Teaching to read before starting school.(44 Posts)
I have a 4 yr old due to start school this September. He seems fairly bright and knows all his letter sounds, loves books and "pretends" to read. We had a parents meeting at school the other evening where the reception class teacher talked about the reading scheme they use and how the children will bring home one book per week. I'm just not sure if that will be enough for ds. If I teach him to read will I be setting him up for a year of boredom and frustration when the school reading books aren't stretching him enough? Or will he benefit from the advantage of a headstart? I think he would learn very quickly if i taught him. What does anyone think?
Terribly hard to judge, as so much depends on the teacher. When my ds was in his first year at school they were grouped very early, within the first couple of weeks, and each group went at its own pace; I doubt if he had more than two books a week, but they just moved straight on to harder level books. On the other hand if you get a more inflexible teacher then I guess you might have problems. If he's that ready for reading and there is no flexibility then he's going to get bored sooner or later anyway, so I wouldn't have thought it would do him any harm to learn with you. Hope he enjoys it anyway; my dd starts then too!
I never did and mine was very keen, I would think its easier for the teacher to do it their own way. I would use Jolly Phonics books (from ELC) to teach him the sounds boys love them and are really useful
Children definitely benefit hugely from a headstart in literacy. Schools are used to coping with children at different levels. Children are up to a year older/younger in reception, so will be at different stages. Ds2 was 4 last week, and is reading pretty fluently already. When he starts school they will simply start him at a higher level of the reading scheme. Ds1 is nearly 6, and very bright, but is never bored at school - he just does the work to a different level, and takes in more than other children.
Go for it, and let us know how you get on.
I think you should let him lead the way and if he seems desperate to learn to read, ask the class teacher's advice on the best way to do it. Otherwise leave it until September. (None of my kids could read when they started school but they all went off the top of the "reading age" test by 9/10.)
How is he with the practical things - getting undressed and dressed, wiping bottom, fastening shoes etc? Just settling into school and getting used to the routines can take quite a while - the academic stuff is actually less important to begin with in Reception.
Take it really slowly and focus on the fundamental things first - can he recognise and write his name (lower case for writing but recognise it in different ways), signs such as for toilets, in/out etc and start by reinforcing the letter sounds/numbers, especially with games. If you can use the same approach/scheme as the school it would probably be best.
But as JanH has said, practical things like being able to dress/ undress for PE, opening lunch box and drink on his own, being able to open his bag, sit still for a story, waiting to take turns, asking for the toilet, whilst they seem simple in themselves, are important too as it can all contribute to a child's confidence when they start school. In fact the teacher will probably thank you more for this than him being able to read.
Whilst one book a week seems little don't underestimate how taxing your ds may find starting school, even part time, so it is far better to start this way. Hopefully he will demonstrate his enthusiasm and make really quick progress.
Interested that you say one book a week. Our school will change their reading book every day if they have finished it. I think it's quite important that when they do start learning to read they do a small amount (5 mins) every day. Obviously they will be doing reading at school every day but the 5 mins with mum or dad is hugely important. Doesn't have to be a "reading scheme" book though. There are many other things you could share with your ds.
My gut feeling is that if he's interested, let him learn - we hear so much about boys (in particular) not being interested in reading that surely it's a bonus if they are - my DS is only 2 but at his playgroup he is encouraged to bring home a different book every time (3 days a week!) -obviously, it's not proper 'reading' but it is getting used to books, words etc. If your DS is actively interested and you try & slow him down/discourage him, I would imagine that could lead to even worse problems later on.
When I was teaching (admittedly slightly older age group) I used to let the children go at their own pace. They got a new reading book whenever they finished the old one ... no point in holding them back. Having said that, some of the less keen readers would stick to a book for half a term if they could so they would get more encouragement ....
Personally ... please don't shoot me for this ... I don't see much point in actively teaching your child to read before he/she starts school. I read somewhere (can't remember where ... it was a long time ago) that research had found that children of average IQ were all at the same level at 10 regardless of whether they learned to read at 3 or 5. In other countries ... for example Holland ... they don't teach children to read until they are 6.
