It’s very important to my husband and I that we do as much as possible to ready our children for school. As our kids have gotten older we have taken more direct initiative at making this happen. When Izzy was about 1 1/2 years old I would sing to her to calm her down. One of the songs that she loved and would always quiet down to listen to was the ABC’s. Quite accidentally on my part, she learned her ABC’s before she was two. Tyler and I were shocked that this tiny little human who could hardly talk yet could belt out her ABC’s in her adorable little lisp. Around this time my mom found an app called Endless Alphabet, in which kids have to drag letters to match them up and form words. As the child is dragging the letter it makes the corresponding sound, and when they successfully match a letter, it says the name of the letter. I blew it off thinking Izzy was way too young for this, but over the course of a weekend my parents had her successfully dragging and dropping her letters. Soon she could point at individual letters and identify them. She still wasn’t 2 years old! Both of these events made me realize that children absorb far more than I ever thought they could at a much younger age than I thought possible. These two events led us to actively engage our children in learning their letters and, eventually, to read them.
Izzy drew this A unprompted when she was 2 1/2. As Izzy got a little older she began to show interest in doodling and making shapes other than squiggles so we began to show her how to write her letters. We started with her name and went from there. She already had the foundation of recognizing letters from the Endless Alphabet app, so it was just a simple transition to get her to translate that to paper. We would write the letters slowly, while she watched, and then let her copy us working on just two letters at a time. She still does the occasional backwards z or s, which I find adorable, but she has pretty much mastered her upper and lower case letters. She is now 4.
We went on to purchase the Endless Reader app and the Endless Numbers app. I cannot sing enough praises for these learning apps! They make it so much fun for the little ones and they learn so much from it! Lailah loves the apps as much as Izzy does and she is getting better at identifying letters. We haven’t sat down to work with her quite as diligently as Izzy, but she learns so much just by watching Izzy anyway. When I drive by an HEB, Lailah gets all excited and starts exclaiming, “ABCD’s, ABCD’s!!!” Well, at least she recognizes that they are letters.
She loves to make art and create paintings to send to all of her grandparents and great grandparents. She always asks me how to spell their names, so I began writing them out for her so she could copy them onto her artwork herself. She always feels so accomplished when she writes! I love watching her learn and take pride in her work.
We have started working on her reading now. Tyler came up with a game we call “Bookworms” where if she successfully sounds out short little words on one or two pages then we give her a “Bookworm” which is just a gummy worm. She loves it and it makes her want to try and focus on it. We typically only get a good five or ten minutes out of her at a time, but that’s pretty typical for her age. I want to emphasize that we aren’t fanatically pushing her to read. We want her to have fun, so when she is no longer enjoying it, we stop for the day. I’m passionate about reading and I want to try and instill that love in my kids early on. Our favorite books have been Hop on Pop and To Market To Market.
Neither of us are teachers and I don’t pretend to be an expert on teaching young children. God bless teachers because it is a challenging job! Here’s what our little reading “program”, if you can even give it that label, looks like broken down over time:
12 – 18 months
- Singing ABC’s periodically throughout the day
18 mo – 3 yrs
- Introduce Endless Alphabet
- Introduce Endless Numbers
- Begin counting objects, food, anything you can think of for fun with your little one
3 yrs – 4 yrs
- Introduce Endless Reader
- Begin writing individual letters and numbers
- Work with 2 letters at a time until each one is mastered
- Foster writing through creative projects
- Begin writing numbers
Another fun little app I found that you might check out is Wee Sing. It will sing through the ABC’s, has different animals for each letter, and has a mode where the child identifies the letters while the app slowly sings the ABC’s, among other things. The kids really seem to enjoy it.
The key to all of this is making it fun! That’s why I love learning apps so much because they give me tools and ideas that keep the little ones engaged in learning and enjoying it the whole time. I hope some of these tools might help out your little ones as well. Have a wonderful Saturday!