WHAT WE DID
At some point, I started singing the ABC song to my daughter, Hannah. She may have been about 5 months old. I know that she was singing it by the time she was 18 months old because she sang it through tears on a doctor's examination table. I then wondered if she could read too. I didn't know if I should try to teach her to read or not. I searched the internet. Some people said do it, some people said don't do it. I was undecided until I came across the words of a wise woman,
"The sooner they can read, the sooner they can read the Bible."
That's all I needed to hear. I'd try to teach Hannah to read at 18 months.
- I made flashcards out of white cardboard.
- I wrote one word on each flashcard with a red marker.
- I put them in an empty Kleenex box and kept them in sight in the family room.
- I flashed them while Hannah played--I'd call her name and when she would look at me and the card, I would say the word. It didn't seem she was paying attention, but I did it anyway when I thought about it.
- Two months later I was in the kitchen (cooking as I recall). Hannah came in with a card, held it up and said, "Outside." Surely it was a fluke that she read it correctly, I thought. But she ran out of the room and got another card and read it correctly. Then she went and got the whole box. Hannah was 20 months old.
There were 33 words in that box--I didn't know that that was too many to show at one sitting. The chief words were Bible, God, and Jesus. There were also words like "nose" and "jump".
After a few months, the flashcards got old, so I stopped flashing them. I taught Hannah a few lessons out of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, but the situations were too high for a two year old. We stopped our reading program until Hannah turned three when I went back to "the yellow book". It was an effective book, but we skipped some of the sillier stories. One day Hannah looked at one of the pictures and said slowly and deliberately, "Dogs don't read." She would pick out words that she could read in the Bible and by four could read at about a second grade level. We never used another reading book. The Bible was the reading book.
- ABC song
- homemade flashcards
- yellow book
You can see our story in pictures at this link.
It is often much easier to learn something by seeing it rather than by reading paragraphs about it.
The article that you are now reading provides information to supplement our story in pictures.
WE DID NOT HAVE TO STOP
I now know that we did not have to stop reading at two. We also did not need the yellow book or any outside book. Unbeknownst to me, Hannah could have been reading sentences while in diapers and she could have been introduced to all the major phonetic sounds in a short period of time. If I had it to do again, I would use the method below. It is basically what I did the first time with a few modifications--
- ABC song
- homemade phonetic flashcards
- homemade phonetic book
- BibleAside: If I had a deaf child, I would use this same method. I would speak to my child's eyes and let him touch my mouth and tongue and throat so that he could imitate me. I would show him the cards and the object. 1 Parents can devise their own methods.
Early sign language is detrimental. Sign language is not English and therefore many deaf people never learn to read, write, or reason well (for examples of this, see the article, "Early Sign Language is Detrimental"). Sign language is a shortcut language akin to a toddler pointing up to indicate that he wants something from the counter--it's useful, but it is not English and you do not expect him to primarily use that sign to communicate when he is 15 years old. I came to this knowledge in 2008 when I was teaching my daughter sign language (I started with signs for "God", "Bible", and "Jesus" then God stepped in and showed me what was happening in deaf education. Signing "God" IN NO WAY correlates to G-o-d.)
Sign language in no way prepares a person to read the Bible. The King James Bible is English at its zenith--a sound Language Arts program is therefore essential. What is a sound language arts program? Basically reading the scriptures. You learn to read by reading.
What is being proposed here is a way, a method, to speed up the ability to decode sounds--starting at the time when the mind is primed to learn massive amounts of new information. The reason American children have a problem reading today is that they are watching cartoons and tv and wasting up their good learning years "reading" (more like memorizing) nonsense like Dr. Seuss.
INFANT READING IN THREE STEPS
#1: ABC Song
I would begin very young, about two or three months old. As you sit there dandling the baby on your knees, you can pray for him, and tell him about the Bible, God, and Jesus and you can sing the ABC song to him and you can show him flashcards. You can also be quiet and work, which is very important. There is too much noise and motion in today's society cluttering up the mind.
