My one year old read a book yesterday to his older brother. I’m just kidding, but he does try.
Two days ago, I wrote a post about my three year old reading a book to his younger brother. And in that post, I made a wild claim:
Toddlers don’t need to master recognizing words on a page. That sounds insane to me.
Don’t get me wrong, I stand by that claim, but I want to explain why I said it.
A little background info
When I wrote that previous post, I had been researching “teaching three year olds to read.” I saw a blurb about a mother whose daughter could read “anything in front of her.” Initially, I thought, “SO COOL!” But I soon realized that some people might not understand that the child is considered gifted. (This is important to know because many Americans like to stress themselves out when it comes to their kids. “Oh my golly, Jonny is almost four, and this girl can read an entire book! He can’t even read the cereal box!!!)
Many people search blogs and forums for advice when preparing their kids for school. Some parents obsess over their child’s abilities. Many of these parents resort to creating a classroom for their children.
Listen to the vocab: “was about play,” “more demand on the students,” “assistants have masters degrees,” “work on math and writing,” “developmentally appropriate,” “clients come in from all over the world,” “plus, additional one-on-one sessions,” “don’t feel like I’m pressuring my kid.”
Money makes people stupid.
Have you seen a classroom?
My students posed for the above picture (which I took on a Mamiya RB67 film camera). So in their defense, I told them to take out their phones to represent what happens in my classroom regularly. In reality, that kid in red would normally be asleep.
Classrooms are boring. Why would anyone sit a toddler down to learn words? Ugh. Toddlers have so much more that they need to learn, so reading should be secondary. And kindergarten WAS meant to help them build these foundational skills.
You can teach your kids to read. Here are my toddlers’ classrooms:
The above gif is storytime with mommy.
Kairo’s room, much like our living room, stays in shambles, but we’re busy geniuses at work. We read and cook at the same time.
This was Kairo’s first completed puzzle. We reviewed his ABCs. I know for a fact that he wasn’t focusing much on the letters, but we had fun nonetheless.
Let your kids have fun
Make the learning organic. (Whatever that means to you). I don’t care what anyone says, I’m an advocate for technology if that’s what your kid is into.
A good friend of my wife’s (let’s call her Jami because it sounds weird and I like it) used a program called “Endless Reader” with her kids. When her son had just turned three, he was able to read well. She didn’t even know that he had the skills until she heard him read a word aloud.
Jami is an amazing teacher (from what my wife tells me) and an amazing mom (from what I know). She taught her kids many things, but she wasn’t focusing directly on reading. Her three year old just happened to pick it up from an excellent app.
Side note: Kairo uses the program, and he can’t read words like Jami’s son, but they both enjoy reading.
Focus on what’s important
Fun! Focus on the fun for your little reader. Reading should be something that a kid loves. When I show interest in Kairo and Kalel’s books, they do too. Bae growls at me all the time when I complain about one of their “boring” books. She always reminds me to show excitement, so they will. And she’s right. Kairo didn’t like “I Am Bear” until Tiyaanah read it for the first time.
Again, kids need to have fun with reading.
The Cinnamon Mom (my go-to reference for all things right in the world) brings her child’s books to life. She freakin’ made green eggs and ham for her daughter. While they got some grub, TCM taught the little one to use letters and to comprehend the story. (Pop quiz: What else is far more important than reading words? Comprehension!)
TCM is so much cooler than me.
The classroom and reading
Can your three year old read? Yes. Can your one year old read? No. But don’t formally teach them. Make the world their classroom. Let reading come naturally. Teach them everything around the book, and watch their words evolve.