How soon can you start teaching a child to read?

(93 Posts)

My DD is just about to turn 1 (yes I know it is too soon yet). My Dsis tells me that her DD can recognise several letters & asked for flashcards for her 2nd birthday in 2 months.
My DD has been making specific sounds (isit - what is it, agah - all gone) since 8 months, & has said 'book' a couple of times, but nothing else yet. Without wanting to sound (or become) a pushy mum, what can I do & roughly when, to encourage her verbal development?

Devora Sat 20-Apr-13 23:18:23

I read by the age of 3 and was way ahead of the pack when I started school. Those were the glory days, soon gone as the rest of the class caught me up. Honestly, I peaked at 4 and it's been downhill ever since grin

dd1 looked like she was going to be a very early reader too. Her pre-school got very excited about her ability to sound out chocolate at the age of 2.8. They kept telling me she was 'at the brink' of reading for the next two years, then suddenly started blaming me for it not happening. In the end, she learned to read in reception, at the same time as all her peers. She is now a good reader, but nothing exceptional. I have chosen to believe that 'on the brink' means nothing if your brain development actually isn't ready for reading, and that was probably more important than my crass parental failure in singing the ABC song to her.

I agree with others that the important thing at this stage is to impart a love of books.

exoticfruits Sun 21-Apr-13 07:29:11

If they are early readers you can't stop them. DH picked it up at 3 yrs just with his parents reading to him- they were not doing anything more than enjoy the stories. His brother didn't- it was no big deal.

seeker Sun 21-Apr-13 07:37:06

Can I tell my flash card story? When I had dd I was still post work hyperactive, and treated her a bit like a project. She was a gratifyingly early talker (due of course to my intervention grin) so for me reading was the next step! So I made flash cards and held them up in front of the poor child saying things like " This says Dog"

She put up with it for a few weeks, then picked up a random card, held it up in front of me and said "Dis say Silly".

I took the hint.

exoticfruits Sun 21-Apr-13 07:39:54

Children are amazingly long suffering of loony parents. grin

TiredFeet Sun 21-Apr-13 07:49:30

Brilliant story seeker grin

Ds is 2.5 and knowsa few letters but I'm not pushing him, I would rather he just had fun! If he points at letters and asks then I tell him what they are.

I was very bright and found academic work easy and I wish that instead of just pushing and nuturing that side of me my parents had encouraged me to develop and get confident at other things too, I am hopeless at anything practical.

seeker Sun 21-Apr-13 07:56:22

To be serious for a minute, can I encourage everyone to get their children playing music as early as possible? If you have some spare money- 30 quid or so, spend it on a properly pitched in tune xylophone or glockenspiel and pick out tunes with your child. And if you can afford it, give them good quality paper and colouring pens or crayons- not crappy children's ones. If I had to pick the most helpful, useful and fun things I did with mine (on the advice of my very wise mother) it would be that.

exoticfruits Sun 21-Apr-13 08:01:07

I got mine library tickets as babies. Have regular trips and a free choice of books.

Squarepebbles Sun 21-Apr-13 08:03:19

What Lone said.

Most kids are free readers by year 3 or 4 and really the ones who do well are those that read for pleasure and continue to do so.The more you read,the better you are at it.Making kids endure flash cards and stress as regards reading does not an avid reader make.

All of my dc learnt to read very early,one was reading before school and free in rec.I never used flash cards or made them do anything.

I simply read masses and masses of quality books to them oh and I taught them a few basic sounds when they asked.Beware of sound teaching though,I am literacy trained and imvho teaching children to pronounce phonics wrong will do more harm than good.Focusing on the reading process and not the books themselves is also counter productive.You have to hook them in and make them desperate to read,only a love of books will do that.

By KS2 the maj are reading and in my experience the best may not be the ones who learnt first but simply the ones who love it.

Squarepebbles Sun 21-Apr-13 08:05:05

And what Seeker said re pens and pencils.

