A fun way to incorporate reading into your babies daily life is to go on a word hunt. If, for example, you have taped up labels around the house, you can hunt for the words. Tell your baby to find the word refrigerator. You can crawl around on the floor with your baby if you want to and go find the word refrigerator. Once you get there you read the word by sliding your finger under the word and saying “refrigerator” with lots of excitement. If you want to you can even tell your baby that they earned a point. Children love to get points, even if they are never added up. Continue on by finding as many different words as you can joyously seek out. Once you have been doing this for a period of time, you can mix the words up. You can purposely put the words on the wrong objects and then fix them with your baby. You can also give your baby a word and have them place it in the appropriate place. I know a mom who claims that the word dwarf came in during nap time and mixed everything up. When her child wakes up they set everything straight again. When teaching your baby to read you are only limited by your imagination. Now go and have fun teaching your baby to read.
Once your baby has shown an interest in anything in particular, you can incorporate those words into your reading program. For example, if your baby likes Dora the Explorer, you can make flash cards with words related to Dora. If your child likes airplanes, or vehicles, you can create cards with words that are exciting to your baby. There is no prepackaged reading program that will cover everything that is exciting and interesting to your baby. It is important to keep your program fun for your baby. As your child’s interests change, be willing to adapt and tailor the program to meet their needs. It is a good idea to keep a stack of 5×8 index cards and a red marker handy so you can create words on demand.
From birth to 3 years old babies are absorbing everything from their surroundings. Learning is not an effort or a chore, it is what they are wired to do from birth. By being aware of this we can easily teach our babies many things on a daily basis, just by changing the way we behave.
A simple and fun way to expose your baby to written language is to teach your child to read while bathing. All you need to do is buy some foam bath letters. You can use these to teach your baby the ABC’s or you can go a step further and teach your baby to read words. Babies can learn the ABC’s and how to read with the same level of ease. It is no more difficult to teach your child to read words, which have an immediate use in their life, as opposed to teaching the alphabet, which they won’t be able to do much with from birth – 3 years old. We advocate teaching your baby as many words as you can before you introduce the alphabet.
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.
Another way that you can incorporate written language into your child’s daily life is with a chore chart. This works best for children around 2 years old. It will also help them to learn responsibility. Think of some simple tasks that you would like them to do each day. Get a large piece of paper or poster board. You can laminate it if you choose and check off the jobs as they are done each day. The chart might look something like this.
- Make bed
- Put toys away
- Help mommy with laundry
If you are doing a reading program with your baby, you can add a new element to your program by incorporating a to do chart. You would create a chart to keep in the baby’s room that may say “Daily To Do’s”. Create a simple list of things you do each day and read them together before each activity. Your baby will learn to read as well as follow directions. Here is an example of a chart you might create for a 12 month old.
- Take bath
- Brush teeth
- Read story
- Sing ABC song
- Take nap
- Go for a walk
- Watch video
- Say Prayers
- Time for bed
A fun game that you can incorporate into teaching your baby to read is to create a shopping list. This is a fun game for babies around 12-24 months old. You can play the game at home, or you can really go shopping.
When I began to teach my son to read, we read all kinds of words. I made him picture books and taught him to read the words and know what they were by seeing the pictures of the items. He loved to read his books and I loved to make them for him. It was so exciting to teach him what everything was. When he got to be around 2 years old, there weren’t too many new items that I could teach him. We began a new phase of our program.
Teaching your baby to read with flash cards is a fast and easy. The average number of times that your child should view each card is between 15 and 20 times. When working with babies, sometimes things aren’t predictable. You may have a set of flash cards set aside that you are working on. While you are going through them some sort of distraction occurs and now your baby is not interested anymore.