I went to England when I was 6 and couldn't read anything ... all my peers had been reading for at least 2 years. As I was 'average' and had no learning problems I learned to read really quickly (I remember being taught how to read) and it was less than a year before I could read well for my age .... By the time I was 8 my mum said that I had a higher than average reading age ... and by the time I was 10 no-one could have been able to tell that I couldn't read when I was 6 ...
Just putting another viewpoint into the picture ...
Arizona ... I would talk to your DS' teacher and ask her what she thinks ... you might find that she won't welcome it as you DS might find himself being held back ... OR she might be really grateful ....
Ghosty - I saw a TV programme on Swedish school education where they explained that children are not taught to read before they are 7 and at 12 years old they fared better than UK kids in litteracy tests! (This was a BBC programme 4 or 5 years ago).
Generally I find that we all think our kids are more gifted/brigher (including me) than other kids. Why can't we let them be kids and PLAY!
OK let's here the fack
Yep pupuce ... it was definitely a program or article about 5 years ago that I read or saw too ...
Agree SOOO MUCH, Ghosty.
I, as you know was a primary teacher 5 years ago and had a head at the time who pushed the children to read more complex books than they were ready for. So basics were often rushed over and many failed to grab them later.
Dd just started school here in NZ. Have a different philosophy where she brings home as many books as she wants from a box matched to a level that she can very easily read. She thinks its great picking out 4 books that she can read easily and her confidence as a reader is very positive.She is going over key words, over and over again without realising it.
Arizona if you are not happy do some other things related to book, if he is not too tired and you are keen to do more with the reading scheme book;
1) tape him reading book
2) print out text on a few pages of paper and get him to illustrate it
3) Read the book in different voices happy, sad, monster, alien etc
In mean time just read books together and play snap with a few key words. Hope this helps.
Keep him happy with reading. Read anything he is interested in.
Our small child's ability to read has unfortunately become a judge of our parenting skills
Ghosty, I agree with your point of view entirely. Nothing else to add really!
really agree with you, janh and ghosty. IMO encouraging your child's love of books and learning is great, it this is where they are at, but tbhnere's no need to push it. My son aged 9 is a good fast reader. He couldn't read much when he started school and indeed even age 6 he wasn't more than average with his reading. It just clicked with him sometime after that.
Arizona, I have the opposite problem to you actually. I have a son who will be 4 in late August. He starts school in January. He will be the youngest in his year group. He has not yet reached the stage where he wants to draw pictures, let alone start reading. He loves being read to, can recognise the letter Z and write the letter T but that's it. Can't write his name, doesn't want to try. His development is fine abiltywise, but really in so many ways he is still so much a baby!
I don't know whether I should sit down with him and get him tracing letters and drawing pictures or leave this until he actually wants to. I know he is not yet ready for this, but I am very conscious he will be with children nearly a year older than him who have naturally reached this stage at home. At the moment I am doing a little with him, but just hoping he will start to show some interest in reading and writing soon. I am not expecting he'll have an easy start in school, even though socially he is ready to go and already knows at least half of his future classmates.
I do think it's important he gets to grips witih the practical stuff - dressing himself etc so I suppose this is our priority for now.
I didn't see the programme Pupace but I totally agree with you on this one! Children are children for such a short time, life is too short, why can't we as a society just let they children have fun and play while they can? If I had the guts I'd run for parliament on that one guess I wouldn't get many votes when it came to secret balloting though!
leave him tigermoth. No point pushing. My ds1 starting school in September refused to even hold a pen until a couple of weeks ago. He is scribbling everywhere now and trying to draw circles- that's enough for him now. And he is now mad on drawing- wants to do it all the time. If we had pushed at all we could have put him off for another year. He quite likes letter and taught himself the alphabet at 2, but he doesn't know the letter sounds and to be honest I'm not bothered. He'll pick it up when he's ready. If it was possible we would be sending him to a Steiner schoo anyway and he wouldn't start reading/writing until he was 7.
The school should be able to cope anyway- if your son was in ds1's class he would be streets ahead of him , and ds1's school seem remarkably unfazed by how far behind he is in some areas- they'll just have to adpat things for him. I know that a lot of social things will go into ds1's IEP (things like putting on shoes, pulling up trousers that sort of stuff) and I am pleased as that is so much more important.
