How to Teach a Preschooler to Read

After I shared the video of how well our three year old  son, A.J., reads full sentences, I knew you’d have questions about how we taught him to read. I wish I could say I had a magic formula to teach a child to read, but since A.J. showed an interest we just followed his lead. Personally, I wouldn’t force learning to read on a child or drill them with flashcards. His preschool director shared how that’s frowned upon by experts. But since A.J. has been drawn to books before he could sit up on his own, we let him show us what he wanted to learn. Here’s my advice on how to teach a preschooler to read without DVDs or exercise.

How to teach a preschooler to read ~
One of your biggest responsibilities as a parent is to teach your child to read. From my experience, all it takes is patience and attentiveness. We didn’t use any DVDs, exercises or flash cards with A.J.

In the last year, he’s read things out loud that shocked me, so here’s my real-life mom advice.

Teach a Preschooler to Read

1. We never, ever, ever did “baby talk” with A.J.

From the moment he was born, we have always spoken to him in complete sentences using real words. We never taught him “Da Da” or “Ma Ma.” He said them on his own while he was on his way to learning Daddy and Mommy.

I believe children can catch up to what you want them to learn vs. talking down to them. I think his vocabulary has benefited immensely.

He asked his first full question four months before he turned 2: “Daddy, where are you?” It shocked me too and his language bloomed from there.

Back to School Personalized T-Shirt and Water Bottle

2. Ask for specific books as gifts.

I asked our friend Zakiya Kyles of Queenly & Confident to give him bible stories for his third birthday gift. A.J. was drawn to his personalized story book, “A Blessing for A.J.” from Flatten Me, as well as the water bottle and t-shirt with his photo.  The Berenstain Bears book series and Martha Speaks books in the Chik Fil A kids meals are also among his favorites.

3. Read everything.

Street signs (more on that later), food labels (since he has food allergies), restaurant menus and even the TV guide channel are opportunities to learn new words.

4. Keep books on the floor, in baskets or on low shelves.

Before A.J. could walk, I left books on the floor of his bedroom and any place that was in his eye level. Anytime he wanted to read something or look at the pictures, he could reach them without help from us. I snapped the picture of A.J. at the top of this post when I couldn’t find him in the house. Little did I know, he walked into his room, sat down and started reading the Potty Tots book.

5. Get your child’s eyes examined.

Ask your pediatrician for a referral to a pediatric opthamologist. If A.J. wasn’t born with a drooping eyelid and clogged tear duct, I probably wouldn’t have known he was near-sighted and needed eyeglasses. Your child may have vision problems that an eye exam could quickly diagnose to help them read books, labels and signs.

Comment below: What’s helped you teach your children to read? Did DVDs or flash cards help?

How to Teach a Preschooler to Read ~

A.J. Shocked Me When He Read…

A few weeks before he turned three, A.J. shocked me when we were driving north on Interstate 75 in Atlanta. I realized he knew more words than I imagined. From the backseat he asked, “Mommy, what’s Northside Doctor?” At first I had no idea what he was talking about. Then I looked up. We were passing Northside Dr. Maybe my husband taught him that Dr. stands for Doctor or he figured it out on his own, because I never did.

Are we a techie family?

A.J. just got his first tablet, an iDEAPlay Tablet around Christmas. Before that, he would used a few reading apps on my iPhone and a VTech Tote and Go Laptop. But overall, we are not a techie family. We didn’t watch any reading DVDs or use exercises or flashcards.

This week, I’ll show you how I used his love for reading to encourage him to poop in the potty. Hey, if your child is motivated by something they’re interested in – work with it!

About Joyce Brewer

Creator & Host of Mommy Talk Show. Emmy award-winning TV journalist.Wife & Mommy; Mom Blogger; Social Media Coach; Long Island, New York transplant living in Atlanta, GA. Follow Joyce on Twitter @MommyTalkShow Author of Use What You Know: A Business Idea Guide for Moms featuring interviews with mompreneurs who created businesses using their skills & backgrounds.

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  1. I wish I had started my son off a little better his reading is bad and I feel that’s my fault I did much better with my baby. Now my son is a beast with math because he has been counting and adding money since he was a baby. I don’t force it but I do a gentle nudge now. Great job A.J.

  2. Thanks for the post. Teaching your child to read is very important to their future.