Starfall is a digital reading and phonics program based on recommendations from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The program is used by many teachers in elementary schools, and by parents looking for reading support. Access it online or as an app. Starfall is geared for children age 4 through 8 or 9. Use it to reinforce the skills your child learns at school or as a homeschooling tool.

The Basics

Start by working on the ABC lessons. Help your child click on individual letters. The program presents the letters of the alphabet and their sounds through songs and games. According to Starfall, your child can explore the letters in any order. In addition to the lessons, Starfall offers simple nursery rhymes, fun games, and even activities to reinforce math skills, such as telling time and addition. Explore these activities to keep up interest.

Phonics Instruction

Once your child can recognize most of the letters of the alphabet, move on to the section labeled "Learn to Read." Start with row number one and continue through the next rows. Each row uses games and activities to reinforce phonics skills. The lessons are presented sequentially, so don't skip around on this section.

Beginning to Read

Later, you'll read short stories in the "It's Fun to Read" and "I'm Reading" sections. These activities develop vocabulary and comprehension. A child moving through these sections will move from learning to read to reading to learn. These sections help your child understand different types of written material, such as fiction, nonfiction, fairy tales and plays. The early stories offer an auditory option so your child can hear the story while reading it. Later lessons are strictly visual. Be sure that your child has mastered the early lessons before moving on.

Building Comprehension

In addition to the online program, Starfall offers printable activities and readers to do with your child offline. As you use the Starfall program, offer other reading and writing opportunities, as well. Visit the library often and check out books that interest your child. Attend story time and read stories together. Write letters and cards to family and friends. Ask your child to help you make to-do lists or grocery lists. All these activities build literacy skills in meaningful, real-world ways.

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About the Author

Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."