Figuring out how to teach a toddler to read is arguably one of the most important tasks of a parent. Statistics show time and time again, the earlier a toddler learns to read, the better they will perform in high school and college.
Although teaching a toddler to read is unbelievably important, it is also unbelievably hard. During this stage in their life, their attention span is shorter than a fruit fly’s.
I had the same problem with my kids a few years ago.
I was really struggling to teach them how to read. I probably read hundreds of “How to Teach a Toddler to Read” articles. Some helped, most didn’t
Here are some suggestions that helped:
1. Make Reading Fun
Turn reading into something they look forward to before they sleep. Something I did personally for this one is I placed a gummy bear at the end of every page. Once they finished the page, they got the gummy bear.
Another example of this would be to give them candy every 3 flashcards they get right.
Ps. You may have to change tactics once they get better at reading.
Even though we may not have a favorite kid, kids sure do have a favorite adult. Have the toddler read with an adult that they associate fun with.
After reading, let the toddler do something they enjoy, even if only for a short period of time. My daughter loved to watch Peppa Pig. Since we only allow 1 hour of TV every day, she would always ask for extra time. After her reading time at 7:00 pm, we allow another 20 minutes of Peppa Pig.
Some days she would come back from soccer practice and be too excited or energized to read. After threatening her extra 20 minutes of Peppa Pig time, she would immediately run to her room and wait for me to come read with her.
Our goal here is to have the toddler associate reading with fun. This will give you an easier time when it comes to reading as well as set the groundwork for them to read as adults.
Most teenagers and young adults don’t read. They don’t just not read, they hate it. Other teenagers and adults will then have a huge advantage over them. Now is the time to lay the groundwork for successful young adults.
2. Make it Consistent
Read at the same time every day. That simple. This allows the toddler’s brain to associate this time of the day with reading time.
The same goes for naps and meals. Even as adults, our brains associate times with certain activities. If you were to sleep at 10:00 pm every day then one day stay up to 11:00 pm, you’ll feel much more tired.
The same applies to toddlers.
This allows them to expect it which makes our job easier.
You will notice it getting a little bit easier every day. Eventually, at 7:00 pm or whenever “reading time” is, they will bring the book to you!
This is arguably the most important tip when you need to teach a toddler to read.
3. Read Yourself!
Children imitate us. We are their heroes and they want to grow up and be just like us (Enjoy it while it lasts)! We can use this to encourage them to read.
For example, if your toddler is sitting watching tv, grab a book next to them and read. This won’t just make you a positive role model, but reading is good for you too, not just kids!
Hopefully, this will also put you in a position to use more advanced vocabulary in front of your toddler. Chances are your toddler is in the, “What’s that mean” phase. Use this as an opportunity to expand their vocabulary.
4. Enroll in a Reading Program
There are professionals out there that do this for a living. A combination of reading at home and enrolling in a program will set them on a path to reading fluently.
There are many programs out there some aren’t bad, others are complete garbage. For both my children I used Reading Head Start. This program taught me step-by-step how to get my children reading exceptionally well.
In as little as 3 months they were reading two grade levels above their grade!
“Parenting may not be easy, but it’s what you’ll be remembered for”