Once your child's learning begins in earnest, it's important to establish the development of literacy as a safe place. Too often our frustration can create anxiety when a child doesn't perform as well as he or she would like to do. And as parents, our anxiety over their trouble -- nobody wants to see their child feel ashamed or less-than -- can just add to the stress.
That's why it's important to remember two things: Your child's failures are not yours, and they're not really failures at all. By involving your child in determining his strengths and weaknesses, progress and areas for improvement, you give him back control over the process. The fact is that we all learn in many different ways, and for a skill as important and complex as reading, that could take a while to reveal itself.
By bringing in a variety of strategies, and seeing which of these pre-learning and early development activities your child enjoys the most, you can streamline and personalize your child's development in a way that sidesteps a lot of those burnt fingers and hurt feelings.
If your child doesn't seem interested in letter sounds or word games -- the strategies most parents think of as "the right way" to engender pre-literacy skills -- it could be a matter of having him draw pictures of the things he fancies, and then labeling them with the correct words: "Mom driving the car," for example, or "The cat sat on the couch."