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Teaching Preschoolers to Read
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Teaching Preschoolers to Read
Please someone, some perspective for me. If one more of my
friends tells me about how ''Johnny'' can already read at
age 4 I'm gonna spit! My child is bright, has always been
read to (constantly), including plenty of rhyming stories,
but is just, at 5, mastering the alphabet. Should I be
worried? Should I be doing something else? Please, folks,
be gentle, part of me knows this is insane....
new year, new worry...
Do not worry about your child at all. My son did not read in preschool, and
not much in Kindergarten (in fact, at the end of Kindergarten, he still couldn't
really differentiate between vowels -- pit, pot, and pat were routinely
He didn't really start to ''read'' (i.e. voluntarily pick up a book and read it to
himself) until almost the end of first grade, though he loved (and still loves)
being read to.
Now, in third grade, he's at the top of his class in reading. Routinely scores
above the 90th percentile. And loves, loves, loves to read to himself. Gets
mad if he doesn't have enough time to pick up his book and read it to himself
Research shows that the majority of normal kids who don't learn to read until
Kindergarten or later, catch up by grade 3, as long as they have plenty of
books read to them, and as long as they don't have a problem such as
dyslexia -- which your child is too young to be diagnosed with.
You are doing the right thing. Pushing your child to read early would actually
You're right, it's craziness.
This used to drive me crazy too when my boys were little.
Kids learn at different ages. Dont' put pressure on your
little one...it'll all happen in good time. Make this a
fun to learn time and don't judge yourself or your child
for being where he/she is.
Relax. A kid's brain will read when it is ready.
Pushing/obsessing cannot make a brain develop faster. My
oldest son was fascinated with symbols, and knew all his
letters and numbers at 18 months. He read early. My
younger son had no interest in learning letters, and was not
remotely reading in preschool, or early in kindergarten.
During spring break in kindergarten his brain kicked in, and
his reading level jumped a year in one week. Fast forward:
The older one (the early reader) is 18, and doesn't read
much. The younger one (the late reader) is 14, and takes a
book everywhere he goes. (He just read Machiavelli's ''The
Prince'' for fun.) So don't worry about ''Johnny,'' or
competitive parents desperate to believe their kids are
gifted. Life (and certainly education) is not a race.
Mom of Teenagers
Just stop talking with those extremely pushy parents. My
girl had never read (couldn't even spell her last name)
until the summer before she turned six. Additionally, she
spent a whole year prior to that going to French immersion
school. When you need to prepare your kid for
Kindergarten, teach him/her and he/she will catch up
pretty fast. No point pushing them into academics too
early. That's just my perspective since I spent literally
twenty years of my life in school! Plenty of time for
school later. Let a child be a child.
It sounds like you and your child are doing fine. Neither of my sister's kids were
reading when they entered school (though they had gone to preschool, were
read to regularly, watched Sesame Street, etc.), and now in 3rd and 4th grade
they are near the top of their respective classes. Keep doing what you are doing
as long as you are both enjoying it, and trust that your child will learn to read
when he/she (i forgot which) is ready.
I have read over and over again that precocious readers do
not necessarily evolve into gifted students in middle
childhood. Like walking, and teething, and the myriad of
benchmarks a parent encounters with their child--there is a
range of development. My daughter is four. So far, no one in
her class can read (thank GOD!), but I am constantly
checking my ego because she has no desire to learn reading.
I read to her an hour each day. When I begin to sound out
the words with her, she gets irritated and implores me to
just read to her. I will my ego into submission again and
remind myself that she is four and her work right now is
play. She has only eight more months left to *just play*,
and it will be over. Forever.
Play Is Their Work Now
I worried about this too, especially when I heard that
Berkeley public schools expected children entering
kindergarten at know their alphabet (seriously--they told us
this at a parents' evening for incoming students). We ended
up going to an out-of-district public school where the K-1-2
teacher had a Montessori and Waldorf background. His
contention was that most children are not developmentally
ready to read until late first or second grade. Sort of like
pottie training: They do it on their own schedule. He
advised me to put away the alphabet flash cards and stop
pushing my child to do something she was not ready to do.
Best advice ever! With the pressure off, we could enjoy what
she was ready to do and concentrate on helping her grow into
happy, well-adjusted learner. Fast forward: Reading finally
clicked in late second grade, and in fourth grade she is an
avid reader, reading well above grade level. By and large,
it all evens out later, so who cares when they start?
But in the meantime, dealing the parents of the
over-achievers was tough. I tried to remind myself that
their comments were very possibly a reflection of their own
insecurity. Nonetheless, I worked up several smart remarks:
''We're concentrating on her social skills instead!'' ''We're
certainly enjoying our happy idiot!'' ''We're still working on
Loving the last laugh
There is no value in preschoolers reading unless they choose to. I have heard
many kindergarten teacher complain about reading being part of the curriculum.
I read a study that said children who are pushed to be early readers/learners
often struggle around second grade when school work becomes more
challenging. I think most children start to read between 5 and 7 years of age.
Our family philosophy is to have our children enjoy being children, learn how to
be make friends, and how to contribute to the family and community. There are
so many ways and things to learn besides how to have an academic edge in
Please...there is so much pressure in this area for kids
to do everything early...and then to let everyone else
know about it. Some kids just ''get it'' and are early
readers. It doesn't mean anything except that they are
early readers! I was a 1st grade teacher before having
kids and if a child entered my class knowing their
alphabet, most of their letter sounds, and a few sight
words, I was thrilled. And that's after kindergarten! Of
course, things have changed since I was teaching and
everything had been pushed down in the effort to meet the
standards of No Child Left Behind. But it's not always
developmentally appropriate. What you are doing with your
child at 4 is perfect: reading to them, singing, engaging
them in conversations about the world, etc. Don't get
caught up in this madness.
Kids will read when they are ready
Please don't worry! I read at 3 and figured my son would do
the same. I worried when he was still not reading comfortably
by age 7. His teachers kept telling me it was normal and
then, boom, one day he was reading! For boys especially later
reading is perfectly normal. He will get there. For now,
enjoy reading to him whenever you can. I don't get to do that
nearly enough these days!
Mom of reader
Our preschool coop (run by the Hayward Adult Ed part of the
school district) was very much against trying to teach pre-
schoolers or even kindergartners to read. They taught us
that most children learn to read by age 7 no matter what
you do, so you may as well teach them other things in pre-
school such as music, pre-reading language development
skills, social skills, brain development activities, a
foriegn language, manners, etc. Also they taught us that
physical activity is related to brain development, so that
swinging, twirling, leaping around on the play structure,
etc. is going to help your child learn to read. France
does not teach reading until age 7, which leaves them time
to teach a foriegn language at an early age, and probably
leaves the teachers more time to help kids with real
reading problems such as dyslexia. We must work to change
No Child Left Behind; moving standards down a grade level
(making them age-inappropriate) is too blunt an instrument
for fixing problems with under-performing schools. As one
kindergarten teacher says, ''We can teach 'em long division
in kindergarten, but it wont leave much time for anything
- you'll probably get a flood of e-mails, so I'll leave off here -
Learning to read is like losing teeth. Every kid does it,
some sooner, some later.
