After reading Mommy Teach Me to Read I became convinced that it was time to start teaching my three year old to read. With his brother I had waited until he was five (sure he knew his alphabet and the shapes of the letters, and how to read and write his name), but we didn’t get into the sounds until last year. I was maybe right in thinking that there is so much to do in readin,g that it would just unnecessarily frustrate him if we started earlier.
I probably would have done the same thing with J, but after reading Mommy Teach Me to Read I started noticing a real sensitivity to learning. J wanted to “do school”, and was already starting to pick things up on his own. So I stripped down the “program” that we used with G to its most basic parts, and started to work with J. It didn’t take long before he could read simple words, and recently he read several short sentences.
The big difference is, J doesn’t know the alphabet, he also isn’t memorizing capital letters, and he’s not working much on writing. All of those skills will be needed later (and can be picked up along the way). All we are doing now is teaching him the phonetic sounds of the letters. We started by playing the sound game. I’d say mama starts with “m”, do you hear “m” at the beginning of “mama”, can you think of any other words that start with “m”? After playing it for awhile, he started getting the hang of it, and would come up with things like “monkey” or “mess” or whatever.
Then he was ready to start learning the shape of the sounds. I would put up a letter on our bulletin board (lowercase of course), then I would have him trace the new letter, and say its sound with me. He already knew “j” and “s” so I taught him “a” and “m”. Then he could read “jam” “sam” “am”. Then we kept adding letters following the outline in Mommy Teach Me to Read. I teach a new letter every week. Then I add it in with three of the letters we’ve already learned, and tell him to point to the different letters (at that point he doesn’t yet have to say the sound of the new letter on his own). We then enforce what he’s learning with magnetic letters, felt letters, stamping, and Get Ready for the Code (he doesn’t have to do the capital letters). He also searches his letters out in books.
I bought a few specific things to help J with his learning:
Lowercase Jumbo Alphabet Letters
Magnetic letters (a favorite, I like that they come in red for vowels, and blue for consonants…its actually helping G now)
Felt letters for making my version of sandpaper letters (I wish they came in blue and red)
We already had several reading apps, but most of them use the names of the letters instead of the most common sounds, they also mostly use capital letters. We still use starfall…he really enjoys it, and it mostly enforces the sounds. My favorite, though, is Alpha Writer by Montessorium. It helps G with his spelling, and I can use the storyboard portion to write words for J to read. Also, cute graphics, another plus in my book.
Anyways, that’s our learning adventure with the J-dude. I’m a big fan of this way of learning, its SO much less frustration then we had with G. So, if you have a three year old (or two year old, or maybe even a four year old), just wait to teach them the alphabet, work on sounds, and watch them begin to really grasp and have fun with reading.