Parents are constantly teaching their children. It is a never ending process as we try and impart our knowledge and life experiences on to them. However, I must admit that it has been many years since I have had to teach my daughter to read. I thought today though I would share our experiences from long ago.
First of all, as I have said a million times during conversations and blogging, children are never too young for books! I firmly believe in this. Don't believe me? This is my daughter, oh so many years ago......
Look at the intent look on her face. She is really into that book! She loved the pictures. I am a great supporter of board books for babies and toddlers. I made sure she always had a varied selection so she wouldn't get bored.
The other secret--now don't tell anyone--I'd hate for it to get around...READ TO THEM! Children love story time. I loved story time! I loved being able to gather this joyful little bundle in my arms, cuddling her close, and reading a story of her choice. Of course when she was really little I'd do the choosing. ;)
As they get a little older start pointing to the words as you read them. Be sure to ask questions so you know if they are absorbing the material and get their opinion on different ideas throughout the book. You'll be amazed at their thoughts! This is my favorite part of any story time.
When our daughter was about 2 years old we gave her one of our old computers. We had just bought a new one and so I wasn't afraid of what she would do to the old one. Now days, you can easily hand them an iPad for the same effect. There are tons of learning games and interactive apps. Back in those days my daughter loved her Edmark software! It was the same software used in her daycare. Bailey's Book House was one of her favorites.
(Photo Source: http://www.mobygames.com/)
Unfortunately, they no longer make it for the newer computer systems. If you have an older system it can still be purchased. Her other favorite game, just for fun, was Pajama Sam! Oh, she loved that game! I swear, I think she'd still play it for nostalgia's sake if she could get it to work on her iMac.
(Photo Source: http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/)
I recently found this software abcMouse and it reminded me a lot of the old Edmark software. This is in no way an endorsement as I have never used the software, but it has the same feel of the programs my daughter used to use.
When my daughter was about four I decided it was time to get serious about her reading. Up until that time we would do reading exercises and I would encourage her to "read," but ultimately I was doing most of the heavy lifting. One day I was shopping at Costco when I came across a preschool reading program. I remember the program was about $90.00 and that was about 16 years ago. I wish I could remember the name because it was a phenomenal program! The only thing I do remember about it is that it had a large, white rabbit on the box. Included in the package was a reading software program paired with small, easy-to-read paperback books. Not surprisingly, she loved the reading software. After completing a software lesson, children were encouraged to read the accompanying book for that lesson. (One lesson=one book) As the lessons progressed and became more difficult, so did the books. The closest thing I can compare it to now is Learn to Read - Hooked on Phonics.
One particular day when my daughter started getting frustrated with her paperback book, I remember encouraging her. I told her that if she kept practicing, someday when she read the words the most magnificent movie would play in her head, but it would be better than any movie she had ever watched before. Instead of seeing the words, she would be able to see a picture. She was a little dubious, but it was the encouragement she needed to keep her going.
I will never forget the time I came home after a long, hard day of work. I opened the front door and my daughter came running down the hallway, with my husband trailing behind. Her voice met me before she did, "Mommie, mommie, I did it! I saw the movie playing!" I will never forget that moment. The joy in her voice and face as I swept her up into my arms was priceless. Of course, I immediately had to go and listen to her read what turned out to be the magical book that was her turning point. After that, I could not keep the child in books! She fell in love with literature. By the time she entered Kindergarten she was a full-fledged reader.
The moral of my blog is that your child wants to learn. They have that natural curiosity when they are young. Their minds are sponges just waiting to absorb the knowledge you put before them. Don't waste this precious gift. Read with your child. Inspire them to become their future self by teaching them to strive for goals and never stop helping them on their journey.
Wishing you all a little adventure,
Author of the Dani P. Mystery series