Most parents with young kids don't realize this. Kids that
read early are perceived as geniuses, to the detriment of all.
Try to get over it.
- all kids read
It is hard to do...especially is this is your first
child...but, ignore, ignore, ignore...
My elder daughter had the alphabet mastered at 3, but didn't
start reading much beyond the first set of BOB books until
1st grade. My younger daughter didn't master the alphabet
until a few months ago (at 4 1/2) but is now reading at a
1st grade level.
My father - a former superintendent of schools in a large
California District - told me don't worry about where your
kids 'are' at 4 and 5. Apparently, all kids end up 'where
they are supposed to be' by 3rd grade. He means that a kid
that missed out on the $15,000/year montessori preschool,
may start K & 1st a little behind, but if he is smart, he
will end up in the top math/reading groups by 3rd grade.
The kid given every advantage in the book my excel in 1st
grade and kindergarten, but end up in the middle of the pack
by 3rd grade. Also, there is a HUGE divergence in
achievement at younger ages, but gets closer as they get older.
That doesn't address whether or not something is 'wrong'
with your child. My eldest niece turned 5 and still
struggled with the alphabet despite having brilliant
parents. It turned out that she had a couple of issues that
were corrected with some therapy (I can't remember what the
issues were, because they were really a bit odd, but totally
correctable within a few months.). My younger daughter,
refused to claim any knowledge of the alphabet until one day
she read something to me off of a cereal box. She refused
to exhibit a skill until she had already mastered it (and
this often shows up with her...refused to take swimming
lessons until she already taught herself to swim, etc.)
My daughter is three years and seven months old. She is dying
to learn how to read. Please no one jump on me about pushing my
child too early. This has all come about by her own free will.
For a few months she has been able to identify all the letters
and the sounds they make (word world maybe? not from me!) When
I noticed her interest I did start spending time talking about
the letters with her, because she enjoyed it so much. She can
also spell some three letter words by sounding them out.
Recently though she has become upset she can not read! She will
open a book and say mommy I don't know how to read this, teach
me to read. Both me and my husband have been really floored by
this as none of her friends are anywhere near this (as far as I
know, I try not to brag about my kid) While I don't want to
push her, I feel if she really wants to, I should help her.
So my point to all this, where do we go from here? I tried to
get her an easy reader book, but it feels like she needs more
instruction. Anyone out there been in this situation? Should I
get her a program that helps her to read? Is there a better
approach I can take? I want to keep it fun too, so she is not
turned off from reading. Any advice would be greatly
Mother of a book worm
Good for you for spending time with your child and really
paying attention to your daughter's passion around books. So
many parents get sucked into the craziness of wanting to train
their babies and little children to perform all sorts of tricks
(for showing off purposes). Clearly, that's not what's going
on with you and your daughter--she's lucky to have you! My
little boy also LOVED to read from a very early age.
Everything, from street signs, to name tags, to single letters,
to of course books, were a source of wonder, and of course,
sometimes, frustration as he struggled with the desire to put
together shape, sound, word, meaning. You can do so much
together. Explain to her that there are so many ways to read.
Literacy isn't just about sounding out letters and words (which
is precociously beginning to do). I LOVE wordless books for
kids at this stage (and you will probably love them too. Go to
the public library (I'd recommend alone first, just to see
what's there, or even to check some books out and bring them
home for her, or to come back with her and find them easily).
The wordless books tell beautiful stories, but the children
must supply the words. They build literacy and verbal fluency
without the disruption and stumbling (counterproductive,
really, at this early stage) of sounding out the letters).
This is one suggestion I have. There isn't one single best
approach to this, but I think this is a really great and fun
approach, and so developmentally tailored to where your
daughter is at the moment.
One thing I also did with my two when they were little was draw
with them and then we'd each ''read'' the scene in our drawing to
each other. If they wanted, I would take dictation of their
caption, so we still have quite a bit of illustrated, captioned
art which is a reminder of these times when they were learning
to read. I look at language skills at this stage as
a ''package'' that includes speaking, listening, drawing, and
observation, among many other things. But above all, as you
know, all of this happens in a nurturing and social atmosphere
where curiosity is encouraged but not overstimulated.
Your daughter sounds very bright and motivated, and I'm sure she
will quickly learn to read with some guidance. There are many
systems and books out there that would be helpful, but my
favorite aid in teaching my own daughter has been this website:
www.starfall.com. I very highly recommend it to everyone trying
to teach a child to read. There are sections appropriate for
nearly every reading and pre-reading skill level. Plus, it's free!
I bet you'll get a lot of replies here, and most of them should
be positive and encouraging! I learned to read early (like your
daughter - at my own instigation), and it was a joy, not an
obligation. Reading opens up the world to a kid - don't ever feel
like it's the opposite of ''playing'' and ''being a kid.'' It's
great! My stepmother recommended a book to me when my daughter
was born - Glenn Doman's ''How to Teach Your Baby to Read.'' It's a
little dated, but the concepts are sound. He and his followers
recommend teaching kids as young as 6 months old to read! We
haven't started this very much yet at my house (my daughter's 1),
but his claim is that it is vastly easier for the brain to learn
reading at that age than it is at 5 or 6. Here's a review of his
book that gives a good recap: http://tinyurl.com/7qmkkp
Good luck, and have fun!
How wonderful that your child already loves reading! It's hard
being a parent of a smart kid, because you're always unfairly
accused of ''pushing.'' Just ignore those people and be proud of
your intelligent and curious child! If your child asks to learn
to read, go ahead and teach her.
I recommend Dr. Seuss books and the Bob books for early reading.
Sit with your child and put your finger under each word and show
your child how to sound out the letters. Explain some words are
''sight words'' and don't sound the way they are spelled.
My mom used to read Dr. Seuss books to me. We would sit together
in an armchair, and she would put her finger under the words as
she read. I loved the closeness of the mommy time and loved
hearing the stories. I ended up reading at age three. Today I
still love reading and find comfort from it. In the end, I
believe learning to love reading is much more important than the
age you learn, so share your love of reading with your child,
teach her if she asks, but never force it.
Loves to read
I have a daughter almost the same age, and while she hasn't shown
signs of reading (she likes to 'read' by just reciting stories
from memory or telling stories based on the pics in the books),
we did get her a LeapFrog Tag system for Christmas, and that
might be something you could consider for your daughter. Its
pretty cool - its a pen that you use with special books (bought
from Leapfrog) and it helps kids with both phonetics & words.
Anyway, just a thought - it would be fun for her and maybe she
would feel like she's actually reading.
Hi! My daughter started reading at 3 without any pressure. Like
your child, she had been interested in letters and words from an
early age. We did a lot of drawing with bath tub crayons and
eventually, around 2.5 she asked me to label the pictures--simple
things like cat, lion, elephant and ball. She began to recognize
those basic words and from there jumped to sight recognition of a
lot of the words in her picture books very easily. At no point
did we push her at all, we never used flashcards or any sort of
program. She just really wanted to learn to read.