Pupuce couldn't agree more- you are a voice of reason No flack from me.
I agree with all those who say leave him. There is more to reading a book than 'reading it'. There are worksheets to go with the books to ensure that children understand the words they are actually reading. It is amazing how they can actually memorise the words and seem to read a book off pat without actually understanding any of it. My mum ( a teacher) told me that the children who are taught to read and write before starting school, are the ones who actually get into difficulty once they start. I had concerns as well, but my children have all learned at different rates and all got there in the end.
good point mears. My ds1 can recite whole books- and has been able to for about 2 years. However he's only started talking in sentences of his own making over the last couple of months, so there's no way he understands the words he's memorised. He has a good memory, but I'm more interested in his social and language skills being helped.
I think go where your child leads. I was taught very young (think mum started to teach me when I was 2.5 years old) and at that age I was *desperate* to read apparently. I don't think it did me any harm and I spent most of my childhood lost in a book (yes, I got to choose my own reading material - and at the age of 8 I would choose about 25% adult fiction - i.e. everything on my parents' bookshelves!) My mum had a major argument with the librarian once because a child's ticket was only 4 books and I was getting through them in an afternoon and wanting to go back next day. Eventually they gave up and gave me an adult ticket (8 books a visit).
Despite some of the "horror" stories, I didn't struggle at school even though I was ahead. I was lucky in that I had a sympathetic teacher who would let me "skip" readers (which were boring topics anyway - wouldn't bother reading them out of boredom, not from lack of understanding) and let me choose from the school library.
Ds at the age of 2 is already exhibiting similar behaviour traits - if he could choose to, he would have me read to him most of an afternoon. He's constantly pointing at letters (on t-shirts, signs, etc) saying "wassat, mummy!". He loves his pop-up alphabet book and number book. He brought me a recipe book to read to him the other day because he like the look of the pictures! I can see him becoming an avid reader and I can see me teaching him to read early. I've already started to read up on various reading schemes to make sure that if asks me questions I won't tell him anything that'll confuse him later. (After all, I don't want to deliberately set out to make his future teacher's lives difficult!)
In reality I started teaching him to read from a baby. He knows that there's a story in the pages, that you turn over the pages to get to the next part, that the pictures help tell the story too, that there are odd squiggles that mummy scans from left to right to tell the same story over and over again. He recognises the Weetabix symbol and the Number 1 (as that's the number painted on Thomas the Tank Engine). See, already I've been teaching him. Evil Mummy.
I can understand the idea that you shouldn't push your child before they are ready. However, I will *not* be deliberately holding my child back despite his obvious interest. The second he's bored with it, I'll stop completely until he's asking questions again, but I'm not going to avoid his questions just because of some survey says that dire things are going to happen if you teach them to read before the age of 6! And no, my child will *not* miss out on play and childhood because of it. To him reading *is* fun and *is* play. Some of my best memories as a kid is of me half way up a tree reading a book.
Trust your instincts. If your child is eager, gently introduce them. Read up yourself on different schemes, take it slowly, test the waters, and if they're still keen to learn more don't stop! You know your child far far better than anyone else does. If you listen to them and listen to your judgement I don't think you can go far wrong.
Georgina- I wouldn't want you to think I thought what you were doing was wrong (having been a anti-early reading here). I just meant for someone like tigermoths son she's probably better leaving him until he's interested rather than feeling like she "should" be teaching him. This government has an obsession with children reading at a ridiculously young age, and not all are ready, or more to the point interested. It has an obsession with getting tiny young children into a formal learning environment as well, and as someone has already pointed out this doesn't automatically result in improved literacy.
My son has also been taught himself to read, and now recognises quite a few words- they've been memorised rather than having been read phonetically. But since he's so majorly delayed in other areas it doesn't mean very much. I would hate him to go to school and for the school to concentrate on reading when he can't even go to the toilet himself (or speak for that matter ). The new foundation curriculum does seem to have improved things- at least it recognises the need for play and for social skills etc to be incorporated into the curriculum.
I don't think early reading does any damage at all, but being pushed into reading before a child is ready could well do. And you know some parents do get very competitive about things like reading (not saying anyone here is - but you've all seen it I'm sure).
