We have recently started teaching our youngest to read. Sugar is 4. Ginger started learning at 3.5 or so. (She begged.)
I made what other moms of pre-readers have told me is absolutely genius. Okay, but I didn't think it was anything special. Spreadsheet + as many 2 letter words as I could think of. Most reading programs I have seen start with cat and dog. I always felt like it's starting on step 3.
Step 1: Learning the letters and their sounds.
Step 2: Learning that sounds blend (2 letter words.)
Step 3: Learning that sounds can make words (3+ letter words.)
Part of our bedtime routine is to play a game. Phonics + games = fun and learning. Enter 2 Letter word Bingo.
The child learning to read draws a word from the pile and reads it. First, she will say the names of the letters. A D. Then she says the sound of the letter. a + d. Then we try to put them together faster and faster. ad ad ad. To demonstrate this point, we did something silly. She was the first letter and I was the second. If we are far away form each other we say our names far apart too. Sugar. Mommy. If we are close together (I pull her into my lap) we say them close together too. MommySugar. MommySugar. And I tickle her. She laughed, and she got it. She read 4 of the words without much help at all after that explanation. We keep going until all of our bingo cards are full and the child has read all her 2 letter words.
We will stay on the 2 letter words, much to Ginger's disappointment, until Sugar has them mastered. Then we will move on to 3 letter words in the same manner. Once she knows a lot of 2 letter words and a few 3 letter words we can move on to the mainstream learn to read books. This game helps her get more confident before I hand her a book that is full of words and expect her to know what to do.
Why does the world skip step 2? I know it is hard to write a book with only 2 letter words, but surely someone can think of something to blend sounds. Oh, I guess that was my job. Done!