HOW I TAUGHT MY TODDLER TO READ AT 21 MONTHS THROUGH PLAY

While I was three months pregnant, I had lunch with a former co-worker, Cyndi. Cyndi just viewed a PBS special where Dr. Ben Carson discussed Brain Health. In this video (at 8:50), Dr. Carson says a baby’s brain continues to develop once he/she is born. The more a baby learns, the more the brain’s dendrites are making connections.

Babies who experience interaction with caregivers through song, cuddling, playing, and talking, develop connections in the brain faster and better. By the time a child is three years old, their brain has reached 90% of its growth.

I thought PLAY would be the best way to interact with my son and boost his brain development. I never imagined this concept would lead to him reading at 21 months!

Please note: I did the activities below with my son as a full-time working mom.

I used in-depth learning to teach my son. In-Depth learning is being exposed to a concept in various ways. I concentrated on teaching my son through three of the five senses which were sight, touch, and hearing. Dr. Ben Carson addresses In-Depth learning in his book Think Big.

*Bonus Tip

Access my list of Fun and Creative Tools Used to     Encourage My Son to Read at the bottom of this post!

Below are examples of what my son and I did….

SING

I sung constantly to my son. It became something that soothed him. I sung when he woke up in the middle of the night, in the car, and while feeding and changing him. Songs taught my son language. They also helped him to learn the alphabet and phonetics. I took it a step further and created songs about words that began with each letter of the alphabet.

Read

I love going to the library with my son because of the programs, toys, puzzles and books. Before leaving the library, I always checked out at least 15 children books. I ensured at least one of the books was about the alphabet. There are zillions of books at the library about the ABC’s. He was able to see the same words I sung in songs within these books.

PLAY, PLAY, PLAY

I enjoyed coming home from work to play with my child. It seemed like a break from sitting and looking at a computer all day. We played with toys such as play doh and alphabet blocks. Before he could talk, we molded the playdoh into letters. We drew pictures on the storm door with window markers in alphabetical order. For example, we drew an apple for A and banana for B. On our way to the playground in the evenings and weekends, we identified letters on car license plates and signs.

Talk

Talking is a great way to increase a child’s focus. We discussed stories we read in books. We also made up stories about the alphabet and various animals. Whenever we were in the grocery store, I identified foods and the letter they started with. It is important to converse with your child on various topics!

Technology

Once my son could identify letters, I let him watch cartoons that featured the alphabet, phonics, and words. Leapfrog has a great series of educational cartoons. We also listened to toddler radio and hip-hop educational CDs in the car.

Put it Together

Once he knew the phonics, I taught him how to blend letter sounds to read words.  Many words, including site words, were becoming familiar to him through exposure to books, children museums, YouTube, the library, cartoons, and anywhere we went. He heard words through our conversations, songs, radio, and television. His brain started making connections and then he started reading. He has also developed a true love of reading.

Similar concepts were also used to teach him to

  • write
  • count
  • identify colors
  • Spanish words
  • Tell Time

Happy PLAYFUL In-Depth Learning!

Don’t forget to Sign Up for our FREE course on How to Teach the Alphabet in a Fun Way!

Get the password for the library with the list of Fun and Creative Tools Used to Encourage my Son to Read here by completing this form. Once you press the GET MY FREE TOOLS NOW button, we will send you an email with the password. Then go to SOY Resource Library and enter the password.

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3 thoughts on “Unintentional, But My Toddler Started Reading at 21 Months – Here’s How

  1. I did similar activities with my granddaughters when I was “Grandpa Daycare”. I also included phonics. When my oldest grand entered kindergarten, she was reading on a fourth grade level! The younger one is on the autism spectrum is an “A” honor rolll student in the 4th grade! Also their parents were very involved in their preschool learning activities.

    1. Kevin, thank you for the comment. I have heard how advanced all your granddaughters are through various family members. This is a testament to how interaction with a child can accelerate learning!

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