Now she is almost seven and would still rather read than almost
reading is fun
Learning to read at your daughter's age is uncommon, but
certainly not unheard of. Both of my kids could read before
they were three. We never pushed them or even thought of
teaching them to read at that age, but that's what they were
interested in and we responded when they asked. We didn't feel
it was right to hold them back when they were eager to learn on
I would suggest just doing it the old-fashioned sound-it-out
way starting with really simple words like cat, go, etc. My
son wanted to know all about letters, sounds and reading at the
age of two and that's what my husband did with him. He picked
it up quickly.
I'm sure there are educational methods for this but we just
went the simple way and it worked out fine. And as an
anecdotal data point, being able to read earlier than their
peers has had absolutely no detrimental effect on our kids--it
made their lives richer. Other kids are now catching up,
several years later, and they are all friends and work well
together in school.
Kids are sponges, give them something to soak up
Our little bookworm is 3 years and two months. Like your
daughter, she can identify all the letters of the alphabet and
their sounds (and, also like you, NONE of this came from her dad
and I!). We've encouraged her and provided lots of early-reading
activities since she showed such a strong interest, and we read
to her a lot. Sometimes, she gets very sad and frustrated (to
the point of crying) because she can't read to herself. Of
course, this breaks my heart. I've tried two things: Since I
learned to read from memorizing Dr. Seuss books, I sat down with
her and we went over The Foot Book (which repeats the
words ''foot'' and ''feet'' a million times) until she could
recognize both those words and had memorized the few other words
in the story. Bingo! She could ''read''! This little trick is
still working, and whenever she gets upset about not being able
to read to herself, I whip out The Foot Book and remind her that
My dad recently gave her a set called Your Baby Can Read, which
is a DVD program to encourage early reading. The DVDs are
enjoyable and are definitely helping her word recognition. I
think you can buy them online. You might want to check them out.
Good luck with your book lover!
Have you seen the BOB books? They build up from three-letter
words, with just a few new letters introduced in each book. Your
little girl may very well be able to read a whole book very soon!
I see from the website that they now have ''My first bob books,''
but frankly, you can probably skip those and start right at Set
1, book 1. http://www.bobbooks.com/
My son began reading, spontaneously and fluently, after just
turning 4. The best thing you can do for your daughter is just to
continue to read to her. There are things like starfall.com that
she might enjoy, but reading to her is the best thing. Point to
each word as you read the story.
Have you check the library to see if they have the Bob
Books--early readers? You could read these together, and see if
she picks up on it. Puzzles are really good for developing the
skills needed for reading. Write books with her--let her dictate
and you write the words sounding them out as you write. Read
these over and over again, and it might be helpful for her to
'read' the books if she wrote the words, even if they are
nonsense words (this is how kids figure out language).
I wouldn't spend money on any 'hooked on phonics' or anything
like that. Spend that money on good books. You do not want to
push academics too early (even if the child asks for it). My
seven year-old really wants to learn to drive, but somethings
will happen when the child is really ready for them to happen.
follow the child
Why don't you stop dithering and just teach her to read? I
learned how to read at 3 years old by sitting in my dad's lap
while he read the newspaper, and it was one of the best gifts
he's ever given me.
get a grip
Have you tried BOB books? You can teach her the letters and the sounds (which
sounds like she already knows). The books go in sequential order teaching letters and
their sounds and using only those with other sight words to create simple stories. The
order is based on how frequent they occur in the English language (so M and S are in
the first book since most words have one or both of these letters in them). The sets of
books build on earlier skills. You can find them online or I've also seen them at Barnes
and Noble. BTW, it's not pushing if it's the child whose asking for it.
1st grade teacher and mother of a preschooler
Not sure if this is what you are looking for, but my daughter
loves starfall.com. They teach letter sounds with graphics and
repetition and have different levels as your child progresses.
Plus, it's free.
That's great that your daughter has an interest in and an
aptitude for reading. If I were you, I would just get some simple
books like ''Hop on Pop'' and start showing her how different
letters form different words. Like you said, keep it fun--she'll
probably ''teach'' you what the appropriate pace is.
Our daughter was eager to read as a toddler, too, and she
became a fluid reader at age 3 with no particular plan or
program on our part. Here's how it happened. I loved reading
to her, so we would stack up the books at bedside and read
together for as long as she wanted each night. I would point
to each word as I read, so she could make the connection
between the spoken and the written word. We would re-read a
lot of books, so pretty soon, if she recognized a word she
would jump in and say it before I did. Occasionally, I would
pause at a word and point at it to give her a chance to say it
if she knew it. If she didn't, I'd help her break it up
phonetically. But we wouldn't spend a lot of time on
phonetics. The goal was always to enjoy a lot of stories
together. Pretty soon, she was taking the books out of my
hands and reading them entirely to me. At that point, I let
her read to herself books that were within her reading range,
and I would select more difficult books for our read-
togethers. By the fourth grade, she was independently reading
Victor Hugo and Charles Dickens. Those hours snuggled in bed
reading with her are some of the best memories I have of her
toddler years. Good luck!
Go for it! She'll need to know the alphabet and the sounds each letter makes. Once
she knows those, she'll be able to start sounding out words. My girls didn't read
until kindergarten, but they were both very interested in books way before then.
The first book they actually read was a Dick & Jane book of several stories--the old
ones we used to read way back when. There are plenty of pictures, which teachers
have told us really help kids get the hang of comprehension when they are first
learning to read. And the stories are very short, with short sentences: See Dick.
See Dick run.... So after reading about 10 words, and flipping a few pages, the child
has already read a whole story, solo. The girls read them over and over again, and
were completely delighted and proud. The stories gradually get more difficult as
the book progresses.
How wonderful that your daughter wants to learn to read! As a
former elementary school teacher, I have found that there are a
few things that really help early readers take off:
1. Language Experience: Have your child dictate a story to you.
Write or type one or two sentences per page and have your child
illustrate them. If you can, laminate and bind the pages so it
becomes her special book. Since the words are hers, she'll be
able to identify them easily. It may seem like she is just
memorizing the pages, but she is actually learning to identify
the words and will eventually be able to pick them out of other
2.Phonics games: It sounds like you are already doing this, but
encourage her to make the sound of the letters she sees and try
to put them together into words.
3. Read books to her and have her repeat sentences after you read
them. The logic is the same as with Language Experience.
4. Pick up some books on tape from the library and have her
follow along as they are read.
I hope this helps! Have fun!
If she is begging to read- teach her! My daughter sounds very
similar to yours. She has always noticed letters and words way
earlier than others her age. Once, at about 20 months at the
playground she pointed to another kid's shirt with writing on
it and said ''Look ABCs!'' At just over 3 she sounded
out ''Gilman'' on a street sign and I almost fell over. We have
always encouraged her when she was interested in something, but
never tried to push things. She is now four and has been
reading and writing simple words for over a year. The things
we did were this: After she knew all her letters by site,
start teaching the sounds that they make, especially easy
consonants like C, T, M, S, etc.., then playing I spy with
sounds/letters- like ''I spy something red that starts with C
(or making the c-sound), yes it's the C-c-ar! (enunciating the
c sound). We had some nice coloring/workbooks that had pages
where you matched the letter to pictures that began with each
sound. Then when reading books, point to the words as you read
so she'll get it that each word goes with different sounds- or
just point to the short, easy words. Any Dr. Seuss book is
good for this, but I think Hop on Pop is one of the best.
There is also a great set of books called the BOB books- They
are old and some of the stories very contrived to use only 3
letter words, but my daughter loved that she could read EVERY
word! My daughter now has stopped being so obsessed with
reading, and if I point to a word and ask her, she'll sometimes
say, ''No mom, you read it'' so we just follow her lead.
Congrats on having a daughter who is so interested in reading.
We have had fun with it!
Mom of a reader
I read the first bunch of replies to your question and wanted to
add something. I have two early readers (one learned at two, the
other at three) and my experience is that the younger the child,
the more they learn by memorizing sight words and putting
together word 'chunks' just like putting together a puzzle (i.e.
st-ar vs s-t-a-r) and the less they utilize/understand phonics.
Besides, the English language is incredibly full of broken
phonetic rules, so I wouldn't focus too much on phonics at this
age. Specifically, I would not recommend the Bob books because
the words look too much the same which can be confusing for a
young reader, the print is really small and the pictures are
uninspired. Dr. Seuss books didn't do much for us either because
they are just too long and the kids want to read a WHOLE BOOK! I
would look for a good quality picture book with big print and
very few words per page. Don't worry about how 'hard' or 'easy'
the words are. Then follow the others' advice and read it over
and over, pointing out each word until she can read it herself.
Repeat often and she'll be reading before you know it.
been there, done that
Here's our situation: my husband and I are not native English
speakers, but having spent over 12 years in this country and
graduated from local universities, our English is pretty fluent
at this point and more or less grammatically correct. Of
course, there is always the accent, but that I guess that will
just have to be our trademark for the rest of our lives. We
have a 3.5-year old, whose primary language is English,
although he also understands his parents' native tongue. We
have been reading to him in both languages since he was a baby
and at this point would like to start teaching him to read in
English (with kindergarten on the horizon, etc.). The problem
is - I have no idea how to approach this. In terms of learning
how to read, my native language is probably a lot easier, as it
is, what I believe is called, phonemic -- basically, you
pronounce it the way you read it. Therefore, by learning the
sound of various letter combinations you should be able to read
most of the words even if you have no idea what they mean. As a
result, by grasping a fairly limited number of ''rules'', you are
able to read. English is a completely different story, it is
not as ''logical. For example, the combination of letters E, A
and R sounds differently in ''ear'' and ''bear''. Therefore, it
seems to me, that in order for a child to learn how to read in
English, he or she has to memorize the words, as opposed to
learning the sounds formed by particular letter combinations.
So, my question is, how do I teach my son to read? Are there
any books on the subject? Are there classes for clueless
parents? Any specialists in the area who can advise us? Thanks.
I'm currently watching my 4.5yo learn to read; here's my
advice: First of all, I don't think at 3.5 you have to ''teach''
him to read. Read aloud to him in English, work on recognizing
letters and their sounds, but don't push anything. When my son
showed an interest in reading (sounding out words in books, on
signs, etc.) we bought some books geared toward beginning
readers and helped him through them, but we've kept it very low
key. While it's not unusual to read at 4, I don't think it's
universal, either, so let him go at his own pace. Kids seem to
take in stride all the craziness of English phonics. I don't
think they're memorizing all the words -- just learning the
various ways different combos of letters can be pronounced. And
they get better with practice -- it's ok if they make mistakes
as they're learning. Hey, I'm a native English speaker and in
my 30s, and I still pronounce new words wrong sometimes. My
advice in a nutshell: Relax, provide him with the tools (simple
books, hearing you read, guidance on letter sounds) and let him
set the pace. When he's interested, he'll learn.
You are right that English is a hard language to learn to
read. Your kid may be especially advanced, but at 3.5, most
kids are not developmentally ready to learn to read. You
should just continue to read him lots of books, as he is
interested. If he does become interested in learning to read,
start by teaching him the sounds of the letters in the
Almost all schools these days teach reading using a phonemic
approach. First they teach the sounds of the letters, then
they teach the kids to sound out simple words that do follow
phonemic rules like hat, cat, etc, just like they do on sesame
street. Eventually, they teach ''families'' of words that do not
follow phonemic rules, but all sound alike, like look, book,
cook, or bear, wear, etc, and sight words - words that you just
can't sound out like of, the, is, etc.
In about a year, you might want to try this book: ''Teach Your
Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons.'' This is a proven method
for teaching kids to read, and works very well for kids that
are developmentally ready to learn to read, are interested in
learning to read, and enjoy very personally involved learning
(this is a direct instruction method). For kids that are more
independent, try a series of phonics books like ''Primary
Phonics'' or the ''Bob'' books. The words in these books are
preselected to follow phonetic rules, so you can teach them one
rules, like ''a'' makes the ''a'' sound like in ''apple'', and the
kid can then be successful at reading a whole story
-Former reading tutor
My advice is that it is WAY too early to ''teach'' your 3.5 year
old child to read, and any ''pre-reading skills'' that you'd like
to introduce to your child in the form of fun and games will
really be language-independent (well, this will be most true if
your native language has an alphabet and not characters as in
Chinese). Age appropriate skills (dressed up as games) can
include learning the letters of the alphabet (those in English
and your native tongue would be fun), their sounds, and playing
with words that start with those letters. Some 3-year-olds are
also interested in trying to write a few letters, some not at
all. The most important thing is to let your child's interest
level be your guide. If they are not having fun, back off! The
worst thing you can do is to turn your kid off to reading, and
it might be better to just let time take its course. Indeed,
many early childhood education specialists believe what we've
done to kindergarten in California and much of the rest of the
US is horrible, and that forcing 5-year-olds to read is not
productive and, further, for kids who are not physically or
mentally ready to read at age 5, even counter-productive. Most
kids will be reading by the age of 7 or 8, and recent studies
have shown that whether they learned to read at age 4, 5, 6, or
7 simply didn't matter by the time they were 8 in terms of
their reading skills or their intelligence levels. For some
kids, reading comes naturally at 3 (especially those with older
siblings), for others not until later. So give your kid a
break. Play games, don't try to ''teach'' them to read. Expose
them to you reading, other kids reading, take them to the
library, read lots of books (see if they're ready for chapter
books like Little House on the Prairie books, Beverly Clearly
books -- some 4-year-olds are ready for this and it really will
help them with reading and vocabulary in the LONG RUN), give
them lots of arts and crafts, play games with letters, talk to
them a lot using a rich vocabulary in your native language and
perhaps in English if you already do this. But focusing on the
act of reading itself and trying to teach it to a 3.5 year old
because *you* want to do that is likely to be counterproductive.
