Learning to read

28 Nov 2019

You can’t deny how important it is to be able to read. This is a crucial milestone in toddlers, and you don’t have to wait for them to start school to learn how to read. In fact, between ages three and five are your little one’s most important reading development years.

You may have started to notice that your toddler knows how to hold a book and turn pages properly. They probably also know the names of their favourite books and can recall their favourite words or phrases from them.

So what can you do to help your toddler get a head start in the world of the written word?

Draw their attention to letters and words

Reading is not just about books. It’s part of everyday life. Though using books is a great beginning point, you can start talking about letters and words that you see all around.

Make reading fun

There are plenty of ways to make learning to read fun. Here are some ideas how:

  • What starts with the letter...?

    Connecting letters to sounds is the important first step in learning how to read. Emphasise the sounds of the letters in words, and ask your toddler what letter that word starts with. What does M-mommy start with?

    Later, you can run through the alphabet and see how many words you and your little one can come up with for each letter.

  • Bring letters to life

    Most of what toddlers learn is through tactile play. Get them to draw letters and words in the sand or make them out of play-doh. To begin, you may want to try doing it first and having your little one copy you until they can do it on their own.

  • Write a book together

Staple or stick a couple of pages together and have your child tell you a short story. Write a few short, simple sentences on each page while spelling or sounding out the words as your child watches you write. Together, or let your toddler do it on their own, illustrate the pages. Once done, read the book together.

Some children grasp the skill faster than others so this is another milestone that needs a bit of patience. However, if you do suspect a learning disability, speak to your paediatrician for advice. Early detection and intervention can prevent many future problems.

As always, toddlers thrive on praise and encouragement so be sure to build their confidence by encouraging all the little milestones in-between.