My son's early cognitive leap

Toddler reading a book
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When my son first started preschool at age three, he had already gone through many of the stages of learning to read. He had learned the alphabet before he turned two. He recognized environmental print before he was two and a half.  And by the time he was three, he was beginning to make the connection between the spoken and the written word.

It was not until he made that connection that my son would let me read to him.

Before that, I would pick him up, set him on my lap, and start to read what I thought was a book he was sure to love. After all, the books I bought for him were popular children's books. But no, he was not at all interested. He would squirm and squirm until I let him down. Then off he'd go to entertain himself with something else. It made me sad because I loved to read and I thought I had a son who would not be interested in reading at all.

That all changed, though, when my son made that connection between what was on the page of a book and the words we spoke. He suddenly wanted to be read to all the time. Although he was interesting in reading, he wasn't yet doing much talking, so he wouldn't ask me to read to him. Instead, he would walk up to where I was sitting, hand me a book, and then turn around and lift his arms up. That was his way of saying, "pick me up, put me on your lap, and read this book to me."

I couldn't just read to him either. Oh no... he had a special way I had to read a book.  He would grab my finger and use it to point to the words so that he could see the word as I spoke it.  It took a lot of the fun out of the reading: "Chicka chicka boom boom. Will there be enough room?" became Chicka.

Chicka. Boom. Boom. Will. There. Be. Enough. Room? But my son didn't care. He wasn't interested in the rhythm and fun of the reading. He wanted to know which symbol on the page represented which spoken word.

He was so fascinated by words that for a time I worried that he had hyperlexia. Being a good mom, I thought I should buy him beautiful picture books that would allow him to exercise his imagination. He wasn't at all interested, though. Once he understood what those letters were on a page, he wanted books with words. If I gave him a picture book, he would throw it on the floor and shout, "NO WORDS!"

When my son started preschool, he was just a couple months past his third birthday. By then he was reading like a child half way through first grade.  He wasn't a fluent reader, but he understood the connection between sounds and symbols and knew how to sound out new, simple words.. A few months later, he made a cognitive leap and was reading better than most children in second grade. He had not only "broken the code," and could read completely on his own.

Before the end of his first year of preschool my son was reading the names of his classmates posted on signs above their coat hooks -- both first and last names. That meant he didn't need context for reading and it also meant he could sound out some rather complicated sound patterns.

Did you notice any cognitive leaps your child made at some point?  Share your story on my Facebook page.

Read more about my experiences raising my son.

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