We always hear how important repetition is in education, or how “practice makes perfect,” and I was excited to discover this was all so true. At our family Christmas in 2010, the year my oldest son was born, my mother and father-in-law gifted him with an awesome toy – the V-tech Sit-to-Stand Alphabet Train. Oh boy, my son loved that thing from the moment he laid eyes on it. Just look at that face below! :::swoon::: From that day forward, he wanted to play with that train pretty much any chance he got. And we let him!
From the time he was about six months old, we had daily scheduled play time where we’d put him in a play pen for a set amount of time – anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. It was good for him because it gave him clear boundaries and allowed Momma to get her list of “to-dos” done without having to worry about what he might be doing or getting into.
Every time he played in the playpen, we made sure his alphabet train was in there. The beautiful thing about this toy is that, much like the Leap Frog magnetic phonics set (which we also own and is awesome for this, too) introduces children to letter names and their sounds. Of course, there are always times when kiddos play SO hard that they fall asleep! :::chuckle:::
And that’s literally how we were able to help him learn to read early – allow him to play with his alphabet train every single day. Repetition, my friends. So he’s hearing the letter names and their sounds on a continual basis. It’s like training him to teach himself!
It was like magic! By the time he was two years old, he could write all the letters and knew their names and phonetic sounds. After that, teaching him to read was an absolute breeze! His little bro (pictured above in the camo), had the same “training,” but turns out, siblings are definitely different – he preferred climbing on the train rather than learning from it!
Today, as a first grader, my eldest is reading FAR beyond children his own age. He’s currently reading one of my favorite books, The City of Ember (the first book of Ember, which reads at a fifth grade level)! So excited to see where his reading skills take him. 😉