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Parenting Tips for Early Readers- Part 3

Part 1 here.

Part 2 here.

So your little one is recognizing letters and words at a very young age. What’s next? Well, the ages of 2 and 3 open up a whole new world of possibility for kiddos, thanks to their expanding vocabulary. Let’s face it, for most early readers, not much comprehension is going on under the age of three. In Wito’s case, he was simply memorizing letters and short words. However, once he started to build his vocabulary and could communicate effectively, books began to make a lot more sense. First, let’s take a look at Wito from about 22-30 months.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/32281477[/vimeo]

What worked for us during this period?

1. Repetition – Just shy of two years old was when Wito started to read beginner books on his own. (And by beginner, I mean 2- or 3-word phrases, like the first book he was reading in the video.) At this point, I had no idea if he was comprehending what he was reading or had a photographic memory or what. But those memory skills coupled with enormous repetition really put Wito on a fast track. Wito wanted to read books all the time, usually the same one several times in a row. I truly believe that the constant repetition of reading the same words over and over and over was what ensured his success.

2. Educational shows – Around 24 months, Wito really got into spelling things. Street signs, packages at the grocery store, you name it. The one tip I have for toddlers and preschoolers who show interest in spelling? Super Why on PBS. You think I’m kidding, but I still swear to this day that Wito’s love of spelling was fostered by that show. (I even wrote about it years ago here.) And all that talk about television making our kids stupid…eat that, hippies! (OMG, I kid. Peace be with you. And you. And you.) I can’t recommend Super Why highly enough. (Also, there is a great iPad/iPhone app that Wito still loves to this day.)

3. Beginner/intermediate books catered to your child’s interests – Wow, that sounds ridiculously obvious, but it’s true. Sure, my love for Eric Carle books is off the map, but around 2.5 years old, Wito was over it. He wanted to read books about cars and trucks, thank you very much. My point is that if you’re trying to make your child read books that aren’t interesting to them, well, it ain’t gonna work.

4. Creating reading opportunities in unlikely situations - It became obvious around 29-30 months that Wito wasn’t just memorizing and reciting words. He started sounding out new words – for example, sounding out the crayon names in the video. There I was, trying to be a well-rounded mother teaching well-rounded activities (like drawing! and art! and more drawing!) to my child, but Wito found a way to divert my plan right back into reading. So we went with it! If Wito wanted to read the crayon colors instead of actually draw with the crayons, so be it. Product labels at grocery stores, menus at restaurants…there are fantastic reading opportunities around every corner.

Now, can you make your child love books so much that they practically devour them? Or turn random situations into reading exercises against your child’s will? Absolutely not. Perfect example? My daughter, Wita. She is almost 17 months old, and trying to keep her still while reading a book is a joke. She has no interest in books or flash cards or memorizing ANYTHING. Point being, your young child needs to have an intrinsic interest in these kind of things. If they don’t, don’t push it. Everyone moves at their own pace.

Next up, reading amongst the preschool-aged! (And my favorite computer programs and apps. Lots and lots of apps…)

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