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?

DS2 has learnt to read from the Sky TV Guide.

I don't like him watching power rangers and a few other cartoons but he's learnt the words and can find them when I'm out of the room.

Does that help? grin

lunar1 Wed 24-Apr-13 13:51:31

I was taught to read with flash cards at a very early age. I am one of the children that this method failed for. I changed schools at 7 and was assessed at having a very high reading age, unfortunately i was not able to read new words in the way a child with true reading skills could. this was only picked up on when i was around 9 and really held me back while i had to re-learn how to read.

After lots of advise on here, especially from mrz I have helped DS1 with his reading skills at home. we have used a purely phonics approach, which initially I did not understand.

I have to say I am a complete convert, ds1 is brilliant at decoding words, he reads signs when we are out and on menus if we go for a meal. He is in the KG year at his school and will be 5 in october. School give him reading books for home which i have mixed feelings about as they take him into reception 3 times a week to read with the teacher. I have never taken the school book out of his bag to read, he always brings it to me. he is currently on the red band storyworld books which he seems to love.

I have read to him every day though and he seems to have a real love for books, so at home he has been to one to initiate earning to read. when he was about 2.5 he started pointing to letters and making up a sound to go with it so each time he did that I just said the correct sound in reply. He made a game of it and this is how he learnt his single letter sounds.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mrz Tue 23-Apr-13 20:30:08

Spoken language is a natural process whereas written language is a man made concept

Bakingtins Tue 23-Apr-13 19:57:47

To return to the question that the OP actually asked, my sister is a SALT and always recommends the Talking Point website which has 'normals' for each age and stage of verbal development, and also suggestions for how you can encourage speech development. The basic principle is you are led by the child and keep your speech when talking directly to them one step ahead of where they are, so if your DD points to something you say " cup ? you want the cup " but once she says "cup", you say "here's your red cup " etc.

As far as reading goes I think there is some middle ground between flash cards for babies (clearly barking) and not doing anything. We liked books like this from about a year old, lots to point at and talk about, then from 2 yrs old we had alphabet jigsaw, magnetic letters, alphablocks on TV etc just as part of our playing, and picture books with big bold text, for some reason DS2 particularly likes this one. He started to recognise 'm' for his name, then 'g' for grandma, then all of a sudden in the last few months (now 2.11) has learned all the sounds without any additional effort on my part. I think they learn a variety of strategies - he's another that can read/recognise "TESCO" etc but also sound out CVC words. DS1 was similar and was reading quite well before he started school.
I think they learn when they are ready if they are exposed to lots of words and letters in the home. I remember being very sad when one of the criteria for EYFS was recognising that text conveys meaning, and realising that to not know that, some children of that age have never been read to. I think whether they are reading independently or not, if children are starting school loving books and being supported in their learning at home then you won't go far wrong.

On a slight tangent - it's absolutely fascinating to watch my nieces who are English-Japanese bilingual. They are amazing at not only speaking 2 languages but also being absolutely clear who else can understand what, and it doesn't seem to have hindered their ability to read or write in two languages which are so completely different. It's amazing what a preschool brain is capable of!

Onemole Tue 23-Apr-13 19:54:55

Why is there a general feeling on here that early reading is of great importance? Surely it doesn't matter, when a child is say ten or twelve, whether or not they learnt to read before school?

mrz Tue 23-Apr-13 18:52:36

There isn't anything wrong with singing the alphabet song (it teaches alphabetic order) just don't match letter names to letter shapes until children are secure with letter shape/sounds.

TheChaoGoesMu Tue 23-Apr-13 17:55:40

Fridge magnets are not the only way to expose children to letters. We haven't got them, they wouldn't stick to our fridge anyway.

mintyneb Tue 23-Apr-13 17:09:55

Yes but they're not the only way a child can be exposed to letters, DD has seen shop signs, street signs, cereal packet labels since she was a baby

But I have no problem at all with the fact that she couldn't read or write before she went to school (she was far too busy doing other things). She's learning now

Bumpsadaisie Tue 23-Apr-13 17:07:31

My dd learnt her letters from watching little phonics videos on you tube by "kids tv 123" (who have nice little songs on there). I started her watching them to calm down the angst with her younger brother at the supper table and it distracted them enough that they actually ate most of their food.

She started putting letters together herself at about 3.5. She can read simple three letter word stories (the first stage on the reading tree books). I haven't spent any time with her doing this (she is the most resistant child to pushy parenting!) She now writes little sentences too, again all by herself. Spelt all wrong eg "the bred iz arl gon" but very cute'

learnandsay Tue 23-Apr-13 16:59:52

But surely very few children just pick up books and start reading them without any instruction at all. (I've heard it said that some do but I don't really believe that either, but that's another story.) For most children I'm guessing that they need first to familiarise themselves with the letter shapes (and their sounds.) Fridge magnets are useful toys to help children learn the shapes of the letters.

mintyneb Tue 23-Apr-13 16:51:41

Personally I can't stand fridge magnets of any shape or size but do not for one second believe that a lack of letters on my fridge door has had any impact on whether DD has wanted to read or not

TheChaoGoesMu Tue 23-Apr-13 16:39:40

Yes, normal when children who are ready for it. My dd was quite young when she learnt her letters, she was interested so I taught her. Ds was not interested, so I waited.

learnandsay Tue 23-Apr-13 16:21:53

When I was about ten, and started to pay attention to these sorts of things in other people's houses, all of the neighbours who had toddlers also had alphabetic fridge magnets. In those days I don't know if the stupid concept of a pushy parent existed. Teaching young children their letters was just what people did. It was normal. To me it still is.

Onemole Tue 23-Apr-13 16:12:31

Learnandsay - for me personally it is only very recently that I've been slightly concerned about my five year old not being ready to read. It's certainly not something I thought about before she started school and definitely not when she was a baby!

Onemole Tue 23-Apr-13 16:03:19

Your sister isn't necessarily showing off or pressuring her dd. Her dd, like my dd2 may have picked up letters naturally through play.

I am glad it's my middle child who is forward academically and not my eldest so that people can't call me a hothousing, boasty mum.

Good birthday present ideas - crayons & musical toys, saw a tambourine in the toy shop today.
I think my sister is either showing off, or she is pressuring her DD WAY too much. I kind of thought that before but you've all pretty much confirmed it... thanks for all the comments I feel much less like a slacker mum!

learnandsay Tue 23-Apr-13 15:44:48

I suppose the more interesting question is what happens if they never appear to be ready?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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