Why on earth shouldn't you teach reading if you jolly well feel like it?

(244 Posts)
learnandsay Fri 01-Mar-13 09:53:07

Is it really all that bad?

motherinferior Fri 01-Mar-13 11:54:21

And also, in reality, this just becomes yet another thing for those of us less blessed with infant prodigies* to worry frantically about.

*my children learned to read at school. They are now both excellent readers, but couldn't do anything more than a few misshapen letters at three.

As a Steiner parent (as reallytired gave us a mention), my DD (3) loves being read to and can pick out words. We are not forcing the issue, it is just something she loves, and she will want at least 5-10 different books read to her every day on a quiet day. If she's in a reading mood then it might be every single book in her extensive collection. If she's not playing with her friends, she's looking at books. Her first toy was a book and the library is one of her favourite places to visit.

But if she didn't want to read or had no interest in books, we would not force her and would wait until the school starts formal education at the age of 7.

Some children at her school are early readers and others aren't. It's not really seen as a big deal by either the parents or the school. What is important is that there is no pressure on children to read earlier than they are ready, likewise there is no enforced delay in reading.

simpson Fri 01-Mar-13 12:08:20

DD taught herself to read (at a basic "a cat sat on a mat" level by herself -took me a while to realise blush) so of course I then helped to teach her SH, CH,Ow/OU sounds etc ( although some she worked out herself).

She could read before she started nursery and has progressed pretty quickly because she wants to. I have been very led by her really...

I would advise against unless the children are ready to learn. Obviously if they want to know you teach the, how can you not if they are asking question, but actively starting to teach a 3 yr old when they aren't ready is counterproductive imo.

Both my boys were completely disinterested in reading before they started school. It doesn't mean anything - it is no indicator of where they will be in 1, 2 or 5 years time so what is the hurry? We didn't do the fridge magnet thing and I am not even convinced that they would have recognised their names written down. DS1 was at the bottom of the class by the end of Yr R. At some point in year 1 he got it. It clicked and he finished the year in the top 25%. He loved books from the age of about 2. He would memorise them and 'read' to himself for ages and because he had memorised them, I think he just didn't need to decode the words to get the enjoyment from a book. I let him go at his own pace. He is 12 now and has a vocab and reading ability several years ahead of his age.

DS2 also started school unable to read a word. He wasn't even that bothered about books or being read to unlike DS1. I was actually slightly worried about his lack of interest! He is in Yr 4 now and one of the best in the class for reading and literacy and his teacher says he has the best vocabulary of any Yr 4 she has ever come across. He reads all the time now. If I had tried to make him read at 3, knowing him he would have fought me all the way and been completely turned off by the whole thing when he started school.

You have to be child-driven about it. It shouldn't be something you try to impose because you think it will give your child a head start because if they aren't interested it won't work.

I think the other argument against it is that teachers have expressed concerns about parents who try to teach their children to read because they will invariably use a different method to the teachers and some of them find that the children are having to unlearn one method before moving forward with the more formal school way of teaching. I think that is particularly the case if a parent has used a particular scheme.

GetOrf Fri 01-Mar-13 12:17:26

I think one of the things I really regret was pushing dd to read when she was very young. I remember feeling exasperated with her and I resaly should have been far more relaxed.

I have always read extensively and can't remember not reading, and I thought dd would be the same. I think I pushed her into viewing reading as a means to an end, and not as something to love. I believe that my trying to make her an early reader is the reason that she rarely reads for pleasure now - she would no more pick a book off the shelf on a dull afternoon than I would go out and play football in the park. She is 17 now and of course hindsight is wonderful, but I wish I could turn the clock back.

learnandsay Fri 01-Mar-13 12:17:49

The argument about the child/boy being disinterested in reading is a powerful one. I'm pretty sure it would be disastrous to try to force a child who didn't want to read/wanted not to read to read. Although I'm not sure how often I've come across parents asking how they can make their uninterested children read more or do it better. I don't know what teachers typically do if they have children/boys who show no interest in reading as they get older and progress from year to year.

You misunderstood my point about reading at the same level by a certain point. I referred to GCSE classes when it matters. It really doesn't matter if all 7 year olds in a class can read a book like Goodnight Mr Tom but the one who learnt to read at 3 can read something wildly more advanced. At the age of 7, they don't need to read anything so advance.

It will not add value to the life of a 7 year old to be able to read anything more advanced than roald dahl in my opinion. Children should be children. We campaign on Mumsnet not to make children old beyond their years with things such as 'Let girls be girls' but the same can be said of learning. My boy is 7 and bright. He is just as interested in memorising football facts as he is in learning about science. This is how is should be.

