Category Archives: Reading

HOW AND WHY I TAUGHT MY TOT MATH

INTRODUCTION: MATH BEYOND COUNTING

I know that many people understand the value of teaching their child to read before they enter formal education. Why not? Reading is crucial for every school subject and everyday life in out modern literate society.
Initially teaching a very young child to read appears to be an intimidating and momentous task. But it is journey that many parents are willing to take.
I have written this post about how I taught my own toddler to read.

However it isn’t only early reading literacy that I wish to address. I also want to write about early math literacy. According to to this article about a study from the University of Missouri; the math ability of a child during their formative preschool years is a pretty reasonable predictor or their future math success.

In a nutshell the more confident a young child is with math, the better they will do in math. They might even enjoy it. I know I do! It might even be possible that earlier math literacy will be enough to thwart that dreaded math phobia or anxiety. More children may even consider or pursue careers in mathematical fields.

Even though I love math, and I have always “got it”, I know that there are many parents that are overwhelmed with math and don’t know where to start with their young child. Many parents start by teaching their child to count, which more often that not, is just recitation of numbers. Not counting at all. They fail to implement bijection (one-to-one correspondence) and create awareness that the last number counted is the total amount.
I know parents that have started with a subtitizing or dot program such as Doman Math or Brill Kids Little Math. At the end of the program, or when their child ages past subtitizing age, they become lost and discouraged and don’t know where to turn next.
I also know parents that are unaware that early math literacy is much more than counting and math facts.

My goal is to create a series of simple posts that cover basic steps that can be used to increase a young child’s math literacy. I don’t claim to be an expert. However I have amalgamated information from what I have studied, others experiences, and my own experience. I am currently working with my 3.5 year old son who is doing 1st grade math at a slow, steady and enjoyable pace.

My Math beyond counting series will cover such thing as:
Number sense and numeracy. Including but not limited to addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
Spatial relationships
Geometry
Measurement

JJ reading update

I was finally able to get a more thorough video of JJ (40 months) reading. We are buddy reading Alice in Wonderland. It is a level 3 reader and an appropriately challenging book.

How I taught my tot to read

18 MONTHS
I introduced JJ to letter sounds by pointing letters out to him. I never called the letters by name. I always called the letters by their phonetic sound. JJ had letters on his wall that we would point to daily.
We also used the ABC magic app from Preschool University. James was non verbal due to speech regression and the app helped his speech immensely.

22 MONTHS
Several months before his second birthday I had purchased the Preschool Prep Meet the Phonics- Letter Sounds DVD. JJ watched it a few times but at this point it was redundant because he already knew all those letter sounds.
So we moved onto blending CVC words. We really liked the Bob Books apps. These apps also helped with speech.

24 MONTHS.
For Christmas JJ received Meet the Sight Words 1 DVD. He watched it almost daily. Within a month he was able to select the correct word out of three when asked. I then purchased the Preschool Prep Meet the Sight Word Flash Cards and Game apps. JJ mastered the rest of the sight words by 26 months.

28-30 MONTHS.
At this point in time we didn’t know how much JJ could read because he still had very limited speech. We knew he could sound out CVC words. But I don’t believe he knew what the word was. The only time he really spoke was when he was playing Meet the Sight Word apps. He would read the words said in the app almost flawlessly.
One day I tested him by holding up cards with the sight words on them. He was able to read them all back to me with no hesitation.

I then tired to have James read a few “easy” high frequency readers and phonics readers, including Bob Books. We didn’t make any progress.
So we tried the Preschool Prep sight word readers 1, 2, 3 and everything just clicked! He was reading page after page. He would hesitate on an unfamiliar word and wait for me to fill in the word. Or sometimes he would use context clues.

31 months

33 months

34 MONTHS
By about 34 months JJ had ventured beyond the Preschool Prep readers. He started devouring a lot of early guided reading books. We were borrowing about 20 of them a week from our library. Not all leveled books are created equally. And levels are not consistent across different publishers. There was a bit of trial and error finding JJ’s reading sweet spot. Not too easy, not too hard.

We read every Biscuit book in our library. Then it was Noodles or Henry and Mudge. JJ chose dog books a lot. When we found a character JJ enjoyed we read every book we could find with that character.
We read the books several times, but not enough times for JJ to memorize a book.
JJ was reading to me at least 30 minutes a day. I continued to read to him for another 30 minutes.

Series of readers we liked.
We Both Read I love this series. On one side of the book the parent reads more elaborate text. The child reads simplified text on the opposite page. James really loved The Tan Van and The Old Blue Hat
Hello Reader, I Can Read, My Very First Reading Series by Usborne and Phonics Readers also by Usborne.

At this point in time JJ was a strictly a sight word reader. Albeit he knows hundreds, possibly thousands of sight words. He was learning words as he read them. And he was reading a lot and learning a lot of words. Phonics instruction was halted because it only caused frustration. During this time James learnt to figure out words by context and chunking. He learnt many suffixes like ing, ed and s.

38 MONTHS
JJ is now a solid 1st grade reader. He still relies on sight word reading method. But we have reintroduced phonetics instruction. We will start using Reading Bear again. He is able to read unfamiliar CVC words by sounding out. We are now working on more advanced phonics rules.

We still read readers. But we don’t limit ourself to them. JJ enjoys reading a variety of picture books. Check out his current favourites here.

I had noticed about 6 months ago that JJ could read upside down. But it was much to my surprise one day when I learnt that he was able to read words backwards. The librarian had written the word gnirps on the board at storytime and JJ yelled out “Spring!”

Below is JJ reading a 4th grade level book. The Story of Trains. It is extremely challenging for him. But he loves the content, so he wants to read it. We have been slowly working through this books this week.

40 months

JJ’s Favourite Books

I just asked JJ (3 years 4 months) his favourite books and these are the ones he showed me. He can read about 90% of these books independently. He might need help with a random word here or there. We mostly take turns reading a page.

Series: My First Little House Books.
Sugar Snow is his favourite.
This is one of 14 picture books adapted from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series. James has read many of them and he is smitten. I love them too.

Series: The World of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter.
He loves Jemima Puddleduck and Peter Rabbit best, but he doesn’t dislike any of the other books we have read so far.

The House on Maple Street by Bonnie Pryor.
I was unsure about this book. I only borrowed if from the library because it was written by a local author. However I am incredibly impressed. The book it very good. It shows the history of a place in a way my JJ can understand and he requests it frequently.

Series: Ladybug Girl by Jacky Davis
Ladybug Girl and Bingo
We received this book in the mail from Imagination Library and it was love at first read. There are more in this series that we plan to read.

Series: Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
James loves the 2 books in the series that we have read so far. The original Madeline and Madeline in London.

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf.

The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child by Julie Donaldson

Pretty much every story in the The Big Blue Beginners Book is well loved. Especially Are You My Mother?

We are both also huge fans of anything written by Jan Brett.
The favorites are The Gingerbread Baby, The Hat, The Mitten, The Trouble With Trolls and Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Series: Reading-Literature. By Harriet Treadwell.
JJ enjoyed the Primer and we are planning to get the next book in the series.

JJ and I also buddy read from the following books.
What Your Preschooler Needs to Know and What Your Kindergartener Needs To Know.
We have the entire series up to sixth grade and they have a lot of core content for a variety of subjects, including but not limited to geography, history, science and literature.

Oh and I must not forget the first books JJ requested at the library. They are twaddle but he loves them. LaLaLoopsy books! He loves this specifically because it introduces the dolls.