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Three Year Old and Phonics

Ok, so I have really been trying to work with my 3 1/2 year old son on his phonics skills. He has known all of his letters for quite some time now so I figured this was the next step. We do a "letter of the day" and he colors pics of things that start with that letter, traces the letter etc. We paste all of his work onto a piece of cardstock and hang it in his room so we can reference them. The problem I am having is that he does not seem to grasp the concept of "this letter makes this sound" I ask him what an "s" sounds like and he gives me a word that starts with s, usually something that we colored for that letter. With enough repeating for him he will eventually give me the actual sound but I don't think he actually understands what I am asking him. It is more like he is just memorizing the correct response to the question. I get kind of frustrated because I feel like he should be able to "grasp" this concept. Do any of you have experience w/this or know if it is normal that he is not "getting it" all of the way yet? I just know with the way school is now days he needs to be reading simple words by the time he hits Kindergarten... am I expecting too much too soon?? Thanks mommies!

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Hi Robyn,
My son had the same problm. I bought the leap frog dvd that is called Letter Factory. It is all about the sounds the letters make. It helps kids learn to read also. You should try it. They have it at Costco and Walmart.
Hope it helps you...
J.

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honestly, i think you are expecting too much too soon. my daughter is 4.5 now, i put her in preschool when she was 3.5. they started her off with the same thing you are doing, the tracing, words that begin with that letter, all that good stuff. only now, that she is 4.5 are they begining the sound recognition stuff. i think that he is already ahead of the game, and if you push the issue with him, and let him see you getting frustrated, he is going to lose interest in your activities. let him work at HIS pace, and he will get it. one thing you may want to try is this "p p p purple." to kind of help him grasp the concept. but right now, what you are doing with him is much more than alot of kids are getting! he is going to be the smartest kindergardener in the class, because he has a mommy who is willing to help him out!

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My son just started kindergarten and they spent the first month learning shapes and colors. in Oct. they start letters and the sounds they make and some sight words. The kindergarten teacher said by Oct of first grade they need to be able to read 30 sight words. they do not need to be able to read by kindergarten. I would however also recomend the letter factory if you still want your child to learn it. I personally spend more time on creative play with my two young boys like building blocks and playdough.

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my daughter is almost 4 and struggles with that, she is in speech therapy, and they have only said that her annunciation is off. if you feel concerned about schooling, then perhaps you could look into other philosophies of schooling like montessori or waldorf, i'm doing the same.

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Hi, yes you're expecting too much.

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it may seems too simple, but, maybe make a song out of the sounds. something like.."the letter s sounds like ssssssss." i notice that songs make it easier to retain new info. good luck. :)

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At the risk of sounding judgemental...Are you kidding??? It sounds to me like you have an advanced little boy who you are pushing beyond his age and abilities. I don't know where you live but in my area Kinders are taught letter sounds...in kindergarten. You may be helping him to advance beyond his peers but I suspect you are breeding a painfully bored kindergartener as he sits through the things his mommy taught him 2 years earlier! Don't make learning a struggle now or he will learn it is going to be a struggle for life (even though it probably wouldn't be when he's actually ready to learn the concepts). I think you need to let go of the pressure for him to advance and know that when he is ready the light bulb will go on so to speak and he will all of the sudden grasp the concept you are trying to teach him. In the meantime, ease up...on him and on yourself. Pushing that hard won't do anyone any favors! You are a very intentional mother to have taught him the way you have to this point, I guarantee he will enter kinder WAY ahead of his peers!

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Hi Robyn,

My son got the 'Letter Factory' DVD for his birthday a year ago. This DVD teaches phonics in a fun and easy way. He recognizes and knows the sounds of letters! It's amazing what kids can absorb everyday.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi Robyn,
My son had the same problm. I bought the leap frog dvd that is called Letter Factory. It is all about the sounds the letters make. It helps kids learn to read also. You should try it. They have it at Costco and Walmart.
Hope it helps you...
J.

1 mom found this helpful

Wow, what a super Mom you are! You make me smile. I noticed with both my kids that repetition is the key, then one day the lightbulb clicks "on" in their own universe and at that point they "own" that knowledge. You're doing great. He will "connect the dots" at his own pace. He is normal. You are above normal. He will end up way above nomal, thanks to you. K. S.

