We (my almost-three-year-old daughter and I) started Siegfried Engelmann's Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons in mid-January. Two months later, we are on Lesson 18 - excellent progress, considering an almost-three-year-old has a very short attention span.
But my almost-three also has a love of letters and phonemes, and this is why we do what we do.
So here is how we do it...
1)I want her to love the experience of reading, so we only read when my daughter is rested and happy.
2)We keep the lessons short, stopping when she becomes disinterested. Each of the 100 lessons is divided into minilessons. Engelmann calls these tasks. Some lessons have nine tasks, some have 14. Some tasks are as simple as "Sound Introduction," in which one new sound is - you got it - introduced. Other tasks are more lengthy, such as sounding out the words in a short sentence. Depending on the complexity of the tasks, we do anywhere from one to five tasks per sitting.
3)We omit "Sound Writing." The instructions say not to skip these tasks; they are not lessons in how to write the letters, but lessons in sound-letter correspondence. That said, we don't do them. When we started our reading lessons, my daughter's fine motor skills were not developed enough, nor are they now. There are alternative ways for very young children to practice sound-letter correspondence, such as tracing tactile sandpaper letters while saying each letter's sound.
4)We mix it up. Sometimes I sit her on my lap and have her read out of the book, but sometimes I write individual words on 3x5 cards or in the bathtub with bath crayons. Sometimes, she teaches a toy how to read, or wears a finger puppet on her "reading finger."
5)I reward her with stickers on a chart. For every task she completes, she earns a sticker - however, there are times when she tells me she doesn't want to earn a sticker, but still wants to read. When she fills a sticker chart, she can use it to "buy" something she wants. So far, she has chosen a pair of wings, a small Lego set, and a Belle dress.
6)Lastly, we don't do Teach Your Child everyday. Some days we are too busy doing other things, like putting together puzzles or strumming the ukulele.