Archive for February, 2010

Reading Videos

February 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Ella has been choosing books and play-reading them lately.  Here are a few videos.





Ella has a good start on learning to read.  She is choosing to pick up books and do what you’ve seen here.  She also likes to point at individual letters in various places, like my t-shirts when they have words on them.  Today she was digging in a drawer and became excited when she found a stack of phonograms.

Now, if she would just start saying actual words, we could get started.

Quotes from another resource

February 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Wow, time sure flies when one should be blogging. 

Our neighbor recently gave us a stack of books as her son has outgrown them.  Included in the stack was a set of books called “First Steps to Reading*.”  Ella has enjoyed reading those books and I think they will be great even when Ella starts to read.

Included with the books is a parents’ guide.  When reading through it I came across a few quotes that do a good job of explaining the value of parents teaching their children to read and would like to share them.

You are your child’s first – and perhaps his best – teacher.

Because of this, you will want to help your child take full advantage of every learning opportunity.  This includes the opportunity to learn to read – as soon as interest is shown – rather than waiting for a pre-set time.

 I especially agree with the statement about teaching a child to read when they are ready instead of waiting. 

Short, three-to-five-minute reading times are far better than one long reading time.  The quickest way to stop the fun of reading is to make this a “come and sit down time.”  Avoid that like the plague.

Definitely true for reading and for learning the phonograms.  I pushed Hayden harder than I should have many times when he started reading.  I even knew I was doing it, but continued anyway.  Maybe being older and wiser will help me with Ella.

When do you begin teaching?  Why, at the very beginning.  From the moment you first hold your baby in your arms, you are teaching the language of touch.

As you smile, hug, sing, and talk to him, he is already on the road to developing language.

Language seems to bubble out from a bottomless spring, as your child discovers that EVERYTHING has a name.  And you – you are his language teacher.

 I’ve said this in the blog before, but this is stated much more eloquently.

…research shows that the more first-hand experiences a child has during his early years, the better his language will be.

This is what drives me to read, sing and talk to Ella as much as possible.  A variation on this I’ve heard is that a child has a three-year window where the brain is most receptive to new learning and once that window is closed the brain is set for life.  I want Ella’s brain to be as powerful as possible. 

I’ve stolen some good quotes from that parent guide, with proper credit I hope, and encourage you to visit the site below to take a look at these books. 

* First Steps to Reading by Jane Belk Moncure (

Post Notification

February 13, 2010 1 comment

There seem to be a few people checking in regularly for new posts.  I apologize for not posting daily, but we are very early in the learning to read process.  Once Ella starts working on the phonograms, there should be much more content being posted.  I can’t wait!

If you would like to be notified when there is a new post, please let me know.  You can do it through a comment on one of the posts or you can e-mail me at and I’ll send out an e-mail each time I post something.  That will save you wasting time checking in to see if there is something new.

For those of you who are checking in regularly, thanks!  I’m doing this because I enjoy documenting the process and have plans to produce a movie about the process someday.  The information I’m posting here will be invaluable if I ever do get to the movie.  In the meantime, it is nice to know somebody out there actually has some interest.

Watching TV

February 11, 2010 Leave a comment

It pains me greatly to admit it and I feel like I lose some credibility, but Ella watches TV.  I know there is much research that shows TV is very bad for toddlers and like I said, it pains me to admit that she watches too much TV.  However, I have some commentary on the situation.

First, Lauren and Hayden watched TV at Ella’s age.  Lauren loved Lion King and watched it many many times.  As it turns out, Ella’s favorite movie is Lion King as well.  In fact, I’ve caught Lauren watching it with Ella nowhere to be seen.  Lauren readily admits she still loves it.  Lauren also watched a lot of Barney and Veggie Tales. 

Hayden watched Bob the Builder and some Barney.  I don’t remember him having a favorite movie the way Lauren and Ella do.  Maybe The Brave Little Toaster, but he didn’t watch it as much as the other two.