Give them crap pens that run out after one use or pencils that break and they'll just get frustrated.The best you can afford imvho.

simpson Sun 21-Apr-13 08:41:41

Sorry but I think it's insane to teach a 1 year old to read (is this a wind up? hmm)

DD is in reception and taught herself to read before she started nursery. She is all consumingly obsessed with reading (she is reading to herself now whilst having her breakfast) but she did it when she was ready.

What is there to comprehend about a flash card? The comprehension of what a child is reading is just as important. Also I would want my child to read phonetically so they can sound out new words.

Seriously when your DC is much older, you will realise the silliness of teaching a baby to read...

Millais Sun 21-Apr-13 09:08:28

Read books, look at pictures and ask her to find objects in them. Talk and talk and talk again! Comment on what she is doing rather than asking her questions. Read nursery rhymes and teach her to say them just through the repetition. Sing songs and learn actions.
All of these will develop her verbal skills and ensure that when she is ready she will be a "better" reader

These type of threads always make me feel sad and dispirited tbh.
Parenting is NOT a competition.
Children's milestones are not competitions FFS. There are no medals.

I saw tiny baby (?9months old maybe) yesterday being held by 2 adults by her hands 'walking' out of a restaurant. She was on her tiptoes, her legs buckles, she had no coordination to speak of and was basically dragged. I bet my bottom dollar that somebody will be claiming she walked at whatever-number-of-months when she is older.

Relax. Interact with your child. Yy to music, songs, stories, talking to them, taking them places etcetc. Flash cards - [raspberry].

seeker grin
Devora, oh yes, I peaked at 6 as well - so sad grin.

ExRatty Sun 21-Apr-13 09:39:25

Hahaha flashcards for a 2 yo's bd.
Hilarious

Periwinkle007 Sun 21-Apr-13 10:33:07

I have had early readers and yes I have taught them to read to some extent but not at that sort of age.

We had lots of books around when they were tiny, lots of board books they could play with, look at the pictures in, lots to talk about with the books, lots of story books we could read to them etc.

When they were 3 we started to go through the alphabet phonetically with them for fun and discovered they both already knew it. Then we started looking through learning to read books with them, us reading, them following, talking about it, pointing out how words could be broken down. One child just learned the words and was reading very well before starting school, the younger has taken to phonics more and is probably about book band 3 with no 'teaching' just from picking things up and she won't start school until the autumn.

I PERSONALLY believe that a large number of children can learn to read and enjoy books a lot younger than they do if they are exposed to books at home. Many very bright children won't need teaching it, just exposure will mean they pick things up when they are ready and the main thing most of us want is for our children to enjoy books, to have a love of reading and not to see it as a chore. I don't remember learning to read but I do remember lots of sitting around with books and stories being read and I picked it up from that apparently.

introducing lots of rhyming stories and songs helps too.

freetrait Sun 21-Apr-13 11:41:33

The best thing to do is to share books, rhymes and songs with babies and keep doing this as the babies become young children. In a non direct way you will encourage all sorts of listening and language skills.

I was taught with flashcards when aged 2/3 and thought about this (on recommendation from my Mum) when DS was that age, but it just seemed completley unnatural to who he was and his development at that age so decided not to go down this route.

Both DCs have started to learn to read at about 4 in school nursery and in a way based on sound rather than sight (flashcards). Learning the sounds and then starting to blend c-a-t "cat" etc.

Primrose123 Sun 21-Apr-13 15:19:57

I never planned to teach my DD to read. She always loved books, and we went to the library when she was about 6 months onwards. She loved looking at books, listening to the story, pointing out the things in the pictures etc, so we spent a lot of time reading stories! I also bought alphabet jigsaws etc. but only so that she would get used to the shapes of the letters and which way up they went. I certainly never named the letters.

Then one day we were in the supermarket, and she pointed to a capital B, and said, "Look Mummy, that's like my name!" She was two! I told her it was a B and we looked for some more. Then I showed her an M for mummy, and we looked for some of those. In the following few weeks she asked about all the letters, and wanted to learn how to draw them, so we did that. She started to read very early, and still loves reading. She is a complete bookworm, but that is just the way she is, it's not because I taught her to read early.

