How to Teach a Toddler to Read
Teach Your Toddler to Read
It is absolutely possible to teach your toddler to read. First, you are going to need a heaping helping of three obvious ingredients:
- Patience: It’s going to take some time.
- Discipline: You need to be consistent.
- Love: There are a lot of hugs in learning to read.
But on to the nuts and bolts! In this article, we explain how it is possible to teach a child to read by the age of 3. We know, it’s hard to find the time to have a cup of coffee. That’s why we are creating ReadingWorld, which will walk your child through the progression outlined below. That said, we wanted to explain our amazing system so that you, as a parent, can make an informed decision about how best to teach your toddler to read. We assume that if you are here, you have a child between 2 and 5, and would like to give them every opportunity to develop into the best little human they can be. A lot of what works at this age works at every age, so don’t worry about where your child is starting from, you can start here.
Teaching The Basics: Level 1
The very first letters used to teach your child to read follow a simple pneumonic device: IMPACT. Each letter is pronounced in IMPACT using the basic pronunciations. Which gives us enough content to build essential pre-reading knowledge: 1) letters have shapes and make sounds and 2) letters can be put together to make words. At this point, we already have a handful of nice words to play with: PAT, PIT, CAT, MAP, MAT, TIM, IT, CAP, and TAP, among others. Just remember that a Building Block is both the letter and how it is pronounced, so be careful to always use the letters in words where the pronunciation of each letter is exactly as it was taught.
Once the child is identifying IMPACT blocks correctly at a rate of 90% or more, and successfully sounding out Level 1 words, congratulations! Together you’ve made it to Level 2! Note if you start a child very young (say 1 or 2), Level 1 could take a long time! That’s ok!
Reading Hard Vowels: Level 2
Once your child is 90% proficient at Level 1, we then introduce Level 2 Building Blocks: Ā, Ē, Ō, Ī, O, B, R, L, N, and S. In this set, we have included Reading Tips (marks on the basic letter) for the Ā, Ē, Ō, and Ī which all are pronounced like their letter names, the “hard” sound of “A” like APE, the “E” like NEED, the “I” sound in TIME and the “O” like OPEN. It is important here to teach the child that the same letters can make different sounds, but when you see a Reading Tip, you know exactly what to say. With these Level 2 additions of letter pronunciations we now have a working vocabulary for your child that includes over 1000 words. To graduate from Level 2, all Building Blocks must be identified correctly 90% of the time. This means distinguishing between the Ā and the A, which may take a little practice.
Teaching Real Words: Level 3
At Level 3, we introduce another 10 Building Blocks: SH, Ś, E, Õ, À, D, Ÿ, TH, H, and F. Now we can really start to make some words! This Level gives us the blends for THIS and THAT, the Ś in HIŚ or IŚ, the Õ in TÕ, the Ÿ in MŸ. These are the Power Blocks, which are found rarely in the dictionary, but are essential to reading meaningful stories. They form the words which hold our language together. We also use Level 3 to introduce the concept of Silent Blocks. A Silent Block is used when a letter doesn’t make a sound, like the “E” in TIME or the “A” in NEAR.
Like magic, after learning the 26 Building Blocks outlined above, and the Silent Block concept, your child can read over 15,000 words. By themselves. Without error. Every word they see in our System reinforces earlier learning. After mastering Level 3 content, children can read meaningful books, with real plots, characters, and messages.
Learning to Read: Level 4 through 10
As the child continues to progress through the system, additional Blocks are added at each level. In Level 4-6 we prioritize the Blocks needed to cover the remaining core vocabulary of early language texts. By Level 7, important but rare exceptions are being introduced, along with the vocabulary that uses these exceptions.
At level 10, after learning just 90 Blocks, the child can now read 125,000 words, including virtually all words printed in children’s literature.
The End Goal
Reading is a lifelong pursuit. Our goal is to make it easier, in fact, so easy a child can do it. TIPS™, our TinyIvy Phonics System, removes the barriers to sounding out words that exist in normal English, but that is only the first step. Eventually this needs to translate to “real” reading, using the “real” alphabet, with no Reading Tips. This process is very natural. A “sight picture” of the word is developed after it is read, which ultimately is drawn on during the reading process. As this happens, sounding out a word is no longer needed, and we graduate. Because the Reading Tips are small, the “sight picture” of the word remains largely the same, and so children transition easily to reading without tips and live happily ever after.