Teaching My Baby To Read

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

My methods are child-centered, child-directed, and based on my own experience. I am sharing them with you so that you can have a teacher-created road map of how to teach your son or daughter to read before Kindergarten.

All children are unique and learn at different rates. Please be patient with yourself and your children. These activities are meant to be practical and fun; not stressful. Not every child will developmentally be able to learn to read by five years old, but every child is capable of learning.

First give yourself and education. Find out about:

Then try out some age-based ideas that worked for me:

0-18 Months

  • Baby Signs
  • Lots of Reading with Mommy and Daddy!


18 Months on up (The Beginning)


To teach phonemic awareness and phonics, I suggest starting kids out on a really old-school video called “Rusty and Rosy ABC Sounds and Such“. Then move on to “Leap Frog“.

Yes, yes, I know TV can be evil! Please don’t blast me about the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations that children under two shouldn’t watch television.

It’s not like I’m sitting my toddler in from of “Star Wars the Clone Wars” and then going off into the living room to drink a margarita. What I do, is I snuggle down with Jenna and watch as much of the video as she has the attention span at this point to get through. At first it is just two or three minutes, but I build her up to twenty. Each time a new letter or sound comes on, I make a big deal about. “Oh, that’s the letter S! Sssssssssss.” Sometimes Bruce sits with us, and plays along.
More on the order of videos I suggest here.

24 Months on up (The Middle)

There is definitely a fuzzy gray area after a child has learned his letters and sounds, but before he is ready to actively start putting them together in CVC (consonant vowel consonant) words. This stage might take a long time.

36 months on up (Sealing the Deal)

Special Note:

Of course, we do lots of other things too, like play outside, play dress up, engage in imaginative play, sing songs, attend a play group etc. But I do believe in actively teaching toddlers letters and sounds. At 21 months Jenna knew almost all of her upper case letters, close to half of her lower case letters, and could put sounds together with letters if you prompted her. At 3 years old my son was reading level 1 Bob Books.

Every child will learn at a different rate, so be patient.

You can do it Moms and Dads! You can teach your children to read.

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  1. Cara says:

    Jenny– Wow. I think Chris told me you had a blog but this year until I got a new laptop– and largely just from being back to work, going on the computer at the end of the day was not always the most relaxing choice. My last day of school was yesterday and I think I’m going to start the homemade books idea with Kathryn. I am wanting to do fun math stuff with Emilyn. This is the area I’m less sure about where to go. I like your philosophy of the letting them figure things out.

    • jenbrdsly says:

      I’m glad you find my blog helpful! Have you looked at Dreambox.com for math? That’s a really easy way to incorporate more math over the summer. I just signed Bruce up for it again this month, and will be posting about it soon.

  2. jengod says:

    This is EXACTLY the kind of thing I’ve been wondering about for my own kiddo. Incredibly helpful outline. Thank you!

  3. L says:

    Thanks for this outline! Lots of ideas! I think my 18 month old would like some CVC flip books (she knows the sounds already and doesn’t hesitate to show that off!). I also really like the “writing corner” idea.

  4. Melody Meadows says:

    Ok just found this blog, was trying to find something to “get started” in. We have been doing Your baby can read an I’m just not really convinced this is the way. Your outline sounds good, we are going to give it a try. My baby is only 7 months old so we have time to research but I think it’s crunch time! Lol time to stop googling an find something! Thanks for all your suggestions,

    • jenbrdsly says:

      Hi Melody! Welcome to my blog. I found that at 7 months, the best thing to do with both my kids was to start learning about baby signs. Then at 9 months, we really started signing a lot. By the 15-18 month mark, I started teaching them their letters and sounds. Good luck to you!

  5. Monika says:

    This seems like a really great outline! I have to admit though – I’m nowhere near becoming a mother yet, but I have been talking with my partner about raising our kids bilingual. He’s British and I’m Bulgarian, and I have read how you should speak only your native language to your child for this to work. I suspect that I’ll be having more time with the little ones, but since according to the theory I should be speaking only Bulgarian to them, I am quite confused what to do – leave the dad deal with the English materials and just find the Bulgarian equivalent?
    I’ve never met anyone who’s done this, so it’d be quite interesting to meet mothers who have gone through the whole ‘teach your toddlers their ABC’s… and Cyrillic’ or any other non-English language.
    Oh, but thank you for all your advices!

    • jenbrdsly says:

      Sorry if I didn’t reply sooner. This was in my SPAM folder. How do they teach children to be bilingual in Eastern Europe? I had never thought about this before, but yes, according to what they teach people about bilingualism here in America it would be best to have Dad speak English (and teach the ABCs) and Mom teach Bulgarian (and teach the ???). My Cyrillic knowledge is pitiful, I’m afraid.

  6. Tracy says:

    Great ideas! I just wanted to mention that my ds’s speech therapist told me that the research has shown that learning sign language develops the speech centers in the brain in the same way that spoken language does. So teaching signs to litte ones absolutely helps them to develop speech (though I like the part about averting temper tantrums resulting from miscommunication).

  7. Caroline says:

    Greatblog! I just found this blog by googling for cheap early literacy ideas. My daughter is 22 months and I am just working out where to go with her next as she has letter recognition down but does not seem ready for sounding out words. Here are some of the games I played with my daughter over the last year (http://gulliblenewparent.blogspot.com.au/2011/11/exploring-letters-with-1-year-old.html). I was also intrigued to read your posts about RightStart Maths as she also seems to be on the verge of properly having her number sense (2 is very reliable, 3 is getting clearer, and counting with one-to-one correspondence is happening a bit too). So I have been working out what to give her next and RightStart was what I was thinking of.

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