Teaching My Baby To Read

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Candy and Words

I’m not above resorting to bribery.

My daughter Jenna is almost three and a half years old.  We’ve been doing a lot of activities recently to support her burgeoning knowledge of sounding out words.  Here is one more.

The Candy Game

Before we start, I count out twenty five chocolate chips and mini marshmallows in the cup.  It’s really not that much candy, but enough to be super motivating.  Then I grab the deck of words we are currently working with.  I made this deck from our All About Reading level 1 activity book.

Then we just go for it. Old-school, flash card quizzing.  Every card Jenna sounds out earns her a a small piece of candy.  We play the game for no more six minutes.

My son Bruce was able to do this type of activity when he little too.  So now I’m completely jaded and this seems normal.  But the teacher in me remembers working with five, six, and even seven year olds to accomplish this same learning objective.

There is definitely a huge range for when a child will developmentally be able to sound out three letter words.  But I think that there are probably loads of children out there who could be reading before they entered Kindergarten, if parents had more guidance in how to help teach their children at home.  That’s the whole mission of my blog!

Jenna and Bruce have been working with letters, sounds, and words since they were each eighteen months old.  Almost all of this is documented on my Where to Start page.  Most of my ideas are free.  All of them are child-centered.

The bottom line is you can teach your child a tremendous amount before Kindergarten, especially if you know where to start!

Save your $ on this one

 I saw these cards at the Target Dollar Spot recently, and picked them up for Jenna(26m).  Frankly, I don’t think they are even worth a dollar.  Okay, maybe if you didn’t have any learning things at all in your house they would be worth it.  Or maybe you could use them as a really lame stocking stuffer in a few months.  That’s about all these would be good for.

Why do I dislike them so much?  First off, there are no instructions.  That’s fine for a former K-4 teacher like me, but what about folks who don’t have 100 phonics activities committed to memory?  The next problem is that the cards are not interactive at all.  There is no reason to flip the cards over to check your answer for example. 

So really…  I know they just cost $1 but if you see them at Target save your money!

Flashcard Games

I’ve started playing letter identification games with Jenna.  Right now we are using the Hooked on Phonics cards, but any cards would do. 

Way back when, I was trained in A-B-A therapy for working with two little boys with Autism.  Some of those methods have stuck with me.  In general, when working with flashcards I like to give the child three chances to get the right answer.  By the third try, I “help” the child touch the correct card.   I always use a lot of positive reinforcement when doing flashcard work, and I keep the sessions extremely short.

With Jenna, we are working on upper and lower case letter matching.  We only play with the cards for about five minutes, and she earns a sticker at the end.  So far her accuracy is only at about 50%, but that’s okay for now.  The important thing is that she is having fun.