early reading

(33 Posts)
kalidasa Wed 20-Apr-16 13:40:02

I hestitate to post here because it is much too early to know if my son will be in this category in any formal way, but I thought there might be a good number of people here with relevant experience. DS1 is 3.4 and is apparently starting to read: he's known letters, numbers etc for a while and has also been 'reading' a small number of words he recognises for a bit (so not really reading obviously) but his keyworker at nursery took me aside yesterday as apparently he is starting to 'sound out' unfamiliar words although this is not really something they do at nursery yet. He's also been writing a bit for a while, although they aren't doing letter formation or anything like that at nursery yet so he forms all the letters in really odd ways and seems to be doing it just from visual memory. He often asks us to spell words so he can write them down. He's still in the toddler room at nursery - he'll move up to the school nursery in September, so not reception for another 17 months. If he is actually starting to read is this going to be a massive headache or is this actually pretty common and nursery/reception will have no problem dealing with it? Should I ask the nursery for any specific advice or is this a non-problem? His keyworker is usually rather laconic but seemed genuinely surprised.

SpoonintheBin Wed 20-Apr-16 14:37:59

It really depends of your attitude to it, the child's ability to be excited about school, and the flexibility of the teacher. Ds could read some single words before school and knew all letter sounds, but I know parents of some more advanced children were disappointed about reception being play-based. They do an awful lot of learning through play in reception and the learning of letter sounds is very much fun and games. It's about how your ds will cope with already knowing the stuff. Experienced Teachers are used to dealing with children who start reception and can already read, it's not unusual.

fitzbilly Wed 20-Apr-16 15:57:03

I'm a reception and nursery teacher and always have some children like this when they start reception, the biggest ballache is having to reteach them to form their letters correctly, which is hard for them as they have developed muscle memory for forming them incorrectly. If he is determined to write you need to focus on letter formation with him, that is what I do with my nursery children who want to write.

claraschu Wed 20-Apr-16 16:16:09

One of mine was reading and writing surprisingly fluently very early on. It caused no problems at all in the first couple of years of school, and his handwriting was very good.

We didn't usually tell him how to spell words, but just praised and encouraged his writing. I would say things like: "That is a really good way to spell 'please'", if he spelled it "pleez". When he was 3 and 4 he had fun figuring out the sounds and didn't feel that there was a right and wrong way to spell. He knew that correct English spelling is a bit silly and wacky, but seemed to take that in stride. I think this gave him confidence to have fun writing, and it was very amusing to see the spellings he came up with.

He figured out the conventional spellings with no trouble slightly later.

I think if he is having fun and leading the way, you can't go too far wrong. Our state primary was flexible enough to be fine with different abilities in reception and year 1.

kalidasa Wed 20-Apr-16 16:24:45

Thanks these responses are really helpful. He is quite an anxious little boy so I really don't want him to feel pressured at all but hadn't thought about suggesting he come up with spellings himself, that's a really good idea - so he doesn't fixate on being right or wrong. Also very useful to hear from fitzbilly that it is a good idea to actively show him how to do letter formation - I really wasn't sure whether we should or not. Glad I posted now!

claraschu Wed 20-Apr-16 16:37:57

If he is anxious, I would try to be careful that no one talks about how "good" he is at reading and writing. You can treat writing exactly as you treat any other activity he likes- playing in the sand, making potions, drawing with markers, riding on a scooter, etc. Just mention what fun he is having or comment on things you notice: "What a huge 'O' you made there" or "What a long word" (if he writes a string of gibberish) "That will sound really funny if I say it out loud" etc.

For me, the point was always to get away from the idea of good and bad, right and wrong, "aren't you clever", etc, all of which can take away the fun and add a tiny (almost imperceptible) bit of pressure.

kalidasa Wed 20-Apr-16 19:52:31

Thanks clara, I am definitely aware of this - that even people being impressed is pressure of a kind - bit tricky as obviously you can't police other people's reactions. But I suppose our reactions are what matter most.

BrieAndChilli Wed 20-Apr-16 20:04:44

I would just let him lead, if he wats took stuff great but dot make him sit down and do spellings etc.
DS was assessed with a reading age of 14+ when he started school, we did very little with him and just answered his questions when he asked them so he basically taught himself,
I would teach him the phonics sounds as we didn't and there is a lot of emphasis on these in reception and he didn't really know them but even though he could read fluently it took him longer then other children to tick off all his sounds!!

