Learning The ABC's:
We got a great set of foam alphabet letters for "bath time", which by the way bath time makes for great alphabet drills! Your child is contained, happy (okay mine liked bath time), and you have their attention (between splashes that is).
I found that at home flash cards were cumbersome (although both cheep and easy to use), I almost always lost one out of every set I got. HOWEVER I downloaded a FREE ABC app onto my iTouch and later onto my Droid Phone and found that those were AWESOME for while we were waiting for food at restaurants, in the waiting room for portraits, stopped at stop lights, waiting in line and the grocery store, etc! If you don't want to buy flash cards, making your own with a simple pack of 3x5 inch index cards (or any card stock paper cut into cards) and a marker!
Leap Frog Letter Factory:
Yes we love Tad and his adventures at the letter factory! The reason I LOVE LOVE LOVE these DVDs is because not only do they teach the letters but also the sounds! They go in order and have an easy to follow progression, and are empowering to children! My daughter loves to sing the songs with the letters, and my husband and I find ourselves singing them to her in the car! This is one of those "you do nothing" tools, it really doesn't require any extra work on your part. While you're cleaning house, getting dinner ready, or just need a brake this is an excellent way to keep going and take a brake at the same time!
This is a great activity, and it can be done, while washing dishes, folding laundry, snuggling before bed, having quiet time, in the car, at the park, on your way to check the mail, in the bath, (in the shower to yourself because you have it stuck in your head), or any other time you and them are both in the same room! Hint hint you don't have to "be able to sing" for your baby/child to like hearing it! But if you just "can't sing" youtube it and let your child watch a HUGE variety of ABC videos for free!
Moving onto words, sentences, and books! You do NOT need to start with teh ABC's, however it is easy and inexpensive to start, and every child needs to learn the ABC's eventually so why not find the easiest starting point and go from there?
Your Baby Can Read:
This program was hard for me to use. It was expensive and when I purchased it it was not yet broken down into smaller packages so I ended up paying $200.00 for the entire program. It had a lot of smaller pieces (such as sliding words), and boxes of cards. I found we lost a lot of the pieces if I let my daughter play with them, and if I didn't let her play with them then she would get frustrated when I tried to get her to pay attention to them. Remember kids learn from touching, tasting, and exploring it's hard for them to learn from something that they can't touch! The program was well organized, and may work well for anyone who has a better system then I did. I would recommend putting your child in a high chair or booster seat if you want to use this program, it will make it easier for them to not feel the need to play with everything (and contain the few things you do hand them). The program was very well put together, it just didn't work well for us.
This is a great tool you can use simply and inexpensively. How you set it up to teach your baby to read is easy. Pick a word (any word) and make a slide with NOTHING but the word on it. The larger the font the better (but make sure it all fits on one line).
1-- Write your word on the slide in our example we'll use the word "Table" as an example.
2-- On the next slide put a picture of a table (one from your house or one from the clip art options)
3-- Copy the first slide.
So you should have word, picture, word. Record your voice saying the word on all three slides, or plan on saying it as you run though them. Set them to change over (with out any animation) to 5 second intervals. You can set up lists such as "Things around the house", "Sports", "Animals", "Family" etc. and add 25 to 50 words into each category. You should run though about 50 words a day which is 250 seconds (or about 4.5 minutes) a day! The set up time on this method is significantly more then a pre-done options, however the expense (if you already have power point) is nearly nothing. Check back for a full post with a list of categories and words to start with!
Hooked On Phonics:
This is an AWESOME program. However each individual package lasts just a few months, and they seem to have a skip between "baby" and "kindergarten" there's no "toddler" packages, it goes right from 6 months old to 4 years. So I found that frustrating. The programs they have are very well put together, again just like with Your Baby Can Read there are lots of parts. The DVD's are fun and catchy, the work books are well above the level of a toddler (K-1) so you'd have to substitute parts of the lessons. (I have been told there is now a Pre-K edition but have not gotten to try it, I was unable to find that one when I was attempting to use them) I have saved the ABC DVD's and enjoy them. The beginning books they come with are just amazing so consider getting one to try when your children are old enough to start reading beginner books and using the work sheets! (or try the pre-k or baby editions).
This is the program I fell in love with and highly advocate for! IT DOES EVERYTHING! It's already on the computer (similar to the idea of a powerpoint) however there are over 270 lessons predone with many many more you can download for FREE! You can use it to teach colors, shapes, numbers, objects, etc. You can customize EVERYTHING, and you can create your own lessons. I haven't found anything that rivals this program as of yet! You can do a one time payment for it or pay per month. I signed up for the 12 month payment plan, with both 1st and 2nd semester and it cost me about $18.50 a month. I have created about 20 personal lessons for my daughter. Downloaded sign language, counting, piano note practice, geography, and other subjects for free. My daughter loves it, it is interactive, and it locks everything on your computer but the program so go ahead and let your baby touch yoru keyboard while the short lessons are playing. They feel engaged in their learning process, and get super excited about doing it! My daughter asks me to do it like its just a game, so we do it several times a day but it's not necessary! Click Here and try it for 14 days for FREE!
Hopefully this helps you get started. And as always here's the
Homework is not a grueling list of tasks for babies! Make sure your child is having fun OR STOP! If your baby just isn't doing it one day DON'T DO IT! If you get half way though the ABC's or just to D and their attention span is gone, STOP! If they get distracted and want to do something else DO IT! You're baby will learn with your consistency and they will surprise you when they come up and ask you to do "reading" with them or "1, 2, 4" with them! If your child is just not paying attention go ahead and continue, they are absorbing things even if it doesn't seem like it. But when they are done, you are both done! This is not a battle, it's a bonding, learning, loving time for you two or three or four to spend together