This might not be what you wanted to hear but I would say,
don't teach your baby to read English. 3.5 is still very young
and teachers at school will teach your child to read and then
you will reinforce that by reading a with your child in the
evenings. My parents are non-native English speakers. I was
born in the States but didn't speak English until I went to
school and turned into an avid reader and writer. (I am now a
published author with a PhD from Berkeley.) I have siblings and
the story is the same for them. I now have a toddler of my own
and we speak as little English around her as possible. The
challenge, we have realized, will not be making sure that she
speaks/reads/writes in proper English but in making sure she
she speaks/reads/writes proper Italian and can communicate with
her grandparents, cousins etc. I would say read as many books
as possible in your native language. Making sure your child has
access to a lnaguage other that English is a great gift only
you and your partner can give.
Read in your native language
My mother is a retired reading specialist. She recommends that
parents not try to teach their children to read in the early
years. It's a waste of time because it will all be repeated in
elementary school, and is boring to your child when they're too
young. The very best thing you can do to increase your child's
literacy and love of reading is to read aloud really great
stories with great pictures and interesting vocabulary. It's
also not so important what language you read to your child in.
Children's brains have incredible language facility. Your
child's ability to speak and understand a foreign language
actually enhances his ability to speak, understand and
(eventually) read English (or any other language.) So, my
advice is to enjoy really great children's literature with your
child, don't worry about pronunciation, and don't worry!
My advice - don't bother. He doesn't need to know how to read
before kindergarten. If he isn't in a preschool that does some
''pre-academics'', go ahead and teach him letter names (use ABC
books, puzzles, etc) if it makes you feel better, but reading to
him a lot is more important now that trying to figure out phonics.
Visit the library frequently, check out lots of books. Read
them. If you do screen time with your child,
http://www.starfall.com is great resource. There is a leapfrog
video called ''Letter factory'' and ''word factory'' that teach
phonics and even address blending.
I am not at all advocating that you let your child watch tv use
the computer to learn to read, but only recommend these things if
you do screen-time already... Just reading and having lots of
pencils/crayons/ paper around are great.
Montessori Read and Write: A Parent's Guide to Literacy for
Children by Lawrence, Lynne is a great resource, some people like
Or phonics Pathways
Have fun, your child will learn to read. I wouldn't press a 3.5
year-old to learn to read unless they are truly interested. Many
children do not read until 7 or 8, and English is everywhere and
not that difficult to read... when the child is ready
homeschool is fun mama
i would start with letter recognition & phonics. these links might help
Am I hearing that you want to teach your 3.5 year old to read
because of kindergarten--which is probably at least one and a
half years off and a child doesn't have to read to start
kindergaten? You child sounds like he will have a wonderful and
valuable bilingual life (quite lucky) and, it's great that you
are thinking about the complexity of languages, but I'd not
push him to learn to read like you are describing (or worry
about how to teach to read). It's just too much for a little
one to grasp and for you. From your post, it seems like you
might think that he'd be behind if he doesn't read now. That
couldn't be farther from the truth.
My advice is just to enjoy reading with your son. There is no
need to ''teach'' him to read at age 3-he will be taught this in
kindergarten. He should know his letters before K, and you can
teach him this-and what sounds they make, if you like.
Otherwise, unless your child just starts to spontaneously read
on his own, and he's interested in learning more...don't push
Hi - my daughter is in a daycare that is primarily play based.
She's doing well and her social skills are fine. I would like to
supplement her development by focusing on the next stage of
learning (reading & simple math). My problem is that I don't
know how to ''teach'' her to read or do simple math. Any
recommendations for books or websites that can help me? We
already read books each night and she's got a great vocabulary.
I just think we're ready to take it to the next step, but I
don't know what to do to move forward. Thanks for your help!
How to Primer
Be very careful about doing this. I would only advise teaching reading and
mathematics if your child is either a bit of an early-developer in verbal skills
really, really wants to, and is already asking ''How do you say this'' ''How do
that?''. It can be very frustrating for both the parent and the child when a
tries to force this kind of thing. Some kids learn at 7, and I've know of one who
reading by 18 mos. Try not to push it.
Besides my little warning, the best way is non-pressured, simple games and
activites. Of course, you're probably already reading to her, so if she's already
learned the alphabet start having her look at simple words while you're reading,
ask her ''What do you think this word is?'' or ''What do you think this letter
is?''. As for
mathematics, you can use blocks, small items, etc. for counting, adding and
subtracting. It will probably take a while to get beyond the numbers 1-20 and how
you subtract them.
Despite my warning, if you child is ready, learning to read and do mathematics
can be wonderful. The main things is that if you child isn't ready, not to force
My advice is not perhaps what you want to hear, but it's based on that of most
experts who really understand early childhood: DON'T teach your child to read or
do math. If your child is the one who expresses interest, by all means allow her
pursue it. But formal teaching of reading or math (as they are defined in
actually be counter productive and result in difficulties later.
On the other hand, there are lots of play activities you can do that will help.
means, keep reading to her -- and ask lots of questions about what just happened,
what will happen next -- so that she can be involved in the process. Get her
magnet letters and allow her to play with them. Allow her to do lots of
drawing -- as she wants to. Play counting type games with her, and clapping
games, and building games (blocks etc.). But let her interest guide you. This
a much healthier way for her to learn
Visit Lakeshore Learning in San Leandro. (The San Leandro Store
has a discounted back room.) If you do so on Saturday from 11 -
3 your daughter can work on the craft project, and build
independence while you roam the store.
My daughter who was reading simple sentence and doing simple
math before kindergarten learned by using counting bears
(various sized), a balance scale, weights and write on place
She also learned to read by logos. Target, Safeway, Oakland,
Peet's, Bank of America, etc. My daughter became aware that
written words help us know where we are going. We also talked
about Peet's sounding like Uncle Pete, but being spelled
In first grade my daughter is top in her class in homophones (we
used to call them homonyms) and compound words. It all goes back
It's also a lot of fun to learn by counting, weighing and
reading common, everyday items
Learning is Fun
My advice to you is ''DON'T!'' The reason your daycare/preschool
is ''play oriented'' is because that is what your child should be
doing at this age -- not striving for intellectual prowess. Most
kindergarten teachers will tell you that the recent push for
reading/math in kindergarten is WRONG and that children don't
need to start learning these things until they are at least 6 or
7. They don't fall behind or learn less if they wait!
Your child can be intelligent creative caring happy and BALANCED
without learning to read and do math in the toddler or even
Lighten up! Spend the time playing with her in the park or yard
-- have quiet time together playing finger games & singing songs.
She doesn't have to prepare for that Ivy League school yet!
I have found www.brightminds.us/web/bettergrades to be a
valuable website for getting materials to develop my toddler's
and preschooler's reading, math, critical thinking skills.
Just continue to read to you child. Read, read, read... all
kinds of books. Big books, picture books, etc. Pick up early
readers at the library (Bob books, etc.) and read them to your
child. Point to the words as you read (you don't have to do this
with every single page, just a few pages/every other page...).
