Learning Letters

My 15 month old took his first real steps yesterday. Finally! We've heard a lot of "is he walking yet?" in the past several months, so despite the fact that I now have to baby proof a lot more, I am excited to finally join the ranks of moms with walkers.
Dayen has always done things on his own time. I think he is the reason he was born 2 weeks late- he was just taking his time! He didn't even attempt to crawl until he was 10 months old. And now the walking happened a lot later than most of his friends his age.
But, if there is one thing motherhood has taught me, it's that we can't place a timeline on kids for anything. They move at their own pace, and it can't be used to signify intelligence. 
So, let's look at this from another angle:
My 15 month old knows all his letters. Upper and lower case.

The cute little girl I nanny, Charlee, was the same way. When I started watching her she had just turned one, and she knew all her letters. I can't remember a time when you couldn't have a full conversation with her. She is 3 now and is still one of the smartest kids I know. 
I knew a lot of the things we did with her for learning were things I would want to try with my kids. There are things Dayen hasn't had an interest in (like walking, until now) and I've learned its best not to stress about it and let it happen when he's ready. But then there are things, like learning letters, that he has been excited about and done really well with. I've mentioned in a couple posts how he was learning letters and had several people ask me what we're doing. It's really simple so I thought I'd share!
We have two sets of letters that Dayen plays with almost every day. The first are magnetic letters with a school bus that sings the letters to him. We got it for $14.99 off Amazon. Here

The second are little foam letters from a puzzle we got from Dollar Tree. There are two separate puzzles for upper and lower case letters. (They also have a puzzle for numbers we are starting to work on!)

We basically started out with them just being another toy. Right away he loved the letter "s". He likes making the sound, and he would go search out the letter S to show us. From there we just let him pick out letters and we would tell him what they were and some he could repeat and some he couldn't. Whenever he did repeat them, we would get way overly-excited and cheer and clap. He loved it.
Eventually we started a game I used to do with Charlee- I would set 3 or 4 letters  in front of him and say, "Where's D?" I was really surprised how many he knew! I  would even put two letters he knew really well with a letter he didn't know. Even when he didn't know the letter, he would think about it and realize it was the one letter he didn't know and pick that one! (It was a proud mom moment, but also exactly what Charlee used to do!) I think it's a cool way to show what is going on in your child's head, even if they aren't able to articulate it.
Finally, the real secret to our success, are the Preschool Prep Company videos. (No, they aren't paying me to write this post, but they should be!) 
Charlee had the whole set of all these videos, and her mom started playing them when she was only about 6 months old. No matter what else you do to teach them, I really believe these videos help the most. 

They also have videos for Colors, Numbers, Phonics, Sight Words, etc. It's cheaper to buy the box set of all of them if you end up loving them as much as we have.
Fair warning- they are the most annoying videos on the planet. But they work! They basically put a letter on the screen and then repeat, "a! A! Aaaaaaaa" a million times until you are in an alphabetically induced rage. But kids love them! And the constant repetition is what helps it stick for them.
When I was first teaching Dayen his letters, and whenever he picked up M I would say "M! For Mom!" He never repeated me or even acknowledged what I said. But the first time he watched the video, when M came on the screen (and before they had even said the letter) he shouted, "Mom!" You never know what's really going on in their heads!
Overall, my point is that your kid is smart in their own way, even if they don't walk forever, or don't talk, or whatever it may be. But I couldn't in good conscience let everyone believe my genius child learned to read at 2 without revealing my methods!

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