E.’s reading progress

(No, that’s not a picture of E. He doesn’t have glasses.)

Just a short report here. I’m delighted with 25-month-old E.’s reading progress. We are not studying phonics nearly as carefully and systematically as we did with H. We have been going through (more or less randomly) the two ending blends presentations, adding s, and digraphs and x. More than that, we’ve been doing various quizzes. When I open up Reading Bear, E. insists on doing quizzes (about 75% of the time).

We continue to read several books per day. The level of the books is now decidedly beyond the baby books, and now we’re into the toddler books. To take a few examples, we’ve been reading quite a bit of Curious George, as well as the little-kid versions of fairy tales from Mary Engelbreit. He still likes the Biscuit stories, which are incredibly annoying.

We’re also doing stuff on the iPad, including Reading Bear on iSwifter, the Starfall app (which is great), some vocabulary apps, some counting apps, etc.

When looking at screens, he’s been spending at least as much time on Starfall and Literactive as on Reading Bear. I still haven’t found any other free sites with decodable stories that can be sounded out with a click, like Starfall and Literactive. Have you? Please tell me about them in the comments. Anyway, I’ve been delighted at how well he’s been reading beyond the level that he is at on Reading Bear. Like H., his ability to decode words in the context of a story is a few steps beyond his nominal phonics level. My hypothesis is that he has been figuring out unfamiliar phonics principles on his own. There is no reason to be too surprised at this, it seems to me; once you know the letter sounds and have some modest experience viewing how letters and sounds match up, there are usually a few obvious ways to decode an unfamiliar sequence of letters, and it’s just a matter of mentally trying them out and picking the one that matches a word you’ve heard. I wonder if research supports this hypothesis.

Another thing we look at quite a bit on my desktop are my presentations. He is crazy about my “Balloons” presentation (still) and likes many others, like “Kids,” “The Mind,” “Chemistry 1” (not as hard as it sounds), etc. These are all available on Slideboom. I made a new one, too, called “Bubbles,” which he likes. (Unfortunately, funding for new presentations is not forthcoming at this time.)

I think E. is a few months ahead of where H. was at this age (not surprising, considering that I started teaching E. phonics earlier), but at this age H. was a little ahead of where E. is in terms of books he prefers. This also shouldn’t be surprising considering that I was able to spend more time with H. on his reading.

But all in all I’ve used similar methods with my two boys and in terms of their educational outcomes, they’re very similar so far. I’d definitely say that E. is reading now, at age two, in the sense that he is able to decode most, probably all, of the words in certain stories that he can understand and enjoy.

I’ve made a video of E. reading, but it shows his face and all and Mama can’t have that online. I’ll make another one soon.






Please do dive in (politely). I want your reactions!

10 responses to “E.’s reading progress”

  1. PokerDad

    Great report!

    Keep up the fantastic effort E!

    “and it’s just a matter of mentally trying them out and picking the one that matches a word you’ve heard”

    I’m fairly sure this is how I learned to read. There’s no way they taught me all the rules (especially since I don’t know all the rules). I’d be surprised if your hypothesis were wrong here.

  2. Olga

    Hi Larry,
    You and your team have done an amazing job with ReadingBear. I have a question. I have read on ReadingBear.org that it is designed for students who learn to read at a normal age (4-7y.o.). You did mention though that you use ReadingBear for E. When did you start using ReadingBear for E.? How did you use ReadingBear.org for E.? Would you say that ReadingBear can only be used with kids who can speak? My son is 11 months old and he can say only “mama” and “dada”. I would like to understand how ReadingBear can be used with infants who cannot speak yet. Thank you very much.

    1. Thanks, Olga. You are right, in my experience, to wonder about this. We tried using Reading Bear with E. even as it was being first developed, when he was 10-14 months old. At that point he paid a little attention when we just showed it to him (and maybe occasionally prompted him to try to say the easy words), but he wasn’t interested in it enough to stick with it through anything like a systematic program. But then, he wasn’t interested in doing Your Baby Can Read or anything else systematically, either. So we just did things piecemeal. I am sure that his early exposure to Reading Bear (from ~10 months) helped him a little, but only a little. He didn’t start making obvious progress and taking more interest until he was about 18 months and speaking.

      I think you’ll find some parents on the BrillKids forums who have used Reading Bear (and probably other tools) with their infants who could read full sentences phonetically by 18 months. They’re pretty rare, though–E. certainly didn’t do that by that age. I think the only parents who have that sort of success (1) do a lot more than I did to keep their children happy with the programs they used, strategizing and scheming so that the kids stay engaged with a systematic program, or (2) are blessed with pliable children, who only want to please Mommy. Mine (neither H. nor E.) have fallen into those categories, but they both were reading by grade 1 level by 2.5 years, FWIW, using our much less systematic, “let’s do some sort of reading thing now” approach.

  3. Olga

    Thank you very much, Larry, for your detailed answer. I have one more question. Do you think that flashcards are more effective than ppt’s shown on the computer? If there is a difference in effectiveness, does it change with the baby’s/child’s age?

    1. I don’t have any hypotheses on that. My boys have liked the paper flashcards I made often as well as they liked Reading Bear or ppt presentations. Having something to hold makes a difference. But the sheer quantity of material available on screens makes a big difference–I have a lot more to show them via screens.

      1. Olga

        Greatly appreciate your response, Larry, and the efforts you have put into this project. All the best to you and your family.

  4. Sandra Lium

    We did try the the Your Baby Can Read, mostly because DD was so enthralled with the TV that it kind of scared me. YBCR did not hold her attention but Signing Time did and that was great for associating words written and audio, plus they threw in the ASL sign. Signing Time has since come out with an improved version that traces the word when it is shown on the screen similar to YBCR.

    DD also really liked our iphones so we got a couple of apps: First Letters, First Words and the same company makes the Bob Books Apps. By the time she had gotten bored with the first 2 levels of the Bob Books apps, we tried her on the physical Bob books and it went quickly after that.

    I think the fact that we had read to her about 20 minutes before every nap and bedtime, carefully pointing to the words and discussing it with her both verbally and using ASL, helped her read by the time she was 2.

    We are a hearing family and just wanted to learn some ASL, we have continued signing long after DD started talking.

    A year or so after she was reading I found Glen Dolman’s work which later inspired BrillKids, but that was too late and not really needed.

    Starfall is great, we used that too!

    1. Very cool, Sandra!

      Everybody has a different story, but there are a lot of similarities, too.

  5. santosh

    I wanted to write to you. I did not find any option to do that, so am just leaving a comment here..


    1. Thanks to you, Santosh!

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