If you'd like, go to the bookstore/library and look at the
homeschooling/teacher section. But I would caution you to not
spend money on these books or phonics programs--they tend to be a
waste of money when you could just buy good books to read and
enjoy with your child. DO NOT force a preschooler into any kind
of real structured learning that is not child-lead.
My son is 5 years old and reads at a 1st grade level, and we just
read and talked about letters...
Simple math can be introduced--adding, subtracting and kids love
geometry... but don't worry if she doesn't seem to ''get
it''--there is a lot going on and you don't know what she gets and
doesn't, really... looking at patterns in nature is also wonderful
happy homeschooling mom
I'm not sure why you feel you need to teach a toddler to read and
do math. Just engage with her and let her play! That's how kids
learn. Age-appropriate books introduce letters, colors,
counting, word sounds, etc. Also your daily interactions with
her introduce concepts she will later build on. For example, ''do
you see the white chickens? I see one, two, three, four, five
My 2 year 4 month old son has known his alphabet since 18
months, and was able to recognize all of the letters by the age
of 22 months. He has begun to take serious interest in books,
and ''reads'' all of the time. He is also looking at words and
naming letters in the correct order, and can tell you the
sounds that almost every letter makes. I honestly think it's
time, but I have no clue where to begin! Any ideas or books
Begin with vowels, a,e,i,o,u
Put them into short words with the consinents he knows the
sounds of. Find short board books for beininng readers at the
library or book stores. Read to him following what you read
with your finger so he can hear it and see it. Get a fun flash
card game. Go to the dollar store and buy magnetic alphabets
(several sets, one is never enough) that can be used on a
cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. He can spell, read, & sound
out to his heart's content. Just keep an eye on him, or buy all
capital letters sets - there may be a risk of swallowing if he
is not out of the mouthing stage
I had this same thought when my daughter was almost 3 (she's
almost 4 now), but ultimately decided against it. First, I would
question what really makes a child ready (I don't know-maybe
you'll get feedback from teachers), but I don't think knowing
letters and sounds and having an interest in books is
necessarily the full spectrum of skills needed. Like your child,
mine talked really early, knew all her letters at 18 mos. (and
the sounds they all made before 3), can recognize many words and
loves to be read to and ''read'' herself. She can write many
letters and has figured out how to spell simple words on her
own. I believe she could probably be ''taught'' to read at this
point, but I really don't see the value-it might destroy her
natural enthusiasm. I'd question why you want your child to have
a skill like this earlier than the norm. Kids will learn to read
at the appropriate age in school, or on their own. I'd recommend
instead lots of fun activities to encourage interest, like
spending lots of time in libraries, storytelling, writing down a
story s/he tells you, making up games about the alphabet, etc.
Some type of preschool program, at whatever age you choose,
would also probably be fun for your child. I also think
developing one skill/interest area to the exclusion or
minimization of others at this age is probably not healthy.
Better your child is encouraged to develop at his/her pace in
all areas: social, physical, artistic, etc.-even the ones s/he
doesn't appear interested in or have much aptitude for. Time
will come soon enough that you will have to be concerned with
grades and homework and ''how much is my child learning?'' For
now, just enjoy and let your child do the same!
Our son also learned his letters and sounds quite early-- he's
now 4 and can read quite fluently, including chapter books. We
never taught him exactly, we just spent a lot of time reading
books to/with him and made a few resources available to him
with which he seemed to teach himself. These included a couple
of fun videos on phonics (I forget exact titles but they are
made by Leap Frog-- one is on letters and the other on words);
also my husband found a cheap (and old) copy of Hooked on
Phonics on Ebay. I thought it was kind of absurd, but my son
would spend hours looking at these cards and booklets, totally
fascinated.Also, the old Dick and Jane series has been
republished, and he loved the kid-friendly pictures and story
lines and simple words. I doubt this approach would work for
most kids, but reading is our son's area of particular
interest, so we just tried to follow it and provide him
mom of another early reader
My 3 1/2 year old daughter is exhibiting an interest in
''reading''-she has started spelling out words and can recognize a
few. I feel like I have heard that schools (or at least some)
don't teach reading by phonics. What other ways are there to
begin reading other than with phonics? Or maybe when ''phonics''
is referred to in this sense it means something different than
what I think which is sounding out words by the sound of each of
Confused Reading Mentor
Both of my kids started reading early as well. I didn't use a
curriculum. I just read to them, helped them sound out words using my
fingers (c-ah-t), etc. I didn't push them in any way; they really did do
it themselves. Early readers will display their interest and just break
the code on their own. It's a good parenting lesson to watch, observe,
and facilitate their learning. Have fun Laurel
I have a 16-month-old girl who loves books and is insistent
that we read to her out of books, magazines, and newspapers.
A friend has recommended the book, How To Teach Your Baby To
Read, by Glenn Doman. Is anyone familiar with this book or its
Could it be damaging developmentally to teach my child to read
at this age? I want to encourage her to be an avid reader, but
I do not want to push her in anyway or make learning
I would appreciate any thoughts regarding this topic.
If your baby loves book and loves to be read to then...read to
her! Studies have shown that very young children who are
''taught'' to read do so often times to please the adults
around them. Later, when they enter school, they are often
''ahead'' of their classmates, and receive the adult approval
they need. But other children don't particularly like these
kids, and many have not learned the social skills they need
to deal with other kids.
Later, in second or third grade, these ''advanced'' children
who were ''early readers'' begin to slip, because ''the rote
learning processes they'd used to learn earlier didn't
generalize to the more complex learning they needed in
later grades. They seemed stuck with more primitive
learning methods.'' This is from Brazelton's Touchpoints
book, page 213. He goes on to say that these children then
lose the adult approval that they had before and are left
feeling pretty bad.
To end, my son entered (and exited!) kindergarten without
knowing how to read. By the end of first grade, he was the
most advanced reader in the class, and had WAY
surpassed his peers who came into kindergarten already
knowing how to read.
Brazelton ends his passage by saying that there are many
materials out there that say you can teach your baby to read.
His advice: Don't do it. Read to her, and if she really wants
to learn to read at such a young age, she will teach herself!
A mother and educator
I can't comment on the book -- I've never read it -- but I do think actively
trying to teach a child under 3 to read is probably misguided. If your
baby loves books and asks to be read to, you're doing everything right
thus far. A child who loves books, associates reading with pleasure
(especially with pleasurable social interaction with parents), and is read
to often will usually learn to read without difficulty, and will tend to keep
reading. Specifically trying to teach a child letters or phonics or some
such at this age might take some of the pleasure out of it for her,
especially if she's pressured at all.
If you're thinking that maybe if your child read, you could read to her less
often, that's probably not the right approach. In fact, most reading
experts encourage parents to read often to kids long after they can read
themselves -- as long and as often as their child wants them to.
I was in your shoes a while ago. Both my husband and I were
reading at age 3 and I thought that my son would read early, like
us. I was somewhat dismayed when he wasn't reading at age 3! Then
I realized that I was setting unrealistic expectations, and I
took some time to get a reality check: How important, is it,
really, to read early? It turns out he can read now, at 4.5,
which is still pretty early. It's really great and I am
definitely proud of him, but now we can't spell words in front of
him and he can read the newspaper with the awful headlines. I
would rather he not read headlines like, ''Bomb kills children.''
