How to Teach Your Baby to Read

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It is possible to teach a baby to read at a very young age. In fact, it is easier to teach him when he is still a baby than when he is over three years old.

The cognitive development of a baby is strongest when he is under 36 months, during this time he learns to speak and understands languages instinctively. This instinctive skill will gradually decline after that age. As he grows older, learning naturally becomes more difficult.

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Baby instincts

A baby starts learning the day it enters the world

Many people are skeptical about teaching their babies to read because they believe babies are being forced to learn reading. Teaching a baby to read is no different than teaching him to learn the names of things around him. While your baby is going through this rapid development in learning to speak, you can teach him to read “instinctively” at the same time.

You can teach your child to read as soon as he is able to say a few words and understand a few things. There is no need to force him to learn because this is the right time to teach him and his learning ability is at its best. The whole learning process should be fun and enjoyable for both parent and child.

Why teach your baby to read

These are some of the advantages of teaching your child to read at an early age
  • It helps your baby to increase his vocabulary and stimulate his brain. Babies are inquisitive by nature and they are ready to explore the world the moment they are aware of their surroundings.
  • Your baby learns to communicate and bond with you. Teaching your child at an early age gives you the opportunity to understand his needs and learning abilities. Your child will know that you will always be there for him when he needs some guidance when he is older. You are your child’s first and best teacher before he goes to school.
  • Learning to read is a fun activity and not a chore. He will discover there’s so much to learn and explore when he can read.
  • Your child will have a headstart in reading and will have more confidence when he starts formal education.
  • School will be more enjoyable if he does not have to struggle with literacy during his early school years. Literacy is the basic foundation for all subjects at school. The inability to read and write properly can hinder other learning skills. This disadvantage can lead to social problems and low self-esteem in life.

Less is more and that’s enough

Keep it fun and short

Always remember: your baby has a short attention span. The most important point here is to promote learning as a fun game, otherwise your baby won’t learn and will not want to play the game ever again.

Pay attention to your baby’s mood. Teach your baby only when his is receptive. A couple of minutes is long enough for a baby. Stop teaching before he loses interest. You may ask “But, why? He is loving this activity”.

Here is an example. You have a bagful of chocolate bars and you give your child one chocolate bar to eat. He takes a bite and loves it, and within seconds, you watch him finish the whole bar and he asks for another one. You decide to give him this whole bag of goodies and watch him gobble up all the chocolate bars. By then, he would be feeling so sick of the chocolate bars that he would never want to eat chocolates ever again.

However, if you tell your child he could have another chocolate bar tomorrow, your child will look forward to the chocolates the next day because he still have the hunger for chocolates. And yes, he really wants it.

Teaching your baby to read is similar to the idea of giving chocolates to a child. You want to let your baby enjoy the lessons that you are giving him and at the same time, you want him to yearn for more.

A is for Apple, really?

Teaching ABC vs words

Teaching your baby to read is easy, but what to teach? When children begin school, they are taught the alphabet and phonetics before they know how to read. A is for apple, but what does it really mean? A baby might recognise an apple but does not understand what an A is. Also, A does not represent an apple. With that in mind, teaching a baby the alphabet is not a good idea.

Introduce single words to your baby. The initial recognition of a word is being processed by the brain as a whole graphic image rather than individual alphabet that spells out a word. Take the apple for example, let’s say you are teaching your baby to identify an apple, you show him the fruit and introduce the word “apple”. What your baby really sees are two things – an image of an object (an apple) and an image of the word (the word “apple”), and both images mean the same thing (which is apple). Your baby learns to identify the object (the apple) and at the same time “reads” the word “apple”. Over time, your baby will learn to recognise words as another way to describe the pictures. For a baby, the ability to recognise different words is called reading.

Customise the reading materials

How to create your own teaching materials and find easy words that your baby can read

Start with names of things your baby already knows that he can relate to – words like milk, bread, dog, hand, teddy and names of his baby toys.

Flash cards are popular learning materials and they are available in baby stores, or you can make your own flash cards and customise them to what you want to teach your baby. Use a spiral sketch pad, the pages are easy to flip and they stay organised. Here is how you can make your own flash card notebook. Take pictures of the objects you want to teach your baby and print them out. Type out the words of each object in large font and print out. Cut out each picture and matching word, paste the picture in the middle of a page and display the word under the picture.

At a later stage, the pages on the notebook can be removed and used like flash cards. Two cards can be placed side by side, and you can ask a question like “which one is the apple?”. Praise your baby when he points to the correct card.

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More educational games and baby toys available in store. Check them out by clicking on the pictures.

Shape Sorting Fun Pull Along Shape Turtle Educational Baby Toy
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Click for a great selection of flash cards for your baby

My First Touch & Feel Picture Cards… First Words Flash Cards (Brighter Chi… My First Touch & Feel Picture Cards…

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When and how to get your baby to read

Find time to teach your baby, it can be during his playtime as reading is a fun activity. First, you have to read to your baby by showing the picture to your baby and saying the word aloud to him. Let him touch the picture and say the word in his own baby way. It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t sound it correctly because your baby is also learning to talk at this stage. Praise him for his effort and being attentive. Repeat the word a couple of times. You might be tempted to teach him more words but for a start, it should be good enough.

The next day, begin the reading lesson with the same picture and word. Read the word to your baby and let him repeat after you. Remember, lots of praises for your baby to get him motivated. You can introduce another new word and let him explore the picture for a couple of minutes.

Always remember that your baby has an attention span of two minutes at the most. Repeat the lessons daily but don’t overdo it or else, it will have reverse effects that are hard to eliminate.

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