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?

pointythings Mon 22-Apr-13 18:39:42

My DDs were interested in words and letters very early, but we kept it very low key. Their nursery did phonics for those children who showed an interest, all very laid back and not pushy. And yes, my DDs could both decode simple cvc words by about age 3, but that was as far as it went until they went to school, they just lost interest and we let it go.

Once they started school and were taught phonics there, they were up and reading in no time, and they still love books at ages 10 and 12. I think the early reading approach can really backfire if it isn't led by the child.

I also second/third the poster who suggested high quality art and craft materials and reading out loud - we still do this every night. I love it, and it's good for my brain!

I think there is a difference in encouraging a child who shows an interest in letters and how they go together, and holding friggish flash cards in front of babies.

Kewcumber grin - I shall take your advice onboard for DS4 (too late for all the others..)

OrWellyAnn Mon 22-Apr-13 21:05:12

I'm not actually convinced that teaching them to read before they hit school does them any favours. Our first dc went to a Montessouri where they taught her phonics, and she could read by the time she started school....where they had a whole other phonics approach to learning and she had to start from the beginning and learn it all from scratch. It didn't help her at all, in fact I think it hindered her. If your child is genuinely bright then they will learn like lightening from the moment they walk through the school door...give them a few years to just BE KIDS! At this age I think their emotional intelligence and development is FAR more important than anything academic ability!

learnandsay Mon 22-Apr-13 21:06:30

I don't know much about holding flashcards in front of babies, but I think for a child to develop an interest in letters the child first needs to be shown what they are. Otherwise you'd have children spontaneously developing an interest in Arabic script, Ancient Greek, Linear B and heaven knows what else. That's not what happens.

learnandsay Mon 22-Apr-13 21:09:01

But when shown a strange script my daughter has shown an interest in it. But she wouldn't have done had she not been shown it an had an explanation of how it works.

2cats2many Mon 22-Apr-13 21:14:03

I agree with OrWellyAn.

There's no rush.

The first word my DS1 could read was 'Tesco' - on the side of delivery lorries grin. He was 3. Do I win a prize?

Children of course develop an interest in whatever script is around them - that's how greek/russian/chinese children learn to read in their language. In their own time, hopefully, so they can be children for the short period of time that they've got.

OhHullitsOnlyMeYoni Mon 22-Apr-13 21:22:43

Interesting thread OP. My DD is 20mo and knows various letters - we read a lot but spend a lot of time painting/crayon scribbling/glitter shaking and baking. She knows a lot more than she says - verbally she is just getting going. I heard that because she was a relatively early walker it is not unusual for the speech to be slower. So I think I agree that if she can't say words, there is little point in trying to teach reading. I am more interested in getting her verbal so we lose any confusion and avert meltdowns!
Out of interest seekr which instruments would you recommend and when? DD LOVES to make noise. We have a kids mini piano and drums and she loves humming miming with the toy saxophone (we stop and watch a lot of buskers wink ).

DontSHOUTTTTTT Mon 22-Apr-13 22:13:25

Some kids love to try and learn their letters. It just depends on the kids. You can't make them learn if they are not ready, it will just end up with everyone getting frustrated and would risk putting the child off reading.

The main thing is to keep it fun and to promote a love of reading. Early reaing really helps kids learn but it isn't nessecery to rush kids. They all learn eventually.

SolomanDaisy Tue 23-Apr-13 08:05:18

Are children who recognise words by shape at a disadvantage when they come to learn to read properly using phonics? My DS recognises some words through shape recognition (I assume it must be, though I think he knows the alphabet names and sounds I don't think he'd have any idea of putting them together). Should I discourage it? If so, how? I guess just ignoring it would probably work? It's just from reading, not flash cards BTW. As we live abroad I'm a bit worried about him learning to read in two languages and don't want to confuse things further!

Squarepebbles Tue 23-Apr-13 09:27:16

I steered clear of alphabet names until they knew their sounds(too confusing) but I don't know what up to date advice is.Best to check with the school they're going to.

TheChaoGoesMu Tue 23-Apr-13 09:30:16

Dd started learning phonics when she was 2, and started reading when she was 3. Ds on the other hand showed no interest and can do neither at 3.5 yrs. They do it when they are ready, I wouldn't stress.

learnandsay Tue 23-Apr-13 11:06:48

People do say oh, don't worry, they get there in their own time and then occasional people remark that their children never seem to be getting there. So, if you did worry, and taught your children over the long term, say from the age of one, (maybe not with flash cards!) and taught maths too, then when they got to eleven they'd be well and truly prepped. And they (and you) would be home free.

