This is my daughter, Rylie.
Rylie knew all the letters and their sounds when she was only 1 year old. She could read simple words at age 2 and was reading fluently at age 3. People often assumed that I spent a lot of time teaching her to read, or that Rylie just took a special interest in reading. Neither of that is really true. In fact, teaching her to read was easy and there was a good bit of time where Rylie had no real interest in reading. But Rylie is a visual and auditory learner. She loved TV and would often reenact shows she watched with her toys. Knowing this, and believing that children can learn things much earlier than most parents try to teach them, I decided to teach Rylie to read using movies.
Below, I’ve explained exactly how I taught her to read (and how I am teaching my son as well). I hope you’ll give it a try and give your child a great head start in life.
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Here is my 5 step process using Leap Frog reading movies:
Step One:” Letter Factory” movie, by Leap Frog.
This movie teaches kids the alphabet, letter by letter. It also teaches them the sounds the letters make in a very funny and memorable way. After watching this your kid will not longer say “elemenopee” or “nnnnnp” when singing the alphabet, cause they will actually know what each letter is and what it looks like!
Let your kid watch this movie as often as they want. I know many moms have rules about their kids watching TV, and I respect that, but I believe that there should always be space for something educational. After all, many children are visual and auditory learners and may learn best by having a topic explained to them by a cartoon character.
Step one and a half: Review.
Review the letter sounds from the movie frequently. You can do this casually throughout the day (even while driving or running errands). Just say, “Hey, [your kids name], what does the A say?” or “What letter makes the [b sound] sound?” Always praise them for correct answers and sing the song from the movie (you’ll know which one) to remind them of the answers they get wrong.
At this point you will also want to make flash cards of the lowercase letters. The movie uses capital letters and only shows the lowercase versions one time before they explain the sounds. Go over the flash cards of the lowercase letters until they can correctly identify the lowercase letters with the capital letters.
Once your kid knows all the primary letter sounds from the movie and can correctly identify each letter, move on to the next step.
Step two: “Talking Words Factory” movie by Leap Frog.
In this movie kids will learn how to put letters together to make words. They learn the vowels and how they are used to “stick the words together”. They’ll learn how to form very simple words (like cat, dog, sit, stop, etc.).
After watching this movie a few times and with your help in reviewing, your child should “be able to read and spell simple words that follow phonetic rules.
Step two and a half: Review.
Make flash cards of simple 2 to 4 letter words using the movie as a guide for what types of words your child should be able to sound out on their own. Review as often as your child is up to it. Practice spelling those words as well.
Step three: “Word Caper” movie, by Leap Frog.
This movie teaches children about the different sounds that letters make when combined with other letters. For example, adding E to the end of the word makes the vowel say it’s name and “when two vowels go walking, the first was does the talking” (like oa in Goat).
Step three and a half: Review.
Read together frequently and point out patterns in letter combinations. Many combinations are explained in this movie, but there are some exceptions.
As you read to them or have them read to you, you will come across letter combinations that they are not familiar with or do not yet understand. Sounds like ch, tion, ou, and gh are confusing to children. Explain what sounds those make and how they are commonly used. When you find a word like “tough”, also show them the word “rough”. When they read the word “out”, show them the words “shout” and “about”. Point out the patterns that are found in reading. The more you read together, the faster they will pick up on these patterns on their own.
Step four: “Storybook Factory” movie, by Leap Frog.
This is the last movie in the series. In this movie your child will learn how words are put together to make sentences. They will learn punctuation and some common reading rules.
Step five: Sight word flash cards from their favorite book.
My daughter’s favorite book was Go, Dog, Go!, by Dr. Seuss. So naturally when it came time for her to learn to read her first book, I chose that one. Go, Dog, Go! has simple words and is repetitive. It’s a perfect beginner book that I used to teach my son to read as well.
Using a book like this, or another easy book of your choosing, make flash cards for every word in the book. Since not all words can be read phonetically, it is important for kids to learn sight words. For just a few minutes a day, go over these flash cards. Continue to read this book with them frequently as well. Eventually they will know all the words in that book and will be able to read their first book all by themselves!
The reason I suggest only doing flash cards of words from just one book is because sometimes kids need a big “win” in order to feel like they can do something. So when a child is able to read a whole book by themselves, they feel like they are good at reading and suddenly they want to read more!
Other helpful tips:
*Use outside resources like apps: Every kid likes playing on an electronic device. It works their tiny little minds as they figure out how to use them. Look for apps that practice writing, letter sounds, and even reading full words. It’s fun for them and less work for you (which means it will actually get done!).
*Teach when your child wants to learn: Some kids just aren’t that interested in learning to read when they are two. That’s okay. A child will learn something much faster when they are ready and willing. Casually try again as they get older. Maybe they won’t be ready until they are 4 or 5. So try when they are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6. But keep trying.
* Follow their cues: When practicing flash cards, follow their cues for when it’s time to stop. Usually a few minutes is enough. If they are yawning, whining, fidgeting, or just not paying attention, then it’s time to stop for the day. Don’t get angry or frustrated. Just try again the next day when they seem like they have the attention for it.
Finally, remember that they are just kids. Childhood is a time for fun and exploration. Never let your desire for your child to learn to read prevent them from having a fun childhood!