Teaching My Baby To Read

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Jennifer Bardsley, M-O-M

Yesterday was a celebratory moment for us. My daughter Jenna(32months) was sitting by the couch in the living room, and she looked over into the basket were the Word Whammer was laying upside-down. She looked at it for a moment, and said “Two Ms, like in mom.”

I was really surprised, because although Jenna has known her letters and sounds for about six months now, she hasn’t shown any interest in blending. So I got out the cookie sheet and turned it around. Then I offered her the choice between an O, and an E, and asked her to spell mom for me. She picked out the O on her first try! Then Jenna proceeded to read the word mom to me many times. That’s as far as she could go. As my husband asked when he got home that night, Jenna could not spell dad.

When my son Bruce was two and a half we were having a snack at the Nordstrom’s cafe together one day, and I started writing out letters on the menu to keep him busy while we waited for our food to arrive. It was in that moment that I realized that Bruce could read simple Consonant Vowel Consonant words. I was startled and surprised, even though we had spent hours and hours watching phonics videos together. I looked around the restaurant excitedly, like there would be somebody there to share my joy. Of course there wasn’t, and I kept my mouth shut.

You know how the first time your child uses the potty you want to shout it from the rooftops? Well, I feel that way too, about my daughter spelling and reading her first word. But for some reason, it’s not socially acceptable to be proud of your child’s reading accomplishments. I’ll share my M-O-M moment on my blog, and with my husband and the grandmas, but never with ordinary people I know in real life. That would be cloying. Pooping in the potty at age two is okay to talk about. Reading a word is not.

But this isn’t a case of “Oh, my daughter is SO smart.” It’s the result of the time we have spent together, and the types of play activities we have enjoyed. All of these ideas I share for free on my Where to Start page, so that families of all academic and ability levels can get a jump start on learning too.

I don’t expect that Jenna will be reading Harry Potter any time soon, but I do envision her slowly starting to pick out more and more words on her own. If she follows her brother’s path (maybe she will, maybe she won’t), by age three she might be able to read level 1 Bob Books. By age 4 she would hopefully complete the series, and turn into a full-fledged, reader-beader.

All children learn and develop at different rates though, and that’s okay. No matter where my children are at in reading, as their M-O-M, I can appreciate the W-O-W.


  1. jengod says:

    YAY! << CVC word of celebration!!

  2. It’s always awesome when you see your kids making progress and growing. My little guy has finally at age 4 1/2 taken to coloring. I thought he would never be interested in art! Let’s celebrate the joys of mommyhood and seeing our kids do great things everyday! 🙂

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