Teaching Your Toddler to Read from Age 2–3
The age when reading becomes crucial to development
Between the ages of 2 and 3, reading becomes a crucial part of your child's healthy development. The baby is growing into a child and communicating a little more each day. He is beginning to express his personality, indicate his preferences and assert his will. In fact, during this period, your child will experience a dramatic increase in language abilities. Many children can comprehend up to 400 words by their 3rd birthday. They can also speak in simple sentences and begin using correct grammar. For this reason, children love having the same books read to them at this age. In fact they thrive on repetition, and use the experience to memorize their favourite phrases and expressions from the book. Supporting your child's expanding language skills through reading becomes even more important.
From 24 – 36 months, your child needs to consolidate the basic learning that began in the previous year. She may be able to recite the alphabet, count to 10 and identify colors, shapes, animals and parts of the body. Popular favorites for this age group, for example, include Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb or The Nose Book and The Ear Book by Al Perkins.
From the point of view of reading, child development experts stress the importance of knowing the alphabet. You can sing the alphabet song along with your child, show him flashcards, or write the letters in sand, finger paint, or crayon. As the child gets older, you can start connecting the alphabet to the letter sounds ("d as in duh") and to words ("d for dog").You can name objects around the house and stress the beginning letters. You could also purchase specific learning kits and instructional materials designed to teach your child to read, through a step-by-step process.
Other activities that support the child's growing intelligence and curiosity are activities designed to apply previously learned knowledge. So if the child learned shapes before, now he can match and group objects of the same shape. If she learned colors, she should be able to do the same. Puzzles are another useful toy at this age, as they improve hand-eye coordination as well as develop problem-solving skills.
At this age, the child will enjoy stories that relate to his own world. Books that deal with potty training, grooming, taking baths, washing hands, or dressing oneself all connect with the child's day-to-day reality and growing self-sufficiency.
From Listener to Speaker
At this age, your child may change roles from being the listener to being the speaker. Now it is your turn to listen attentively as the child tells a story, asks questions, describes a problem, expresses an emotion or requests something. The child may turn the tables and tell you the story from a favourite book, or play the part of one of the characters in the book. This game heightens the child's sense of enjoyment while reading and should be encouraged.