According to Janet Doman, the director of Institutes for Achievement of Human Potential, a small organization based in Philadelphia, you can start teaching your child how to read when s/he just a baby. She says that parents should show their children flashcards and speak the words out loud. Glenn Doman, the founder of the Institutes for Achievement of Human Potential, also co-authored a book titled "How to Teach Your Baby to Read" decades ago.
Although several caregivers and parents are interested in the idea of teaching baby to read, serious researchers and experts are not that enthusiastic. Peter Vishton, a professor of psychology at College of William & Mary, says: "There has been little or no evaluation of the effectiveness of programs like 'Your Baby Can Read.' Most researchers are confident that the children are not really reading, but just responding to shapes in a stimulus-response fashion."
Roberta Golinkoff and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, the co-authors of "Einstein Never Used Flashcards," stress the importance of conversing with babies and toddlers instead of forcing them to repeat words. Interestingly, children in Finland are introduced to reading only at the age of seven, and literacy experts in the US say that children should be exposed to the basics of reading at the age of four or five.
To put it very simply, no effective studies have been conducted to ascertain the best age to start reading instruction. So do not be in a hurry to teach your baby how to read. In other words, do not bother him/her with flashcards and make him/her repeat words. What parents, caregivers, and teachers can do instead is read a lot to babies and toddlers. They can spend a lot of time talking to their young children and responding to every sound they make, even if it is just babbling, giggling, or cooing.
There are plenty of books you can read to your baby or toddler and here are some guidelines to help you get started.
Age Group 0 – 6 Months
It doesn’t really matter what you read, but how you read. You reading should be accompanied by gestures, sounds, expressions, and cute baby games. Cuddle your baby as you read to him/her and s/he will associate reading with pleasure all his/her life.
Age Group 6 – 12 Months
Your baby is now old enough to recognize the pictures. In fact, s/he will have developed a penchant for grabbing hold of books and turning their pages. Experts say that you should read to babies of this age for only three minutes at a time.
Age Group 1 - 2 Years
You baby will finally understand that the words you read to him/her have meaning. Read a lot to your child during these years as it will improve his/her vocabulary.
Select books that have plenty of pictures and words that are used repeatedly. Don't just read, but talk about what you read and the pictures in the book. Respond to your child and answer questions, if any.
You don't need to buy many books for a child of this age as they love to read the same books over and over again.
Age Group 2 - 3 Years
Your child is now old enough to understand simple stories. Some of them have longer attention spans and some don't, so adjust your reading time accordingly. You still don't have to teach your child how to read. All you need to do is enjoy reading to him/her.