By the time things need to get really academic I still maintain that you will struggle to spot the early readers. Reading levels at 7 are still not the be all and end all.

betterwhenthesunshines Fri 01-Mar-13 18:08:00

I would also add that having a child who can read far beyond his age comes with its own issues... often they read books that are too advanced for their level of maturity / emotional development. I remember this being a particular problem when DS was about 8 and we had to vet books very carefully for themes / scenes that were too adult for him.

If you push things too far they can miss out on a whole chunk of childhood which is sad. I think waht GetOrf said is very brave, and true in a lot of cases.

Winston Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples ??? Seriously weird, I do hope this was a joke.

colditz Fri 01-Mar-13 18:16:31

Actually, I was an early reader. I could read and write at 2.9.

The upshot of this is that I used to scare myself shitless with Stephen King books when I was 7, and HP Lovecraft when I was eight or nine.

And nothing else. I never excelled in English. I passed my GCSE with a B. Science was my pet subject, despite all the early reading, I never stopped being fascinated by rock pools.

My father is disappointed with me, he thinks he had this genius daughter who inexplicably got thick and lazy, and he doesn't understand why that happened ..... What actually happened was, my peers caught up, and the more clever ones overtook me. They were more clever when I was five, the difference was that I could read.

If you knew me, with my turn if phrase and higher than average vocabulary, you would perhaps imagine that I am verbally intelligent because I learned to read early, but in fact I am very similar to my sister, who didn't read until she was seven and has read about twelve books in her entire life.

insanityscratching Fri 01-Mar-13 18:21:07

Of my five three of them taught themselves to read with no input from me other than reading to them often and having plenty of books around. It wasn't a problem to them or their teachers. I didn't mention it when they started, the teachers discovered it themselves and I didn't worry about the reading books they brought home (even when some were easy compared to what they were reading at home) because they read what they chose alongside.
So it wasn't a problem here, not sure it would have been the same had I gone into school the first week demanding more difficult reading books though as I think I'd most likely be labelled pushy.

sittinginthesun Fri 01-Mar-13 18:28:14

Some children read early. Some children walk early. It's just one of those things, IMO.

The important thing, surely, is to understand your child and encourage them to love learning. So, if you have a 3 year old who wants to read, you teach them to read. If you have a 3 year old who is not interested, then you read TO them, look at pictures...

I find this obsession with reading very strange (and I'm someone who was reading by 4 years, and has two boys with reading ages well in advance of their actual age). It is one skill, but others are as important.

Meglet Fri 01-Mar-13 18:31:38

I've taught mine the basics, and it did involve some stern 'we are sitting down and jolly well learning this!' moments. DS could read some key words, knew his phonics sounds and read easy peter + jane books before he started school.

He's Y1 now but reading at Y2 level, so no great leap ahead but I'm glad we made the effort at home and he'll be free reading soon.

DD is learning at home too. I've got DS's school phonics book to go from this time as well.

I really don't see the problem with teaching them at home as long as you use phonics and mainly modern methods.

storynanny Fri 01-Mar-13 18:37:46

Everyone's different, make this your mantra. All of my children could read pre school ( they just were interested so I showed them how to, I've been a teacher for 35 years) most of their friends could not. Fast forward 2 years, all friends could read equally as well. The best reader of my children could read anything at 4, his favourite book which he could often be seen reading as a teenager was The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton.
My children and their friends all got similar Gcse, A level and degree results.
Don't worry if they are not interested in letters , words before school, they will all even out eventually. Just keep reading to them though, that is so important.

ComeOnYouTwo Fri 01-Mar-13 18:55:17

dc1: in a 'pushy' nursery where they taught them to recognize letters from age 2yo and then read from 3yo. He loved it, learnt loads very quickly. Is now in Y4 and above average (but NOT reading book that aren't appropriate for his age group iyswim).
dc2: started going along side the 'normal' curriculum. Was behind for a while (middle of Y2) and now in Y3 is also above average.

seriously, I have always always thought that teaching children to read early would a great advantage. I remember being able to read books since I was 6~7yo and really really enjoying it. I though that if children could read asap they would then be able to learn all the rest so much more easily.
I was WRONG.
My dcs taught me that learning to read comes at different age for different children. Some of them aren't ready until they are 6yo. They have also taught me that it's not because a child is ready later than another, they can't learn the other stuff or that they will miss out on something. Because the way teaching is done, no one is expecting a child to read fluently until Y3~Y4 anyway. And there are lots of ways to learn that don't involve books.

