Teaching your toddler to read begins with enjoying books and making time to read. These four simple strategies will help you feel confident preparing your toddler for preschool and elementary school success.
Make time for reading and reading activities with your toddler
If you want your child to prioritize reading, you must prioritize it in your schedule. Find a time several times throughout the week that you read with them. It could be during lunchtime, before bed, or even first thing in the morning. But sit together, read a book or two of their choice, and have fun prioritizing reading. Complete a craft or activity that correlates to your story if time allows. My FREE five-day reading challenge gives you a daily focus and book recommendation to make reading and learning exciting!
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Naturally identify letter sounds
When teaching your child about letters, it’s easy to focus on the letter name because that’s what we sing in the alphabet, right? But, teaching the letter sound is just as important, if not more important. They are the first sounds toddlers hear when learning to speak. They’re also the easiest to master. I recommend starting with lower case letters (before upper case) and teaching each letter name with the letter sound and ASL letter sign. This provides a complete understanding of the letters.
One easy way to do this is to focus on words your child sees most frequently, like their name. Our son, Lachlan, loves recognizing the letter “L” while we’re out and about. He uses the ASL letter sign and says “lllll” (making the luh, luh sound). Make it fun and purposeful to learn about and recognize letters. At school and at home he has a hook with his name above it. His job is to hang his personal items (like his school bag, jacket, or hat) on his hook – not his sibling’s hook. This helps bring purpose to letter identification and reading.
Play games that bring reading to life and make it special
Speaking on bringing purpose to a task, let your child help you with real-life reading tasks. Create a simple grocery list with matching pictures or go on a scavenger hunt, similar to the activities in my Toddler Curriculum. Children can rely on the pictures to help them read the list! Using pictures to understand what’s written on a page is an important skill for strong reading comprehension.
Create a Diverse Home Library
When creating a diverse home library, you can do nothing better than head to your local bookstore and take a stroll up and down the children’s book section. I look for books with vibrant pictures and real humans that I think my children will enjoy.
Understand toddlers read differently than we do
Say it with me, “looking at pictures IS reading.” It’s okay that your toddler doesn’t want to read every page of the book. They’re not looking for a complete story like we are as readers. They often want to see life through the lens of another person and form an understanding of the world around them. This is why we have picture books. Grab board books so you don’t worry about your little one ripping pages out and then let them thumb through the books. Instead of reading all the words, point out the characters. Give them names. Point out the items in the background, like a car that is green or a tree with flowers. This is how children learn new words and make meaning of them.
Have Fun Helping Your Toddler Learn to Read
Helping your toddler learn to read and love books should be fun for you and them! If you’re unsure where to begin, my toddler and preschool curriculum is the perfect place to start.