Sorry Jimjams - wasn't aimed at anyone in particular - just in general. As you can tell, reading is something I feel particularly passionate about!!
I do agree that there can be an area of competitiveness which is bad. Pushing a child in *any* learning area is going to give bad feeling towards schooling for that child which is a great shame and lost opportunity
At the same time I have seen (like you, not saying I've seen it here but elsewhere) people ignoring a child's interest because the parent themselves don't feel confident enough to encourage their child, or because they've heard that they'll just confuse them, that teachers will be annoyed with them for teaching the child "wrong", that they'll actually negatively effect their child's future schooling. I think that is a lost opportunity too Surely we want to encourage our children's enthusiasm for learning not stifle it - which both extremes tend to do.
All in all, in the last week I've found myself how much I'm affected by x study printed in y paper about how my parenting is crap in some way or another (even if there are 20 other studies saying completely different things). I let myself be swayed by them too much to the detriment of listening to my own instincts. I'm not saying my instincts are always great, and parenting manuals and studies have their place - but they do seem designed to make you feel bad about yourself rather than giving you the confidence you need!
Hmm, I've veered off topic slightly now, sorry!
Also, as an interesting side thought - why is "learning" and "play" seen as mutually exclusive? Do they have to be?
True Gerogina- but those surveys are crap and defintiely best ignored. Mind you I'm lucky becuase DS1 is so far from the norm that there isn't a parenting manual or survey that is relevant to him anyway Anyone who makes a comment gets the same response - "you bloody come and do better then!" DS2 does fit the surveys but I reckon increased confidence goes with the second one anyway.
Oh I think play and learning defintely go together- unfortunately I'm not sure the government does (as everything has to have a goal iyswim).
I do hope increased confidence comes automatically with the second, lol. Feel a bit sorry for all the trailblazer first children
Unfortunately, funding means that all learning in this country seems to need to have a goal - not just in children's learning but in adult learning too. It's a shame, because "learning just for fun" seems to have dropped out of our vocabulary in our country - unless it's for a vocation or a "serious" subject it's seen as second rate But that's a discussion for another day I think...
Whatever the hidden agenda behind it I was glad to hear Charles Clarke say that there should be more non-academic time in school again - music, sport, art etc.
Pre National Curriculum, when my elder 2 were at primary school, there used to be a display at the end of every year of things they'd made - embroidery, fabric collage, working models, that kind of thing, and the school had quite a good orchestra. That has all stopped now. I hope this means there will be time for it again (but am not holding my breath....)
You might find it useful to look at the Parents Guide on the Ladybird.co.uk website. It gives some suggestions regarding pre-reading skills and readiness to read as well as some approaches to it. There are also a few simple games on there (obviously tied into their products!).
I think there is also a govt site which has some curriculum information but cannot remember the site name - perhaps someone else knows which one I am thinking of.
Arizona and GeorginaA I think that if a child will lead you in the reading direction if they are interested in them and will ask questions which to others can seem as if you are teaching them but to the child is just part of play - what I meant earlier was there is no need for parents to worry that their child/children are showing no interest as I understand it children all level off to the same level roughly unless very talented or have a particular difficulty and so early reading as part of play is fine but parents shouldn't worry if there child shows no interest in letters or book etc.
I completely agree about the way creative stuff is being squeezed out of the primary school day. I'm a teacher and the other day I was doing supply in a reception class. We'd done our numeracy and literacy in the morning and after lunch we were timetabled to do some other curriculum subjects. The children were knackered and just wanted to be left alone to play or do some painting or whatever but they couldn't. There's definitely not much time for all the arty crafty things any more.
The year group that I've always enjoyed teaching most has been year 2 (age 6/7)because that seems to be the time when the less able readers or slower starters suddenly click and the reading takes off, and also the summer birthdays seem to catch up round about then.
Back to original question, my instinct has always been to leave the reading until school starts. My dh disagrees and thinks that a headstart will be a great advantage. Lots of wise words from everyone- thankyou. I'm very chilled about it all- the main thing is that I want ds to be happy at school and the academic stuff comes after that.
