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Teaching Toddlers To Read

I was amazed when I saw my midwife's daughter reading "The Lord of the Rings" at 5 years of age, so I asked her how she learned to read at such a young age. She said the trick is: You start teaching them to read by playing a GAME with them at about 16 - 18 months (or older). She said "Kids CAN'T read SMALL BLACK letters but CAN read LARGE RED letters".


So what you do is make a bunch of cards that have BIG RED words on them like "grandma, mom, dad, out, banana, cat, chair, flower", etc. The lettering should be about 2 inches high. Then you put all the cards in a pile on the floor and ask the little one to "bring me the word 'banana' (or whatever word)". Of course you start with only 2 or 3 cards at a time and when they have mastered these, you add one more word every so often. Be sure to give them LOTS of praise whenever they get one of the words right. Toddlers and little ones just LOVE this game! It's fun for them, teaches them to read, and gets them interested in reading at an early age.

My midwife's 5 year old daughter carried a book with her everywhere she went. She absolutely loved to read! Several of her friends were also reading books by themselves at 3 or 4 years of age. Of course you can add to this by also reading them a book each night before they go to bed. My daughter says "It's bed time, go pick out the book you want me to read to you." This way my granddaughter actually LIKES bedtime, and you sure can't beat THAT!

By Cyinda from Seattle

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April 14, 20080 found this helpful

Hello from Canada!
Teaching babies to read or play music or do math or even learn swimming and gymnastics, is not difficult! In fact the concept has been around for decades. If you are pregnant and you want books that will teach you the secrets of baby and child development, visit the Philadelphia Institutes for Human Development. Over the years, when I tried to introduce these wonderful concepts to many new parents, I was often rebuffed and told that She wanted her child to grow up normal! Strangely, however, the majority of new Dad's showed both delight and interest in obtaining the information. Whenever I heard the word normal, I silently added the words: normal and lazy, exactly like the parent.

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By guest (Guest Post)
April 14, 20080 found this helpful

I can second this tip. My daughter was reading before age 3. She just turned 5 and now she's reading chapter books like The Magic Treehouse and Magic Schoolbus series. We bought some "flash cards" as a spur-of-the-moment thrifty Christmas present at a pharmacy register when she was 18 months. We kept them with her other toys and sometimes we'd play with them together or she'd take them out and look at them. (Some had letters on one side and pictures on the other, like apple/A; some had words/pictures.) We downloaded some from the Web for free. As well, we purchased some foam letters and numbers to play with in the tub, and we would sing little songs like "J, J, jumping J" while we made it jump. She learned to recognize all the letters by 18 months and then she actually taught herself the words on the flashcards! (That was a huge surprise!) By 2 she was reading books in the car. If she came to a word she didn't know, she'd spell it out loud and I'd tell her what it was. Anyway, it can certainly be done; just don't set any goals (some kids seem to be genetically wired to learn other things first, like how to ride a bike without training wheels, which our daughter can't do), and keep it FUN! :)

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April 14, 20080 found this helpful

What I would like to know is, are these children learning to read by memorizing what the words look like and how they are pronounced? Or are they learning by pronouncing a word phonetically. If it is the former, they are handicapped when they come to a word they've never seen before. However, if they learn through phonics, they are able to pronounce almost every word they see. It's like the old axiom: if you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach him how to fish, he eats for a lifetime.

If you teach a child each word's pronunciation, he learns to recognize only one word at a time; if you teach him phonics, he learns to pronounce all words.

One of my daughters was taught a strange way of reading that I was not agreeable with but, in spite of that--not because of it--she was reading Nancy Drew books in the first grade. She just was very intelligent, and started reading on her own in kindergarten.


I have a three-year-old granddaughter who just can't be bothered with alphabetical flash cards--she has a very short attention span and would rather be doing something physical than something intellectual, but she loves having books read to her. She'll learn to read a little later.

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April 15, 20080 found this helpful


i did the same with my daughter using individual big bright red letters made from cut out card which she could pick up and feel not just look at

she learnt the entire alphabet between 11 and 15 months and was reading by age 2

some people say this is a waste of time BUT she is almost 17 now and passed 12 GCSEs last summer and is studying her A levels now, i think it gave her a head start AND she loved it, there was no pressure to perform cos im not that sort of person , i always provided a big box of books which i picked up at yard sale/car boot sales. so many houses you go into and there is only one precious book and if the child picks it up or scribbles on it or chews it they get told off, i let my daughter mishandle them and no she didnt turn into a vandal she loves books, as she grew older say around 3 or 4 then i showed her how to be a bit more careful with them but i never scolded her for handling the books , she had a LOT of books when they got old or broken i replaced them cheaply with other yard sale books

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April 15, 20080 found this helpful

How wonderful to hear about parents who spend lots of quality time with their kids. I work with small kids. They of course soak up attention like little sponges. Some like to sing, some like to talk, some like to make up stories, some just like to laugh. Whatever their talents, they most of all love your undivided attention. It's wonderful to know that some parents make the most of that love.

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