Get out your magnetic letters or some alphabet blocks and start playing a rhyming game with your baby. You will be teaching your baby many things with this simple letter game. You will be exposing your baby to the patterns of our auditory language as well as the patterns visually. Your baby will take notice of the fact that only the first letter is changing when you create a new word. Your baby will be paying attention to the sounds those new letters make and how they affect the part of the word that doesn’t change. You can start off with simple words like wall, ball, fall, call, mall, tall, small, stall, etc… You can even have your baby get involved by handing you letters to make the change to the word. This is a very fun, interactive way to teach your baby more about language and its phonetic patterns. Babies are always learning. With just a little stimulation they may surprise you as to what they discover.
Experts now agree that it is never to early to start reading to your baby. Many parents read to their babies in the womb. They develop this practice and continue on after the baby is born. If you don’t feel up to reading to your swelling belly, you can always start at birth. It is a good idea to have your favorite books on hand before you have your baby. The days and weeks after giving birth can be hectic and crazy. If you plan ahead and have some of your favorite books on hand, you can read to your baby during your cuddling and feeding times, while you both recover. Parents that don’t begin reading to their children until much later are more likely to experience resistance from their babies. They are more likely to want to grab the book while you are reading and rip the pages. If you begin at birth, you can more successfully teach your child to properly handle books. You are providing entertainment and a rich language environment for your baby, not to mention creating a love of reading that will last a lifetime.
When you decide to teach your baby to read, you will no doubt be extremely excited. The idea that a baby can learn to read is fascinating. You will be very tempted to check and see if what you are doing is working. You may set up some multiple choice sessions where you child will choose a certain word from a selection.
I would like to advise you very strongly to stay away from this form of testing until you have been doing a program for at least 6 months. This obviously depends on the child and their age, as there are exceptions to every rule. Some children are excited to demonstrate their new ability and will show you early on that they are reading. Others are just soaking in the lessons and by asking them to read before this period, you may sabotage your whole program.
One of the chief principles of teaching your baby to read is to freely give and fill them up. If you want your child to read, then you must read to your child and show your child words. What we are doing is filling their little brains with words and information. We can liken their brains to a vessel. When we continually fill a vessel, it will eventually overflow. When your child’s vessel, or brain, begins to get full, there will be an overflow. (The brain cannot even become too full, I am speaking metaphorically here.) It will probably be one of the most wonderful moments of your life, when you see the results of the investment you have made into your child’s life.
Just to drive the point home, show your child words. Read together. Point out words and continually teach your baby by exposing them to written language. You can gently ask your child to prove himself by pointing out a certain word, but don’t do this too soon.
So many parents are fixated on teaching their babies the ABC’s. They begin to sing them the ABC song shortly after birth. They want to be sure that they are ready for school and teach them what the name is for each of the 26 symbols in our alphabet. This is all great, but there is more to reading then being able to recognize the symbols we call letters.
If parents want to give their child a real tool to use, they should teach the letter sounds at the same time. When pointing out the letter A, they should explain that A makes the beginning sound you hear in the word ant. A says “aaa”. You can even make up songs about the sounds of the letters.
Since our words are made up of sounds that blend together to form words, it is much more important that children can recognize these sounds. A child that has been taught the sounds of the letters will be better able to decode the word cat by using this code, the phonetic code. They will say, “Cuh, aaa, ttt” ” Cat! Otherwise, they will just know the word as C-A-T. With that they can do nothing.
When you teach your child to read as a baby, they are usually able to pick up the sounds of the language on their own. Adding in some phonics is a fun way to take your reading program in a different direction.
My daughter recently reminded me why babies can learn incredible things. You see, we have a treadmill in our garage. There is hardly a day that goes by that one of the eight members in my family do not use the treadmill. Because exercise is important in our family, my daughter, who is not quite 2 years old, thinks exercise is a natural and fun part of life. She continually tries to put on her sneakers, or whichever ones she can find, and quite boldly exclaims, “A run!”.
In baby talk this means, it is my turn to run and you better let me. Everyone else gets to do it and I want to also. Well, how can we argue with that? So we put on her shoes and we allow her to think she is a big girl by walking very slowly on the treadmill for a minute or two. Is this drudgery for her? Absolutely not! She is just playing “Monkey See Monkey Do”.
So what does this have to do with how babies learn to read? Simply this, if we do things in a joyful manner, babies will want to be a part of whatever it is we are doing. If they see us reading, they will pick up books and “read” also. We have the opportunity to mold and shape our little ones. We have the responsibility of creating an environment that is conducive to learning and exploring. This will cause a love of learning for a lifetime.
We play “Monki See Monki Doo” with learning to read. Gabriella sees everyone else in the family reading. And so, of course, she wants to read too. This is not a chore. This is not something she dreads. This is just a natural path of life. Check out our reading program at www.monkisee.com