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Promoting Early Reading Skills
As parents or teachers, showing an interest in books and the printed word can help young children develop their knowledge of letters and words. Also, computer software access and use (which is on the increase), is a good way to promote and teach young children early reading skills. Here's a list of free software to teach toddlers to read, which you will hopefully find useful.
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Starfall.com is an excellent free software program to teach toddlers to read. It offers a variety of learning options. From letter recognition and their phonic sound match, to more or less complex early reading games, involving blending letters and composing simple words; Starfall is just a wonderful online resource for beginners. It also offers progression with more challenging tasks.
Learning is regularly assessed with questions or test games following practice. You also have the opportunity to read and listen to short story books and watch short videos about specific topics on letters, the alphabet and sounds.
Starfall is ideal for children of different ages, from the preschool years to 2nd grade, including special education, homeschool, or for English as a Second Language (ESL) learners. Its colorful and interactive design is extremely appealing to young children, who are sure to have fun playing these games and hence might not even feel they are learning.
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Literactive is a fantastic software designed to teach reading skills to toddlers and children up to grade 1. Literactive is well structured, and all materials such as reading and other activities are classified into levels of difficulty. The diverse features of the Literactive program are described on the home page, making it easy to direct teachers or parents to the most appropriate learning materials or activities.
Literactive offers a step by step learning guide for beginners with appropriate materials. E-books, poetry, guided reading for preschool children, and worksheet downloads are other useful and effective materials that are free to use or download. There is also an ESL (Spanish) version of the guided reading materials. Although it is entirely free to use Literactive, you must register in order to use this software.
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Bridge to Reading
Bridge to Reading is a software program which teaches a child to read through repetition, phonics, and letter recognition. It is made up of a 7 chapters story. It uses pictures and sounds to accompany and introduce words first, then two letter phrases, short sentences to eventually reach 10 to 15 word sentences.
It is designed in such a way that a word corresponding to a picture in the story is introduced. Random letters appear at the bottom of the screen, while the word for the picture in the story stays on the screen. Out of the random letters, the child must click on each letter to write the word they have in front of them. When the child click on the correct letter, the phonic sound of that letter is said and the letter in the word, visually emphasized.
By the end of the program, your child will have learnt 105 of the most common English words, which make up over 50% of children's literature. It is therefore a good platform to start from as a free software to teach toddlers to read.
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References and Photo Credits
Literative - http://www.literactive.com/Home/index.asp
Bridge to Reading - http://www.yourchildlearns.com/read_p2.htm
Toddler on computer by Crimfant/Flickr
Toddler reading by Rob and Joyce Hansen/Flickr
Starfal Photos, Literactive Photos and Bridge to Reading Photo: Screenshots by author