Should I Fight with My 3-Year-Old to Teach Her to Read?

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My oldest is 5 and I taught her how to read using How to Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons. It did not take 100 lessons, it took maybe 72. However, those 72 lessons spread out over the course of about 4 months were the most painful moments for me as a parent.

Each time we would sit down to read, she would not sit still, or pay attention. Of course this is normal for a three-year-old, so I tried to work with her. She would be upside down while sounding out ssssaaaaattttt and we would say the sound for 'E' as loud as possible. Regardless of how fun I tried to make it, each time was a fight. But we got through it. Two years later, my 5-year-old, who begins kindergarten this fall, can read at a 2nd grade level. In retrospect, the 72 painful moments were worth it.

Fight to Read
Credit: eyeliam.

Because of the success of the oldest, I started my youngest reading at 3. We are on lesson 12 and, just as with the first one, I wanted to cry each time. Kids don't sit still and reading is the last thing they want to do. Trust me, it does not matter what I bribe them with or how fun I make each letter sound; each time it is still painstakingly frustrating for me.

I know it is for my little one, too. For the second time around I wonder if I should just shelf it and pick it up in another year when she is more mature and ready. It makes sense. But, she's getting it. In fact, she is getting it faster than my oldest one. It is this small carrot that makes me keep going and, to be honest, I probably will keep it up.

I teach college English and I see the long term affects of kids whose parents didn't fight to make sure they learned how to read. They left it to the teachers. To be fair, this is not a true statement for all of my students who struggle with English. It is merely an informed observation about the particular students I work with. My academic training tells me that my experience is not an anomaly. It is only 15 painful minutes per day, for a few months and as an educator, I know that it is the best thing I could be doing. I just wish I had the patience of a kindergarten teacher.


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