JustRichmal Wed 20-Apr-16 21:50:17

I taught dd to read before she went to school. It is unusual for a child to read fluently before starting school, but I do not see why it should be. If he has been taught all the letter sounds, why not also teach him to blend them into words, especially as he is showing an interest in doing this? Just write the word "dog" and say "d" "o" "g" as you go. Let him watch Cbeebies Alphablocks or simply when reading point to the letters and sound them out before saying the word. You could use sand trays if he wants to have a go at letter shapes. At school, he will just probably tread water until the others catch up, but dd enjoys reading and now, at 12, is a very quick reader.

SpoonintheBin Thu 21-Apr-16 11:19:57

Just, we all have our points of view on this, but in my mind, I wanted both DSs to learn to read with their friends at school. Yes they did know all their letter sounds and could blend some basic words, write their names etc but I wanted them to be excited about learning it at school. This may not be everybody's opinion but it was important for me. Now they are both very good readers, in year 4 and 5, and read a lot, every day, for pleasure, and are generally good at writing (one is very good). But only one of them is G&T in maths.

BrexitentialCrisis Thu 21-Apr-16 11:33:42

Oh lord- do be careful with this, OP.
I'm a reception/ks1 teacher and it is so tricky to shore up previously early reading children's confidence if they start to stumble over reading and writing in reception. My worry isn't so much about your little boy's ability; he sounds curious and enthusiastic and that is marvellous. Just be very mindful that, if he gets to school and the handwriting/phonic and reading content is taught in any different way to what he has been shown at nursery or elsewhere, he may be thrown. I would second earlier posters who have mentioned correct letter formation- find out the handwriting policies of your school (if you can) and make sure he is at least starting to form letters in the correct way. Don't limit him to pencil and paper either- get him to experiment with large mark-making opportunities like shaving foam, paintbrushes in water etc etc.
With reading, it's brilliant that his phonetically plausible attempts are being celebrated. In reception, this is perfectly valid (apart from a certain set of tricky and high frequency words) and there should be no pressure to spell things correctly, although correct modelling should be shown, where appropriate.
Remember also that reading is about so much more than just decoding text. Make sure to consolidate this by continuing to immerse him in stories, songs and poetry and keep playing all those sound games like I spy etc to hone those listening skills.
Good luck, op and best of luck- he sounds like a cracking kid and seeing children learn to love reading and writing is one of life's greatest wonders smile

irvineoneohone Thu 21-Apr-16 16:40:42

My ds was a keen reader and writer, so he was already reading and writing in nursery. Ds's nursery was really good, and manager used to do one to one reading with him with books from attached school.
When he was 2, he first started to make up words with magnetic letters, and then started to cut out letters from various things to "write", before he couldn't write himself. I was really conscious with letter formation. I wanted him to learn because he was so keen, but didn't want him to learn wrong way. So, we used letter formation workbooks, and he practiced again and again. He demanded me to erase it so he can do it again.
He never had any problem after starting school decoding words and writing letters. And he always learned to spell correctly from the start.

JustRichmal Thu 21-Apr-16 18:34:11

I had a mother who was advised not to teach her children to read before school as she may not teach it correctly. She decided to leave it to school, except they did not. It was only when she eventually swapped our school I managed to amaze teachers with my reading ability. They stood round my desk wondering how a 7 year old could have a total inability to blend letters. In middle school I would miss art lessons to go into remedial reading. All through secondary school I struggled to keep up with the reading and now never read a novel for pleasure. I will never regret teaching dd to read before she started school.

kalidasa Thu 21-Apr-16 20:52:51

Thanks all. I really don't want to 'teach' him stuff now but do want to avoid creating problems for the future if he is going to do this stuff off his own bat (which seems to be the case). The good thing is that he is in the next door room from the school nursery and same corridor as reception so although only in the toddler room is under the overall care of the general early years team so there's continuity there. I will keep an eye on the letter formation issue and also maybe ask them for some advice.

catkind Thu 21-Apr-16 22:44:57

I have a rather keen early reader here. She learned phonics sort of by accident alongside her brother. Adores books and reads beautifully. I find it hard to see that something that makes her so happy can be a bad thing.
Just hope her reception teacher gets her and doesn't push her backwards just to tick boxes.

