Skye Can Read at 3! – Our Teaching Method
I’d like to begin this post by telling you that 3 years old is not the ideal age to teach kids to read. For solid learning to take place, a child needs to have a sustained focus for at least 15-20 minutes on a regular basis, which is usually beyond the capacity of a child under 4 years old. Many suggest that instruction should start, at least, when children are about 4 ½ to 5 years of age.
So, why did we teach Skye to read earlier than suggested? And how she’s able to become a good reader at 3?
Because she showed the “readiness” to learn in as early as 2 years old, and we felt delaying her reading education was like depriving her of having much better experiences.
Believe it or not, Skye was able to sustain 15 to 20 minutes (even longer) of focus on a regular basis when she was around 1 ½ years old. Maybe because (a.) we do not have a TV at home, (b.) she started having a screen time only when she’s 2 years old and, (c.) we do not allow her more than an hour of screen exposure.
There’s real truth in the claim, “kids with lesser screen time have the longer attention span.”
So when she started showing/doing the things listed below, we knew she was all ready to learn reading:
- She got very much familiar with the ABCs (both lower and upper cases) at 21 months.
- She tried to read even before she can properly talk. I have a lot of videos of her mumbling while skimming through pages. We heard her blurting out rhymes, uttering in sing-song like that of Dr. Suess style, even before she can articulate a word.
- She showed eagerness to learn. She’s always happy when it’s reading time!
- She did pretend-reading a lot of time – the moment she woke up, before sleeping, and in between those things.
- She always asks us to say (read) the words she sees outside (in the malls, streets, car, etc.) and even requests to spell them out.
- She looks at the words in the books as intently as she looks at the photos. She wants us pointing to the words (especially unfamiliar ones) when reading. Sometimes, she points to the words herself and asks how they read.
I suggest, until your child shows readiness to learn, delay teaching them to read. Children can learn easier and better when ready. The whole learning process ought to be fun, and forcing is NEVER fun. This is why I strongly recommend child-led learning.
So going back on how we taught Skye to read…
Actually, I can no longer remember when we formally started teaching Skye to read. Maybe it was after we purchased the mobile app Monkey Junior from Play Store alongside the Brain Quest Workbook from Fully Booked. It was within that week of purchase when we got some sort of a “framework” and a “list of things to do to learn reading successfully.” One thing I am sure though is that, we’ve been actively reading to her since she was still a fetus. Yeah, that early. Lol.
There are a lot of complicated learn-to-read programs and apps available but I seriously think they are not necessary. They can easily leave us feeling bewildered. More often than not, the conflicting advice we get from self-help books and programs can cause confusions. Some of them even discourage parents (and kids) when they fail to reach their desired outcome as they think they are not doing the things right. In the Monkey Junior app, we stopped when we reached the medium level because Skye got bored with it. Additionally, we had to change the Brain Quest Workbook Pre-K (ages 4-5) to Kindergarten (ages 5-6) as Skye’s shows little interest on the former. Also, she doesn’t find the Pre-K book challenging enough to keep her busy. (We got the Quest Workbook Kindergarten; although I let Skye work on it, I do not give much emphasis on using it because hello, it’s supposed to be for ages 5-6, eh? She’s only 3.
One of my favourite teaching materials.
Parents, keep in mind that there is no rocket science in teaching children to read. Just believe that reading is one of the most natural things a parent can teach his child. Do not send your precious ones to others for them to learn reading. Reading is one the basics of life and you ought to be there when your child acquires his reader badge. You, more than anyone else, is the best person to teach your children to read because you know him best.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND TO MAKE KIDS BE MORE INTERESTED IN READING
- Be an example. Be a grown-up adult who chooses to read for pleasure. Invest some time and energy in reading yourself.
- Have plenty of books around your house. This I would recommend with every ounce of my ovary. Keep more books than toys.
- Make an effort to help your kids find books that appeal to them and control yourself from insisting on your own childhood favourites.
- Make the lessons short and simple. Apply this rule not just in reading lessons, but for all lessons.
- Boost your confidence and be happy to be a part of this huge step in your child’s life. Your kid will feel your positive vibe and it will inspire him more!
- Make reading fun. Let’s put emphasis on FUN! If you need accompanying bells, props, whistles, charts, photos, music or audio CD’s, even colour-coded papers, readers, or professional storytellers to make your reading lessons more fun and interactive, by all means, grab them!
- If you encounter challenges, just keep going. You can rest but never stop. Should the need be, do not hesitate to ask for help.
- Expect that children will not always remember things that you taught them and that is okay. The neurological reasons sometimes are beyond our understanding. Just remember that reading is a relatively new skill in the progress of mankind so we have to give our brains some time to adjust and get “wired”.
- Teach in a warm, nurturing environment that supports both mental and emotional health of your child. This should be the “default mode” in your home setting.
- To make them interested in listening to you, be interested in them first. Maintain eye contact when talking/explaining the stories you just read. Also, make your voice smile.
OUR TEACHING METHOD
A lot of parents focus on teaching their kids to read through phonics method. A method which decodes writings by breaking down the words into individual sounds represented by a letter. We used a different approach – the Whole Word Method.
Whole Word/Language method or “Look and Say” is an alternative teaching method that teaches children to read through pattern recognition, rather than decoding the word into letters. I noticed Skye loses interest when we tried teaching her to read using the Phonics method. The process requires more time and effort and yet less engaging. With the whole language instruction method, some of our practices include: sight-memorization techniques, reading aloud, prioritizing finding engaging reading materials, and comprehension exercises.
The downside of Whole Word/Language method though is that sometimes she tends to guess when faced with an unfamiliar word. There were times when I doubted she really can read, maybe she’s just memorizing words. But when she’s able to read several books from cover to cover, I knew she really can read at 3! If you believe that children will learn to read naturally, just as they learn to talk and walk, the Whole Word/Language method is a good approach to reach reading.
Please note that there is no ‘best’ method in teaching children to read as ‘best’ is subjective and usually depends on the circumstances. One method may work for us but not for you. If you teach your child to read on a one-to-one basis, which we highly suggest, you can pick a teaching method which is most appropriate for you both. Whatever you choose, make sure that the entire process of learning must be fun for you and your child. If things aren’t progressing as you hoped, take a rest and come back to it later when you’re revved, or try a different teaching method.
Check back to learn some HELPFUL READING ACTIVITIES that we are using/doing which can help you in raising a reader!
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Note: We have no diplomas nor certificate of expertise about parenting. All that we have are experiences. We highly recommend that you still verify everything through research or seek advice from the experts.