One thing I learned over and over again in school (I have a
degree in child development) is that children develop at their
own rate. It can be difficult to let go and let them do their
thing on their own and it's very hard not to compare your own
child's growth with other children's. I guess this is all my
longwinded way of saying, don't TEACH your child, take it easy.
Don't freak if your kid isn't reading early. It will happen in
his own sweet time.
So, how did my son learn to read so early? Hmmm... My husband and
I read books ALL the time. We do not have a TV. He plays
educational computer games that help teach letter/sound
recognition. He plays those LeapFrog games (my husband used to
work for LeapFrog so we got all the toys for free). We made
letter pancakes, letter cookies, letter biscuits, drew his name
on the foggy car and house windows. We read books to our kids
every night before bed, while they're sitting on the toilet, and
when we're sick or sad. Because we have no TV he picks up books
out of boredom and just reads to himself (usually while I am
ignoring him by reading my e-mail). We go to the library. We read
street signs. That's how he learned to read.
I don't think it would be damaging developmentally to teach your
child to read. But it would be like trying to potty train your
child if they're not ready -- you'd be working for a year until
FINALLY they were trained. When you could have spent your year
not stressing, just playing, and then when they were ready (a
year later) they did it just like that. From my perspective as a
mom of two, I'd say, just let it be. Your kid will get it when
My two cents
I, too, would like my child to be an avid reader, and she
sometimes is, but I have some doubts about teaching infants to
read (and about the whole idea that children must and should
share their parents' interests). Children read when they're
ready to. Being read to and seeing their parents read will serve
as encouragement. In the meantime, let babies be babies. They
have plenty of time to learn to read.
I'm very uncomfortable with the ''genius-makers'' who want to teach a baby to
read. There are so many many things that your baby is learning on her own
right now, why disrupt the natural process that she's going through? I think
that you should read read read read read read read to her, some new things
every day but also the same books over and over so that she begins to
memorize them and feel the pleasure that we all feel from hearing a familiar
''liturgy'' of words. She will surely grow up to be an avid reader at her own
pace if reading is associated with parental love and closeness, not
I expect you'll get a lot of response to your question because
16-month-olds cannot be taught to read. It is unbelieveable to
me that someone claims they can. My daughter, 19 months old,
also LOVES books. So we read to her constantly and let her flip
through books anytime, anywhere. That is the best you can do
now to encourage your child's love of reading. Hopefully that
will translate into a continued interest and eventual ability
to read herself, when it is developmentally possible (which
won't be for a while).
a developmental psychologist
I am an elementary school teacher for 7 years and now I am
a reading specialist and a mom of a two year old.
First, let me say that your baby is so fortunate to have
parents reading to her. This love for reading will lead her to
be a successful reader. What she really loves is hearing
your voice and having your undivided attention. Hearing and
seeing repeated stories and patterns.
Your baby is in the first stages of becoming a reader. That
is, she is being shown a love for books. Next, she will open
books and look through them, bring them to you so you can
read to her. Later she will even say what is happening in the
story with a one or two word response. Like, when I read ''if
You Give Mouse a Cookie' my son says 'milk' when we get
to that page. He is not reading the black symbols on the
bottom of the page , he is reading the pictures and
remembering what we call that, from his life and from my
talking about milk. This, in my opinion, is the beginning of
To force those black symbols on the page to take on
meaning at such an early stage in develepment is, to me,
unnecessary and a bit silly. Your child will eventually take
interested in those symbols and may know some letters of
the alphabet, and you can tell her a little bit about how those
symbols work and why they are there. Let you child be the
guide to what you teach her. Some children get really
interested in that early on and take it on.
I have seen children who come into kindergarten ''reading''
Harry Potter and the parents think she is a genious. Well,
the child has learned the skill of decoding letter symbols
into sounds, decoding. Do they understand or comprehend
what they read, no. This is a problem because they begin to
decode too fast and they have to find a way to comprehend
the story in a sea of symbols and sounds and known and
My point, a child should have massive exposure to books at
their level. Exposure from infancy throughout their entire
By the time they enter kindergarten they should know their
alphabet and even the sounds of what the letters say. They
may even know how to decode words like, c-a-t . Let's not
forget writing as an important part of reading. Teach them to
write letters and some words, they'll love it. You can read
story books to them, with the aim of teaching them to
comprehend and understand.
You'll be busy enough with this much. The aim is to have
fun with books with your child. Relax, the interaction and one
on one oral language development is what is most
valuable. Do you know how many children come to
kindergarten and can't say anyone has ever showed them a
book, don't even know where the front of a book is, and have
had very little 'real conversation' about life around them?
My four year old daughter has recently developed a huge interest
in letters and numbers and spends much of her time pretending to
read. She also enjoys learning to ''draw'' letters of the
alphabet. What should I be doing to encourage her? Should I be
doing anything? (I hear there are pitfalls to ''forcing''
academics.) I have two younger children so I'd love to know what
I can do to channel this interest in the most efficient way
possible. My husband or I spend about 15 min. per day reading to
her. Is that enough? She's my oldest and I'm pretty clueless
about how (and when) kids learn to read and write and what I
should or should not be doing to make it happen.
Thanks very much!
How wonderful for you that your daughter is showing such
interest. I'd say make it all a game. Have a ''letter of the
week'' (or day) and try to find that letter on road signs, cereal
boxes, books of course, computer games, etc. Show her how to
write the letters of her name and let her ''practice'' with you
holding her hand as you write. Help her to trace letters with
tracing paper. Write large letters on paper and have
her ''decorate'' the letter with crayon drawings. Teach the ABC
song. I'm sure as you go along you'll think of more! Have fun!
I am a speech-language pathologist with a home business in
reading tutoring. My advice is that all parents should be
working on ''pre-reading'' skills with their preschoolers. It's
especially nice that your daughter is showing such interest, but
if she wasn't I might encourage some time on reading skills even
more! It's good to make the activities a game and not to try to
work on everything all at once. 10-15 minutes a day may be
enough. Many things you can do ''on the fly'' - in the car, while
eating, while reading...Plus reading to her as much as she wants
Here are some good things you can ''play'' at home:
Sing the alphabet while pointing to the letters
Find letters - Can you find a 'b'?
Name letters - What's this letter?
Work on learning to write her name
Ask questions when you read to her - What happened? Who....?
Where...? What do you think is going to happen next? Why...?
General ''when'' questions like day or night, winter or summer...
Play rhyming games - you can get flashcards for this and play
games like ''memory'' and ''go fish'' to find rhyming pairs
Talk about words that start with the same sound - ''let's think
of words that start with the *sound* 'buh'. Bat, ball, big,
boy...'' (It might start out as mostly you, then eventually can
ask her if she can think of one - or you can give choices -
Which one starts with 'buh', boy or girl?
Or play ''I spy'' -I spy something that rhymes with... Your turn.
or I spy something that begins with 'buh'.