There is no way to defend allowing Ella to watch TV, and in an ideal world she wouldn’t watch any.  There are reasons for it that I won’t get into.  I had to share with you that this is happening because I don’t want to present Ella’s learning environment as perfect.  This just makes me work harder at providing all the good things more and consistently.

Humans are great rationalizers and there is some rationalization going around allowing Ella to watch TV.  It is based on the success Lauren and Hayden have had in school despite watching TV themselves.  I won’t go into specific items detailing their success, but we have been more than happy about how they are doing.  Ella watches no more TV than they did, but she is getting much more of the good stuff.

As long as Ella continues to make choices like she has made below, I’m going to stick with my rationalization (although I can’t recommend it for anyone else).



February 6, 2010 2 comments

I’ve been talking about the phonograms, but haven’t told you much about them.  There are 70 phonograms.  The first 26 are the alphabet letters that we are all familiar with, but even some of those 26 are taught a bit differently.  There are 70 phonograms, but well over 100 different sounds.  For instance, the first phonogram taught, “a”, has three sounds.  Sample words are shown below in the screen shot from the program.

Lesson 1 Phonograms

Ella will learn each of the sounds for the phonograms.  She already says the first two sounds of a.  Unfortunately, she says those two sounds for a large variety of the alphabet-letter phonograms.  By the time Ella is through the first 54 phonograms, she will be reading amazingly well.  I will talk much more about the phonograms over time.

When I think about the process of learning to read, it still boggles my mind a little bit.  I saw a number of children in first grade who came in to the year already reading.  Most of the time parents hadn’t spent time like I do with my children explicitly teaching them to read.  Those parents invariably spent time reading and talking to their children and they learned to read.  That’s the part that boggles my mind.

I could try that, but I like teaching the kids myself.  It really is an enjoyable experience.

Ella continues to choose to look at books more and more.  In the picture below you can see that she chose to read Beauty and the Beast before a nap.

Falling Asleep Reading

Here is another picture of Ella reading in her beanbag.  This time she went much more highbrow than Beauty and the Beast by choosing Don Quixote.

Reading Don Quixote

Ella and I recently started a new tradition while reading books.  It entails her pointing at objects in the book and me saying what they are.  This evening, while reading I Love You Through and Through she pointed at the bubbles on one page repeatedly and I kept saying “bubble.”  Then she started pointing faster and I started saying it faster.  Then she started making cirles around the bubbles with her finger and I said “bubble” even faster.  It was fun.

She also did this with balloons and hats in Happy Birthday, Danny and the Dinosaur.  I got her laughing almost hysterically while reading that book another time.  I told Hayden to read it to her and Ella freaked out, grabbed the book and made me read it.  I acted like I was mad because I had to read it, reading it in a mad voice and slamming the pages as I turned them.  Ella found this extremely funny for some reason.

There are many ways to make children have fun with books.  This is my third child and I just discovered the mad reading.  Hayden will still come listen to me read to Ella hoping to hear me mess up words when I am tired and falling asleep while reading.  That was his favorite thing when he was a little boy.

Hope to have my next post up a little quicker than this one.  Sorry to take so long.

Talking to Ella

February 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Along with reading, it is very important to talk to your children.  The more language they hear the faster they will pick it up.  I have not done as well at that as I should.  While thinking about the blog today on the way back from dropping Hayden off at school I realized I hadn’t been taking advantage of times like this.

I remember especially the times with Lauren when she was a baby and I was teaching.  She went to daycare at the Methodist church in El Dorado and I dropped her off each morning.  At the time I was driving a Nissan pickup so she was sitting right there beside me.  I talked to her non-stop on the way to daycare.  This wasn’t too long after my graduation from college so all that I’d learned in all those teacher-ed classes was still fresh in my mind.

So, after realizing that I’d been missing opportunities to better prepare Ella for learning to read, I started talking to her.  And Ella started talking back at me.

This blog is helping me to hold myself more accountable for doing all I can to prepare Ella to learn to read.  I didn’t expect that, but it is excellent.