Education isn’t hard and it’s not boring. Most moms think you gotta sit them down and torture their kids in order for them to read. I taught my kids how to read way before 3 years old in English and did Chinese at the same time. Part of my type A personality is to experiment with different types of learning with kids. Here’s a few key points:
- Don’t dumb down the lesson – Please don’t dumb down the lesson or the word thinking kids need it to be associated with cartoons to learn. Babies actually don’t understand cartoons at all. They don’t get animation and if you’re having them watch that before 2, they’re really not getting anything but flashing images. What babies can do is absorb everything you give them without all the fancy colors.
My cards up above is nothing but white cardstock with black Chinese alphabet. I hold it up, read the sound to the baby. Done. She associates that word with that sound. That’s how easy it is. If you put little flowers, pictures, or hide the words in something, they won’t know whether you’re talking about the word or the picture or even worse, they can’t even tell there’s a word with the picture! I do the same thing with the English alphabet.
- Be clear in what you want to teach – Don’t blabber about how to memorize the word. Say the word, show the word, and it’s done. Don’t say things like, “This is the word read and the letter A in there is not read out loud, etc. ” Babies don’t need that. They see “read”, you say “read” and they got it! Easy right?
- Repeat and repeat – So how come my baby doesn’t get it after I did it with her for a full day? Babies work differently! They have shorter attention spans! Consider anything longer than a minute equivalent to your hour class at a college lecture hall. So how do you do this? Whatever letter you’re teaching of the day, just do a 5 second lesson. Hold the card up, say “Ah” for the letter A, repeat it like 3 times (takes 3 seconds) and that’s it. Do this a few times throughout the day. Second day do another letter. When can you start? 6 months of age!
- Make some manipulatives – When your kids get to toddler-hood, make some tools. Here are some tiles I made for the Chinese alphabet (see photos above). I only made these because they don’t sell them here in the states. For English, plenty of options. I like Melissa and Doug because it’s clear to see the letters of each alphabet. For Chinese, there’s nothing in the states and nothing durable enough. I got these tiles off Amazon Learning Resources Tiles. . Then I stuck magnets (click here to buy from Amazon). behind each tile so they can stick it on a board or play it on the ground. We would try to spell out words together. I did this both in English and Chinese.
- Buy books – buy lots and lots of books. The more exposure to different books, the way the words are put together, the more phrases they hear, the more wonder you’ll see from your child. Try to read with your child at least five minutes a day before they are one and then slowly increase that to about thirty minutes a day as they get older. This could be broken down into five minute sessions again.
- Participate – yes, children don’t exactly learn only on their own. Parents have to participate. Unfortunately we can’t just plop them out and then expect them to learn everything on their own. Most things yes, but if you want them loving to read early on, you’ll have to participate. The world’s best materials won’t mean a thing unless if it’s shared with the person you love. You’re the person they love most in this world and time shared with you is when they focus the most.
My method is simple but it works. There’s no magic trick, just consistency and some time spent with your child here and there. Here are a few videos of my kids! Both when they were 3!
This is my current 3 year old reading Chinese with zhuyin:
This is when my older one (now 5) when she was 3: