My two-year-old can read. Although she hasn’t yet branched into Shakespeare, she has recently begun to sound out simple phonetic words, such as “rat” and “cub”, with little assistance. Although I’d like to think of my kid as a super-genius, I don’t believe that innate intelligence is even half the battle when it comes to teaching a toddler to read. She learned to read because of dedicated effort and ongoing interaction from both parents.
This means that your two-year-old can learn to read, too. And he won’t learn by watching some expensive movie or taking part in a boring daily drill. He’ll learn by interacting with you in a fun and mutually satisfying manner.
Here are some steps you can take to teach your two-year-old to read.
Read, Read, Read
I have read more than thirty books per day to my daughter since the day she was born. That may seem excessive to some parents, but remember that most children’s books take only 1-10 minutes to complete. Even on book-heavy days when we’ll go through up to ninety, we still have plenty of time for other forms of play. I don’t force it on my daughter; she has adored reading since birth because she associates it with entertainment and quality bonding time. If it were up to her, we would read twice that many books.
Keep the TV Off
Throw away any of those movies that you have that are supposed to teach you two-year-old to read. Turn of Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer, Blues Clues and Barney. These can provide up to an hour a day of entertainment for your toddler, but they can not– and will not– teach your child anything that you can’t teach him. My two-year-old watches no more than an hour of TV each day, and she views books and art projects as her primary source of entertainment.
Bring out the Letters
Provide your two-year-old with access to letter magnets, blocks, bathtub toys and flash cards. My toddler learned how to identify all of her letters at about 20 months of age when we played with magnets on the refrigerator. Encourage your two-year-old to match upper-case (“Mama” or “Daddy”) letters with their lower-case (“baby”) counterparts. Creative kids will love using this opportunity to identify letters and play make-believe.
Show Simple Words
No two-year-old will learn to read “meteorologist” before he learns to read “cat”. Use your child’s letter magnets and toys to spell short, phonetic words. Try spelling, then verbally sounding out, a simple phrase like “a pet dog,” “dad is sad,” or “a red fox”. Also introduce your child to a few sight-words, such as “the” and your child’s name. These may not be phonetic, but they are important words for your child to recognize. Move on to larger words as your child develops the abiltiy to comprehend exceptions to phonics rules.
Remember that He’s a Kid
Your two-year-old is, first and foremost, a kid. While it’s great to teach your two-year-old to read, don’t waste your time or his unless he is genuinely interested. Give him time to be a kid, and feed his intellectual development based on his own interests. If your child is more interested in art, numbers, cars or playgrounsd at this age, let it be. He will read when he is ready. I think that my two-year-old learned to read because she wanted to do so. But when I try to explain potty-training, I might as well be talking to a brick wall. Home education is futile unless you work within your toddler’s interests and limitations.