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?

noramum Sat 20-Apr-13 21:27:01

Forget flash cards.

Buy proper books and read stories, sing songs together, speak to her in normal language and give her time to talk back.

Yes, I am sure some children can learn to recognise words when parents use flash cards. But flash cards are about recognising a shape not about sounding out letter and making a word. Most children will struggle to recognise the same word when it is written in a different font or handwritten.

CalicoRose Sat 20-Apr-13 21:33:07

This learn to read program with Perceptual Reading is for children aged 6 months to 36 months

So 1 is certainly not too young grin

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sat 20-Apr-13 21:37:24

Ds was 1 and 2 weeks when he started to recognise and say letters. A friend bought him a toy bus (the ones with the letters on the side, numbers on the top and shapes. Press the button and it says the sound, change the settings and it asks you to find a letter). He could read books at 3 and a half (Mr Men) as it clicked IYKWIM. He is a very bright boy and quick at picking things up but having a child like this isn't a bed of roses.

namechangea Sat 20-Apr-13 21:39:29

My kids are thick as f**k obviously.

cory Sat 20-Apr-13 21:44:22

It won't matter in the long run whether your dd learned to read at 2 or at 6. What will matter is that she has learned to enjoy talking to you, learned to enjoy a good story, learned to take interest in the world around her, learned that questions are there to be answered and that the world becomes more interesting if you ask questions. Those are the foundations to build her future reading on, not the ability to recognise a certain shape by a certain age.

AbbyR1973 Sat 20-Apr-13 21:50:27

What noramum said.

You can't teach a child to read until they are ready and that will be a different age for every child. Some children might start letter recognition very early at say 2 years, other perfectly normal children may not reach that stage until 5. They need to have certain developmental skills before learning to read such as pattern recognition.
Flash cards are generally not the preferred method of teaching reading by schools.
I think the most important getting ready to read activity you can do at any age is to read to them and share books with them.

looseleaf Sat 20-Apr-13 21:53:12

I bought a fantastic book called Teach your Baby to Read: the Gentle Revolution . Strongly recommend it though we're only on day 3 of trying as DS loves it and we run out of things to interest him so it helps. He's 21months and has been interested in words for some time and recognises many but now learns a new one in seconds. He loves it and especially any challenge so will recognise 2 word phrases like 'no diving'.

I always felt children can be pushed a bit early here and this is the last book I would have bought but I read the reviews in it and am quite convinced by its argument that the brain learns brilliantly well v early and think DD (6) would have responded well to this too.

Namechangea I don't know how old your kids are but bet they're super bright! Our dd just wasn't as interested as DS / was interested in more normal things so it wouldn't have occurred to me to start so young.

Really helpful, thanks to all who replied. I feel less guilty now for not trying to 'teach' her, will carry on with the reading stories etc.

exoticfruits Sat 20-Apr-13 22:08:36

Noramum said it all. Join the library and have fun.

ReallyTired Sat 20-Apr-13 22:17:23


It is pushy parenting gone mad to teach a one year old how to read.

Whole world methods can do long term damage to a child. It is better to teach a child to decode using phonics. There is a risk that a child who is taught by whole word flash cards will not develop decoding skills. (This is less of a risk in the type of child who teaches themselve to read without parental pushiness.)

A one year old is not ready to learn to read. A child needs to aquire language before they can learn to read and COMPREND. It might be possible to teach a two year old to bark at print with flash card but understanding a story is a different thing. It is better for long term development to get your child to have a wide range of experiences. Go to the park, the shops, feed the ducks, go for walks, read to them and talk and talk and talk even more!

I think the best age to start teaching reading is when the child can talk in good sentences and concentrate for about 10 minutes on a puzzle or drawing or toy. In my experience my children have picked up reading very quickly when taught using jolly phonics at four years old.

If you really want to hot house your child then its more effective to work on fine motor control than reading.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sat 20-Apr-13 22:19:52

It's far better to teach a 1 year old how to play. I didn't set out to teach mine; the bus did it all! 'Toys' like this are a nightmare.

exoticfruits Sat 20-Apr-13 22:20:12

It isn't a race! One of my DSs was a very early reader, one was very late and one somewhere between - no one can tell which was which (and no one cares).

nicky2512 Sat 20-Apr-13 22:22:38

My two both great readers

nicky2512 Sat 20-Apr-13 22:24:03

Sorry posted too quick! Was going to say prob because we all read lots together and enjoyed books, not because of actively trying to teach them.

