1. Lay the Groundwork
Learning the alphabet and phonetics are another important component. These lessons can also start very early, and should be fun. Singing the "Alphabet Song" and reading ABC books together will help them learn the sounds of the letters. Some parents invest in phonetics CDs or computer programs, but taking advantage of random teaching moments is often just as effective, if not more so. Learning to read should be fun and kids shouldn't feel like they are being grilled. This might bring a negative connotation to reading. Pop quizzes while a child is doing something else, like eating lunch or playing with toys. Asking questions such as "What letter does dog start with?" or "What letter does blocks start with?" are good foundational questions. Keep quizzes short, and if a child starts to get frustrated, change the subject. Lessons, especially those with young children, don't have to be learned in one day.
2. Test the Waters