Help her learn to trace letters in textures - popcorn kernels in
a tray, beans in a tray, sand, shaving cream, finger paint, etc.
Hope this helps! These ought to keep you busy for a while.
I don't think you have to worry about ''forcing'' academics if the
child is clearly interested in reading and writing. The more you
read to her, and the more you do ''pre-reading'' activities (e.g.
helping her draw letters, pointing out letters and words in books,
getting her magnetic letters and naming them for her, helping her
to ''spell'' words with them, having her find the first letter of
her name, etc.), the better, as long as it's what she wants to do.
Yes, it's okay to encourage your daughter to learn to read if
she WANTS to! You only don't want to FORCE her to read if she
has no interest.
I learned to read at 3. All my mother did was read me a lot of
books, and spend time with a flash card set of basic words.
My daughter, on the other hand, learned much later, at 5. Yet
today, at 7, she is a voracious reader, urging me to take her
to the library every day (''because I already finished the four
books we got yesterday'').
Here's what we did: read to her a lot, bought books with
large print and simple words, put our fingers underneath
the words as we were reading, and read books ourselves around
her. We never ''taught'' her to read or made her read when she
didn't want to. On the other hand, we answered all her
questions, encouraged her to read and write letters, praised
her when she recognized letters or words.
I am a teacher and a reading specialist in the elementary
school. Be happy that your daughter is showing a natural
progression to know more about books. This is not the
beginning of her being a reader. The beginning was the first
time you opened a book to show her......I assume when she
was a baby, the best time!!
She probably used to point to pictures and study the
pictures a long time to get to know what they were. After she
knew a picture she would flip through the book quickly to
see what else she needed to figure out. Now she has
progressed to look at symbols. She may ask what letter this
is, or what do you call this. It is a symbol, just like pictures
were for her. Tell her what it is when she asks. No need to
start getting the practice books out or flashcards. Just let
her lead the growing need that will eventually turn her into a
fluent reader. Your child doesn't NEED to be a reader by
Kindergarten. When we push our children passed what they
are ready for.......we put them in a place they are not ready to
be in and which feels foreign to them, in turn, they feel
unable and that turns into feelings of inadaquacy which
turns into a brick in a wall that blocks learning.
Just go with her flow. Make it a happy time, the same as it
was when she was a baby and you read to her. You weren't
worried that she must know what that picture of the ball is.
You just asked, ''What is that'' and she said,''ball'' OR you
said,''point to the ball'' and she did or didn't.....if she didn't,
you pointed and said calmly, that's a ball and talked about
the ball that she played with at the park today.
Most of all have fun and feel happy that you have set a
foundation that is turning her into a reader. Yes, keep
reading every day for 15 minutes or as long as she wants,
or less if she wants. When she is in grade school 2nd &3rd
the time increases to 30 minutes or more.
Since your child is interested in letters, I would definately
encourage her learn more. I didn't do enough for my oldest
child because I didn't realize how much they learn in
kindergarden and first grade. I left it to the schools to
educate him and he ended up behind.
The standards are being raised. Kids are learning to read in
kindergarden. Having learned from my first child, I am sending
his younger brother off to school with reading skills. If you
can help your daughter with her sounds and early reading skills
it will help her. There are lots of great products available.
We had an audio tape that came with little cards on a ring that
taught phonics. When we drove around in the car, I would play
the tape. My four year old enjoyed following along with the
audio tape. Also helping her to continue to be phonemic aware
is good. When she's just hanging out with you, you can say
rhyming words or sounds. Or say words together that start with
the same sound.
Buy beginning reading books and read them with her. A four
year old that is interested in letters is not too young to start
learning reading skills.
When my kids were small, I bought them those workbooks you can
find in with the coloring books. The more simpler ones are like
coloring books plus simple puzzles and tasks. Your daughter can
move along at her own pace. We'd do puzzles and learn to draw
the letters. They were reading before I knew it. And they always
wanted more workbooks. By the time they were in Kindergarten, I
was buying 1st and 2nd grade workbooks. They enjoyed them. it
wasn't work, it was fun. There are a lot of workbooks out there
for pre-school kids, icon-related and non-icon related for those
who don't get much television exposure. You can get any kind you
want. You can start off by helping her with it, but don't be
surprised if she doesn't want your help for very long.
Since she's pretending to read and write already, the workbooks
will help her to really do it without forcing anything.
I have a 2 1/2 year old son who has memorized all of the books that we
read to him. He does not read them but rather has them memorized and
recites them when we pull them out or whenever he feels like it. (in
the car...at dinner etc.) My mother (who is a retired teacher) scared
me when she said: "Oh my...those are the type of kids who don't want
to learn how to really read later on..."
Does anyone have any insight into this? Should we be reading a
certain way to him?
I TOTALLY disagree! I think it's absolutely wonderful that your child
is so engaged with books that he memorizes them. This forms a solid
basis for his verbal development and keeps him fascinated with books.
Memorizing also probably gives him a sense of accomplishment and
pride, this way he can feel competant, like his parents. I would bet
that he will be good at lyrics to songs too! He is lucky to have
parent(s) who enjoy reading with him and who read enough, and with
interesting inflection, to help him develop favorites that he chooses
to memorize. I can imagine that the memory of these times will stay
deep within him as he begins to learn to read - reading will feel like
a special, intimate experience. In our home, we don't do any TV and
we have tons and tons of books (mostly because we adults get bored
reading the same ones!). What we found, as our daughter left the rote
memorization stage, was that it was fun to pause after some of the
pages and ask funny questions - like, "would you like an elephant like
that to share our house?," "could he fit in your bedroom?" "what
would we give him to eat?" But sometimes she still prefers the ritual
and the rhythm of an old favorite book and she can do without our
"editorial" comments! Good luck, and keep reading!
I would call the reciting that your 2 1/2 year old is doing
"pretending to read", and that is one of the many little steps
involved in becoming a good reader. Just like scribbling and drawing
for kids is "pretend writing". What's great is that they see it as
something enjoyable and important enough to want to pretend doing it.
I wouldn't be too worried about what your mom said. I did the same
thing (according to my mom)and so did my brother and sister. All three
of us are avid readers and I am a librarian to boot. My mom's only
complaint was that she couldn't skip the pages of the books because we
knew how the story was supposed to go!
Lots of bright kids memorize books (and songs and videos). As
prechoolers, both my boys knew countless books by heart, just as I did
after reading them over and over. Both are readers now. Don't worry,
and keep reading to them.
You have a very bright child. It sounds like you've spent a lot of time
with him and done a great job. He has a wonderful memory (which will serve
him well) AND he'll learn to read when he's the right age--he's only 2
here's my brief opinion based on my experience as a teacher: your son
is going to be in GREAT shape when he is ready to learn to read.
memorizing is exactly how many children learn to read. eventually he
will learn to associate the printed words with the words he has
memorized. you must read to him a lot, which is the best thing you
can be doing. keep it up! read, read and let him finish the
sentence, talk, question, comment, just enjoy, don't pressure him.
i'd be happy to respond to any more specific questions you may have.
this page was last updated: May 27, 2012
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