, instead of opting for one method or another, the best solution is to use both procedures using a mixed method, depending on the child’s age.

Consequently, you can begin around the age of 3 with the teaching of simple words associated with images and later, from the age of 5 or 6, start with spelling and syllabus, that is, with word decomposition.