I know this sounds odd but I'm worried that DS is reading too well!

(75 Posts)
DoubleDoubleTwigletTrouble Sat 17-Nov-12 10:43:15

DS (Reception) has always been good at reading for his age and could read simple decodeable words fairly easily and knew a few letter blends such as sh and th. But he seems to have suddenly learned to read almost in a fortnight. He can easily read an ORT stage 4 book (a sentence like "I went to the park and I liked playing on the swings, they went very high") and I'm wondering how he's done this so quickly! Obviously the old OR style books follow a certain style and you can guess words to a certain extent but it's not just ORT he can do this with. I may be worrying over nothing (after all, the goal is for them to read and he can) but I'm concerned that he's just got the 'look' of a word and isn't reading it phonetically. I guess I'm worried that he's missed out on some basics? If he came across a word he didn't know then he would try to work it out phonetically so he can do it - he just doesn't seem to need to.

His teacher said not to worry and that kids learn to read in all sorts of different ways but it just seems really odd that he's gone from c-a-t to advanced reading in just 2 weeks or so....

Cat98 Sat 17-Nov-12 10:46:04

My ds is the same (see the large thread on phonics below..) and I would be interested in the replies as my gut reaction is not to worry as whatever he's doing is obviously working for him (maybe he's in the lucky 5% or whatever it is who just 'get' it)?

Phineyj Sat 17-Nov-12 10:46:06

Sounds like a nice teacher! I acquired fluent reading in a similar way when I was about your son's age and well remember having to smuggle books into school and sit on them because the teacher didn't believe I could read and kept trying to force me back to the c-a-t stuff! If you like reading and your son has grown up surrounded by books he was probably absorbing a lot more than you realised.

Hulababy Sat 17-Nov-12 10:49:24

How is his spelling of phonetically decodable words?
Can he read words out of context?

My DD learnt to read quickly and I do think she did it by sight reading and being able to memorise words. I didn't realise at the time though and it did mask other things - by Y2 we had realised, along with school - mainly due to the mismatch in her reading and her spelling/written work. Whilst some difference is normal there was a very big gap.

With DS1 reading just clicked after a few weeks. Is he capable of sounding and blending if you give him an unfamiliar word? Also for me, the big thing is that they understand what they're reading in context.

It's lovely having a good reader although nothing that is written is sacred grin.

Cat98 Sat 17-Nov-12 10:51:46

Hula baby - I know your questions were for the op but for my ds the answer to both qs are yes.

cutegorilla Sat 17-Nov-12 10:53:23

I think it's quite common for kids to suddenly get reading like that (not generally so early in reception to be fair). School will still take him through all the phonics stuff. I had similar concerns with ds1 because I knew he was recognising words rather than reading them phonically but he's now in yr1 and has covered all the phonics stuff.

SarkyWench Sat 17-Nov-12 10:55:34

Phonics isn't an all or none thing.
Just because he isn't obviously sounding words out in a deliberate ways does not mean that he isn't using phonics type info when he is reading. IMO the 'eureka' moment in learning to read is when kids' knowledge of spelling-to-sound regulartities becomes something that they can use rapidly and automatically without realising that is what they are doing.

Try him on some books with nonsense words (dr Seuss etc) to check that he can still read unfamiliar words. My bet is that he'll be fine smile

I remember ds1 getting really upset in reception because he thought he was doing something wrong because he was finding it hard to sound out words that he "just knew".

EBDTeacher Sat 17-Nov-12 10:56:18

I wouldn't worry TBH.

I googled hyperlexia and freaked myself out when my 18mo picked up the sound of all 44 graphemes from a Letters and Sounds DVD! He's totally fine, just really good at recognising patterns.

I think your DS was just 'ready' so he flew. He possibly could have read a while earlier.

I think mrz's son had hyperlexia, you could PM her if you are worried.

DoubleDoubleTwigletTrouble Sat 17-Nov-12 12:05:27

Thanks for the replies, all. I'd never heard of hyperlexia but having just Googled it, I don't think he has that as his speech is pretty advanced and his teachers say how articulate/eloquent he is. To answer a few things...

Yes, he can recognise words out of context - this was the first thing that I noticed, actually. He read the word "some" (written as a stand-alone word) instantly and a few weeks earlier he would have said it was "so-meh".

