Okay, I’m a bad mommy! I don’t read to my son every night. I tried, but he becomes quickly uninterested and won’t sit still. Plus, I often go to bed before he does. My son’s room is filled with books, but as of late we rarely read them. But my son reads very well, and loves to read. He started reading big words like “remember” before little words like “I.” His reading skills are quite impressive, but unfortunately I can take little credit for them.
I bought “Your Baby Can Read!” and put him in front of the video once, maybe twice. I don’t know if he got anything from it. I tried to use the flash cards that come with the videos, but with little success. He just ripped them from my hands and tore them up. (I still have the kit, if anyone wants it!)
Even though my attempts were spoiled by high energy levels and lack of attentiveness, my son has become a stellar reader. We didn’t follow any of the traditional routes to reading. He is not a kid that you can force to learn. He is a very independent, little-guy, so you can’t really force him to do much. But I find that he has an extreme amount of common sense, and will often come to the correct conclusions and actions on his own. So when it comes to reading, I’ve allowed him to lead. And I’ve discovered that non-traditional, more creative approaches to reading, that didn’t feel forced, were most successful.
I allow my son to watch TV. I, like most other mothers, swore up and down that I would not let my child watch television. But I actually found that TV was very conducive to his learning. Cartoons aimed at preschoolers, such as those on Nick Jr. and PBS, have been instrumental in teaching my son to read. Those programs enforce the same word over and over, until he remembers it. That same approach works when I read to him. As I slowly glide my finger under each word and read it; he remembers it.
Memorization is key to learning how to read. Sounding out letters is also important, but I’m not sure which should come first or if it matters. My son has a great memory for words. He views them like pictures, which is why he could read longer words before shorter ones – the “pictures” formed by longer words were more detailed and engaging. This is the principle component behind programs like “My Baby Can Read.” Your baby can remember what she sees, and then recall what those letters spell. A word like “remember” is more memorable than “we.”
Besides word reinforcement from Nick Jr. shows, he likes to read everything around him. If I’m looking at Facebook and he notices words within the images, he will attempt to read them. He wants to know what all of the signs say, such as “Elevator” or “Toys,” in the department store. He reads labels on foods, and titles on magazines.
There are so many opportunities to teach your child to read, it doesn’t just have to be in a book. Not to say books aren’t important. Stories put words in context and teach your child the meaning of a word. But parents should look for reading opportunities all around. For some children searching for those unorthodox opportunities to teach them a new word is a better way to engage them.