GeorginaA ... FWIW I do agree with you ... in that 'holding a child back' is not good either. I was merely saying that 'actively' teaching a child to read just because they are about to start school may not be the right thing to do as it won't necessarily set them at an advantage. My son loves letters too. He is 3.5 and he recognised T (for his name) and M for mummy and Z for zoo and lots of other letters. He likes to make letter shapes out of dominoes ... He loves books and alphabet books and we read together all the time. BUT I don't ACTIVELY teach him how to read (although due to my teaching background I know how to and I keep up with the current methods) ... just because I don't see much point. He will learn to read ... and like I said whether he learns now or when he is 5 will make no difference IMO ... he will still learn to be an avid reader like his dad and me as he is always seeing us with our heads buried in books!!! I also agree with what you say about 'learning' and 'fun'.... I used to get stick at school for reading History Text books... I loved them. Still do ... People thought I was bonkers for reading them for fun!!! In terms of your child you need to do what you think is best ... and DON'T listen to people/magazines who knock your parenting .... YOU are your child's parent and only YOU know what is best for him!
Arizona ... a good post ... totally agree with you. I take it you husband is not a teacher??? I am glad you are chilled about it ...
One of the reasons I was keen to leave teaching for a bit and be a SAHM when I came to NZ is because of the way teaching and learning had become. We had to squeeze so much curriculum stuff into the day that much creativity was forgotten about ... all so that they could reach targets ... where's the fun in that kind of learning??
My mum was a reception class teacher so teaching reading was her thing. She taught my brother cos he was v hyperactive, v demanding and not good at playing by himself. He seemed to need the calming influence of reading very early and was ready for it. He got far more out of reading than playing, painting etc. She didn't feel the need teach me as I was a much more easy going child and was a good player. She got me ready and I read with in the 1st few weeks of school . It depends very much on the child.
I agree that you shouldn't feel forced into teaching a child to read before they are ready, but to take the lead from your child. You can tell when they are interested and you should just encourage a love of books and reading. As a SAHM I have the opportunity to read when my children want to (the housework can wait!) My dd absolutely loved books from a very early age. She was not 'taught' to read but seemed to have a natural understanding. She was reciting books at 2 and reading at 3. By that I mean she was reading words other than the books she knew, ie: from signs/newspapers etc. I don't know how she learnt to read so fluently other than just being read to so much. She is one of the younger ones in her year but that hasn't held her back.
Don't feel pressured to 'teach' but at the same time if your child shows any interest/ability to read don't feel you must wait. The ability to read helps your child in other areas as well. They are more able to find things out from looking in books themselves and more intersted in learning per se.
Bron, interestingly that's what my mum said about me - that I was hyperactive and demanding!
She said it was such a relief when she could just leave a book by my bed so I'd read in the early hours and leave her to her sleep
These threads always unnerve me as I know I'm about to read about a number of children younger than ds (nearly 4) who can read well etc, so I tend to avoid them. But thanks, tigermoth, my ds is the same as yours - he knows letters (from pre school) but I don't think he knows many words if any. I thought this was normal for a 3 year old! He just does not want to sit down and 'do' words for long enough - I've taken the view that he's going to be in education for such a long time and that this is his time to have adventures and fun during the day - he spends a lots of time digging in the garden and doing DIY jobs with his tool set - building castles etc. I thiink that if he was more 'academic' at this age then I would be happy to go with it - the thing is all our children are different but as long as they are happy doing whatever at pre school age we should follow their lead.
northernlass don't get too worried- I think reading seems to breed a certain amount of cometitiveness not seen since toddlers start walking (not saying that of anyone here- just at the shcool gates).
At the end of the day it is just decoding- nothing more. My son (4) has been reading odd bits and pieces since he was 2 but he can't talk so it really shows how useless it is the great scheme of things!
He picks up things like reading, maths symbols (useful- not!), weird shape names etc really easily but he can't dig with a spade, can't build castles and can't use a DIY tool kit- and I know which I would prefer him to be doing! Come to that his 16 month old brother can feed himself a yoghurt- ds1 can't. So really don't think your child is anything other than normal. He's doing what he should be doing! Parents who home educate often find that siblings learn to read at very different ages. I know of families who talk about one child learning at 4, one at 6 and one not until 9. Children become interested at different ages.
