Literacy–and education in general–is very important in our house. We’ve been reading books to our kids since before they could sit up. We’ve been encouraging them to practice writing their letters since before preschool.
And it’s paid off. My kids can now either read or sound out words, depending on the child and their age. It’s an amazing thing to watch. One moment you have this tiny little baby who can’t do anything for themselves, and a few short years later they have the skills they need to consume any bit of knowledge they seek after. I’m simultaneously proud and awestruck.
Along the way, we’ve used some tools that have been super helpful. They just happen to be pretty darn frugal, too.
ABCmouse.com has been one of our favorites since toddlerhood. It’s a curriculum disguised as a computer game, built by educators. The kiddos actually beg me to play it.
Not only has it been a huge help in teaching them how to read, but it’s also been great for teaching them computer literacy. A year-long subscription is affordable as far as I’m concerned, but you can check and see if it’s a good match for your kids by trying it for free for 30 days.
True story: sometimes our kids watch TV. We noticed that after they started watching Super Why their interest in reading in general skyrocketed. It’s not like they weren’t interested at all before, but they started working harder at things like writing their letters and learning what the heck a “rhyming word” was.
We did this for $0 through Netflix, but the program will likely get rotated out eventually. You can also find episodes at Barnes & Noble.
Before they could write, we would practice “writing” their names on the fridge with their alphabet magnets. As they got older, we started using them to sound out words. Today, we’re using them to sort out when to use a capital and when to use the lowercase.
Magnetic Doodle Board
Our magnetic doodle board was the number one thing that encouraged our kids to work on their fine motor skills–which enabled them to write letters. While we’re definitely going to work on writing more legibly with lined paper, this device is what sparked interest at all.
Our first was a hand-me-down, and the second was a birthday gift. You easily find one for under $25, though, if you’re buying new.
The library, of course, has been our number one tool to teach our kids literacy. Every time they go, they have the freedom to pick out a book that meets their current interests. When they were younger, we did weekly story time. Every year, we participate in the summer reading program. As a reward, the library gives them a book to take home for keeps.
The best part of the library? It’s absolutely free, and odds are, there’s one near you.