Teaching a 2yo to read

I mentioned in a recent post that Bethany is finally getting potty trained, just a few months shy of her 3rd birthday.  Nearly all of our other children trained several months younger, but I’m a big believer in waiting for plenty of readiness signs and we just weren’t getting the signals from her.  I’m glad to say that the wait paid off and she was trained in a morning, with just one pee accident before we started, and another 4 days later.  She doesn’t wear a diaper for naps, and I think she’s waking up dry in the morning, though we’re not good about getting the diaper off right away.  Not bad stats, eh?  Bowel training is a little different, but we’re moving along nicely.

She’s also learning to read from Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
.  I had no intention of starting her yet – my phonics philosophy is a lot like my potty training philosophy, and Perry is my first to start reading lessons in earnest before the ripe old age of 6 – but she begged when she learned that 4yo PerryBoy was doing it.  Begging is a sign of readiness in my philosophy, so I was bound by my own words.

Would you believe she’s actually doing it?  She has the attention span of a 2yo and the mind of a 12yo.  She chatters incessantly about the dust bunny on the ceiling, her sisters’ new clothes, and her own belly button, but in between she says everything she is supposed to say, does everything she is supposed to do, and understands everything she’s supposed to understand.  We’re on lesson 13, and my 2yo is well on her way to sounding out simple words.  I really think she can now if and when she wants to.  I am speechless.

I may be speechless, but Bethany’s not.  She’s never speechless.

A few days ago she was putting on a shirt and noticed the letters on it.  “Is this shirt a reading lesson?” she asked me, eyes wide with wonder.

With catlike reflexes, I pounced on the learning opportunity presented.  “Umm…yes?…Yes, it is!  See?  It says b-e-s-t.  Best [Friends]”

She studied her shirt for a moment then shook her head, sure of herself now.  “No, Mom.  It’s a shirt.”


  1. She’s too cute! I love how kids are smart enough to not eat up everything adults have to say.

    If you wanted another way to teach Bethany to read, you can create a personalized photobook for her that teaches spelling!

    I work for a company called Kinzin and we offer users an easy way to create photobooks. She can help choose pictures of the words she wants to learn to spell, and then you can input a caption with the spelled w-o-r-d.

    Check it out if it’s something that sounds like she’d be willing to learn from! http://www.kinzin.com

  2. Heather says:

    I will stop in and say hi…It was so nice to meet you at the fair!!

  3. Lindsey Thomas says:

    Genna Joy,
    Thank you so much for your encouragement and prayers,

  4. Genna Joy says:

    I was sorry to read that you’re having such a tough time.

    My sister went through the same thing with one of babies – she screamed, often for several hours at a time, and nobody could figure out was wrong. My sister felt guilty a lot 🙁

    A year and a half later. my niece is a beautiful, healthy child, and extremely good natured.

    Whatever you and your husband decide to do, please know that this difficult time will pass.

    Praying for your family today.

  5. You won’t be pulling the wool over her eyes. She knows what’s a shirt and what a shirt isn’t. 🙂

  6. Melissa G says:

    I wouldn’t buy it, but if you happen to run across it, it’s a nice anecdotal set of stories on teaching children phonics.
    I have a feeling you do most of what’s in there anyway…


  7. My good friend, a doctor, learned to read when he was 3. He was smart and precocious. He said it was one of the worst things that ever happened to him because it exposed him to things he wasn’t ready for – billboards, magazine covers in the grocery store, etc, etc. When my daughter started that same book at three, I never pushed it and she eventually lost interest after “m” and “s”. She is now 5.5 and we’re on lesson 33. I’m still not pushing her to read – she can learn when she can wants to and she will be that much more able to deal with the written word that is utter trash out there in the world.

  8. Is that “Teach to read in 100 lessons? ”
    I JUST got that in the mail a couple of days ago to use for our dd#1 who will be 4 in August. I am excited to try.
    That is AMAZING she is already sounding out words! Are you guys going to the Arlington Bookfair again this year? I got to meet you last year 🙂

  9. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    I completely understand the begging. I broke down and am working on teaching my 3.5 year old because of this! I don’t know how well I am doing — never did this before. But he can read words (and is anxious to read more. We have an alphabet puzzle and he is always having us make words for him that he tries to sound out — and thus stuff has come up like silent e and the different sounds letters make, and such. Though again, I don’t know the phonics rules! So some of it is somewhat off the cuff)

  10. Melissa G says:

    have you read An Acorn in my Hand? The author is a teacher of kindergarden, and she is speaking about teaching younger ones to read. It’s an old book, but sometimes that information is best. I know that Nathan is a young two, but he’s mimicking his sisters and sitting down to read, so we’re learning letter sounds now as well.

  11. Lindsey Thomas says:

    I read your post about sleep training awhile back, recommended by a friend (I have since starting reading your blog and like it very much 🙂 And I thought maybe you might have some ideas about my little one… Don’t worry if you don’t have time to read this, I posted it on a forum also, but I value your opinion. Thanks!

    Hello everyone I need some help! My son is six months old and last
    night I fed him every two hours in the night! I am sick right now and
    didn’t have the stamina to listen to him cry for even five minutes.

    We have been “doing” BW since birth, although I am not very good at
    the scheduling. I feed him every 3 hours usually starting around
    7a.m. but could be anywhere from 6:30-7:30. Then he often wakes up
    early and I will feed him if he is less than 30 min early and then try
    to get back on track for the day but usually don’t. He goes to bed at
    about 7p.m.

    I tried for about a month from month 4-5 to get him to sleep through
    the night. He was making no progress on his own so I decided to do
    CIO. He SCREAMS so loudly we can hear him through the wall, even
    with earplugs in and pillows on top of our heads. (I don’t do this
    for fear I will sleep through the night and not hear him at all but my
    husband does. I sit on the couch and pray and wait). Anyway he
    usually would cry for 2 hours or so and then fall asleep out of
    exhaustion only to wake up again an hour later screaming. At which
    time I would feed him. One night he screamed the first time for
    2h45min, and it would never be less than an hour. This would happen a
    few times per night.

    So then I felt I was being cruel and maybe he really was hungry and I
    didn’t mind feeding him every 3 or 4 hours…but lately he has been
    waking every 2 or 3 hours and that is too much for me. One night
    recently he did sleep from 10:30 until 4 with no crying which was
    awesome! (however he was in bed with me from 10:30 until 1 because I
    had nursed him and then fallen asleep).

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE HELP! I hope this message is not to long,

Don't just think it: say it!

%d bloggers like this: