“Before kindergarten,” you say?
Is that a goal worth pursuing: reading before kindergarten? There’s so much time for high-pressure learning once our kids enter school!
Listen, I get it. It was never my intention to push early literacy skills on my child to get her reading before her fifth birthday. It just sort of…happened. Well, with a little help and lots of exposure.
Here are the tools that got us reading early, no tears involved!
1. Alphabet Cards
When my oldest daughter, A, was around the age of 2, I spotted a set of Petite Collage’s alphabet cards and thought I’d get them just to have around the house. We’d lay them out, look at the pictures, and eventually came around to identifying letters and sounds. No drilling, no tears. When she got bored, we stopped.
But just that early exposure to the letters set her up for success. Now, we keep the set in the car for baby sister. My oldest gets a kick out of seeing how many of the letters her sister can identify while we drive around town.
2. Magna Doodle
I’m fairly certain that one of the things that made reading exciting to A was the prospect of being able to express herself in writing. These days, she’s constantly telling me she’s writing books (the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree!), she likes to make signs (“No bad guys allowed”), and she writes letters to friends and family.
But developing the hand-eye coordination to gain confidence as a writer started early with our pediatrician’s recommendation to get a Magna Doodle. She could draw and draw to her heart’s content without using up stacks of paper or leaving marker stains all over the walls and upholstery. And eventually, casual drawing turned into imitating mommy’s writing, then actually writing!
3. Brain Quest Workbooks
As I began to recognize that A could use a little challenge, I searched bookstores for some sort of preschool curriculum that I could start at home to supplement what she was doing at school. I was already a big fan of Brain Quest’s cards (again, fun and also deceivingly educational), so when I discovered their workbooks, I was intrigued.
Although I find workbooks a huge turnoff for kids as young as A, these are different. Just fun little games. Cute graphics and characters. Tons of subjects that I just let A choose from. She’s worked her way through the Preschool, Kindergarten, and Grade 1 workbooks!
Whenever she felt like doing a page in her workbook, great. If she didn’t pick it up for a week, fine. But I know she enjoyed the low-pressure challenge and the one-on-one time with mommy when she needed a little assistance.
4. Reading Eggs
Remember Reading Eggs? I’ve written about this online literacy program before, and we still use it today. We got hooked when A was at that phase where she could identify the letters and tell me which sound each made, but she couldn’t string them together to read a word. I wasn’t quite sure how to get her over that hump; I honestly credit Reading Eggs.
Interested in a 4-week free trial of Reading Eggs, click here.
5. Easy Readers
Once A was able to read a few words here and there, we’d go to the library and find easy readers featuring all her favorite characters. The stories in the beginning level books are so simple—with just a sentence or two on each page—that we could play a game where I would read one page and she would read one.
We started with the “My First – Shared Reading” level (“basic language, word repetition, and whimsical illustrations, ideal for sharing with your emergent reader”) and have worked up to Level 4 (“short paragraphs, chapters, and exciting themes for the perfect bridge to chapter books”).
As someone who loves to read, of course I’m excited to see that the kids are getting started early. I’m also relieved that the process of learning to read has been relatively painless. I know early exposure has a lot to do with it, and these few small things helped a ton!
What worked for your child?