How to Teach a 2 Year Old to Read
If you’ve ever helped a child learn to read, you know that it can be a difficult, frustrating, but ultimately very rewarding experience. When it comes to teaching literacy, it’s never too early to get started with your child.
You may think that you need to wait until school age to start the process, but the fact is that children as young as 2 years old can learn some of the basic skills required to become advanced readers as they get older.
If you’re eager to get started on your child’s reading development, and have wondered how to teach a 2 year old to read, consider some of the options and techniques that we will outline below.
1. Read Early and Often
Even before your child reaches the age of 2, it is important to read to him or her on a regular basis. You can start reading to your child even as a newborn, as they will appreciate the time spent and this will condition them to get used to everyday reading.
Babies develop at a remarkably fast pace, so as you continue to read to them, they will start to pick up on certain cues and ideas, even before they are able to speak. Young children enjoy looking at the pictures and listening to stories, and it’s important to introduce them to the words early on in life.
Make it a habit to read to your child every night before falling asleep. As they get closer to 2 years old, they’ll become more and more excited every time you pull out one of their favorite books. It’s okay to read the same books multiple nights in a row, as it will help your child to identify certain words and make associations that will help them read later on in life.
If your child is especially fond of a certain book, reading it often will keep him or her excited for story time and could have a positive effect on their desire to learn to read as they get older.
2. Pay Attention to Your Child’s Speech Development
Children learn to speak at different paces and in different ways, but as they gain a wider vocabulary and develop the ability to put sentences together, they are often more able to learn the concepts behind reading.
You’ll notice that they will be more interested in learning new words and making new sounds. You may consider playing games with certain objects and seeing if they have interest in calling them by their name. As they improve on this ability, it may suggest that they are more intellectually capable of reading, and that they may have the desire to learn new things.
If your child is a little behind on speech development, you may take it a little slower. It’s still important to read to them every night, even if they aren’t expressing an interest in sounding out the words on their own. The more exposure they have to books, the sooner they will want to learn to read. The speech will come eventually and the reading will follow suit.
3. Take it Slow
Two years of age is young, and toddlers tend to have short attention spans.
Once they express some interest in learning to read, keep your lessons short and simple – maybe 3 to 5 minutes at a time, with only the most basic aspects of the language being taught.
Start with phonemic awareness – helping your child to identify and sound out the easier letters and the smallest sounds. You can use flash cards, alphabet books, letter blocks, and phonics songs to keep your child entertained while remaining educational.
If your child gets frustrated, take a break and move on to another game, or simply let him or her listen to you read. Too much learning at one time can get them overstimulated and may detract from their ability to process and retain the information that you are sending their way.
Remember that they are still very young and that they’ll eventually get the hang of it with time. Don’t rush it as that can cause stress for both you and your toddler.
4. Focus on Phonics
As mentioned above, phonics is an excellent way to introduce your child to reading. It starts with the most basic sounds in the language and slowly progresses towards helping your child put the sounds together to form words.
Your child may favor certain letters and sounds, and that’s okay. Use these letters more often, and show him how they work together with other letters to form words and eventually sentences.
Make sure to teach your child the associations that each letter has with different sounds. The aforementioned flash cards are a good way to start this, as well as reading books and pointing out the letters as you go through every word. You can break down the words into phonemes, which are the most basic sounds made by each letter.
Even if you only get through one short page, it will be beneficial for your child to learn about these phonemes and at least be exposed to the idea of putting them together, even if they aren’t yet able to do so. Their skills will develop and they will eventually be recognizing and utilizing more and more phonemes.
If you’d like some more insight, make sure you review the video below:
5. Stay Involved
The most important aspect of teaching your child to read is to stay involved as much as possible. Whether you decide to use teachers at daycare or formulate a program on your own, you need to keep a consistent routine and always monitor your child’s progress.
The more you know about their abilities and learning patterns, the more you’ll be able to help out and ensure that they will become the strongest readers that they can be.