My son is a wonderful reader at just 3.5 years old.
I attribute this to many things, including finding a reading system for babies and toddlers that worked, consistency, reading to him every day, pointing out words, showing him videos that aim to teach babies to read and to teach basic phonics skills, physical flash cards, learning the ABCs and their individual sounds very early on and much more.
To learn more about my thoughts on teaching young children to read, please visit the About This Blog page.
But he’s not a perfect reader. He’s only 3.5; he’s still learning but he’s outgrown everything we were doing to teach him to read. I’m reading more advanced books with him and encouraging him to do more independent reading. But I’ve been looking for a phonics-based system that will help him more easily decode words that he’s not already familiar with.
The problem I’ve been encountering is that he’s a pretty fluent and fast reader so when he gets to a word he doesn’t know he says it quickly but not always correctly. I want to teach him to slow down and sound out words he’s not sure of. That’s why I’m so happy to have discovered Reading Bear!
Reading Bear is a FREE online program to teach young kids (aimed at 4-7 year olds) to read. All you have to do to get access to all of the materials is to sign up for a free account. Designed by Wikipedia founder, Larry Sanger, a father to two young children of his own, this program will teach your child all of the main phonetic patterns of written English.
Each of the 50 presentations can be viewed as a video or a slide show with about 25 words and corresponding pictures. The words are sounded out as they are read. Each sound is highlighted as it’s pronounced.
What I like about Reading Bear:
- it’s systematic – each phonetic concept is presented in a step-by-step way
- it’s comprehensive, teaching all of the main phonetic sounds in the English language
- it’s FREE and ad-free – this is always a positive in my book
- it’s emphasis isn’t just on learning how to decode a word but on comprehension as well
- it has art and music interludes to help keep a child focused (and exposes them to art and music!); as a parent of a 3-year old I know how difficult it can be to stay focused for more than a few minutes
There really isn’t much to dislike about this site.
The only challenge I foresee, as alluded to above, is keeping my preschooler focused on the task at hand. Since each word is sounded out, it’s a much slower way of learning than my son is used to and it’s a little difficult to get through the entire lesson.
But we’re up for the challenge! I’ll report more on our progress as we complete more lessons.