Benjamin and Andrew both started reading before Kindergarten. Benjamin actually started reading without having to teach him. I pulled out the K-1 sight words because he was showing an interest and he read through most of them on the first attempt. Since he could barely talk at this point (he was 4 and hadn't started talking until he was 3 1/2, I was MORE than impressed).
Nowadays, my boys can decode just about anything that I hand them. They can answer specific questions about text. They do have some trouble with retelling the story, but I really am starting to think it has more to do with speech and attention issues more than an inability to do so. We are working hard on improving their retell.
Kate has been amazing lately. She is 3 years, 9 months old and has just started putting together letter sounds to make words. She does really well with simple words written out by themselves, so I thought I would try her on the very first BOB book. Check out how she did!! Not too bad for a 3 year old.
No, she isn't like those genius children that you see on infommercials who are reading Charlotte's Web at age 3, but still, I am impressed.
When the boys were little, I was constantly focusing on their speech. I often used flashcards meant for beginning readers for speech. Surprisingly, they picked up the words printed on the cards and could read them easily. Also, when they were learning to talk, I figured that it would be helpful for them to hear the sounds that letters made. So, from the time they were about 1 year old, I would play a game with them while in waiting in line, driving in the car, etc. where I would literally go through the alphabet and say, " 'A' says a a a apple! 'B' says, buh buh buh banana..." I would often put in a word that they would think was super funny like a word in Spanish. They loved the game and it helped them both with their speech and reading. When they were at the point that they were learning their letter names, they already knew the sounds that they made.
Now that I am homeschooling Kate for preschool, we spend some time reading Abeka's Handbook for Reading and are formally learning the phonics required for reading. We are just beginning, but she is quickly learning and is very excited about it.
I have not decided how I am going to educate Kate. She is catching on quickly to the reading and is already starting to learn her addition and subtraction since that is what Ben is working on. She can count well already and recognizes her numbers up to 20 (except for the number 16.... dunno why...). She is already starting to write her letters. However, she doesn't start Kindergarten for 2 more school years. I haven't decided if I am going to go ahead and start her on Kindergarten curriculum early or if I just let her learn at her own pace at home and then send her to Kindergarten in 2 years. Since I am currently homeschooling one child and have one in a very good public school, I am confronted with choosing between 2 very good options for Kate. Another option would be to have her tested to go to Kindergarten early, but she will be barely 4 1/2 when the next school year starts.