TheChaoGoesMu Tue 23-Apr-13 11:45:39

That's assuming that the child from age one actually shows an interest. Otherwise you are putting yourself and the child through a lot of stress for no reason. I didn't push it with my ds because to push such an unwilling young person too soon would likely put him off learning for a long time.

learnandsay Tue 23-Apr-13 11:50:04

I can't imagine what not showing an interest looks like. I guess if the child didn't respond to nursery rhymes or anything else then I'd give up. But the abc song is at first just a song.

Squarepebbles Tue 23-Apr-13 12:09:30

The abc song will do nothing to help with reading,quite the reverse. The names are different to the sounds and would be quite confusing to tiny children.

The name 'a' has a completely different sound to the phonic 'a' they need for reading.

It's like all those parents who teach their dc to write letters- in capitals. I used to spend the first term unpicking what they had been taught.

freetrait Tue 23-Apr-13 12:16:38

Think we need a new one with the phonic sounds wink. Nowt wrong with the song, but it's just a song with sounds, doesn't really confuse ime.

learnandsay Tue 23-Apr-13 12:19:53

Mine both loved the song and recognise the letters from it. They love the Sesame St version of it and so do I. I don't think naming the letters has anything whatsoever to do with confusing them about the sounds. Look at Phonics Song (version 2)

Squarepebbles Tue 23-Apr-13 12:23:30

Yes Free sing it to the sounds - correctly pronounced of course.

TheChaoGoesMu Tue 23-Apr-13 12:23:59

Completely agree Squarepebbles.

Fwiw its worth learnandsay, my ds didn't want to learn at all. If I tried to read him books he would bash them out of my hand and try to rip them up. If I tried to teach him phonics he would scream and cry. So I gave up and let him carry on playing. Now at 3.5 he loves books and brings them to me to read. His sister has started teaching him phonics, which he has responded to very well. He needed to reach a stage where he was willing rather than feeling forced.

learnandsay Tue 23-Apr-13 12:33:19

While I can understand children objecting to having knowledge thrust upon them I can't understand the concept of a child not learning. My one year old can remember letters, both capital and lower case, without difficulty. But she can't remember numbers. She can associate the letters with familiar words and objects in a manner not possible with numbers. So, if you show her the number one and ask her two minutes later what it is she will just stare blankly at you. But if you show her a letter she'll tell you its name and also the word she associates with it. But I know how to teach her the numbers. It's a game I invented. But she's too young for it. Basically, just like the abc song, my children learn it because they like it. They don't know that they're learning.

learnandsay Tue 23-Apr-13 12:40:54

Actually, the abc song and all the rest of it are complete red herrings (sorry for introducing them.) The answer to the OP's question is: it depends on the individual child.

TheChaoGoesMu Tue 23-Apr-13 12:47:45

Well I didn't actually sit my ds down at a desk with a pile of books and tell him to start learning either. Most learning is through play when they are young, whether its reading, singing, building or playing with cars. My ds rejected the play that surrounded numbers and words, and focussed on other stuff, like jumping in puddles and playing with cars.

mintyneb Tue 23-Apr-13 13:42:27

Children are always learning but not necessarily letters or numbers from a young age. My DD (6) still shows no interest in reading and will only look at her school books (or any book for that matter as she is surrounded by all sorts of books in the house) under duress.

But roll back the clock til she was one, she learned to jump with both feet off the floor long before any of her peer group because she wanted to do it. She could do all manner of physical activities that her friends couldn't, again because she wanted to.

Could she recognise the first letter of her name? No because she wasn't interested.

Onemole Tue 23-Apr-13 14:50:52

I think this is entirely dependent upon when the child wants to learn.

DD1 has not long turned five and has learnt letters since starting school in August.

DD2 has just turned three. She started asking what words said at 14 months. She learnt all the letters and numbers at 17 months one summer holiday while I was looking after their 5 year old cousin.

DS hasn't shown an interest yet but he's only 11 months.

I have done the same with them all, nursery rhymes, stories etc. They learn when they are ready.

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