It's interesting watching how reading begins with no formal training. Hannah's showing more and more interest in words and sounds and letters. As she shows more interest, I introduce things to her that I think she might enjoy and help her with things that she requests that we do.
An example of the former is Reading Eggs, a game on the computer that lets you hatch out odd creatures when you finish a reading lesson. I knew Hannah would be intrigued by the animals and would respond to the 'collecting' business, but I wasn't sure how she would respond to the very obvious lessons.
She made it through 23 lessons before she gave up in disgust because "They make me repeat everything twenty trillion and a half times. Do they think I'm stupid?" Repetition makes her crazy, apparently. When you know that the short 'a' sound is made by the letter 'a', and you're asked to tell them that fifteen times in a row, it's frustrating.
She'll likely go back to it later, when the memory has faded and the desire to get more animals trumps any bad taste left in her mouth. Then I'll probably have to pay for it for her to finish it (after a free trial period, you have to pay for the program).
An example of something that she's asked me to do is when she found the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons in our boxes of books as I was unpacking. I've had it since before she was born. My mother taught all of my siblings and me to read when we were three or four, so I was going to do the same. .... ..... .....
Anyway, she asked what it was, and I told her it was a lesson book for teaching someone to read. She said "Oh, like in Little House on the Prairie?" and next thing I knew, she was Mary to my Ma and I was 'teaching' her to read. She did five lessons straight and then declared it was recess. The book's been sitting on the desk, but she hasn't asked for any more lessons. That was a month ago.
Her interest is obviously there. Her reading to others has been amped up. She's always liked to memorize books and read them to any captive audience,
but now she's taken to asking me to read more slowly so that she can read along with me. She can read picture books to Ainsley almost word-perfect after reading them with me two or three times, which is really fun to hear.
So I play along with that, finding picture books that will hold Ainsley's interest and provide some challenge for Hannah's memorization and verbal skills.
The biggest thing I've been doing, however, is playing games with her - most of them games she makes up or games made up by my husband or myself from questions she asks. For a girl who thrives on connection and relationships, this seems to be the way to go right now.
One of her favorite games is the 'rhyming game'. It's an obvious one. Out of the blue she'll say "Let's find a word that rhymes with .... " and we do. That can go on for a loooong time.
Another game is the 'h' game. She noticed that a plastic bag someone was carrying had lots of 'h's on it, but only one 'h' was at the beginning of a word. That led us to talk about how the letter 'h' changes the sound of other letters sometimes. It can make a hard 'c' or 's' or 't' or 'p' or 'o' or 'w' into a soft, gentle sound. So "Tank You for Sopping Here" becomes "Thank you for Shopping Here." Now she loves to play with mixing letters and seeing how it changes their sounds.
The most recent game came from a group of spelling cards that she got in a fast food meal. Since the spelling itself is a bit above her, we'd ask her to tell us the beginning sound or ending sound of the words on the list as we read them. She liked that for a few minutes and then was done, but the next day, she started saying things like 'tortoise starts with tuh' out of the blue (and usually apropos of nothing we could see). So that's been fun.
It will be interesting to see how it progresses from here. Whether it speeds up and she learns to read soon or if she slows back down to let her brain absorb all of the new stuff she's learning before she starts back up again. I'm much relaxed from my pre-parent "My kids will read as early as I did" views. They seem to have gone the way of my "My kids will never do that" and "Obedience is the most important trait a child should have" views. They all flew out the hospital window when Hannah was born. Good riddance, I say.