Zachary Mendoza, from Sydney Australia, was given the opportunity to nearly be born reading. At 11 months old, Zach could actually read twenty words. By the time he was 15 months old he had a repertoire of over 100 sight-reading words as well as knowing that many or more words in sign language. He could recite the alphabet along with the sound of each letter At 22 months Zach knew at least 500 words and was able to speak their names.
When I saw a home video of baby Zach reading, I wanted to share his story with you. So I asked his mom to write it up for me. Here is Zach's story shared with Tootlee.com by his equally amazing mom, Diana Mendoza.
Diana Mendoza: "One of the things we wanted to help our child with is to develop a love for reading and give him the gift of literacy.
I taught Zach how to read using various tools - books with big fonts, magnetic letters, alphabet posters, word puzzles, flash cards, videos, and early childhood sites. The teaching/reading sessions with my child were not regimented at all. I didn’t want to force something on him or pressure him to learn. It was all just done in the spirit of fun play. I went with what he was interested to do for the day. We were flexible and had reading games for a while then the rest of the day was spent playing with his toys (he loves constructing/building) or doing some art or music, pretend play or story-telling, playing in the park or simply just cuddling in bed.
When Zach was a baby, my husband and I read to him every day as much as possible - a few minutes here and there just enough before he shifted his focus to other things. When he started to crawl, it was funny how he would go to his library shelf and get some books to read. At 11 months, we taught him sign language so he could communicate to us. To our surprise, he started sight reading 20 words just three weeks after. We showed him printed and electronic flash cards so that by 15 months he was sight-reading over 100 words. It was mind-blowing how a baby’s brain is like a sponge – it can absorb and learn anything and everything as long as it is presented to them in a joyful way.
1 Year-Old Zachary Reading
He then could recite the letters of the alphabet as well as enunciate the sound of each letter by 18 months. Four months later, he knew over 500 words and started to articulate them. Afterwards, I began to teach phonics and amazingly at 27 months he knew over 1000 words and began to read Early Readers books by himself - Children’s Classic Stories, Dr. Seuss, Bible stories, Aesop’s Fables, Greek & Roman Mythology stories and more complex chapter books, to name a few. It’s funny that one time I even caught him reading a Health magazine in the doctor’s clinic. We then have become regular visitors of book stores and the local library.
2 Year-Old Zachary Reading Country Mouse, Town Mouse
2 Year-Old Zach Reading The Bad-Tempered Ladybird
At 32 months, his reading level is that of a 9-10 year old equivalent to a grade/year 4-5. He reads phonetically, comprehends very well and has a wide vocabulary for his age. It was such a joy to see him advance so quickly.
Zach not only began acquiring exceptional reading and verbal skills at a young age, but also math skills. At 27 months, he could recognize quantities; identify numbers; count to 100; and answer simple equations. He understands and speaks a second language too. He just turned 3 last month.
Through all this, Zach has developed a love and joy for reading to the point that my husband and I would ask him to stop and continue it the next morning because it is already bedtime.
If I can leave one thing to all parents out there, it would be that the most important thing in teaching a child is to have lots of love and fun. No pressure whatsoever. Our kids must enjoy what they are doing and never be forced to do something if they are not interested. As parents, we must teach them in a cheerful way. Ultimately, we are here to care for them, guide, teach and love them the best we can."
Thank you, Diana, for sharing yours and Zach's story with all of us here at Tootlee.com. What a joy to learn of parents who are helping their children achieve their highest potential in fun, creative, and engaging ways.
If you have a story to share of an amazing child in your life, please do not hesitate to let us know. We're looking for hundreds of new stories in the next six months, so your help would be totally awesome.
To watch more videos of Zach reading and singing, visit his mom's YouTube channel here.
Image source: Diana Mendoza