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teaching reading to 3 1/2 year old?

856 Views 17 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  jessicaSAR
My 3 1/2 year old has asked me to teach her to read. I have no idea how to go about doing this, especially for someone her age. My sister recommended TEACH YOUR CHILD TO READ IN 100 EASY LESSONS (I think that's the name). She is using this with her 5 year old. Has anyone here used this program? What other programs would you suggest?
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With a 3 1/2 yr old, I wouldn't use any systematic "program", at least no at this point. You could start by asking her what some owrds are that she wants to know how to read, maybe three of them, and then writing them out neatly and going through them a bit until she can recognize and differentiate between them... and then if she asks for more words the next day, do that with more, and see how it goes. No pressure, lots of success.

Alternately, or even at the same time if one of her words is short and phonetically regular, you can start by discussing the sounds represented (not "made") by different letters, and how you can use the sound/letter connection to figure out new words... so if her word was "cat", for example, you could write those three letters on a piece of paper, describe the sound each represents in that word, and then write an "m" on another piece of paper, swap it for the "c", explain that "m" represents the sound /m/, and then sound out the new word together.

Some 3 1/2 yr olds will be charmed and delighted by these activities, and some will be bored and frustrated, and some will be in the middle. Follow her cues...

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As a former preschool and kindergarten teacher, I agree that it would be better to avoid structured reading programs at this age. I would start by pointing out the words your daughter *already* knows how to read. She might be able to recognize her own name, for example, or the word "stop" on a stop sign, the name of a store or restaurant you frequent, the brand name of her favorite breakfast cereal, etc. You can even cut and paste some of these words from ads or packages, and make a book for your daughter to read. It is exciting for kids to realize that they already do know how to read some words!

Another idea is to label things around the house. If you have a special box for books, label it "books." Make signs indicating where different toys belong on the shelves (assuming they have assigned spots). Your daughter will let you know which words she wants to know.

Have her help you cut pictures of toys, animals, food, etc., from magazines and make books with simple one-word captions. Photos of friends and family members would work, too. The idea is once again to let your child choose the words that matter to her--she will learn much more quickly and enthusiastically this way.

Sing songs, recite rhymes, play with word sounds and patterns, and just generally have fun with language. And of course, keep reading to her and letting her see you read (and write). Have fun together!
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With my 3 year old, I have the first 8 letters of the alphabet up and I play a game that gets her to point to the right letter. Does she actually know the letter? (she will forget which is which a week later). But it's a game and one that may help as she does understand what letters are (we don't do this that often, outdoor play & crafts are higher on the list).

When my niece was about this age she took a book and insisted on learning how to read by being read the book. But what she really did was memorize the story. Page for page, she'd "read" the book and turn pages right on cue, she was quite proud of herself

I'd say keep on reading to her and use your finger to follow the text and see what she does or asks. Maybe play around with a workbook for pre-schoolers (mine likes to "do school" with a workbook, some of it she acutally seems to understand).

Edit to add.. check out the treasure of "sticky links" above. This one in particular helped me see what homeschool veterans thought about pre-school education.
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Montessori Read and Write by Lynn Lawrence has lots of lowkey activities for phonemic awareness. These are the type of thing used in the Montessori 3-6 classroom. They'd be great with the average child.

I've "met" online lots of moms of gifted kids. Several of them taught themselves to read around age 3 (both moms and kids -- it seems to run in families). Which is just to point out that you'll get all sorts of answers on "what should I do for my 3yo". It sort of depends on the child. Sometimes when kids ask to learn to read it actually means "lets play around with books" and for other kids it means "I have this high school chemistry text I'm just dying to figure out" (okay, that last is an exaggeration, but you get the point).