DrSeuss for nonsense words is a great idea!

I think his spelling is ok but not sure. He can't really write any letters yet - he will say "c..a..t" when you ask him how to spell a word but he can't write it. He can type though - he wanted to Google a Super Mario Bros game and I saw him type into the search box "soopa mareeo bros gam" smile So basic spelling is ok but although he could recognise a 'magic e' word when reading, he wouldn't put the magic e in his spelling yet.

He definitely understands what he's reading - his comprehension is good.

Thanks for the advice, all - good to know that other children have been like this too!

mrz Sat 17-Nov-12 13:15:16

It doesn't sound like hyperlexia (my son talked like an adult from the age of 12 months so being articulate doesn't rule out the possibility) just a lovely little boy for whom reading has clicked and is making great progress ...well done to him.

Cahoots Sat 17-Nov-12 13:35:50

2 of my 3 did the same thing and seemed to go from not reading to reading overnight when they were 4/5 . It is so adorable when they first start writing with their own version of spelling. I let them get on with it and didn't correct them very much. If they can see the purpose (ie looking up Super Mario grin ) then nothing will stop them.
I swear one of mine only learnt to read because he was desperate to read the on screen instructions for SuperMario.

learnandsay Sat 17-Nov-12 19:38:34

I wouldn't say reading phonics readers, the early ones in the scheme at any rate,) is the same thing as reading real books. Dr Seuss and Elsie Marinarik's Little Bear aren't real books either. They all have a reduced vocabulary designed for teaching children to read. Personally I love all of them, (except the phonics readers.) But I get my daughter to read real books with real sentences in them. As far as I can tell all that you can tell from reading phonics readers is how good a child is at reading phonics readers.

mrz Sat 17-Nov-12 20:08:03


simpson Sat 17-Nov-12 20:13:36

The thing I have found with DD (in reception) is that she can read a chapter book at home fine (not a really hard one!!) and reads ORT 5 (with the reading chest - just thinking of putting her to 6) the books she gets from school are shorter (jolly phonics ones - but they pack quite a punch in them ie the word tortoise etc) and as long as they want to read and are doing well,be proud of them!!!

All you can do to help is to provide other books ( as well as school ones) read to them as well as hear them read which I am sure you are doing and enjoy them learning to read...I am truly loving it with my DD grin

Lougle Sat 17-Nov-12 20:14:29

"As far as I can tell all that you can tell from reading phonics readers is how good a child is at reading phonics readers."

Which is fantatic, because all books are phonics readers, just some more complicated than others wink

simpson Sat 17-Nov-12 20:15:03

LandS - out of interest, what is your definition of a "real book??"

learnandsay Sat 17-Nov-12 20:22:06

Well, no. Wittgenstein's Tractatus is a real book but I wouldn't describe it as a phonics reader. Or if it is perhaps I'll ask her teacher to go over it with her next week.

Nagoo Sat 17-Nov-12 20:23:02

My niece could do this in reception.

She was very very good at sight reading smile It was really hard trying not to compare DS to her!

DS took a lot longer, he's now in Y1, but I have noticed that in the last month it's just gone 'ping' and he can do it as opposed to sounding things out, he's reading really fluently. The change was drastic, like it all just clicked smile

sittinginthesun Sat 17-Nov-12 20:30:44

OP, I think reading just clicks for your son. My youngest (year 1) was like that. He learned the basic phonics, and then suddenly started to read. School move him up a level, the first couple of books stretch him, then he just reads them. No idea how.

I'm sure he is reading phonetically, as he sounds out words he doesn't know, but he kind of does it under his breath.

Mind you, his scheme book had the word "maniacally" last week. That stumped me! I had to google to check the pronunciation blush.

mrz Sat 17-Nov-12 20:45:46

I'm not sure that many reception children would have the stamina for Ludwig hmm it's a real book just as any of the books children read in school are real books and it's also a phonic book because our orthography represents spoken sounds (and there aren't any picture clues to guess from wink )

sausagesandwich34 Sat 17-Nov-12 20:58:16

never heard of hyperlexia before??

both my DDs could just read, never taught them, they just could

one just before the age of 3, the other one at 3.6 -went from being able to pick out their names to reading magic faraway tree in less than a month

no language issues -I just thought it was because they just liked words??