Hi Robyn. I'm a teacher and a mom, with experience with gifted kids including my own, who reads way, way above grade level in 3rd grade. Seriously, you're worried that your 3 1/2 year old doesn't understand phonics? You're kidding me. Of course he doesn't get the connection--even most highly gifted children aren't ready to make that connection at 3 1/2. Slow down... Just read Dr. Seuss-type books to him, and he'll most likely have a few simple words down by kindergarten. Take all those silly cards down--you're pushing way too hard, and you're going to give the kid anxiety attacks before he even reaches kindergarten. Meanwhile, read some good books on stages of child development.

I am a preschool teacher with a degree in Child Development, and you are definitely expecting too much of him at his age. That said, check out the DVD Letter Factory by Leap Frog. It will help him learn the sounds the letters make, but I wouldn't have started working on anything but letter recognition at his age. If you push him too hard, he will start to dislike learning & you will have to struggle with him throughout his school years. If instead, you make learning fun, he will hopefully love learning & will be very successful in his school years. Look up child development websites to learn what are appropriate ways to teach him & what types of curriculum he should be exposed to at his age.

C. : )

Leapfrog makes MANY toys that deal with phonics. One of my son's favorites is the Phonics Radio. It has a catchy tune that goes with each letter and they can hear what each letter sounds like with an example. It's great, because they can listen to each letters phonetic sound over and over. My son has had this toy since he was 1 and is now 4 and still plays with it.

Oh my! He is 3. Take a deep breath and slow down. 3 is still very much a baby. Yah sure some 3-4 year olds know how to read but that is the exception not the rule. I know lots of 3 year olds that don't even know the letters. Just be glad that he is interested in the letters. Just don't push it or he may grow up hating reading. Right now is a great time for you to foster a love of words and reading. Do this by reading books to him. Read every day to him. Have books around the house for him to explore. AND let him see you reading.
ANd if he does need to know simple words by the time he is in K (which I don't think is true) then you still have a year or two. A LOT can happen in one year. A child's development can take a huge jump in that time frame.
http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/engkindergarten.asp
Thank is a link to the California Education Department. Is is what they want children to know at the END of Kindergarten. That is still years off for you. They are usually 6 by the time they finish K.
So the short answer is yes, you are expecting too much. :-)
Good luck to you. Being a mom is a wonderful journey.

I wanted to add that yes, the Letter Factory is a great video. It will have songs and rhymes to help your little one. "T....tapp'en T.....ta,ta,ta," etc. Also...if you have netflix there is loads of videos for learning to read. Learn to Read with Phonics is one that my kids loved. It is kind of old style (made in early 90's) But we still loved it.

To answer your question...YES, you are expecting way too much too soon. What is it about him learning to read before kindergarten that is so important to you? I have 3 boys. Two of them are 13 and 11 (the other just turned 2). Both learned to read by the time they were done with kindergarten with no phonics prep from me. The oldest is in the Gifted and Talented Program. I learned to read by the time I was 4 by myself b/c that's just how my brain worked...my mom never pushed me or "taught" me except by reading to me and letting me guide myself. Slow down, girl. There are no college scouts waiting around the corner for him. In my opinion, you are pushing him not for his own benefit but for your own peace of mind. He may very well learn to be a perfectionist or an overachiever just to please mom. Be careful...let him be a kid while he can! Good luck!

Dear Robyn,
I own Montessori schools where we encourage phonemic awareness when we feel a child is interested or ready to receive it. We do so by playing many, many sound games to see first if they can hear the sounds that words make. If they do not we do not push at all but simply wait for the developmental window to open. If your child is not having FUN with it or is not really getting it, he is just not in a developmental phase to receive it yet. There is no hurry, just trust and faith that it will happen and when it does it is beautiful. When we have this, is when we introduce the letters and the sounds they make very carefully. We do not use the capital letters at all, because they are not seen in books and are only used with their function. What we find more useful and tell parents is just read them as many books as he wants, this is truly the best preparation you can give him, the LOVE of reading.
Good Luck, B. at Montessori Discovery Garden

The Letter Factory DVD!!! It worked for both my boys.

i am qualified to be a teacher (looking for a job but have not found one yet :)) anyway you may be expecting too much but only you know your child. One thing you can try is show him a pic. of the Mc donald's arches (or any other "symbol" he might recognize) and ask him what that means. if he knows right a way try explaining that that symbol is kind of like letters. that when you see each letter is stands for something, just like the arches does.
also try a letter a week or even a couple weeks. you could also try getting a hold of an "Alphafriends" cd. it is the program that the preschool and kindergarten use around here. or any cd that has a song for every letter.
so there are some ideas but do not push him. he will learn it when he is ready and never before!!!