As for the book you mentioned, Teach Your Child/100 Easy Lessons, lots of people have used it with great success. A friend who's a public elementary school teacher taught her own children to read with it (they weren't teaching them well at school, I guess, so she used this book). Our public library has it. When dd wanted to learn to read at age 4 I checked it out. Dd despised it so thoroughly that after 2 days of using it she refused to have anything to do with learning to read for another year.
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I used the Dolch Sight Words . Perfect for such wee children. I second the 100EZLessons. That's a fun book. The stories get really silly towards the end , but the kids liked them.

I want you to be prepared that she may be an early reader. I want you to also be prepared she may go thru the motions for YEARS until she actually desires to read. My son was four , my daughter eight and our youngest just began reading beginning words at the age of six.
I used 100 Easy Lessons to teach my 5 yr old to read and Id say it depends on the kind of learner she is.I didnt do any of the writing exercises(well at first we tried) because my son just wasnt ready for that part of it.The rest,I took more slowly than they do.You might just give it a try but watch her reaction carefully.If she acts stressed in any way,just back off or stop altogether.Hugs,Catherine
My three year old is teaching herself how to read, with just a little bit of help from me. We play word games a lot, "what starts with..."
She's constantly asking me how to spell certain words.
She has alphabet letters on the fridge, ABC cookie cutters that we play with playdough, lots of books, lots and lots and lots of books.
She can type her name and a few other words on the computer, but doesn't have the coordination to write letters on paper just yet. She likes to play "Paint" and you can do the text box thing with that or any other graphics program.
I'm just following her lead. I'd never want to introduce any structured lessons at such a tender age. But then again, I'm of the mindset that structured learning is wrong on so many levels to begin with, and plan to unschool as long as it works for us.


Originally Posted by mogit
If you have a special box for books, label it "books."
totally off topic, but a BOX FOR BOOKS?!!! Man, that would have to be one humongous box to fit all of my childrens' books in it...
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Well, OK, we have more than one boxful of books, too. But we have a special box just for library books, so they don't get mixed up with the rest and are easy to find when they are due. I guess you could label the "bookshelves" or even the "reading room" in your own house, depending on the size of your collection!

This reminds me of something funny that happened one Halloween when I was handing out treats at the door. A young trick-or-treater took one look at the wall of books in my living room and exclaimed to his mother, "It's a li-berry"!
Thanks for all the suggestions! We are moving to a bigger apartment this summer, so I think we will definitely try labeling some things as we make the move. I am sure she will enjoy this. I too am hesitant to use a systematic program because she is still so young. I have not done any "teaching" to date and she has still managed to learn to numbers, colors, some letters, etc. I think, in part, she wants me to teach her to read so we can do this activity together, especially now that she has a new baby sister. On the other hand, I was an early reader, and she certainly shows signs of being ready to read. She is fascinated by the sounds of words and letters and is constantly asking me what sounds certain letters make or what letters begin certain words. So I think some phonetic games would work well. I am off to look for some of these books! Thanks again!
Hi, just wanted to jump in here. I'm working with a lady that takes part in lots of research in how children's brains develop. I'll have to look up the resources if anyone is interested.... However, she says to not teach reading until your child's brain development has reached the back of the brain. To know if this has happened they need to be able to do cross-lateral movement. For example standing on one leg is a precusor to reading readiness. If your child can stand and touch her elbow to her opoosite knee (bending leg to lift to meet her arm), both sides a couple times then her brain is ready to read. Does that make sense? If you teach reading before this(specifically structured reading) you're teaching it to the wrong area of the brain.

I found that very interesting. My 3.5 yr old can't do it but my friend's 4 yr old can. Some children can't do it until they are 6 or 7. Might be a fun excercise to see where your child's at.
100 EZ LESSON was tourcher for my children.

In any program you us remember seperate reading and writing.

I agree with Games. If you want some guidance check out Phonics Pathway
We loved 100 Easy Lessons!

I had heard and read a lot about it - both positive and negative - and decided to give it a try and if ds didn't like it, fine. But he loved it! We did it every morning at the breakfast table, and he always wanted to do it. Sometimes we did half a lesson, sometimes 2, depending on his mood.

