Most parents ask me how I taught my eldest daughter, Anaya to read when she was 4 years old, and I always have to tell them, mostly it's just spending time with your child. As of this year, 2011, Anaya is 6 years old and has already been on the Reading Honor Roll at her school for 4 consecutive semesters, is reading on a 4th grade level with a third grade comprehension, and she loves to read. Teaching your toddler to read can actually be quite simple and easy, especially if they already know their alphabets and/or sounds, then it's literally a walk in the park. The earlier you start, the better results, typically.
In this fast paced world we need to make time for our children, if only 15 minutes. Between work, school, yoga classes, and whatever else you may have during the day, the time spent with your kid(s) is the MOST important! Set aside at LEAST 15 minutes of your time a day for just you and your kid(s). Remember, kids have short attention spans anyway, so 15 minutes would be just perfect.
Every child learns at their own pace, remember that. The important thing is to create a fun and educational environment for your child. Patience is everything, your child may get frustrated with not getting something, but don't worry, he/she will! Don't show frustration, if you happen to get frustrated, take a break, or tell them you'll just pick it up later.
Because you can't read without knowing the alphabets, it is a must to know. The popular teaching aide "Your Baby Can Read" and other reading aides for children don't teach your child the alphabets, they teach them what is known as 'Sight Words', and hope that your child will soon get the hint that the alphabets make individual sounds. Sight words are words that are used most commonly in a children's books and to "read" a word by looking at it and automatically know it. For instance, these are sight words: the, in, it, she, he, went, etc. Words you don't sound out because you have seen it so much, you know it just by looking at it. Personally, I don't like the method by itself, but to each parent his/her own.
I started my daughter on learning her alphabets when she was 1 year old, though too young is no such thing. ABC wallpaper, mobiles, ect. can be used to enhance the alphabets to your baby. At about 1 year old, I wrote down all the letters of the alphabet, upper case and lower case, on a huge poster board and pinned it up in her room. Everyday we would sing the alphabet and I would point to each letter as we sang them. Be sure to stress the importance of pronouncing 'L,M,N,O, and P'. These letters children tend to run together and makes it sound like "ellen-leno-pee". Do the alphabet chart before they go to bed, or whenever your time for teaching them is. ABC Coloring books are a huge help as well! A good learning tool that I found online was Starfall, a good site for children of all ages, up to 12 years old. They have interactive ways to learn the alphabet, putting sounds together, and even ebooks for kids and pre-teens, all free!
After your child has mastered recognizing their alphabets, move on to alphabet sounds. We all know alphabet sounds, A makes the "ahh" sound, and so on so forth. Throughout the day, tell your child to repeat you when you say the letter followed by the sound of the letter. Make it fun. I.E. A says "ah" like this (act like you are going to the dentist and open your mouth wide and say 'Ah'). Fun and interesting ideas like that, once your child sees that you are having fun, they will want to play more with you, and learn more too! Once you think your child has some of the sounds down, pop quiz them randomly at any given time. Pop quiz them in the car, at McDonald's, driving them to and from school, during bath time, before or after they say their prayers, anytime.
"Mommy/Daddy don't know what sound 'A' makes, can you help Mommy/Daddy out, please?" Start off with a letter they know, try to stay away from using 'K' and 'C' so much since they have the same sound, and that would just confuse them. Continue this process until your child knows all the letters of the alphabets.
So, your child knows all their sounds do they? A-Z? Then this step is just for you! You get the GRAND opportunity to have your child read their first word to you! What an exciting time! My Anaya's first reading word was 'cab', I'll never forget. Okay, here is what you do: Get a piece of paper, chalkboard, cardboard, sidewalk chalk, bathtub markers, etc. and a writing space and write out a three letter word. Don't use 'she', 'he', or 'elephant'. Use 'cab', 'bus', 'rat', 'sit'. Now, tell them to sound it out, if you want you can sound it out with them, letter by letter. Then tell them to say it faster, faster and faster.
If they don't get the word, just ask them what it sounds like when they say it fast, usually they'll get it. If they don't happen to get it, don't get frustrated! Just tell them what it is and sound the word out letter by letter slowly, then say it again so they'll get it. If they got it, CONGRATULATIONS!!! Your baby is reading! Now, go on to the next word and so on, and so on.
If your child did not get it right, just calmly go to the next one, and do the same thing as before. Sounding out the three letter word letter by letter and saying it faster and faster. Some kids get it, some kids don't. Kids, as I said before, learn at their own pace. Do this everyday, when they've done with that particular set of words, move on to more words. 'Cat', 'dog', 'ran', 'Sam', etc. Pretty soon your child will be reading like a pro!
When you are teaching your child to read, remind yourself to keep things light, no pressure. Love and patience is very important here. Though it may take your child 2 weeks to a year or two, your child will soon learn to read, and you can have a memory to keep in your repertoire of memories you spent with your child(ren).
select one here...