Thursday, May 09, 2013

Teaching a 3 year old to read

Little Mr has been interested in letters since he was about 18 months. We were browsing the net and came across this ABC Zoo game on the Fisher Price website and thought it looked like fun so we spent about 10 minutes playing on it and Little Mr just loved it so we started playing it a few times a week and when he was 1 year and 11 months he had the alphabet cracked, could recognise and say all of the letters and sing the alphabet song.

From there on his love for letters grew and he started spelling out words that looked interesting to him, the first one being his name! He would say the letters out loud every time he saw it written down and soon was able to spot his name very quickly. We were wandering around Cadbury Garden Centre, with the kids in a side by side double stroller, once and a little way round (thankfully before we reached the till!) we noticed a collection of goodies with Little Mr's name written on them, he pointed to them and said "Look, it's mine!" Next he learnt Little Miss' name and Mummy & Daddy and by 2.5 he could read/ recognise about a dozen words. 

The Mr & I are very child led and don't push our children to move on to the next milestone and I think it was rather a shock to us both to be faced with him learning to read so early so as usual we just followed his lead, spent lots of time reading stories and having fun. By 3 he was ready to get cracking on some proper reading and we bought him a Kindle Fire HD with his Christmas and Birthday money and filled it with free children's books (found here) and upped story time even more. We showed Little Mr how to follow the words with his finger and look at the shapes of the words while we read them out. He had a few favourites that he quickly memorised, including this fun rhyming book, and would show off his "reading" to anyone who cared to listen.

My aunt bought the children vinyl blackboards for their Birthdays, like these, we stuck one sheet on a wall in the front room and used it for doodling and writing out words and messages. That has become a fantastic learning tool. If Little Mr hears a word he likes he will ask us to write it down on the board and he will keep coming back to it until he is able to spell it out without looking at the board.


My step dad kindly bought the full set of Biff, Chip & Kipper books just after last Christmas and in March Little Mr picked one out and asked to read it. We sat down to read as we always do but he actually read it! Was sounding out the letters, using phonics and correcting himself when he realised the word was 'go' rather than 'no'. Amazing! He has now read 8 of the stories all by himself.

Following the success of the blackboard, my sister bought us a magnetic white board from Wilkinsons and I bought some magnetic words, we got The Mr to hang the board on the wall and used that to put little messages up using the words (which are great for preschool and upward type age).

We like to make learning as fun as possible, for all of us, so use lots of variation in learning words, like using bath paints to write out words on the wall, doing word searches, playing games with words in the garden and finding words on roads (slow is one he picked up on our recent holiday) and signs while out and about. The variety keeps it fun and at the last count there were 60 words Little Mr could read and spell with no problem. He has also recently started a reading program for children, Reading Eggs and is finding his feet with that and finds it really fun which is the important thing.

It's an exciting time for him and us, I remember how I loved reading as a child. I always had my head in a book and would get swept away in the magic of a good story. I'm so pleased that Little Mr seems to have the same love for reading as his mum and dad do!   

If you have an interesting way to help little ones learn reading skills I'd love to hear it.


delusionsofcandour said...

My daughter taught herself to read by watching the Alphablocks on CBeebies; we only realised when she started reading road signs to us! She's now 3 years 10 months and reads fairly fluently. She's recently started showing an interest in writing too. It's awesome but kind of daunting to be honest! said...

It's incredible isn't it. I know what you mean about it being daunting, it seems like such a grown up thing for them to be doing too doesn't it. I'll have a look at Alphablocks, we don't watch CBeebies usually but it's worth a look. Thanks.
Amazing how quick they pick it up once they get started.

Nichola Fabfortymum said...

We read constantly and I love that they both seem to be bookworms. I sometimes think reading is one of those skills we take for granted, but it opens up an incredible world to them. Our eldest was 3 in April and she learned the alphabet mostly from using a leapfrog phonics game. Her little sister is 19 months and she is learning hers from a Peppa phonics game. She of course picks up loads from her big sister.
I agree with you wholeheartedly about following their lead. I have done this with them both since birth and I do swear by it. said...

It's such a nice way to be too isn't it, following the pace they set, we have a fantastic time together. Reading is wonderful, I remember when I was a child I used to love the worlds I was taken to when I had my head in a book