Timmy is officially a reader! I want to share his reading journey to other moms out there who want to get their babies started on this reading habit. 🙂 My husband and I are both avid readers. So when Timmy was born we knew that the perfect toy for him would be books! Haha! So geeky! Anyway, he had a cloth book, bath book, foam books, board books, and anything with pages on them. 🙂
We would read to him a lot. I would use different voices to make it livelier. 🙂 I’m the more animated storyteller between my hubby and me. Haha! We also encouraged him to do whatever he wants with his books from biting them to sometimes ripping the pages accidentally. We would just tape his books so he could use it again. Usually, the more battered the book is, the more frequent Timmy uses it. We also make sure that Timmy sees us read. He knows where daddy and mommy’s books are. We have different shelves so that he knows which ones belong to him and which ones are classified as untouchables. Haha!
He also developed an early liking for letters so we bought letter toys and blocks and exposed him to colorful letter flash cards. By the time he’s around 16 months old, he already knew the alphabet. Just like any new mom, I really don’t know how to teach reading. All I know is that consistent exposure to books and letters would be helpful. This approach is time consuming because it’s guided teaching. I needed to really spend time reading to him and teaching him about the alphabet. Unlike with gadgets, you can leave your kid and he’ll be fine with educational games. But with reading, you need to sit down and be extra animated to lengthen their five-second attention span. 🙂
So I did what other modern moms do, I googled. Haha! Yup, I googled “how to teach your child to read.” Tadaaaah! Phonics! Of course, it’s phonics! I realized that as adults, reading comes so naturally to us that we tend to forget how challenging it was when we were starting. I honestly don’t remember how I learned to read. All I have are images of our bookshelf and the hardbound story books that my mom completed (and repaired) for us over the years. I remember reading them repeatedly, too!
One of the things we noticed about Timmy is that he learns better and faster with songs. So, I did again what other 21st century moms do, I went to YouTube! Haha! I typed, “phonics songs for kids” and voila! A buffet of phonics videos appeared on my screen! The key now is choosing the right videos. What better way to test a video’s effectiveness than by letting Timmy watch them. I initially picked three videos and observed his response. He ended up liking the videos from KidsTV123. 🙂 We downloaded the phonics videos that he liked and sang them together wherever we go (even without the actual video)! 🙂
In a few months, our little boy already mastered phonics through phonics songs! We also had an alphabet video customized for Timmy. 🙂 When we’re out, we try to look for things that begin with A along with the rest of the letters. At 24 months, we we’re ready to combine phonics sounds. 🙂 I searched and tried different sites and copied their techniques. Some were really good but Timmy couldn’t seem to grasp the idea of combining phonics sounds just yet. He was even honest enough to say if he didn’t like the phonics technique I was using and I won’t mention where I got it because it’s actually a good site!
Bottom line, I didn’t force it. I allowed him to just practice and master his phonics sounds and alphabets. We sang and read together until finally God gave me a brilliant idea. 🙂
Making it personal
Over the past three years, I’ve learned to understand my son’s learning preferences. He likes to learn when it’s personal and when you do it together. So, I channelled my former corporate girl self and made Powerpoint presentations for him! The first slide for each presentation says TIMMY LEARNS TO READ. 🙂 That alone made him excited and giddy. And yes, if you want a copy of the Powerpoint I can email them to you. 🙂 We started to read them together and combine the sounds together and I was surprised that he got it almost immediately!
I guess it helped that he mastered the individual sounds first and used it in different words. 🙂 Since he already understood the concept of using the “A” (ah) sound, it became easy for him to combine the rest of the vowels with consonants (e.g. ba, be, bi, bo, bu). We mastered it for three months before moving to three-letter words. 🙂 Here’s a video of Timmy reading them. I’ve also learned that repetition is always good because it makes it easy for your child to transition from one stage to another once there’s already mastery of the concept. 🙂
To make reading even more enjoyable for him, I also made letter pops and reading cards for him. I got the letter pops idea from Pinterest while the reading cards were mine. 🙂 It’s heartwarming that Timmy looks for them and actually uses them! My letter pops actually became puppet pops because he likes it when I hide the letters first and make them come out slowly before he reads the word. 🙂 Haha! Soon we’ll be moving to four-letter and multi-syllabic words and I have a pending customized project for him. 🙂
Humbling the mommy
Teaching Timmy is a very humbling experience. I had to set aside the way I want to do things so I can observe him and see what makes learning easy and enjoyable for him. God has been teaching me that it’s all about Him and His work in our child and I’m just but an instrument. If a certain technique doesn’t work then I need to look for something else and not force the “seemingly effective” one on him. I have so many fears with homeschooling—the greatest being Timmy not learning anything from me. My husband is a teacher so I’m sure he can teach Timmy anything. I don’t have those trainings and qualifications which make me feel unqualified.
In the end, God has taught me to be totally dependent on Him. He made me realize that being Timmy’s mom is my qualification. Knowing his character, temperaments, interests, and inclinations is my advantage over teachers in regular schools. Homeschooling allows me to tailor fit Timmy’s education so that he will always find learning fun and enjoyable. God also gave me a wonderful husband whose expertise helps me manage which tools is just right or too advanced for Timmy. I can’t believe I’m getting teary-eyed writing this! I guess relinquishing control to God over anything will always be an emotional thing. 🙂 And seeing our son’s first academic achievement (i.e. reading) is a milestone I’m privileged to be involved with. 🙂 Knowing that I have Him as Timmy’s principal keeps me grounded. He allows me to charge every mistake to experience and every triumph to a testimony so I can help other young moms like me. 🙂
Read on, Timmy
I know there are more things that we need to teach Timmy. Reading is just one of them. Soon he will read the Bible on his own and know more about the God who loves him. 🙂 Deuteronomy 11:19 says, “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” I’m excited to learn with my little man. And I know that God will teach me a lot of things in the process. 🙂 Meanwhile, read on, Timmy! Enjoy every word and every page. I’m pretty sure you’ll even be a better a storyteller than mommy when the time comes. 🙂