Did I mention my 5 year old daughter is reading? She tells me she can't read but she can. Her brother did the same thing during the spring of his pre-k year also. Coincidentally, they were both 5 years and 2 months old, when they could read a story independently. (But since her birthday is in december and his is in february she read earlier in the Pre-K year.)
I didn't really teach my son how to read, but we read a lot of children's books. He did only one year of preschool, and played a lot of starfall.com. We also watched the new Electric Company every afternoon. Our local library also had a HUGE AMAZING selection of beginning reader and pre-reader books.
My daughter doesn't play starfall no matter how much I encourage it. So I knew that would not be an effective method. Our current library has a PATHIC selection of pre-reader and beginning reading books. And since she has spent so long in preschool, I really haven't done too many preschool activities with her. She is drained from school related stuff, so we just play and have screen time. (I won't lie, she has WAY too much screen time.) Last year it was nice because she finished off the school year knowing all her letters. Really?, I never taught her that. I also never taught her how to spell her name. Although we read LOTS in this house, I rarely read to her by that point. She didn't like me reading to her, so why was I going to force her. We've never really done bedtime stories with her. We are sort of pathetic parents with her when it comes to that. She never had an interest in it, so why force it. I've heard books in the house are more effective at determining a child who grows up to be a reader, and reading to a child. What I mean is a child who isn't raised around books, but is read to every day because the pediatrician says to, or because its the good thing for a child to do, or because books are donated to underprivileged kids, or because that is what the daycare worker/head-start teacher/preschool teacher does is less like to grow up and be a reader than I child who isn't read to daily but has books surrounding them in their house. I can't remember where I read that so maybe its not actually true, and maybe I just tell myself that to help me sleep at night. But she didn't like be read to, but often played with books, and looked at pictures in books, saw everyone else in her family read, so I didn't push daily reading time with my daughter. Honestly it made my life easier. Then in October I went in to a parent teacher conference for her, and her teacher was showing me her "grades". She knew all of her sounds! Say what? where did she learn all those? apparently from four day a week preschool and speech therapy? I also started to notice at home she had all her pre-reading skills down. She could go on a picture walk in the book (look at all the pictures in the right order) and tell me the entire plot of the book. She started to have an interest in us reading her library books, not to mention she started picking out library books. So in December or January after her fifth birthday, I started The Reading Lesson with her.
So we switched methods, we are now reading the I see Sam books.
We have the first two collections/sets on loan. And they are working for her, she seems to see the accomplishment easier where it is a thin book. But our skills together were too low for us to have started with I see Sam book, we needed someone to explain phonetics to us.
After we finish if there is still time before school starts, we'll move on the Bob books at the library, but from what I've seen with her and heard from others, they aren't good to start with, because the words and pages are too small.
My all time favorite books are flip a word books.
But at $10 a pop, I can't justify buying too many, even if I have two more kids to teach to read. I didn't use a specific method with my oldest, and I say it was starfall, but honestly we read every single one of these flip a word books, until he had them memorized, because they were all at the public library. They are AWESOME at teaching word families.
By the way, I always intended to teach my daughter to read before kindergarten. I think public schools do a lot of things right, but I don't think a ratio of 1:25 or even 2:25 can teach reading. I think kindergarten will be great to build her reading self esteem, get her exposed to lot of books, really teach the rules, but for learning to read 1:1 is the best, and so I always planned on her reading before kindergarten started.
I just find it so odd both of my children were exactly the same age.