anyway, back to the original post...

they do a lot of group work around phonics which every child will be involved in (certainly in DD's school anyway) so all children will cover the full range of phonics even if they are a higher reading level
the amount of phonic work can clearly be seen in their writing which is very cute to read smile

mrz Sat 17-Nov-12 21:05:06

sausagesandwich when my son started nursery he was reading the Financial Times to his grandpa (insisted on checking his shares each lunchtime) and his favourite "bedtime book" was the NATO Air Force magazine which he would read aloud to me or his dad until we fell asleep hmm

learnandsay Sat 17-Nov-12 21:05:25

Phonics readers are designed to teach children to read, just as automobile manuals are designed to teach people how to fix or maintain their cars. I'm not going to ask my daughter's teacher to run through the 600 page manual of my Citroen either. Just because something is phonic that doesn't mean it's a phonics reader. The works of the Marquis De Sade are phonic, but I'd be a little bit concerned if my daughter's school was using them to teach the children to read.

Wafflenose Sat 17-Nov-12 21:08:50

My DD2 has been rather slow - reading for nearly 18 months now and at a solid yellow level, but she had a 'eureka' moment too, when she simply stopped sounding anything out. One day, she just looked at words like "chopped" and "carrots", which she had never seen before, and said them straight off. That's not the same as reading a sight, 'tricky' word - it's blending an unfamiliar word automatically in her head, like an adult would do. It sounds like your son has got to this stage, OP - just faster than some (and much faster than DD2!)

ErmahgerdBlahdyCold Sat 17-Nov-12 21:09:58

DS1 (4.6) is a lot like this, he went from A,B,C, to phonic sounds for the letters, to reading whole words (before he was 4), without ever doing a c-a-t stage. They've been really good at school, his guided reading targets are based on comprehension, rather than just reading the words, he's being given 'proper' books instead of phonics readers.

Very interesting reading about hyperlexia, DS1 is totally obsessed with letters and numbers, a little behind socially but very articulate and seems to comprehend what he reads. If I had to define him, it would just be as a slightly nerdy type (in a good way), rather than actually hyperlexic.

mrz Sat 17-Nov-12 21:10:35

and just because something is a phonic reader it doesn't mean it isn't a real book smile

learnandsay Sat 17-Nov-12 21:15:29

True, I'm sure. But I did qualify by saying the early ones, anyway. Everyone's opinion of a real book is bound to differ. But I can't fit what I've seen so far into my definition of real books. Maybe there's room to hope for some kind of future...

mrz Sat 17-Nov-12 21:22:04

Regardless they are real books.
"A written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers."

The content of early books may not be intellectually stimulating but they are probably much more appealing to the average 5 year old that Wittgenstein would be ...perhaps if he'd employed a good illustrator hmm

learnandsay Sat 17-Nov-12 21:32:38


simpson Sat 17-Nov-12 21:36:13

Out of interest LandS - which books does your DD like reading?? (other than green eggs and ham!!)

Looking for ideas for my own DD...

learnandsay Sat 17-Nov-12 21:50:45

She loves our Michael Rosen book (which frustratingly I've lost. But it contains the poem about yucky custard, the robot, going to the moon on a spoon, and a girl on the toilet.) Probably could do with a better description but the book is a scream.
She loves Max and Poppy books. (So do I. They're hilarious and easy to read.)
She loves traditional tales Cinderella, Three Bears (by Hopscotch Publishing.)

We've had this book for about a year:
It's got some pretty difficult words in it like wriggling, decides, stalks (and more) and she's so proud that she can read/sound it out. She's tracing her finger along a lot of the text. She has heard it often so she has a large amount of expectation of what the text should be. But that's not the same thing as actually sounding out each word. And she can sound all of the words out. (It's a real book, in the sense of it's not a children's learn to read book.)

But, to be honest, with enough love and attention I think she'd love almost any book on earth!!

simpson Sat 17-Nov-12 21:54:06

The problem I have with DD is that once she has read a book once or twice she won't touch it again <<sigh>> so I constantly have to find new ones for her....

We have 1 frog and toad book left to read (out of a pack of 4) and she read a Horrid Henry book (one of the easier ones) I picked up in the £ shop the other day...

