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Teaching Toddlers to Read

Doing. Seeing. Touching. Hearing. These are the multi-sensory tools necessary to successfully teach reluctant toddlers to read.

The visual, auditory and somatosensory (physical) areas of the brain need to be stimulated for brain development to advance, not only for early reading but future learning as well. A child needs to hear the words, see the words, and actively participate in learning experiences that involve physical activity.

Teaching toddlers to read is a gradual process and should consist of enjoyable and fun activities. Learning to read begins the day baby is brought home from the hospital and read his first book, perhaps “Goodnight Moon,” and continuing on until the youngster is an accomplished reader. Children should also be in a relaxed atmosphere while learning the art of reading. Intensity and pressure will only create a sense of anxiety, not a sense of accomplishment.

One of the most important aspects of teaching a child to read is reading TO the child. Constantly and consistently. Involving the child in the process by identifying letters and pictures in the book, answering questions, and redrawing the story all help reinforce the “idea” of reading. Children will soon be able to associate the written word with language and communication. Parents should be prepared to read and reread the same book, day after day, week after week.

Alphabet books and repetitive, predictable books are excellent resources to share with youngsters. Making your own alphabet book using a notebook and old magazines is a wonderful interactive learning activity both parent and child can participate in and enjoy.

Another excellent resource are the magnetic refrigerator letters that can be used for learning and recognizing letters of the alphabet as well as spelling out beginning words. How about the sandbox and a stick? Great fun, great learning experience. Flashcards are a valuable and useful tool for teaching sight words.

There are any number of professional resources available in the marketplace to assist parents in teaching their children to read. For instance, the video series “Your Baby Can Read! based on the research of Robert C. Titzer, Ph.D. is designed to help babies, toddlers and preschoolers learn to read. You might have heard of “Hooked on Phonics,” “Leapfrog” and “Baby Einstein” as well.

Many ideas can be culled from the Internet. By doing a simple Google search of “teaching toddlers to read” results in innumerable hits.

Parents are a child’s first reading teacher. Most toddlers that are taught in a positive and stimulating environment will enjoy the process of learning and they will eventually become very successful students in all subjects.

But the key word here is “most”. All children are different, with different learning abilities, different attitudes, different levels of interest. Do not consider yourself or your child a failure if these techniques do not work. The magic formula is out there. It might just be a matter of time or perhaps, assistance from others. Stay calm and positive. Your child WILL learn to read. He or she just may not be three when it happens.