Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Turn Your Toddler into an ABC Genius--The Easy Way

Can we all agree that being a parent is HARD? And for things like potty training, discipline, and healthy eating, there are no shortcuts. Diligence and consistency are key. But not everything has to be hard. And when I find out there are parenting shortcuts, you can bet I'm going to share them here. So here's my shortcut, lazy-parent, EASY way for your toddler to learn letters and their sounds. Minimum effort for maximum results. (Hint: No flashcards required, although I actually tried those--Ha! What a joke.)

Here's what you need:

Leapfrog Letter Factory

If there is any one magic solution to teaching your kids their letters, Leapfrog Letter Factory is it. (Don't believe me? Believe the 1,000+ parents on Amazon who've gave it 5 stars). Before I even became a parent, I remember overhearing people talk about the magic of this movie, so I had to buy it myself (and I *rarely* buy books or movies without trying the library first). And it worked! There isn't much to it, it's just a 30 minute cartoon movie that has a cute storyline to teach each letter and its (most common) sound. My good friend mentioned her 3-year-old hadn't mastered her letters and sounds yet and asked to borrow Letter Factory. Seriously, three days later her daughter knew all her letters. It's that good. I'm such a fan, I already bought Word Factory, too (it teaches the fundamentals of reading).

Mobile App: Endless Alphabet and/or Endless Reader

Cutest Apps Ever. I'm all for limiting your kids' screen and technology time, so make it count with this cute educational app that teaches everything from letters and sounds to vocabulary. I downloaded Endless Alphabet back when it was in free Beta form. Last I checked, it was up to $6.99 and I can totally see why--it's that great. But you're in luck! It's brother-app Endless Reader is currently FREE, so hurry and get it now! I have no doubt it'll be $6.99 or more in no time. By the way, if you don't know how to lock your phone so your kids have to stay in a certain app, make sure you read my best iPhone/iPad tip ever.

Fridge Letters

I think fridge letters are great because we can work on letters, sounds, and words while making breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Anything I can do while cooking is a huge timer-saver for me. I taught my son how to spell his name while making grilled cheese. I searched long and hard for these at Target (fail!) and ended up buying them online here. Note: If you buy them elsewhere, make sure whatever you buy includes lowercase letters. My mom has been a first grade teacher for years and she said lowercase letters are key since the vast majority of letters in books are lowercase.

Bath letters

Okay, now I just look alphabet-obsessed. I promise these are not his only bath toys (his favorite bath toys are empty plastic screw-top bottles--go figure). But he thinks it's so fun when he's able to sound out words as they stick to the sides of the bath. He triumphantly yells, "I read a word!" (That's what they say on The Word Factory). We're just starting on reading skills, so I want to keep it casual. And what's more casual than bath time? By the way, if you have a small bathroom (like we do), I highly recommend getting a bath toy caddy like this and hanging it on your shower wall. We've had ours for years.

And that's it! Lazy parenting at its finest

Comments, please! Any tips or tricks you've used for teaching you kids letters and/or reading?

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