How to Start Teaching Your Toddler to Read

The years 3 to 5 are essential for reading growth, as your toddler will be learning about 5,000 new words per year. But unlike what some parents believe, the process of learning to read is not natural and is in fact quite complex. 

However, having the right approach can make learning to read straightforward and can instil a lifelong love for reading in your child. Remember that learning to read is a process and our tips below can be implemented as and when you feel your toddler is ready. 

With this in mind, here’s our guide to help your toddler start learning to read at home.

1. Sing songs and learn nursery rhymes

A big part of learning to read is understanding phonics; the relationship between letters and sounds. This is where singing songs and learning nursery rhymes come into play.

By exploring the story language in songs and rhymes, you are indirectly teaching your child to hear the sounds in words. This will set them up in the long run for when they begin reading. Once children know a rhyme or song off by heart, they will naturally start to build up a bank of their favourite words.

2. Surround your child in a print-rich environment

Nurture pre-reading skills with a print-rich environment in your home. A print-rich environment is a perfect way to introduce your child to words in a familiar setting. This could be anything from having written on posters or decor around the house, labels on food or other items, and pointing out signs when you’re out and about. 

However, your child won’t be able to pick up on these things without your help. Talk about what it says and get them to sound out what they see. You could even get them to practice memorising a few of the words they see each day.

3. Start learning letters with their name

Learning the letters in their own name is a fun and engaging way to start learning the alphabet. It will also give you an insight into how your toddler learns, and what methods might be useful for when you start using an organised approach.

4. Learning the alphabet

There is no set in stone way to teach your toddler to read the alphabet, but there is plenty of fun and catchy alphabet songs on YouTube.

As a good starting point, it might be easier for your child to learn uppercase letters first. This is because the letters are more distinguishable, for example, ‘B’ and ‘D’ are very different to each other in capitals, whereas ‘b’ and ‘d’ look very similar.

You can use alphabet books, toys or flashcards to go through the alphabet with your little one. Choose something that’s more fun for your toddler, like alphabet fridge magnets for example. This in turn will mean they learn faster.

5. Read books together

Reading together not only gives you the opportunity for extra bonding time with your little one but instils a love for books and sets the foundation for independent reading later on. When reading aloud, read expressively and use different voices for different characters.

To keep them engaged, ask questions before, during and after reading, such as whether they like the story or ask them to guess the genre. Also, choose engaging books with flaps, puppets or textures to keep hands busy. These kinds of books are great for exploring and discussing.

Reading together is also a great way to help your toddler understand how the letters they have learned work together. You can get your child to identify the letters in a word and prompt them to put it all together.

This step will take a lot of time as your child needs to grasp phonics. However, it is a great start to teaching your child how to read. How much you read to your child is completely up to you, but we recommend reading together for at least 20-minutes each day. Before long, storytime will become a natural part of their daily routine at home.

More about Little Angels

At Little Angels, we are committed to helping your child learn key early reading skills and developing their interest in reading.

You can learn more about us by downloading our brochure here.