Can A Toddler Learn to Read?


First of all, I’d like to shout loud and clear that I was NOT paid for the following review. What you are about to hear is my unbiased praise. Also, another disclaimer: I do NOT approve of allowing TV to be the only one to educate my kids. If you don’t believe me, check out some of my Montessori homeschooling posts. Also, we do NOT push reading or the alphabet in our house. We belong to a classical/Montessori approach to education that includes a lot of free play and discovery.

But TV is bound to happen for 20 minutes here or there, let’s all be honest.

As a result, I’m always on the lookout for childrens’ DVDs that are educational AND tolerable. I have a rule that if the show makes me want to throw and break things, usually because of annoying music, it’s out. I don’t care how much my kids love it.

For instance, my 3 year old received a set of Leapfrog DVDs for Christmas. While I loved the fact that my kid instantly learned how to count and then count by 2s, the little gopher character has a voice that would make your skin crawl. But the tunes aren’t that bad (for a kids’ show). So it stays, but it comes out less often.

And then, a friend of mine posted a Groupon deal for these Preschool Prep videos. When they arrived, I popped out the first one: “Meet the Letters; and put it in.

I felt tricked and dismayed. There weren’t any words, just letters popping up on the screen, saying their names over and over again in various ways. Then there was some half-hearted animation that followed.

No music. No characters. No flashy colors. Just the letter “A”, saying his name over and over again, then turning into an airplane shooting up into the sky.

My husband walked by as we were watching it together, and he said, “Whoever made this was on crack.”

I thought for sure that Gregory would be bored, since nothing was getting in his face and trying to make him pay attention.

But he didn’t get bored. He LOVED it. He wanted to watch the entire alphabet on repeat for an hour! And I realized that the lack of music and character voices made it easy to go about a few chores without feeling like the TV was taking over our lives.

Fast forward two weeks. At Chipotle, unprompted, Gregory started sounded out the letters on our bag. In fact, he hasn’t stopped pointing and saying letters wherever we go.

And then my just-turned-2-year old came up and recited his ABC-s for me. Perfectly, with enunciation.

What the what?

Just a few days ago, we started using the 3 “Meet the Sight Words” DVDs that came with the set. This morning, as my husband and I drank our coffee, we saw our toddler recognizing and shouting out words such as, “OF” and “YOUR” and “PLAY”, before the word was said on the DVD. He was even acting out the different words as he watched them.

So, needless to say, we’re SOLD. This stuff is low-key, because that’s how kids learn. They don’t want to be entertained with flashy lights and music, they want to be involved. So much is going on in their brain, that all the normal kid-animation stuff would be overload.

TV happens, right? So why shouldn’t it do some good in the process?

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  • Elizabeth Lund

    I will have to check out groupon and watch for a deal. Thanks for a fun idea for my little ones.

    • Kelly Cone

      I’ve heard that you can still get the groupon! Friends of mine just purchased it.

  • Esthetic Goddess

    When my oldest son was 2 we started reading Dr. Seuss books to him. He loved it and would bring me stacks of them to read. I never pointed to the words. Just read the books. In fact I had them memorized I read them so much. Some how he taught himself to read. By the time he was 3 he was reading books to me. When he started kindergarten he was reading at at a 3-4 grade level. To this day I don’t know how he did it! I had 2 more boys after that but they had no interest in reading like he did. They are all in their early 20’s now and I just shared with them all about their bro reading early. They never knew it nor did he! I never wanted them to feel like they had to compete with each other.

  • Stephanie Granite

    Just thought I’d give you a heads up and let you know that this deal is back up on groupon! I just bought one for Penny 🙂