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