Here are some tips to help your child go from reading about 50 words to 200 words and beyond:
- Even though your child will probably learn the words at a faster pace now, continue to use the tips from previous Milestones. You just won’t need to repeat the words as many times and you should introduce more new words.
- Apply the Guidelines for Acquiring Early Literacy from Milestone 2.
- Go to libraries and check out at least 100 books a month. As a full-time student with a full-time teaching job, I went to different libraries on a regular basis and checked out thousands of books over a few years so our family would have a wider selection of books. Types of books to borrow include a variety of non-fiction and fiction – from baby books with very few words to very difficult chapter books.
NOTE: Reading books with your child is great to develop a love of stories and books and it boosts vocabulary. But traditional approaches of reading to a child do not teach reading. This may be because the average 3-, 4- or 5-year-old focuses on text less than 4% of the time during book reading1. However, babies who use YBCR may look at words in books more than other children, so reading to the child can help him learn to read – especially if you follow the next tip.
- Once your child is reading at least 50 words, help her learn new words from books that have only a few words on each page (such as the YBCR Lift-the-Flap Books or the YBCR Mini Sliding Board Books). If a book has many words on each page, then enjoy it without using it to teach reading. Try these strategies with books that have a few words per page:
- Point to individual words from left-to-right as you say them a little more slowly than normal.
- If your child can read most of the words in the sentence, then you can read it at a normal pace and slide your finger from left-to-right under the sentence as you say it.
- Teach your child to point to the words as you say them.
- Occasionally, pause and have your child read some of the words.
- Eventually, take turns with your child reading words or sentences.
- Turn off the TV most of the time. Your family will likely read and communicate more with one another. However, sometimes the caregiver is unable to interact with the baby. This is a great time to show your baby words using the YBCR DVDs. The television can actually provide a multi-sensory learning opportunity – if the content is chosen carefully – especially if it used sparingly. When you are busy for five minutes, your baby still has millions of new synapses, or brain connections, forming in that time. If your baby is sitting quietly with a toy every time you are busy, no matter how brief, this could become a lot of time without much language stimulation. One reason that I made the reading videos for my own babies was because I wanted them to have multi-sensory, interactive language stimulation while I (or any other caregiver) was busy. Since a 4-month-old baby has more new language synapses developing every second than a 4-year-old, it makes sense to provide a language-rich environment very early in life – even while you are busy.
- Keep it fun for you and your child while doing reading activities and word games.
- Play the “Fast Words Game” described in the “Baby’s First Teacher” instructions, using individual words and short phrases. Show your child how to play the game by demonstrating it.
- One person flips through a stack of word cards (some of which may have short phrases) as quickly as you possibly can.
- The other person says the words or phrases out loud as quickly as possible. Try to go so quickly that the adults are challenged with either moving the cards quickly or saying the words quickly.
1 Evans, M.A., Williamson, K., & Pursoo, T. (2008). Preschoolers’ Attention to Print During Shared Book Reading, Scientific Studies of Reading, 12(1), 106–129.