I had a dear friend email me yesterday with the news that her little one was expressing an interest in reading. Her exact words were, “Mami, show me how to read.” OMG. I. Love. It!!!
But how does one really do it? I’m not an early-childhood teacher or an elementary teacher but an English teacher for the secondary grades (disclaimer: yes, I make grammatical mistakes here and there…my passion is literature. ha!) but Diego started reading right before his fourth birthday (humble brag…now I’m being a mom) and these are some of the things that worked for him. “Worked for him” in the sense that he also expressed an interest in reading very early and these were the materials that I noticed he enjoyed. Did they teach him to read? I don’t know but they surely can’t hurt if you use them for your child.
Being my first born, I had a lot of free time in Japan and read to Diego every single day of his life until he was a little over 3. I remember the day I didn’t get a chance to read to him! No exaggeration. He also had toys that if you pressed the letter, it said its name. I would hear, “A A A A A A….” all day long. At 18 months he knew how to identify every single letter in no particular order. I knew that was exceptional and that he LOVED letters and words and books. So I continued to “work” with him. He loved it and I was loving it.
Here are a few things I recommend: 1) Read to your child everyday and 2) encourage “quiet reading” time as early as you can. Santi started to imitate us at 18 months. They just have to sit with stacks of books and “read”. And 3) Expose them to masses of books as often as you can. We go to libraries and bookstores so frequently that it is just like going to the grocery store. Routine. Ok, back to the materials!
Yes, my boys watch TV! Try to pick the best, the most educational, the most inspiring thing out there. Diego loved these Leap Frog DVDs. The songs are catchy and they are teaching your child phonics. Every letter has a sound and they will repeat it over and over and over… Try other songs and remember to reinforce one-on-one. How? When they are eating use a letter place mat. When you are driving point out letters and practice the sound. Go for walks and do the same.
Once Diego learned the sound of the letters with the help of the the Leap Frog DVDs, my reinforcements, and other alphabet songs, we moved on to playing with letters. He wanted to build his own words. We had these Melissa and Doug magnets and we also used foam letters, alphabet stickers and stamps, letter blocks, and water letters for the bath.. and he started to spell.
There are amazing puzzles, flash cards and books that teach sight words. I really liked these Eeboo word puzzles because Diego was matching, reading and using fine motor skills all in one.
Games work too! Diego loved playing with the cubes and matching the letter to the picture card. Boggle Jr. introduces word recognition, spelling and memory. Can’t wait to use this with Santi.
There is nothing better than hearing your child say, “I am ready for level two (or three! or four!).” I know there are a lot of these types of books out there but as a loyal customer I just continue to buy them. Any of these types of books will work. They even have titles with your child’s favorite character, superheroes and princess stories too.
I have to say that Diego is entering Kindergarten reading and understanding what he is reading very well BUT Santi is 21 months and only recognizes some letters. Jordi has had 2 books read to him… maybe? Every child is different, your time is spread out different, so your results will be different. All we can do is try our best. When children start to ask for books and “show me how to read” pops out of their mouths…how incredible. Give that to them! Encouraging the passion for reading at an early age is not a race to be the youngest reader of all time, it is the preparation for their overall academic life. It doesn’t matter when they start doing it, what matters is that they like it and look forward to reading.
Do you have any other ideas to encourage young readers? Would love to hear! Oh and click at the images for some shopping fun!
P.s. I know you have a lot of friends out there with little kids! Would you mind sharing this please? Just copy the link and post it on their FB wall! hee hee!