Will check out your link, thanks!!

simpson Sat 17-Nov-12 21:55:46

Forgot to say, she loves the usborne early reader books (Cinderella, Puss in Boots etc etc)

learnandsay Sat 17-Nov-12 22:02:38

I buy lots of second hand books for her. I scan them by the handful checking that they're roughly the right level. I don't believe that for reading them she needs to love the book. But her favourites are clear too. The library is also a lifesaver. Our library staff are very responsive. I can take in a series book and they'll track down all the others in the county and reserve them for free. They do much more for me than the school does, which doesn't do anything as far as I can tell.

simpson Sat 17-Nov-12 22:05:45

I love going to 2nd hand shops too and order stuff in the library (got 4 books out for her today - but our local library is tiny and I have to think of books for them to order in for me)

DD asked me tonight to get some harder books (from the reading chest) so am going to put her up a level I think....

noisytoys Sat 17-Nov-12 22:11:05

DD (reception) is a good reader. She is on turquoise level. I have no idea how she learns to read and phonics, digraphs and whatever else they do confuse me but she is happy at school and school stretch her so I'm happy. And she enjoys reading even school books

magnesium Sat 17-Nov-12 22:18:13

I would keep checking that he can sound words out and try some made up words and ensure he continues to use this skill even if he can remember whole words very easily.

My DS has always seemed able to read fluently, certainly well before school and possibly therefore switched off in phonics lessons. However now aged 8 there is a huge disparity with his dreadful writing and I dont think he can properly sound out a made up word phonetically. However he has sight memorized most real words so rarely has an occasion to sound out when reading. I keep wanting to mention it to school but as their feedback is that his reading is amazing I worry they would think I am crazy and have no idea what they would do now as it would surely look bad on them to re teach phonics now?

I was so pleased that he got so much joy from reading so early but now I am concerned that it has increased the disparity in his writing.

steppemum Sat 17-Nov-12 22:28:39

dd did this. She was really ready to read at start of reception. I hadn't taught her, but suspect she could have learned early (3 ish) but all I did was alphabet as I am not a fan of pushing early reading.
It meant she was really really ready when they started and took off like an express train, went through all the easy books and was quickly reading really hard stuff, just like your ds. Unfortunately she is quiet and didn't talk much in her first term or 2 and school just didn't believe she could do it. So we read the reading book, and then got a book from the bookshelf and read that.

pointythings Sat 17-Nov-12 22:30:48

This happened to my DD2 as well, though not quite so soon - beginning of the second term in Yr R. She went from sounding out c-a-t to reading things like 'friendly' and 'dangerous' without any effort at all, and needing no help from me in reading her scheme books. But she was still using phonics - everything she was doing related to what she had worked through in class, it just all clicked in one great blast.

learnandsay Sat 17-Nov-12 22:34:10

magnesium, I don't know for sure, but I think there's a knack to using sounds as tools for spelling. You can spell you as you and yew, right as rite, tone as ton, faint as feint and so it goes on indefinitely. Just because you know how to sound out a word in English that doesn't mean that you know how to spell it. I think that some people are simply better than others at remembering which spellings of which sounds are correct in a particular instance than other people are.

learnandsay Sat 17-Nov-12 22:37:10

I think that's tonne rather than tone. I think that's something else entirely.

WhereMyMilk Sat 17-Nov-12 22:39:27

Hula baby, how did you help your DD with that? My DD (8) has the same issue-reading way above her age range, and seems just to "know" the words, but her spelling is nowhere near. Her teacher said that the way she spells you'd think she wouldn't be able to read very well!
She just doesn't seem to be able to phonetically sound the word out and hear what that sound is and translate it to be able to spell the word. But reading, she just does! Her comprehension is also great. She just can't spell. sad
Any ideas?

learnandsay Sat 17-Nov-12 22:46:57

WhereMyMilk, I think hulababy was saying that her child had learned to sight read. Is this also what you're saying that your child appears to have done? (I'm a sight reader and I remember, painful as it might have been, that learning to spell was a matter of taking each individual word and learning how to spell it.) As I remember it, it was quite a painful process. (Much harder than learning to read.)

