Ever tried to teach toddlers to read? To teach your tots their letters? I have. I am. I now realize: I’ve been spoiled. SPOILED. Spoiled by my first-born (LadyP… all four years of her now). Since the day she was born, LadyP instantly acted like a little woman – a lady (that’s how I came up with the nickname). No joke: the chick’s eyes were wide open from the second she popped out and it seems like she hasn’t closed them since (thinking about her little face and big, unblinking eyes locked onto mine in that hospital bed makes me tear up… *sniffle sniffle*).
On to the point: LadyP was like a woman from day one. You told her something, she got it. You told her no, she didn’t do it. You asked her fetch a diaper at the age of 16-and-a-half-months (for her newborn little sister, to help mommy out)… she did it. She is my “perfect” child. She listens, she learns, she does what she’s supposed to (most of the time, anyways). Always has. I used to think it had something to do with my *fabulous* parenting skills… it does not. It’s just her. (Well, maybe it has something to do with me a little bit… take credit where you can, moms!)
Then entered LilMiss. My perfectly-unperfect wild little sister (now 2-and-a-half, exactly) who would bungee-jump off the side of the couch if only someone would be so kind as to rig her up. (Us grownups are soooooooo paranoid.) She looks differently than her big sis, she acts differently than her big sis… and now, as I’m focused in on her age and starting to teach her things, she learns differently than her big sis.
Not to compare (but yes, to compare): LadyP knew all her ABCs at around a year and a half. She could could tell me the sounds of letters (when I pointed to them) around 2-and-a-half (I honestly can’t remember exactly, but I do know it was before her 3rd birthday). She started learning to recognize lowercase letters (and the sounds that went along with them) around 3-and-a-half. No, I didn’t drill-sargeant her into learning this stuff… we’d literally sing the alphabet and play silly games here and there when I had extra time to kill at home. She just picked it up — it’s her. Now she’s learning to write her letters and telling me how “Ba-Ba-Ba Bees begin the letter ‘B’ Mommy!” when I pull the honey bear out of our pantry to drizzle on toast. Those eyes are just wide open, folks.
My LilMiss? Well, we know how to sing our alphabet and recognize the letter ‘P’ when we see it. (The girl can recognize all her numbers – up to 10 – at lightening speed, but show her a letter and they all sound like the letter ‘P’… or, “Peeee-ah!” Bless her fiesty little heart.) Did I read to her less as a baby? I don’t think so. Did I sing the alphabet with her less? Nope… actually, I probably sang it more since LadyP and I’d sing it together to her. Have I skipped over the letter-games I used to do with LadyP in my mad daily rushes as a mom of two toddlers? Maybe a bit, but I honestly feel like I’ve given each kid fair and equal duty.
And then it hit me: Just like she acts and reacts differently (hello, Evel Knievel), she just might learn differently than her sister. Crap. Now it’s my job to figure this out. She’s only 2-and-a-half, but that will soon turn into 3, then 4… then 5… and then she’ll be released like a kitten into a Kindergarten classroom (that’s how my Kindergarten teacher sister likes to put things in perspective… “Jill, it’s like a box of moving kittens are dumped and released into your classroom and you need to teach them or else…”). It’s my job to get LilMiss confident about letters before she becomes a Kindergarten kitten.
So in my let’s-figure-this-thing-out focus to teach my LilMiss her letters, I’ve been doing my obligatory internet searches and questioning my sister (the kitten-teacher) about toddlers and learning (when they’re ‘supposed’ to know what). I’ve never been interested in push-parenting young kids to be genius-brilliant-stressed in the name of fostering learning (kids will learn, and it can be fun if we just all take a deep breath and hold our expectations and support at equal levels as parents), but I am interested in giving my kids practical nudges and encouragement that will hopefully set them on a longtime path to challenge themselves when it comes to education and learning. That ‘filosophy’ (I believe, and always have believed) starts with teaching the kid to appropriately and confidently read so they feel good about themselves in Kindergarten.
Babyfonics genius™ does something interesting… and semi-controversial (y’all know I have a soft spot for controversy): This revolutionary (and, free!) new app uniquely teaches your child to read earlier and easier than ever before, by focusing exclusively on teaching your child to identify alphabet letters by their SOUNDS, not their letter names. ?!?!?!?!?! (I know, I thought the same thing: What off-the-wall, uneducated kind of concept IS this?!?!)
In fact, babyfonics genius™ was NOT invented by an uneducated off-the-wall team of entrepreneurs… babyfonics genius™ was pioneered by Heidi Dobbs, a TEACHER and MOM-of-2 who’s used the method with great success. Babyfonics genius™ can be started as soon as your baby can identify a dog, a ball, or a cat, designed to be 100% intuitive, and is laid out in four simple phases – with suggested games and activities to reinforce your baby’s lettersound learning all along the way. Turns out, those ABCs can sometimes make learning to read much harder. The story behind babyfonics genius™ is an inspiring and credible one: Heidi first created the method of teaching sounds instead of letter-names six years ago while traveling with her now major league baseball-star husband… Heidi taught elementary school in different cities across the country and was shocked and heartbroken by the number of 2nd and 3rd graders who could not read. So, like a ‘real FAB mom,’ she decided to do something about it: She organized what she knew about learning (as a teacher) and started using her simple, common-sense approach of ‘sounds, not letters’ with her daughter. Her daughter was starting to read by age 2. Her son soon followed in those same footsteps. Her kids had learned to read, naturally, without confusion. “The way reading is taught today is just too difficult and stressful. Too many kids struggle and become discouraged. Just because reading has been taught a certain way for the past 30 years doesn’t mean it is the best way…” I gotcha, Heidi. Ya gotta figure what works for each kid. Check out her recent interview on Fox News Channel here. Or, you can check out the real deets about how babyfonics genius™ actually works in the vid below.
I’m impressed with the concept of babyfonics genius™… I really am. (You all know I don’t waste time with stuff I don’t think is inventive or credible. The object of the game is to start our kids on the right track… it’s our job… this app makes that job easier for a lot of us. Fabulousness.)
Simple screens, whiteboard tools, and specially-assembled starter word lists turn learning to read just into one more play activity that fits into the time you already spend interacting with your tot. Here’s basically how it all works… a little tale, if you will: Joey knows all his ABCs. Courtney doesn’t know her ABCs – but she knows her LETTER SOUNDS (because her parents used the babyfonics genius™ app, of course). Both kids start kindergarten. The teacher asks Joey to read the word “ant”. He recites the letters “A…N…T.” Then the teacher asks Courtney to read the same word, and she says “aaaaa… nnnnn… ttttt,
And, check out these (free!) printables to make ‘teaching’ even easier. Get the complete babyfonics genius™ (free!) app HERE. Follow babyfonics genius™ on Twitter @babyfonics, Instagram @babyfonics and Facebook too!
Now excuse me… I’ve gotta get crackin’ before my LilMiss starts trying to sound out the number 3.
DO YOUR KIDS LEARN DIFFERENTLY? HOW DO YOU DEAL?
DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by babyfonics genius™. All experiences and opinions are my own.