Well, when I read the title of this thread I was all set to launch in, but you have all said it so much more eloquently than I could! I am a teacher, and even amongst my teaching friends I see a big difference. There are the "Oh look she' only three and knows all her letters and numbers" through to the "She didn't know a single letter before she started school, we spent all the time playing" I really think that the most important thing is to be lead by YOUR child. If your child is really in to climbing trees, then that is he/she needs to do. If they are book mad, then read. We really push early reading in this country, with nursery schools now doing letters etc. WHY??????? When I was training, we saw the statistics for Europe. In the UK we start school the earliest. One country (I forget which one) doesn't teach reading until age 8. By age 10, all the children have caught up.
I used to teach in the East End of London, and we saw kids who really had no pre-reading skils. That means they had never seen a book, never heard stories read to them. They had no idea that the black marks on the page told a story, or that the book has a beginning and an end. They were totally at sea when it came to reading, because they didn't understand the concept of stories, writing and books. Those are the children that the government gets worried about, and then imposes early reading on the rest.
Oh dear turned into a bit of a rant, just to repeat the important bit, follow your child, if they need to play, let them play, if they are ready for letters, have fun with them. You will probably find that your child is really tired in the first few months of school, and may not have any enthusiasm for reading at home anyway.
PS, it's probably not a good idea to teach writing letters unless a teacher has shown you how to teach letter formation.
Steppemum, I'm in Switzerland and here they don't start school till 7, and even then it's mornings only, and I don't think they do reading or writing till age 8. The school system is very well respected, as are teachers (who incidentally are paid significantly higher than in the UK), and average class size in an average primary 15.
I think if we were in the UK my son would be starting school in September and I think, well for him anyway, it's so early. In August he takes his first steps onto the educational ladder - playgroup for 2x2hours per week! Next year he'll upgrade to kindergarten (which lasts 2 years) which I think is 4 or 5 mornings a week, and only then will he begin school for 5 mornings a week. It does make life very difficult for women who do want to get a job, and I think this is a big reason why many families only have 1 child, max 2 and live with or opposite the grandparents. Still, I think it's great for the kids.
I've been doing some Steiner training to start a mother/toddler group and we have gone over the philosophy. Being pregnant it has gone a bit in one ear and out the other.... but I do rememeber the reasoning behind why they introduce reading at 7. They very much believe that early introduction of reading hinders creativity in later life. To the Steiner philosophy, creativity within a child is one of the most important things to build self esteem. Also they structure their day with the main lesson/academic work in the morning and then the afternoon is for hand work - painting, gardening, cooking etc. As they feel this follows the childs natural rythyms.
I find I can relate to this a bit as I was a very early reader and although I can be artistic I do find I struggle with creativity!
However, I loved reading as a child and not sure what I will do with dd (13 months). She does like sitting looking at a book in her quieter moments!!
I agree with those of you who have said that too much of the curriculum is devoted to "academic" subjects and not enough to creative / play things (well, as a music teacher I would say that wouldn't I?). However, I do think that reading is a wonderful way of broadening horizons and stimulating the imagination. If your child wants to read then why deny him/her?
Regarding the ds I mentioned earlier in the thread, when he started school (age 4 1/2) he knew his letters and he had a vague idea of how to make two and three letter words. That was enough for him at the time, yet 1 year later he has this 8.10 reading age. It just shows how quickly they can learn once they get the hang of it or enthused by reading.
Also wanted to make the point that one of the main reasons why nurseries teach letters and read so much to the children is to make up for the lack of pre-reading skills that some children have if they don't have access to books at home.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
My daughter is a summer born child and I remember thinking that she would be one of the children our headmaster warned us about who couldn't deal with the long school day. We kept being told that school was so much different from nursery, (although the nursery days are actually longer.) I've been doing reading, writing and 'rithmetic with my little one since she was very small indeed and I think it must have helped her because she adores school and is rarely tired. I think the days that she's most tired on are the ones in which she has had PE and I don't believe there's much that I can do about that.
Why have you resurrected a thread that is 9 years old?!
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