The scriptures say, "Study to be quiet." The brain is very powerful, and, if left alone under the scriptures, work, and the superintending grace of God, is capable of great discoveries and original thought. A baby's work is to be loved, clean, kissible, fed, rested, cared for, tended to. He is an important part of the family at each stage of his life. When he is old enough to fetch one of his few useful toys, he is old enough to put it back where it belongs. His work begins early. It only requires a little training from Mother.
#1: ABC SONG
I would sing the ABC song so that she would know her ABCs (maybe not showing the alphabet although in our school she originally learned the song but also saw the letters at certain times. This did not hinder her when it came time to read. I've had an idea about a phonetic alphabet but don't know if I would do that because what we did worked. I think it might be best to take heed to the adage, "If it is not broken, do not fix it."). It is not necessary to know the ABC song before reading, but it is fun to do, an easy to learn, and useful information that all should know.
(I would not wait until the baby learned the ABC song.) These are Phonetic Flashcards. Neatly print these on white cardboard (something sturdy that can withstand baby hands) with a single color marker (I used red marker which I hear attracts children. Dark red colored pencil will work but you have to make thick letters so that they can be seen from a distance. Dark red crayon will work, but I find I have to thicken the line and take care to remove the little shavings). Cut them out (I used a small size with about 1" lettering for my 18-month old, but I have since read that you want to make bigger letters for infants--they say 3" letters. They say that they do not have to talk to be able to read (I would make everything relevant (Mother, Father, [brother's name], etc. and not stuff the child with too many words.). I might do that or go with 2". Write big enough so that the baby can see the words from a little distance away while playing (some say find a quiet place free of distractions and show the flash cards). Almost all of the following words are Bible words. They are active, exciting, and relevant to a baby. You can add your own words to these phonetic words. Teach words in context with their objects or actions. "Kiss" would be accompanied by a kiss--especially in the learning stages when associating the words with things and actions. It becomes like a loving game. Again, when I was flashing the cards, I did not know that Hannah was paying attention. She had to bring the cards to me and read them. They are paying attention. Call their name, and when they look, say the word. They may go right back to playing, but do the same thing again and again until you get through all the cards. Do it several times a day. Be consistent. Keep the cards in sight in an area where you spend a lot of time. Keep them at baby level. Teach one set of flashcards at a time. Once a set is moderately well known, go to Step #3, book where you will make a little book of sentences using the words he has learned.
Bible God Jesus
ēat kiss run book kick sit up gō slēēp jump lāy clap I *The small "a" in "eat" indicates that the letter is not sounded out. This, of course, is not explained to the baby. Just read the card like any other. After the baby has learned these, you can arrange them in sentences on a table or on a homemade cardboard easel.
Now it is time to take the above words and make a little book out of them. I cut blank sheets of paper in half so I have 8"x5.5" which I bind together (staple, sew, GBC, etc.). the cover says, "book."
Again, I use a single color marker for book. I also put a little "1" in the bottom corners so that I know that this book goes with Set #1. I use all lowercase (except for chief words) because most letters that we read are in lowercase. When the baby first learns to read two words on one page, you may have to cover up the second word, let him read the first, then cover up the first word and let him read the second word. Then let him read both words. Or you may want to do the reading first using a stylus or your finger. Whatever is comfortable for you. Let the baby can perform the actions like, "I lay" or "Jump" (Hannah would try to jump even though she couldn't get off the ground)--now that's fun!
book Bible God Jesus I clap. I sit. I lāy. I jump. I kick. I ēa t. I slēēp I gō. I run. I gō up.
Book should be one-sided. When viewing, "I jump" there should be no other words on the left page.
Ensure there is adequate spacing between words and serifs on the I's. Teach dissimilar words in a set.
I would not teach book AND look in the same set--at least not at the beginning.
For texture, you could write one sentence on a chalkboard and let the baby read it there. Erase it and write another, etc.
