Literacy 2.0

Children from wealthier families get around 400 more hours of early literacy training than their peers from financially struggling households, according to a recent article in The Atlantic.

That’s over an hour a day for a whole year! If you spread out 400 hours over 2 years of preschool, however, the numbers make a lot of sense. Working parents have to use some kind of daycare, and lots of them choose the academically-oriented facilities. Even stay-at-home parents might do daily work on the alphabet, phonics skills, and basic reading.

Young girl looking at a picture book

By Moonsun1981 (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

But what if you aren’t confident in your ability to teach your child to read or your child doesn’t respond to your approach? Phonics work well for some brains, but others simply can’t hear the differences in sounds. What if you don’t have the money to pay for a high-powered preschool and just need to leave your toddlers with a neighbor who will keep them alive, fed, and entertained all day?

There are a lot of great resources online for early literacy activities. Many of them are FREE, too, which means they can be used at a computer workstation at a public library. With a set of headphones, a child can watch, listen and learn at his or her own pace and maybe start school in a better place.

  • phonics-based
  • starts with “Let’s get ready to read,” letter sounds, and short and long vowel sounds
  • works up gradually to higher-order skills
  • there’s also a really nice calendar ‘game’ that helps with recognition of days of the week
  • clearly leveled for K through 5
  • games like matching a letter to its sound, letter bingo, Dolch sight words, etc.

While I’m not a fan of many videos, I highly recommend three: LeapFrog’s Talking Letters Factory, Talking Words Factory, and Talking Words Factory 2. The first teaches all the letters and the sounds they make; the second explores three-letter words and vowel sounds; and the third progresses to consonant blends and vowel pairs to help kids sound out words like “train.” If you’ve taken a reading class, you should recognize classic phonemic awareness!


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