Teaching The Littles To Read and Write

So last week little M gave me the shock of my life. He wrote his very first word!  This being the 3 year old who never wants you to sit and instruct him on how to recognise letters, pays zero attention when you point them out in literature or media and who rarely traces letters or shapes.

Now our homeschooling style at the moment is highly influenced by principles of Thomas Jefferson Education  (learn more about TJed here). Our little ones are still very firmly in core phase meaning the main focus of their education right now is learning right from wrong, distinguishing good and bad, learning family values and establishing morals. Our role as parents and as educators at this age is to provide them with a safe, secure, loving environment within which a love of learning can be modelled, inspired and developed. This means for now that ‘academics’ is not on our main radar for the kids however that does not mean we ignore it completely and when learning opportunities occur naturally we endeavour to make the most of them.

That being said when you recognise the importance of learning to read and write of course it can be difficult to remember that there is no pressure or hurry to get there and I guess I am not the only mother out there who gets a little tense and apprehensive when their child seems to show little interest at all in learning skills that are considered by the majority of society as essential.

So when M and I were playing doctors and he was ‘writing’ down my symptoms on his note pad, for some reason unknown to me now, I decided to say “write on, O.N”. I expected that he’d just say no as usual or ignore me and continue to scribble around the page but to my utter astonishment he didn’t he stopped and slowly produced this:



It’s just two letters but he did it with no hesitation and it reminded me of several things:

  1. Children take things in all the time even when they don’t appear to be
  2. They will learn and do things in their own time when they are ready usually when there is no pressure to perform
  3. Role playing every single scenario under the son is M’s most popular activity and it can drive me a little batty and I often refuse to join in but when I do join in with my full attention it tends to bring the best out in both of us.
  4. When I am willing M is willing

Since this day M has been writing and drawing more and more entirely off his own back. He was excited to take the picture below to share with you all and he is enjoying trying to copy different letters each day without any prompt from me to do so he just picks up pen and paper and asks me write with him!


A friend of mine recently asked me what we were doing to help encourage letter recognition, writing and reading skills up until now. I thought I’d share the answer to that with you all as well-

  • We read everyday. Sometimes for just 30 minutes sometimes for a total of 3-4 hours a day depending on the mood of the boys. A always brings me books through out the day.
  • I love books and read constantly. I read my books in front of them when they are playing. Sometimes I read aloud sometimes in my head but they see that books are part of our everyday life.
  • I sit and write as much as possible. I write shopping lists, work on maths problems, do geometry, keep journals, practice learning to write Arabic, write cards etc. I let them see me doing it and quite often both boys will hunt out pen and paper to sit down and draw beside me.
  • I show them how to grip a pencil or pen correctly. I don’t worry if they don’t do it all the time. Sometimes I gently remind M but I never force him to hold it correctly and to be honest he does it automatically now anyway.
  • We read phonics books
  • Dr. Seuss Abc book has been really loved by A. He has made me read it over and over the past couple of months and M although he hasn’t really been interested has of course been listening too
  • We have an alphabet floor puzzle that comes out occasionally
  • We sing alphabet songs
  • Watch Badunamu ABC on YouTube
  • I give M the task of pointing out a particular letter each time he sees it as we read a book. I’ll also get him to go through his magazines and circle all the ‘A’s (or any random letter) he can find.
  • I always point to words as I read books aloud to them so they can follow along.
  • I spell words out loud sometimes when I am writing
  • We have letter puzzles and matching games
  • Play with magnetic fridge letters
  • Spell out their names to the tune of ‘b i n g o, b i n g o, b i n g o and bingo was his name-o’
  • We play together with wipeable board tracing books
  • M this week has started to type with lots of guidance on the laptop too. Its great for helping him develop his recognition of capital letters

And I think that’s about all.

Until I just sat and wrote that list I didn’t realise just how much we are doing that could potentially go a long way to helping the littlens on their journey to being able to read and write.

I’d love to hear what  reading and writing activities you’ve tried along the way or think you’d like to try in the future so comment below!


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