Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Steps on the Reading Road

So – you want to raise a reader and a book lover? Here is our approach that really started in infancy:

Nov17_CloseUp

We didn’t do flashcards, but our nursery theme was alphabet. I remember sitting with tiny Anna on my lap pointing out characters on her favorite alphabet pillow. She still likes to have it in her bed.

 

 

Lift-the-flap ABC

We read and read and read. We still read, read and read together. You name the alphabet book – we probably read it. I calculated once that we are probably averaging 5 books a day – it would mean that we already read about 5000 books. The number looks enormous, but I can see it reflected in her vocabulary. I still remember when Anna was about 14 months and we were driving behind the truck which was transporting logs – not something that we see often in Silicon Valley. Suddenly Anna chimed in from the back seat – “a wog twuck!”. Then at home she crawled to her bookshelf (she was a late walker) and showed me a book with a log truck.

Starfall

I cannot say enough good words about Starfall. We were in “no TV under 2” camp, but since Anna was about 6 months old we would spend about 10 minutes a day on this website. She knew all her letters by about 18 months, and knew her sounds at around 2 years. By that time she knew a lot of starfall stories by heart and could “read” them just by following the screen prompts.

Progressive Phonics

When I discovered Progressive Phonics, I just knew that this is the right method for us. Anna always loved snuggle time with me and “sharing” work. The start was bumpy, but then one day it was almost like a light bulb went on, and her reading just exploded from that point. I joke sometimes to my husband that we saved a lot of money since I hardly bought any “reading supplements”, and now I can spend all those money on board games and math manipulatives.

Nov2_MamaAnna_SM I saw some debates online about whether it’s wise to teach young children to read. I wrote a post last August about my belief in my child’s abilities and desire to learn. In that post I predicted that Anna might be reading simple books by 4. I was clearly wrong. She surpassed my widest dreams and entered this wonderful world of independent reading even before she turned 3 and a half. The best part? I was there to witness every step of her progress even with my full time job. A lot is possible in 15 minutes a day if a child is willing to learn and the teacher is willing to teach.

12 comments:

TheRockerMom said...

Your words are so true. We work with our son in all areas, but in fun, age-appropriate ways. He is loving sounding out words and I look forward to hearing him read his first sentence. I am in no rush. I am simply enjoying being along for the ride. RockerTot loves books and words and he can retain so much. Thank you for this post. Children love to learn and will shut down if it isn't fun (at least mine will), so people should not be concerned and comment on what others are doing. If the kids like it, then it's great!

Christy said...

We read a lot too. My 12 year old loves to read now, and unlike most boys his age, he always has a book with him. My kids also knew all letters by 18 months and letter sounds before 2. We have always had letters, numbers, maps, etc all over the place for the kids to see. One of our FAVORITE learning tools that helped with letter sounds is the Leapfrog fridge phonics set. I have been criticized for teaching my children. I think that is insane. I never force anything on them; they love to learn. What kind of a parent thinks that someone else should be responsible for teaching their children everything? I know many people (college educated, intelligent people) who feel this way - it's insane. By teaching our children, we are giving them important tools and teaching them that learning is not limited to the classroom. Sorry for all the rambling!

Pathfinder Mom said...

Very true. We were on a similar timeline, but with a different approach. Tornado Boy just figured out slightly before three that letters together made certain words and we ran with it. The common theme - we read multiple books every day and have for as long as I can remember. I think for the most part that kids rise to the challenges that you present for them when they're in a supportive, loving environment.

Jennifer @ The Toy Box Years said...

I hope that I'm raising future readers. Both my girls can be found with a book either in their hands or in their immediate vicinity. You can never have too many books!

Thanks for the link to Progressive Phonics. Never heard of it and am going to check it out!

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

It's interesting, that "light bulb" seems to turn on at completely different ages for different children, but it's always thrilling to watch.

Mom and Kiddo said...

Kiddo was also an early reader. We never used a formal system and I didn't set out to "teach him to read". In fact, he used to ask me what sounds the letters made. But I think it was the fact that I always read to him when he asked (well, almost always) -- even if it meant hours (literally!) a day.

Ticia said...

Okay, totally unrelated to the post, but I love that last picture of you and Anna, it's so cute. And the first picture of her on the pillow.....
The light bulb moment is always the best, isn't it? Okay, I better go get us started on the day.

Debbie said...

Great post! Anna and the log truck reminds me of Selena and her sounding out the first letter of every one of her toys at that age. She would run through the house saying things like the sound of b, "B" for boat! That was when I knew she was destined to be an early reader. I agee I hear, read, and have people tell me it is not good to teach reading at a young age, but I am with you if the child is ready and willing then why not.

Eli said...

Your post is so true. Reading is one of the most important things you can do with your child, in my opinion. And I love when that lightbulb goes off. I started working more with my daughter shortly after she turned 4 and she's just about to be 4 1/2 and is reading like crazy. I love it! We too love Starfall. It's a wonderful site!

Joyful Learner said...

We just maxed out our limit on library books.;p
Your fellow bookworms,
JOyful Learners

Adriana said...

I think that if you are following a child's interest, they will learn much more quickly. Anna obviously loves books so it is very natural that she would be an early reader. She is very lucky to have parents to guide and encourage her. We are also a book-loving family. We usually read three before naptime and at least 3 before bedtime and a few others in between. Diego has a huge vocabulary also and I attribute it to the books we read. His babysitter, who is Spanish-speaking, told me the other day that Diego talks like a little adult.

Jenny said...

What a cute baby pic!

Abby is so eager to read and is learning more words every day! How awesome that your daughter learned so quickly.

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