If you are looking to teach your little one to read but don’t know where to begin, here are my top recommendations to make it as EASY as possible. I taught both of my kids how to read as during their infant/toddler years and they were able to sound out novel three-letter words by ages 15-18 months old. You can begin teaching reading from around age 3-6 months and up.
1. LITTLE READER SOFTWARE- 10 Minutes Daily
Little Reader software is hands down THE most versatile reading program I know of. If I could only use one program, this would be it. It offers tons of vocabulary (3,000 words), pattern phonics, is customizable and infinitely expandable. Basically, you just sit down with your child for 10 minutes a day and go through the interactive lessons on your computer or iPad. It’s a pretty comprehensive program. You can take a free trial from this BrillKids link, no credit card required, and get a discount with this code if you decide to purchase the full version.
Once you’ve set up an account, you have the option to enable it on your iPad, as well. You can also plug your laptop or iPad into a big-screen TV with an HDMI cable and make the font HUGE for a very small baby. This is really the ideal setup for a child under 1 or 2 years old as it makes the learning so straightforward and really catches their attention.
Regardless, the more CONSISTENT you are and the more you LAYER the learning, the quicker you will see results. Like a gym membership, you have to actually USE it, not just buy it. 🙂 Having said that, I definitely applied the “immersion method” to literacy. I didn’t just use software…I used software, books, flashcards during most mealtimes, youtube videos, DVDs, labeled anything and everything in my house, etc., which made the whole process was relatively quick and easy as a result of the constant reinforcement.
We INTEGRATED early learning into our daily life and well, my house resembled a small preschool for a while! If you opt to just do just 10 minutes a day of Little Reader lessons without any additional reinforcement, the program will still work for your child but at a slower pace than if you created a truly immersive learning environment.
2. SUPPLEMENTAL DVDS & MATERIALS
I had my kids watch about 3 minutes of youtube phonics songs 3-5 times a day for a month or so and they learned all of their basic letter sounds. You can use the phonics playlist here on my youtube channel or this one from Super Simple Songs.
You do not need to buy all of these programs below, but it’s nice to have a couple and rotate them. Your library may carry some, so check out your local branch. When your child has mastered the material, let them graduate and move on! Retire it and learn something else with a new DVD.
I LOOOOOVE pretty much all of the leapfrog videos. They teach phonics, blending, even math concepts. Be sure to get the flashcards too for reinforcement or print your own here if you’re the DIY type.
Top picks for teaching letter sounds are Phonics Farm for the under 2 crowd and Talking Letter Factory for ages 2+. The whole set is an awesome investment and your child will learn so much more than anything shown on broadcast TV. Every close friend I know with older toddlers and preschoolers report that it took their child 1 month to as little as 1 WEEK to learn their letter sounds with Leapfrog! I am also a huge fan of their Tag pen, too that reads aloud to the child.
MY MONTESSORI HOUSE
My Montessori House videos are great because they have *tons* of blending examples. I especially love their demonstrations of silent e words in level 2 (kit/kite, rob/robe, and so on) and all of the wonderful unique shapes they teach on the shapes and colors DVD (the words are also blended sound by sound on screen). http://www.mymontessorihouse.com/
Preschool Prep videos tend to be simplified and slower, I like them because there is no storyline really, just fun, memorable characters. They are easy to follow and especially great for teeny, tiny little ones, especially although any child can use them.
Their Meet the Sight Words DVDs 1, 2, and 3 are super for kids who are learning their most common sight words. Their easy reader books are excellent, too. The font is much larger than most typical kids books and that is a HUGE plus. I am a big fan and I think I own everything they’ve ever sold! They started offering a full range of apps, as well.
Your Child Can Read
This is the sequel to the ever-popular “Your Baby Can Read,” although it has since been renamed to “Your Child Can Learn.” Your Baby Can Read Reviews are all over the internet, but BrillKids Little Reader covers all of the YBCR words (a few hundred) and many, many more (a few thousand). So I would say that yes, it’s a good program, it’s just a bit limited. If money is no concern, then sure, go ahead and get it and add it to your DVD rotation. Just know that the Little Reader software and Your Baby Can Read programs directly overlap. It’s a great program for your child, but if you are budget-conscious, then go with Little Reader.
Now, Your CHILD Can Read? It’s great and is full of really cute phonics songs. The pace is pretty quick, it covers *tons* of words in each DVD with lots of sentences and song lyrics being flashed on the screen. It’s entertaining and informative but will need to be watched many times before it all sinks in. Overall, it’s really good and we love it! I wouldn’t start a brand new baby on it first, but it’s excellent for after a child finishes Little Reader or Your Baby Can Read (aka Your Baby Can Learn).
There are so many other options out there, but these are just a few that we have used and can personally recommend from experience. You can also look into using free online resources such as Starfall, Reading Bear, and Teach Your Monster to Read. There are tons of learning apps out now, too. Overall, just immerse your child in layered literacy opportunities and you will be shocked at how quickly they learn!