I didn't follow the script exactly, I sometimes supplemented with games and flashcards, and we didn't do the handwriting. (We've just begun Handwriting Without Tears.) The lessons are quick, easy and fun. The stories are very silly and are always followed by comprehension questions and an illustration.

My ds and I went through it between December and April. He turned 4 in Dec and is now 41/2. Also, before we even started he knew all his letters and letter sounds pretty well so he was ready for the transition to putting it all together.

Since April I've kept a large stash of easy readers from the library and he reads some every day. His favorite thing to do is to read a page, then I read a page, etc.

His comprehension is excellent, and he reads with proper phrasing an expression. I would estimate his reading at the moment to be at a 2nd grade level. (I'm glad I'm not sending him to Kindergarten a year from now!)
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We did 100 easy lessons and had mixed feelings abou tit. The very systemic approach worked for us but she got [pretty bored with it by lesson 60 or dso but by then she had enough skills to switch over to easy readers. you can usually find it used for about $10 so it is worth a shot. she might like. They actually have it at our library so we got to test drive the first 30 lessons. That would be a good option.

Originally Posted by lilyka
We did 100 easy lessons and had mixed feelings abou tit. The very systemic approach worked for us but she got [pretty bored with it by lesson 60 or dso but by then she had enough skills to switch over to easy readers. you can usually find it used for about $10 so it is worth a shot. she might like. They actually have it at our library so we got to test drive the first 30 lessons. That would be a good option.
***Same here. My dd picked up reading pretty much on her own, but we tried _100 EZ..._ and found it to be more like 100 BORING lessons.

On the other hand, I'd also play letter-magnet games. We had one called the CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) game where I'd put together a CVC combination like "cat" with magnetized letters and then have her choose any consonant to replace the C and then say it, so she would come up with real words like "bat" or "mat," but also with nonwords like "qat" or "zat." Then we'd switch out the last letter, and she'd make words like "can" or "cap," but nonwords like "caq" or "caz." I think it got her very used to the idea of isolated letters equaling specific sounds.

Oh, also, we started working with "Bob Books," by Bobby Lynn Maslow (?). They're at your library in the children's section; just ask the librarian and I swear she'll know what you're talking about. They teach phonics, basically. They start out with very simple stories and simple pictures -- really good for kids because they're not distracted with complex graphics, which can really get in the way. By "simple," I mean REALLY simple, like "Sam sat. Mat sat. Sam sat on Mat." They get progressively more complex as the series goes on, but it was an invaluable introduction to reading.

My dd loved them because they were great "kid-sized" books -- she could hold them in her hand and really have a feeling of accomplishment at having read "a real book." I owe a big debt of gratitude to the Bob Book woman because she did a great deal toward teaching my child to read. Less than two years later, she's eagerly devouring _Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban_, so I guess the Bob Books worked.
Hope this helps!
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You can vary the methods that you teach reading.

We used 101 Lessons... .

We also labeled things around the house so that there was some sight reading/learning going on.

I took a roll of calculator tape and we made a scroll of the words that he learned every day - we tried to add one a day. It was fun to roll and unroll it everyday!

We did the plaid Macmillan phonics book once in a while since it can get dry.

We made an alphabet book with pictures of my child...for instance, for "X", i took a picture of him at a Xerox machine.

We made a book with just extra photographs of my child and we wrote sentences for each photgraph. It became a book all about HIM, his favorite subject!!

We made another book and cut out pictures from magazines and ads for letters of the alphabet and practiced writing the words...

We went to the library and got books that looked interesting --- my son loved Eric Carle and all of the colorful, beautiful pictures. My other son loved Curious George. My other son loved books about dinosaurs.

I tried to make every process fun and something to look forward to.
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Lots of mixed feelings about 100EZ lessons. I guess I should get it and look at it. My library does not have it, nor the Montessori Read and Write. If anyone has copies of these that you would like to sell, PM me. Thanks again for all your comments. It is very helpful to hear everyone's different experiences.
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