Thursday, September 8, 2011

Little Reader

I must admit, I am fascinated by Early Learning, and as such Nikki has become my guniea pig. I am already amazed at his language learning, but most of all at how much he loves learning. I have always been determined to pass on my love of learning, and it appears that he will not be sated! Until he wants to stop, I will find every resource possible to entertain and teach him.

The best (and most entertaining) resource I have found so far has been Brillkids' Little Reader. This is probably the most diverse program you could find for teaching toddlers. It uses the whole-word approach to teaching reading, using flashcards, as well as showing pictures and (when appropriate) films.

I can't really say how much this program has been teaching Nicholas to read, because he refuses to be tested. However, it has been a fantastic way to teach him words. He knows more body-parts than most children his age, because he has learned about them on Little Reader. When we covered the lessons on animals, he very quickly learned what every one of 20 different animals 'said'. To me, the possibility that he is learning to read is an added bonus - his speech and vocabulary have literally exploded since we started using the program.

The central part of each lesson is fifteen words from three different groups. Each word is shown, followed by a picture then a video. To get the most out of the lessons, though, you must interact with your child. When shown a picture of an ear, I kissed or tickled or blew on his ear. I talk about each picture and listen to what he tells me about it. I help him perform the actions. For the 2-3 minutes of the lesson, my attention is focused completely on playing with Nicholas.

Apart from their 12-months worth of lessons built-in to the program, you can also make your own lessons and cards. There is a vast library on the Brillkids site of lessons that other parents have made, in many languages. Using some pre-made and some of my own cards. it has been easy (if time consuming) to create a Russian syllabus. This has had the effect of drastically increasing the number of Russian words and phrases that Nikki uses and understands. It has also helped me to focus on certain sets of vocabulary, building on what we have covered with Little Reader rather than picking topics at random.

Better yet, they have released a Chinese curriculum! This is by far Nikki's favourite, and he will demand it several times a day. Even if he only learns a handfull of the words presented, he gets to hear authentic Chinese 1-2 times a day and is being exposed to the idea of Chinese pictographs and how completely different they are from the Latin/Cyrillic alphabets.

We can't get enough of Little Reader in this house!

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