One of my goals as a mom is to instill a love of reading for my 18 month old Baby Bear. For me, this is important because I believe that once she can read well, she can be good in other subject matters or extracurriculars. This is also particularly good for my little introvert. Introverts want to be always well-prepared so that they can be confident in doing their activities.
The first step is to focus on learning the letters – their sounds and phonics. This is just the easy part. After perfecting the letters of the alphabet, you have to work on actually teaching babies to read. There are actually 2 schools of thought on this matter. It’s Reading vs. Phonics. In reading, it’s basically memorization. You are teaching the kids to “memorize” how a certain letter or words are read. IMHO, Phonics is the way to go. Teach them to sound out the letters to form words, so that they can be empowered to know that they can read even if they encounter a new word, or whenever you are not beside them to teach them how that word is pronounced. Of course, there are some words, that you cannot teach them to read. These word exceptions are called SIGHT WORDS. Examples of sight words are one, two, you, etc. Yes, yes, nerd alert. I actually researched all this. I still get confused sometimes but i think i am getting the hang of it.
In order to do this, I have set up a routine that she has to do every week. All you need is at least 15 minutes a day of exposing your baby and after a year, this should do wonders for your baby.
Here are some examples of my reading program for Baby Bear:
1.) Reading to Baby Bear every day – Find the books that your baby loves in order to encourage. My baby loves touchy-feely books. They are a tad bit more expensive but I buy them because it makes me feel good when my baby is the one who insists on reading. You can see samples of the books I got her here. Also, buy books with pages that have just the word and the picture per page to set up clearly the direct relationship between the two. Should you move on to books with couplets or phrases, make sure that the words are simple and the pictures are clear. Other good books would be those that are “fun” to read. Examples of these are puppet books, peek-a-boo books, pop-up books, etc.
2.) Supplement the books with toys or other educational materials. — I have discovered with my baby that she loves the “show-and-tell” type of learning activities. Examples:
– When we are learning about the alphabet, I bring out her Melissa and Doug Letter Puzzle and she has to get the letter that we are talking about. It is better to expose her more to the lowercase letters since she encounters this more when reading vs. the uppercase letters which you only see at the start of the sentence or for Proper Nouns.
3.) They say you shouldn’t expose your kids to TV before the age of 2. — I don’t follow this rule. I’ve exposed my baby to TV as early as 6 months but to select shows only. Educational and those that focus on language development such as the ever-famous Your Baby Can Read, and Leap Frog Letter Factory DVD. (Sample clip below)
Again, I also supplement these videos with books or toys related to the shows. My baby actually scampers to get the toys the very instant I put these shows on.
– Your Baby Can Read (YBCR) already has flash cards and books related to the DVD that you are watching.
Other sample videos and toys for learning all about Letters and Phonics:
No toy? No problem! 🙂 You can always simply use your imagination — you can do actions! Check out this video that teaches phonics. Baby Bear has been watching this video even before she learned this in school.
– Video: Apple, Apple, Aaa Aaa Aaa
Of course, these are all just my personal learnings and what worked for my Baby Bear. You can try them, mix and match, and see what works well for you and your babies. I would also love to hear from you guys, too. I bet you all have your own methods. Do share, so we can all learn together. Mommies unite! 🙂