There are different ways to teach your toddler to read, and you do not have to wait for Kindergarten.
Well, it depends on how you define “reading.”
Reading is a complex process involving a set of different skills, and there are many different factors involved that go into developing each skill.
Your toddler may recognize a letter, a number, their name, or a word. But, realistically, they may just be repeating what you said, thus mimicking reading.
Some toddlers may pick up faster on some things than others. But, clearly reading as adults understand it is not the norm.
So, what to do to teach your toddler to read?
Remember a simple fact:
Each age has its set of milestones and the acquisition or maturation of skills will take time. Ultimately, your child’s cognitive development is not compressible and there are no cookie-cutters. There is no fast-forward function.
That said, it does not mean that you cannot expose your toddler to literacy.
For instance, practicing their alphabet, manipulate books, show them how incredibly fun reading a story can be or engage in play-based activities involving phonetics and sounds.
Children are curious by nature - although their attention span is very short. Therefore, make it short and fun. Every day, focus for a few minutes on one skill and move on.
Ultimately, the best tip for parents is to practice patience, consistency, and accept that the reading skill will take time to acquire. Never make it a chore or a painful activity for your child because you lost patience or had unreasonable expectations.
Involve them in the process
Let them pick their favorite story and their favorite spot in the house. Sit comfortably together, and create a little ritual.
Tell them to follow your finger on the book and read clearly.
Try to pause in a part of the story and ask them questions about what they heard, what they think happened, or what will happen to the characters. Try to understand what they liked about the story, or what their favorite part is.
Have them repeat a word, have them associate a word with a picture.
In other words, take the opportunity of reading a story to connect, interact, and start a conversation with your toddler to create a memorable fun experience.
With time, repetition, and consistency, they will start associating a word or a letter with what they see or hear. This is how you can start to teach your toddler to read and enjoy reading.
Of course, your sanity might be challenged to read over and over the same story or paragraph. But ultimately, the reading experience you create for your toddler will be associated with fun and something they love.
Teach your toddler to read keeping in mind what they can do at their age.
If you do not know what kind of skills toddlers can develop try to observe the following:
Clearly, this is not reading per se, as would a fourth-grader, although all these steps are essential to establish the reading process.
Therefore, none of the above steps should be regarded as anecdotal or unimportant. Simply remember that before learning to run, you need to be able to stand up and walk.
Our conclusion about how to teach your toddler to read
We established that children follow specific cognitive development steps and that there were no shortcuts. Ultimately, some children gain some literacy skills between 4 and 5 and learn to read between 5 and 7.
Even though you will always find exceptions, most children follow the same developmental steps. So, do not crack under peer pressure and non-fact-based comparisons.
Therefore, if you want to teach your toddler to read, be realistic first, set the example, and routines. Remember that reading should be a pleasure, should always be a moment of fun, and a way to help enable communication and exchange.
Reach out to our team for any questions.
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Willowdale Children's Academy is a child care agency located in Chester County, PA, specialized in early learning with schools in Chadds Ford, Kennett Square, Avondale, and West Chester, PA. We offer programs for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, after school care, and summer camps.