My second DD had no interest in reading. She loved books and stories, but then ran off to play. She learned to read in school, and is now just as good a reader as her older sister. I think children will learn to read when they are ready, the same as other things I suppose, like toilet training. I was a bit of a lazy parent, and did things with them when they showed signs of being interested.

I wouldn't push it. Read lots of stories, sing the alphabet song, play I spy etc. but don't try to teach her letters unless she asks.

Simpson it's not a wind up! I was just a bit surprised when my Dsis asked for the flashcards for my niece's birthday. I wouldn't have thought a 2 year old would benefit from them & it seemed a bit much. Was feeling guilty about not having thought about it (I read & sing to my DD but nothing more structured). My DH sometimes calls my Dsis 'Miriam' (as in Stoppard) as she thinks she is the ultimate authority on childrearing. Glad to know we are not the only ones who think she's talking out of her arse... & no I won't be giving flashcards to my DD or hers, she's getting a lovely wooden puzzle for her birthday. grin

learnandsay Mon 22-Apr-13 10:50:32

Recognising letters isn't "reading." Reading is recognising entire words. My 1yo has learned her alphabet and the word OK but she spells it with x and k, so I know she can't read and write yet.

She also wakes me up with crayons and paper demanding letters. Maybe I should never have started this thing. Perhaps it's time to buy a bigger telly.

gabsid Mon 22-Apr-13 13:08:03

Oh god!!! Why this obsession with early reading!

Talk to her, play, read stories, when she is about 2 or 3 follow titles with your fingers, have letters and numbers around for her to play with, but only if she is interested.

But first of all teach her to understand, speak and learn about the world around her.

gabsid Mon 22-Apr-13 13:10:04

Maybe your friend is just trying to show off.

learnandsay Mon 22-Apr-13 14:39:45

I think the obsession with early reading makes some kind of sense given that school starts at four yo. If driving was compulsory for five yos we'd have parents buying fully functioning cars for two yos, (albeit small ones.) And if cooking was compulsory at the same age the toy kitchens that you buy in Ikea would have real hotplates.

And if primary school started in middle age the early reading section would be full of people with reading glasses and supportive knickers.

mrz Mon 22-Apr-13 17:20:31

I disagree that recognising entire words is reading.
Reading is a set of skills that requires a child to be able to work out what those squiggles on the page represent and they then use to extract meaning.
Memorising words from flashcards is not reading in any sense.

Kewcumber Mon 22-Apr-13 17:26:21

Ha ha Devora - personally I'm still waiting to peak...

My advice would be delay your child learning to read and spell as long as possible - it makes for a much easier life. I have had to break the bad news to my mum that spelling stuff she doesn't want DS to know doesn't cut it anymore.

BanjoPlayingTiger Mon 22-Apr-13 17:29:09

I was taught to read using flashcards from about 18months. I could read fluently at 2. By 5 i could read and understand the King James version of the bible.

However, in the long run it hasn't helped me as the school system isn't set up for kids who are wildly different to the average. By the time I got to GCSE level the fact I could read at 5 made no difference - in fact I'd say it was a hinderence as I had never known how to actually work at something as up until then it was all easy. I got my GCSE's but could have got better grades and then dropped out of A-levels.

I think you are probably better playing and having fun with kids until they are a touch older and letting them be kids and have fun than teaching them to read. My mum swears that she was just playing when she got the flashcards out with me, but tbh I can't see how it was of benefit in the long run.

I didn't teach mine to read as little ones, but instead did lots of talking to them and reading with them as well as all the outdoor play stuff.

mrz Mon 22-Apr-13 17:58:24

Some children will naturally be early readers without flashcards or any formal teaching and others will need that formal teaching and still take longer. They and all the points in between are perfectly normal ...what isn't normal IMVHO is teaching babies to read before they have even developed spoken language as some kind of misguided one-upmanship or in the mistaken belief that their child needs to read before school

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