if the seven year olds are all reading Goodnight, Mr Tom in a group then you can't tell who started reading at three and who started at six. But if one is reading Winston Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples and the other is reading the Beano then you've got a good chance of guessing.
but the age 20yo (or even at 15yo), whether you have learnt to read at 2yo or at 6yo won't make a big difference (I am talking from the pov of someone who DID learn to read at that sort of age)
And reading is much more than just reading words. It's about understanding. I am wondering how much a 7yo would understand from 'Winston Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples' hmm

ComeOnYouTwo Fri 01-Mar-13 18:59:54

I don't know what teachers typically do if they have children/boys who show no interest in reading

Why on earth some many people are absolutely convinced that it's BOYS who show no interest in reading????
That sort of attitude is the best way ever to put of a child from reading from an early age (And yes I am looking at you dc1 teacher angry).
If a child shows no interest in reading, you read to them. Lots, and lots, with books that interest them rather than the ones you think are good for them to read. Even if you think they are to simple/stupid etc...
You show them that you love reading yourself, you have books lying around in the house, you talk about books.

sittinginthesun Fri 01-Mar-13 19:19:48

Oh, and we love the Beano in this house. We all read it. smile

mrz Fri 01-Mar-13 19:35:10

"I don't know what teachers typically do if they have children/boys who show no interest in reading"

They teach the child to read (but they aren't just 3 years of age)
For what it's worth my best readers are often boys and they even enjoy fiction shock

mrz Fri 01-Mar-13 19:37:23

My mum bought my cousin the Beano annual every Christmas for 30+ years at his request

JollyYellowGiant Fri 01-Mar-13 19:50:33

Surely it just all depends on the child. If DS shows an interest in reading before he starts school then I'll help him along. If he gets fed up and wants to do something else we'll do something else.

It's just the same as teaching anything - colours, counting, types of bird, types of vehicle, types of dinosaur - we'll discuss it while he's relevant and enjoying it.

I was devouring reading Roald Dahl books before I started school and I did better than the average in my English Higher. But I did better than average in all my subjects so I'm not sure my early reading had anything to do with my results. I do read very quickly and wonder if that can be attributed to early reading, but it's not exactly a huge advantage.

JollyYellowGiant Fri 01-Mar-13 19:51:45

Sorry, that should read "we'll discuss it while it's relevant and he's enjoying it'.

simpson Fri 01-Mar-13 20:52:12

If a child is not ready/does not want to do it then no amount of lessons from the parent will help...

learnandsay Fri 01-Mar-13 22:46:57

So how do teachers get these "refuseniks" to learn any reading?

simpson Fri 01-Mar-13 22:52:56

I can only speak for DS when he was in reception (he is in yr3 now) which was they couldn't.

Although it was not helped by him having a shit teacher who made me cry at my first ever parents eve with himblush

He was a 31st Aug birthday and struggled with reading throughout reception (which the teacher made me feel really bad about) but he "clicked" when he was ready (about June time in reception) and finished as one of the strongest readers in his class, if not the strongest. It made me want to stick 2 fingers up at his teacher but I did restrain myself of course!!!

But reading in the school my DC go to, there are kids who are on pink level in yr1 and yr2 and they obviously cannot read and are making little progress sad

BooksandaCuppa Fri 01-Mar-13 22:54:33

ComeOn - I was about to pick up on that, too. LearnandSay does seem to think that it's only ever boys who don't want to read or learn or, indeed, behave well.

Thanks, mrz - also amongst my (unscientifically small) sample: the best children readers in my extended family are the boys; the most enthusiastic readers of my friends' children are the boys and the biggest proportion of keen readers and attendees of book group at my secondary school are also boys.

ReallyTired Fri 01-Mar-13 22:57:48

"So how do teachers get these "refuseniks" to learn any reading? "

Bribary and corruption or failing that: Pain and brutality. grin

Learning letter sounds, to blend and segment words requires short daily practice. Learning through games is better than death by worksheet or flash cards. Modelling blending (either looking at signs or blending orally) to chidlren helps. For example in the supermarket "can you find me some m-i-l-k" or "where is your f-oo-t"

Chidlren need to be praised for working hard, showing persistance rather than being clever.

Children become "refuseniks" if they are made to feel like failures or are negatively compared to other children or they sense their parents are disappointed in their progress. Children are turned off learning if they feel its a competition to get through the reading scheme as fast as possible, rather than to enjoy what they are reading.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now