Re teaching them before school, it seemed a rather artificial divide to me. A large amount of learning to read happens at home anyway as most schools send home reading books and ask you to hear them read every day. Kids who were ready and keen were way ahead of the classwork by the first half term anyway.

The letter formation issue is a worry to me now. I've been following preschool advice and letting her mostly make it up. Grrr if they've told us the wrong thing. Will try to straighten her out a bit over the summer. Query if I may slightly derail: if school teach printing, should we teach DD printing? I'd rather she learned pre-cursive like DS did in reception. But they might make her change again. Though I guess that's a thing for you too OP - check what kind of letter formation they actually teach at your school.

JustRichmal Thu 21-Apr-16 22:47:04

I do not think you have anything to worry about. It must be the nursery which has taught him his numbers and letters. If they are connected to the school they must know what they are doing. It seems they are teaching him well, so the school will most likely be a good one also.
TBH, I would still have taught dd, but then I found teaching fun and it was something I sort of did naturally with her. However, I realise I'm not typical of all mothers and in your case it sounds as though the nursery is giving him an excellent start to his education. It sounds as though leaving it to them is not a bad decision.

JustRichmal Thu 21-Apr-16 22:49:38

Sorry, cross posted. My last post was for OP.

kalidasa Thu 21-Apr-16 23:03:13

Sorry wasn't very clear. The nursery say they haven't taught most of this stuff - obviously they talk about numbers and letters a bit but a lot of what he is doing especially the writing hasn't been taught at all as far as I can ascertain. I think that's why they are a bit surprised. His key worker says they don't generally do much of this until the school nursery (ie next year for him). I think it's a good nursery though so I trust their advice on how to handle it. I forgot to say before that we are a bilingual (French/English) family which complicates the phonics a bit too. But I really appreciate everyone's input, given me lots of ideas of what to ask.

JustRichmal Thu 21-Apr-16 23:29:26

Why do you see having a child who can learn things without having to be taught a problem? Surely he will thrive academically no matter what the school does.

kalidasa Fri 22-Apr-16 16:06:53

I don't think it's a problem in itself JustRichmal. I am just a bit concerned both about the specific issue of him forming letters in his own way and whether that is storing up problems; and more generally because you hear such conflicted things about the pros and cons of children who learn to read before starting school. I also have other wider concerns about his hypersensitivity and tendency towards anxiety which make me more worried about his school experience than I would be for instance about my younger son, who has a very different personality.

I am a very 'self-motivated' learner I suppose; and to be honest it caused me nothing but trouble at school, at least between the ages of roughly 8 and 15!

But of course I take the point that it is basically a good thing.

poocatcherchampion Fri 22-Apr-16 16:56:05

Placemarking as I want to come back to this later - my 4 year old is teaching herself to write. Is there a set way of doing letters (IE the way I do them) or are there a number?

Ia it common to learn to write before learning to read?

irvineoneohone Fri 22-Apr-16 18:57:04

Here's some link to printable handwriting worksheets.

www.activityvillage.co.uk/handwriting-worksheets

I personally think reading early is great thing. It opens up so many doors if you can read.

catkind Fri 22-Apr-16 20:25:44

There are lots of ways of doing letter formation. The schools we have visited and those friends kids go to do something like one of the first two groups here:
www.cursivewriting.org/school-fonts.html

AppleAndBlackberry Fri 22-Apr-16 21:04:34

Both my DDs started writing of their own accord around 3, although DD1 just wrote her name over and over again for about a year! She was also less interested in reading although she knew her letters before starting reception. DD2 was reading fluently (taught by me, not self taught), but it hasn't been a problem in year R, they've just sent more difficult books home. I did try to teach letter formation a bit but she didn't really 'get' it and tbh she's still not brilliant at 5 although most letters are now recognisable. I don't think it matters too much if they don't get the letter formation right to start with, the same with spellings.

irvineoneohone Fri 22-Apr-16 21:20:42

I also recommend Kumon worksheets.(Not Kumon study centre). They have range of worksheets(from amazon etc.) for early years. Letter and number formation, cutting and pasting, maze, dot to dot and colour by numbers. My ds really enjoyed them, and helped with pencil and scissors controls. It's quite expensive, but quality of papers are really good, so it's easy for young children to practice.

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