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Looking for the Best Reading System for Our 2.5 Year Old

Hi Mamas! We are interested in buying our 2.5 year old son a reading system for Christmas. He has a wonderful vocabulary and his speech is very advanced for his age. I am a stay-at-home mom and I read to him every day through out the day and at bed time. He absolutely loves books and has memorized many of them. I was thinking about something like LeapFrog - My First LeapPad. Or LeapFrog TAG Junior Book Pal Reading System. We will of course continue to read to him, but we thought it would be fun for him to also have something such as the LeapFrog system. However, which one? What are the pros and cons? We would appreciate any information that you may want to share! Thanks so much!

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My children read early too. My husband and I just read to them every day and they both went to preschool. Instead of singing the alphabet try to search for a sound song. All you need to teach them are the sound and Bob Books at the book store.


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the best thing to do is just keep reading real books to him. he'll get enough boring phonics stuff when he hits school. if you have time with him, and you want to switch it up a bit, have him dictate stories to you and illustrate them. he can write his own books! a machine or robot won't do much in the long run to stimulate your kid's imagination and creativity. they're better for babysitting, frankly. use your time with him to do v=creative projects; act out scenes from the books with costumes, think up different endings, and like i said, have him write his own books; this is the time for real, in depth literacy development to take root - don't think a talking book is going to teach him much - humans are better teachers, and real books are so much more interesting!

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I got Hooked on Phonics for my oldest son, and he could read by the time he was in Kindergarten, but in hindsight, now that he's 20, I would not do these reading systems with my kid.

There is such a thing as pushing too much too early, which can cause stress and take some (or all) of the joy out of learning. My son was bright and by all accounts advanced, so I thought pushing him early was a good thing. Focusing on their intelligence and forcing things early often backfires, causing a perfectionist complex and a lack of effort, and there is much research to that effect. Always focus on his effort, rather than his intelligence.

If your son loves books, and is doing great as is, why change things? Just keep reading books with him and sharing that wonderful time together. What greater way of igniting a love of reading than sharing a book with mommy! Beware of inadvertently squelching his love of books and taking the joy out of learning. One of my favorite quotes about learning is: "Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire." Remember that as you seek to advance your son.

I found that all 3 of my kids pretty much became the people they were meant to be, following personality types and abilities that were there since birth, and it had nothing to do with how I tried to "direct" them. The less I tried to make them BE something (and I did less with each kid), the more successful they were. My youngest was practically ignored (I was tired)and he's never gotten below an A in school.

Oh if I could just go back with my oldest son and cuddle with him on my lap giggling and reading books, instead of drilling him over stupid phonics! How much more he might have excelled in school!

Listen to Tina K., below, and Reva, above. They are right on.

3 moms found this helpful

The first question you need to answer about your child is if he likes and can hold attention long enough for an electronic toy for pre-reading skills. Honestly, I am in the education field, and there's nothing like getting a head start, since I see SO many way behind. Unfortunately, some of the kids behind are that way because they were either pushed too hard, or not enough. What you are doing now is wonderful. I see these videos of toddlers reading words on the screen from some super expensive "eduational" tool, but that is a hoax and obviously just memorization like your child and most children memorize their favorite books. Also, I started my child with LeapFrog as well, and as an educator, I can see it's a great system...for an emerging reader. However, my son did not enjoy this non-human interaction, and rarely ever used it. My daughter just played with it in an entertainment fashion, poking at the button repeatedly to get a broken record effect. This may all seem negative, but truly, the BEST reading system is what you are already doing. Parent and child interaction, reading a book together. Some books have small pictures where the words should be so your child can "read" the picture in your mid-sentence. Those are cool. They feel proud that they recognize the picture and are helping you read. The key there is that they are helping you, and are in control for something that is appropriate for children to control. Helping them happens all the time, but WOW now he's helping Mommy! Another idea is to have him tell you a story and you can type it up, make a book together, draw pictures for it, maybe cut out pictures if he is using safety scissors, etc. Get some puppets or make sock puppets and act out the scenes in the book. They love these things. These are the types of literacy activities that a toddler or young child would enjoy and benefit from. I hope this helps, and I know it was long, and if you read through this, whoohoo!

3 moms found this helpful

We have an Alpha Bug and a Number Bug that the children in our daycare love to play with. They aren't 'reading systems' but do help the children learn their letters, numbers, colors and letter sounds. I also found a leap pad in a thrift store that our kids enjoy. The biggest help toward reading skills we've found though, is simply reading books to the child, taking walks and pointing out things as we go and listening to the child's responses in order to find their interests and work with that. Our little two year olds love to talk about the trains they see... the local commuter trains... and they count the cars. They recognize stop signs and other traffic signs along the way. We look at cars or other objects and talk about color, size, etc. When walking we also - in areas where it's safe to do so - let them run ahead a ways, giving them instructions to stop at certain landmarks we see, and they wait for us to catch up, then give them the next place they can run to. Poplular landmarks are lampposts, unique mailboxes, certain vehicles that may stand out, or the most popular in our neighborhood are the yellow pads with the bumps on them that are at each street corner. They know 'stop on the yellow' quite well now, and all I'm wondering is how we're going to explain that street lights mean 'stop on red' 'caution on yellow' after teaching them to stop on yellow. Children learn better with concrete things than with workpages or written material, so whatever you do decide to get for a reading program, do be sure to include these other things.

1 mom found this helpful

I don't think you need to buy electronics to help a toddler read. The best thing, like the other moms have said, is reading aloud to him. If he shows an interest, you can go into what sounds letters make. This is the start of "decoding," which is the process that allows us to make the association with symbols (letters) and their associated sounds. My daughter went to a Carden school for preschool, and their method for 3 year olds is for you to write the letter (use a highlighter), have the child hold his pencil correctly and trace the letter, and then repeat the sound the letter makes. They also have play names. For instance, the letter "c" is also called "the cat curled up" and is accompanied by a simple drawing of a curled up cat (you can trace the drawing with your finger and show how it makes the letter c). The letter b was "the stinger of the bee and the body of the bee" (the straight part of the b is the stinger, etc.). This way the kids learn the shapes and sounds of each letter. It sounds very simplistic but it really does prepare the children for phonics-based reading.

For now, reading to him is the best thing to do, I think. Read real stories to him rather than "baby" books, if he will sit still for them. Maybe some Grimms Fairy Tales or Shel Silverstein or Beatrix Potter. If he loves being read to, he'll be really motivated to read all by himself once he's developmentally ready for it.

My children read early too. My husband and I just read to them every day and they both went to preschool. Instead of singing the alphabet try to search for a sound song. All you need to teach them are the sound and Bob Books at the book store.


I love all LeapFrog products! I do however recomend you go the the leap pad and skip the my first leap pad. You will get more use out of the skip. I have not tried out the new reading system but, I am sure it is awesome!

You obviously know that reading to your son is the best way for him to learn to read, so I won't bombard you with that advice.

My son was also very interested in reading at that age (he now reads pretty fluently at 3 1/2 years old).

He liked and continues to like the leap pad. For a kid that young, I think the pad is beter than the TAG just because it actually holds the the books and is more like a game board. With the TAG he might be frustrated or confused that the pen doesn't read EVERY book to him (if that makes sense). The books have little interactive games on each page, too, which my son continues to enjoy.

Hope this helps,


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