I’ve never taught anyone to read and I don’t particularly remember how I learned myself, so I’m totally winging it with my kids, exposing them to things that interest them and reading to them A LOT. I know they are only 34 months and do not expect them to be reading any time soon. However, they continue to surprise me.
I have some background in education and child development (;)), so I know that when they say “There’s McDonald’s!” when we pass one we’ve never been to, it is simply a recognition of the symbols and branding that are on every McDonald’s. But I also know that this is a pre-reading skill, making the connection between symbols and meaning. So the day they told me “That says stop” as we passed a stop sign, I did not think “Hey! They just read that word!” Instead I thought “Hey! They just recognized the red octagon means stop!” I then asked them “What letters do you see on the sign?” and right away they spat out (each on different occasions) “S-T-O-P” without any hesitation. Shocked me, to say the least. Later, I told N about it and he decided to test them. He wrote the word “STOP” on their menu while we waited for food at a restaurant. No octagon, and I’m pretty sure it was written in blue. Within seconds Kyla said “Stop!” You could have knocked me over with a feather. And now, any time we pass a stop sign, they tell me “S-T-O-P, stop, Mom!”
On another occasion, we went on a word hunt while we waited for MIL to get through traffic and meet us at the zoo. What better word to look for than “ZOO?” They spotted it everywhere and were very excited to do so. A couple of days later I decided to check and see if they recognized the word and sure enough, they “read” it to me.
Now, mind you, they are not sounding out words or understanding why these letters form these particular words. I don’t expect them to, since I haven’t really worked on that with them just yet. I know they are memorizing, but that is what site words are all about, right? You have to start somewhere!
Because of all of this interest in letters and words (Lucas loves to say “Look, Mom! Letters! What they say?”), on my “day off” I took the time to come up with a plan. I have started a spreadsheet of “lesson plans” to introduce one letter per week. I know we won’t have time every week and may need more than one week for some letters, but want to try to do activities relating to particular letters on a regular basis. I decided on an order for the letters based on some theories I’ve read in various places (I’d link to them, but don’t remember what I have read where). I will not be going in ABC order. And honestly, they already seem to know most of the letters, but I feel like if I pace myself and focus their attention on how letters work to make words we might make some progress. Or maybe we’ll get frustrated after a week and throw it all out the window! We’ll see.