WhereMyMilk Sat 17-Nov-12 22:55:37

Yes L&S I think she is.

learnandsay Sat 17-Nov-12 22:56:55

On the subject of spelling and phonics, my daughter seems to have an ability (which I don't share,) which is to "file" words under a common spelling, like

fight, sight, right

I'm pretty sure this has something to do with the way that she has learned the words. That's possibly one advantage that phonics has over Look & Say when it comes to spelling. But it clearly only applies if the pupil associates all or many of the possible words as having been spelt in the same way.

Cahoots Sun 18-Nov-12 00:00:25

I always think the most impressive thing is not DC's that start reading early but the ones who carry on reading when the get older and read by choice.

DoubleDoubleTwigletTrouble Sun 18-Nov-12 13:08:24

Wow, loads more of you with DCs like mine, that's very reassuring! He read his ORT school book this morning and came across Wilf & Wilma which he'd not seen before and he sounded those out, but I will keep checking that he can do it as we go along, thanks. DD was always an advanced reader for her age but she seemed to go through learning the basics at a more understandable rate which is why I guess it seems so odd with DS.

learnandsay Sun 18-Nov-12 13:09:37

Aren't the two things often linked? Ours is a very bookish family/extended family. We're constantly surrounded by books. The children come into our room first thing in the morning with books. The 18 month old can now distinguish between John Burningham books by title, ie you call out the title of one of his books and she'll rifle through the book shelf till she finds it. She obviously hasn't been taught to do that. She does it naturally. Also if you start some Burningham titles and pause, she'll finish the title for you, a game that she finds hilarious. I know some families which don't appear to have any books at all. And they watch television all the time. I'd find a process of going to school which turned children from non-reading families into avid readers very impressive.

mrz Sun 18-Nov-12 13:16:30

We have lots of families who don't have books at home and never visit the library. One such little girl in Y1 is currently reading a Horrid Henry, Roald Dahl or similar chapter book every night ... and places a weekly shopping list with me

learnandsay Sun 18-Nov-12 13:22:15

Sorry, I don't understand the bit about the shopping lists. Great work by the way, if you've got children from non reading families reading. I love that.

mrz Sun 18-Nov-12 13:25:07

She tells me which books she wants to read next and I try to get them when I go shopping so she can borrow them from me.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Sun 18-Nov-12 13:26:00

double my DS1 has really taken off with reading since starting school. They are only about 2/3rds of the way through learning the 44 phonetic sounds at school and when he comes across a word he doesn't know he will use context and some sounding to try and work it out.

This morning I found him on the toilet reading a book to himself - I was like this grin

mrz Sun 18-Nov-12 13:27:29

It's now developed into an informal book borrowing service involving about half of KS1.

Lougle Sun 18-Nov-12 13:29:31

mrz, you are the sort of teacher every school needs.

learnandsay Sun 18-Nov-12 13:34:40

Reading a book on the loo?! That's funny and probably dangerous too!

mrz, are you spending your own money on reading books for this child? If so, that's a bit above and beyond the call of duty isn't it? If you are I take my hat off to you. Somebody was saying something about a child from a dysfunctional family once. It was very distressing. Was that you? And is this her? If it is I hope that she goes to a great secondary school and then to university and gets away from the hole she's in at the moment. (God, how awful life is sometimes.)

mrz Sun 18-Nov-12 13:36:20

I'm not at all unusual

simpson Sun 18-Nov-12 13:39:08

DS's yr2 teacher brought in books that her children had out grown for DS to borrow (I was sooo grateful and compiled a list of books to push him on with his reading as I did not have a clue and we were floundering with ORT).

It makes such a difference when a teacher goes that little bit extra smile

learnandsay Sun 18-Nov-12 13:42:24

Right, simpson, I agree. But if mrz is talking about the child that I think she's talking about it could completely change the life that she's going to have.

simpson Sun 18-Nov-12 13:51:27

I read with yr1, 2 and 4 in my DC school and sadly there are quite a few kids (in KS1 - as once in KS2 the child fills out their reading journal themselves) that do not get any support at home and are really struggling to grasp the basics which reading with an adult at home 2 or3 times a week would really help...