We are using phonetic words and symbols here--according to Alexander Melville Bell, master elocutionist and father of Alexander Graham Bell, the child's mind will gradually perceive the elementary sounds embodied in each letter without us isolating each letter. When I taught Hannah to read from the Yellow Book, we did isolate sounds. The only place where we had an issue was "h" and I knew beforehand that that might be the case because I was having trouble getting it just right when I tried to pronounce it according to their instructions--but it wasn't long before she got it. We had great success with isolating the sounds. I highly recommend the Yellow Book for reference purposes--especially the introductory section. I cannot vouch for the system that I am proposing here because I did not use it in its totality. But I feel confident that it will work. One person told me her girls enjoyed doing it, but I don't know how far they've gotten in their studies.
People have learned to read for millenia without special reading books. This ability to learn reading by reading is innate. By using only phonetic words, we are introducing the most common sounds--long vowels, short vowels, consonants. About half of the English words are phonetic. Any later exceptions can be dealt with when we come to them. I did not memorize a whole dictionary to learn English. I learned English by using the words that I need at a particular time. When I hear a word that I don't know, I deal with it at that time. Likewise, children are not taught every dipthong and digraph in the English language. Let them read and when they come to a word they don't know, deal with it. For us, spelling is not taught as a separate course. Reading and taking dictation will take care of that automatically (we did this in formal school--see those years in pictures for more information).
When you see that your child is reading the flashcards, DO NOT COMBINE ALL SIX SETS TOGETHER to teach at once. Part of teaching is restraint. There are ebbs and flows to learning. The Bible says line must be upon line, precept must be upon precept, here A LITTLE, there A LITTLE. This is a truth that I have kept in mind through my years of teaching. Teaching that makes sense and does not overload the mind makes sense and there is no end to what a child can learn.
Infants need time to explore the world around them. They need to plant seeds, touch goats, eat good food, perform chores, get adequate sleep, drink water, dress themselves, make the bed, be pottie trained, be bathed and so many things. Words describe their activities. An infant has a lot to learn, we are bringing in the ability to read about his world at a time when his mind is like a sponge. Let him read the cards and books and the Bible as a part of his daily activities. He will never have to be taught reading again. Hannah learned to read the Bible while in preschool--when she was four, we went through A Survey of the Life & Gospel of Jesus Christ by reading scripture passages responsively. The mission was accomplished--Hannah could read the Bible--and never stopped. The Bible has been the textbook for our school from the very beginning--and always will be. It is king here--with absolutely no contenders.
The goal here is not to say "My baby can read" but to prepare them to read the scriptures.
If you have tv children, I don't know how well you will do with this. My daughter never watched it so it was easy to keep her attention. Television is evil and it influences people in ways that they are totally ignorant of. Television and the modern school system are the two great weapons/engines of mass destruction by which generations are destroyed by a law. People are processed into the system from birth--and before--before conception their parents from whence they came were already processed by the system physically, spiritually, and mentally.
Now that you know how the process works, go here for six sets of cards.
[Update: I recently (2010) recently got my hands on a book entitled, How to Teach Your Baby to Read by Glenn Doman. The method and experiences that he describes, in a number of ways, reminded me of our journey but I don't think that book would have worked for us. It does include remarkable insights, however.]
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"Reading readiness" is a ridiculous term--all children (notwithstanding a severe handicap) are ready to read. I'm convinced that even those with a handicap can do better than they have been taught--Helen Keller's case (including teacher Annie Sullivan Macy's notes and the case of Laura Bridgman, Helen Keller's forerunner who learned under Dr. Samuel Howe (Annie Sullivan read Dr. Howe's notes or something on that wise.)) provides MUCH insight into how to reach those in a dark and/or silent world. Treat every child as normally as possible, you can reach something in them--even if it is with kisses, brushing their hair, and thinking about how you would want somebody to treat you if you were them. You wouldn't want anybody to give up on you and leave you in a trapped life. God made the special child the way that he is--discover the secrets of why and how to reach them. God can give you methods that nobody has ever heard of. In Year 2 I heard, "Our children can discover and advance postulates and theorems unknown and unknowable to the heathen." If your child is sick, don't give up, seek out reasons and Bible terms for yourself. Biblical Scholarship applies to anything found in life.