After seven months of half-day attendance
(and coming from a home where English is not spoken),
a 2-year-old reads:

Pat the cat. See that dog.
This bus is red. The sun is hot.
See that pig. The sun is red.
Pat the dog. This bus is big.

Press play to hear for yourself!

Reading: The Life-Long Key to Learning

The Sidney Ledson Simplified Phonic Reading System grants quick literacy to all children (and adults) and even to preschoolers considered too young to read. The program permits any child who can talk (usually age two or three) to identify and understand, in printed form, those words the child can understand in speech. (Reading instruction is given individually to each child so children may join the program any time of the year.)

  • Shamit Bhagani, age three, was reading Grade 4 material (written for nine-year-olds) in just five months.
  • Three-year-old Aly Merchant also read this material after five months.
  • A recording of two-year-old Jesse Britstone reading – two months after enrolling – was aired at several radio stations.
  • Another two-year-old, Jessica Li, spoke no English on enrolment but was soon reading our First Reader (Grade 2 material).
  • Three-year-old Alden Ching was reading Grade 2 material in eight months. His parents expressed delight and wonder at Alden’s advancing social skills, his vocabulary growth, and his interest in books.

But note: there is far greater reward in early reading ability than merely opening a new door to learning and entertainment. Reading has traditionally played a major role in boosting children’s intelligence. The ability to distinguish between tiny black squiggles on paper (letters) and convert them into recognizable sounds in the reader’s head, provides an exercise equal to a brain massage. Indeed, if preschoolers were to receive no other form of intellectual stimulation than what is provided by learning to read, their acquisition of that one skill would reward them with rare brilliance.

However, we add three playful activities to increase neural growth.

1. Mazes

Mazes provide the same enjoyment and intellectual stimulation today that the earliest mazes did thousands of years B.C. Beginning as early as age two, children learn to draw a line around a simple path from the mouse to the cheese. (At this age, of course, children are also learning to manipulate a pencil in preparation for printing and writing.)

Gradually, in easy steps, children advance to more challenging mazes. By the time Mark Lazarte reached age four at the Institute, he was solving our difficult mazes (and was able to read the daily newspaper). Another four-year-old, Alexander Hung, found great delight in solving complicated mazes. Alexander is shown above, followed by one of his successes.

2. Memory

What price a good memory? Another mind-expanding activity teachers use – the Ledson Memory Energizer – equips children with an enviable skill that both aids and quickens learning. Designed for children as young as two, the Memory Energizer provides an entertaining form of brain gymnastics. Children are shown cards with a different silhouette on each, selected from a set of twenty-five silhouettes. The teacher discusses the silhouettes that are shown then puts the cards away. Later, children are given a sheet that displays all twenty-five silhouettes and asked to circle those they saw earlier. As children’s memory skill advances, the number of silhouettes shown is increased, as is the time lapse between the display and the request for recall. Five-year-old Safina Allidina, below, could eventually remember all thirteen of thirteen silhouettes shown – three days later!

3. Superior Visual Discernment

Another playful activity, the Diligent Spotter, advances children’s visual perception. Children learn to search for, and distinguish, differences they find between two otherwise identical pictures – beginning with the simple pictures shown below. The challenge gradually becomes more difficult, and by the time children are able to solve the entire series, they have acquired rare visual acuity.