I'm on my second run through and it'd going quite well, if I say so myself. ;)
Neither child has intuitively picked it up without instruction. I am a firm believer in phonics, so that's how we are addressing it.
I like teaching reading. It's fun seeing it click and how much opens up to your children when they can read!
I take some of my cues from how I teach writing- divide the skills.
First, we work on letter recognition. Names of the letters, different ways they are written, the sounds they make. Both of my girls learned their ABCs far in advance of learning to read.
Next, we play blending games. There are a lot of suggestions online and it's good to find a lot since it can take a long time for kids to make the leap from knowing letters to blending sounds! I think that this is one of the most frustrating and confusing parts of the process. Kids know their letters, so they should be able to read, right?
No. Not really.
I think that decoding and blending are developmental, and kids need time for it to all sink in. It's so hard sometimes when it seems like they have the skills and information but can't put it together. I think every mom or dad during reading lessons has listened to a tiny person say, "CCC AAA TTT" and been surprised or baffled that they couldn't put it together to make CAT.
It's easy for us, as readers.
Don't be frustrated, though. It'll happen!
My favorite way to practice blending is to NOT use written words for it. Looking at writing requires them to remember the letter, the sound, the order, AND to try to blend it. It's a LOT!
Instead, when we are in the car or playing in the yard, I ask Little Bird (my current phonics pupil), "What does CCC AAA TTT say? Can you guess? Listen to the sounds! Now, CCC AAA NNN. What's that one?"
At first, it's hard. But once my daughters could connect the sounds just hearing it, and do it well, then I brought it back to books.
It seems to be working well. Little Bird can read short words. Lessons are short and fun and once anyone is antsy or frustrated, we are done.
She gets the benefit of experience, there. I used to get upset with Sweet Pea and push on, even when she wasn't ready. I've learned my lesson, and it's made the process much lower key.