I was a bit shock and sad as I just took it for granted that parents want their DC to do well and support them at home....

learnandsay Sun 18-Nov-12 14:01:37

I don't know how many parents want their children to do badly. But there's a difference between wanting your children to do well, or at least to be OK generally, and being capable of doing anything to influence their development for the better.

mrz Sun 18-Nov-12 14:12:34

There are many reasons why some children don't read with parents at home. some parents lead chaotic lives, working all hours to feed and clothe their family and find it difficult to find the time, some can't help because they lack basic skills, some just don't care and a few parents who just feel it is the school's job to teach their child and nothing to do with them

yellowsubmarine53 Sun 18-Nov-12 21:00:22

I read with the Y3s in our school and lots of them just don't have anyone at home who speaks enough English to be able to help them. I'm sure that some of the hesitance to listen to reading is about confidence as well.

pointythings Sun 18-Nov-12 21:02:34

The whole personal lending library thing isn't uncommon among good teachers - DD2's teacher did this last year when she was in Yr4 and lent her some amazing books from her personal collection. They still meet at playtime and discuss their latest fiction discoveries.

BooksandaCuppa Sun 18-Nov-12 21:32:14

Absolutely. Even in a reasonably affluent area there are parents who don't have the 'time' to read with their dcs/who think their dcs' extra-curricular activities are more important (in case they might become an Olympian)/who think it's the school's job to teach their child to read/who think gadgets are more relevant than books etc etc etc.

And that's without mentioning the parents (of all walks of life) who cannot read or write themselves to any decent level.

thisthreadwilloutme Mon 19-Nov-12 21:16:04

I'm in a similar position my dd started reception in Sep and is now reading ORT level 9! She is bringing home ng spellings now, off to google hyperlexia. mrz I'd love you to be my dd's teacher you sound fab.

thisthreadwilloutme Mon 19-Nov-12 21:19:11

Oh, definitely not hyperlexia here, she totally understands what she is reading and remembers it for ages. My brother made her read a sad headline in the guardian because he didn't believe she hadn't memorised every book in the house and she looked thoughtful, refused to read the article and can still remember 6 months later that it was about a sad boy who lived in the richest city in the world.

mrz Mon 19-Nov-12 21:35:30

I should probably point out my son is high functioning autistic (and he does understand what he's reading and reads for pleasure)

thisthreadwilloutme Mon 19-Nov-12 22:02:21

Mrz your son sounds fab - I bet those engineer manuals were riveting for you and your dh wink. I'm happy with dd being pushed at the moment but worry that it can be a hindrance to be too far ahead IYSWIM. Just happy to trust her teachers at the moment, she's happy and loves learning so I'm happy.

mrz Mon 19-Nov-12 22:06:12

they did enable said son to dismantle almost every piece of machinery/technology in the house at one stage ...unfortunately ot to reassemble them hmm

thisthreadwilloutme Mon 19-Nov-12 22:10:51

I bet you loved that!

I tend to think that dd just has a natural ability for reading and loves to read. Not manuals though, so no dismantling here thank goodness.

mrz Mon 19-Nov-12 22:19:54

I have a little boy in my Y1 class who is a natural reader it's an absolute joy listening to him read

Rudolphstolemycarrots Mon 19-Nov-12 23:02:21

I really wouldn't worry. Both my kids have picked it up well too and it does make life a bit easier for thyem

wandymum Tue 27-Nov-12 20:18:41

I agree that for some children 'reading' just seems to click. My DS has just started reception and can happily read Roald Dahl Horrid Henry and pretty much anything that grabs his attention. He has a phenomenal memory so if he has come across a word once he knows it.

I'm not worried that he doesn't usually 'decode' phonetically because he does this when he sees a word for the first time and can happily read nonsense words too.

It is definitely true that he can read more than he can understand - he can really read anything TV manual, grown up books he's pinched off our shelves, newspapers etc... - but he understands all the children's books he reads and is very eloquent as well so again I'm not worried.

It did give me a shock when we realised just how fluently he could read though!

insanityscratching Tue 27-Nov-12 20:55:47

My ds had hyperlexia too, complicated by the fact he didn't talk but could obviously read and had learnt from the subtitles on TV. I only discovered he could read age two when he used his magnetic letters to reproduce Oracle (the tv text service) from memory. By the time he started school he was using single words interspersed with jargon but could read aloud, anything offered, fluently. He'd also mastered writing with perfect spelling and punctuation that, when he chose to, he'd communicate that way.He finally mastered normal speech around age seven but even now at seventeen he prefers to communicate with notes, texts and emails.

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