I have been teaching preschool for almost 8 years, having worked with children between the ages of 1-5, and the mother of an 8 year old. It is my opinion that it is unrealistic to expect a child at the age of 3 to grasp the abstractness of phonics. It is also considered to many inappropriate to be expecting a child under the age of 4, even 5 if it were up to me, to absorb the concepts of phonics. How can you expect a child to understand the sounds of letters before he/she can even read them? Surrounding your child with literacy through artwork and experiences that are hands on is right on the money, but training your child to mimic back sounds is like training and animal to do what you want it to do when you command. That's not true learning. Phonics is introduced to children in the preschool setting around the age of 4 to 4 1/2, and they really begin to nail it home in Kindergarten. Before that, they are just not going to get it, and if for some reason they do, it's probably because of one of two reasons: they have been trained to perform, or there is a serious developmental issue going on that might need to be examined by a child psychologist. I have seen way too much social-emotional fallout from parents pushing academics WAY too early. Let your child play... the learning comes naturally...they are taking EVERYTHING in...follow his lead...foster his autonomy...he will show you he is capable of more than being your puppet.

Hi Robyn,
I have just a quick and funny response, that probably won't be of any help, but it might shed some light on why you shouldn't be worried about your son at this point. First off, we were all taught english by memorization, Dr. Seuss book and basically rhyming right? I just had this conversation with my neighbor who has an 8 year old in school and she is having a really hard time correcting his homework, becuase she wasn't taught phonics in school. Here's the funny thing...I am married to a foreigner, who has grew up in a Catholic private english/spanish emersion school. He is from Buenos Aires, and is highly educated. His father is a heart surgeon, so by no means is he from the "third world" He speaks perfect english and actually has a british accent. He sounds British, as he learned "high" english in school. He also speaks 5 languages fluently, Spanish, English, French, Portuguese and Italian. How does he do it? The are all Latin languages and they are all spoken PHONETICALLY!! Now English is the only exception...it is NOT A PHONECTICAL LANGUAGE. So when we say the word "pink" and the we say the work "tick" the "I" in pink sounds like an EEEE and the "I" in tick sounds like an "ihh" right?? It makes NO SENSE AT ALL that US schools have taken on teaching phonics and I think it is absolutely ridiculous. My advice is to read to your son as much as possible, help him sound out the words, and make sure his books rhyme. That's the best way to ensure that he is ready for school. Also make sure that you enunciate clearly when you speak yourself, and your husband as well. Clear enunciation, correct pronunciation and lots of rhyming and book time with have him more than ready to sound out words and be up to speed when he enters school. Relax, it sounds like you are very involved in his learning, and if I were you, I'd let the whole phonics things go!! It doesn't make any sense in our language whatsoever. My husband will ask me questions like how can you say "Peak" and have it sound like peek and then call "steak" (spelled with the same vowels) like stake???? He thinks we're nuts! And he's right. All latin languages never change the sounds of their vowels no matter what context or word they are written in because the ARE phonetical languages. Our is not. So take the pressure off yourself and your son, and teach him how to sound out his words!

Hope this silly anecdote helps! :)

Take care,

S.

Hi Robyn,
I'm not a mom yet (pregnant with 1st) but I am a PhD in early literacy and my best advice to you is to stop the phonics lessons totally. Children do not learn to read by first making the sounds of letters. (Even tho our govt. wants you to believe that.) Children already know the sounds of their language--they learn to read by making meaning and connecting the sounds, meaning and letters. That is, they are interested in writing (which more naturally begins to develop before reading, in fact)and reading because of the message, the communication, the expression. Then they start to puzzle out the letters, etc., primarily thru exposure and some guidance. You are right that what you are doing is pretty meaningless to him. Your child will be plenty ready for K if you read with him, regularly and talk with him, etc. Engage him in language and text. Write him notes, then read them to him. If he has favorite books, let him read them to you--all or just pause and let him give say the next line, etc. Do not focus on him getting every word correct (in reading or his own spelling). The most important thing is that he is getting the meaning. (For example, it's totally okay for kids to substitute words in the text when they're reading. Instead of reading "huge", they insert "big"--the meaning is maintained so that is what is most important.) The accuracy of mechanics comes later, and then it is much more natural because that meaning/sense is in place. I could go on forever here--if you'd like to chat more, drop me an email (that goes for any other moms reading this) ____@____.com care, L.

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