FunnysInLaJardin Sat 20-Apr-13 22:24:37

DS2 is 3 and can't read. DS1 is 7 and is really getting it now. He love to read everything to the extent that we have to say OK DS1 STOP reading everything.

gwenniebee Sat 20-Apr-13 22:27:25

As a primary teacher, I think you do best just to continue enjoying books with your child. If she is interested in "proper reading" she will begin to pick it up when she is ready. I suppose if you wanted to you could point at the words when you are reading so she knows that is where you are looking.

LapinDeBois Sat 20-Apr-13 22:31:36

As a parent of a very early reading child, I would say be led by your daughter. I never planned to teach DS to read, but TBH I couldn't have stopped him if I tried - I basically 'taught' him by just answering his questions and allowing him to pursue his interests. He's now in Reception and exceedingly bright/ahead for his age in literacy and numeracy. My second son (aged 2.5) is very different - although he does know his letters (largely because his older brother insists on drilling him frequently grin) he has nothing like the intensity of focus that DS1 had. I'm following exactly the same 'philosophy' with him - yes, making sure we read lots of stories together, which he loves, but otherwise letting him follow his own interests (which are almost exclusively jigsaw related). I have no intention of pushing him to learn to read before school unless he shows an interest.

chickensaladagain Sat 20-Apr-13 22:32:21

Both my 2 were early readers -before their 3rd birthdays

I never did flash cards, vocab sheets, jolly phonics -nothing
Although people assumed I must have been a pushy mum

We just shared stories, talked about things in the supermarket like can you see the milk? type questions and we sing constantly well I do, they are now at the stage where they find me particularly embarrassing and they figured it out

Preschool children are like sponges but they learn what they want to learn and sitting them down with flash cards is really not in their interest

I did suspect my Dsis was being a bit previous with the flashcards. I think I am generally of the opinion that reading to DD is less pressure & suits my slightly lazy style. DH & I don't thrive on pressure so I suspect she may be the same.
namechangea - FWIW my DD will be 1 in a couple of weeks & despite months of trying, is only just figuring out how to put food in her own mouth. All kids have strengths & weaker areas.

LapinDeBois Sat 20-Apr-13 22:42:49

(Incidentally, the early signs that DS1 wanted to learn to read were that he started asking what letters and numbers signified, and constantly asking things like 'where on the page does it say 'gruffalo' or 'tiddler'?' or whatever, when I was reading to him. From then he would endlessly ask us to 'play letters' with him, eg wanting us to give him simple words to read. If you do want to respond to an interest in literacy, it doesn't have to be all about flashcards - I'm convinced that general wordplay is also really helpful in developing language. So we've always done lots of silly rhyming games, and played lots of I-Spy. I also think (based on zero actual knowledge, so sorry if I'm wrong!!) that there's no harm in exposing children to language that's too hard for them. With both my boys I've read them lots of fairly grown-up poetry, and stuff like Edward Lear and Dr Seuss from a very young age, and I think it gives them a feel for the general shape and cadences of language. They always ask for more of it, anyway, so they clearly like it!)

LapinDeBois Sat 20-Apr-13 22:47:30

chickensalad I feel your pain on the pushy mum front. Only last week I had a mum at school come and ask me about my 'system' because she wanted to 'work on' her 3 year old to get him reading. My friends know that DS is just DS, and that I don't lock him up and make him do phonics for hours he does that himself, but I suspect some of the mums who don't know me so well probably think I'm a right pain. When DS started school I found myself apologising to the teacher because he could read so well - luckily she's absolutely brilliant and told me not to be an idiot.

Lonecatwithkitten Sat 20-Apr-13 22:50:48

Remember it's a marathon not a sprint. DD joined a reception class with a large number of gifted children who had been reading since they were 2.5 years only able to recognise her own name. 5 years later she is the only child in the class who willingly reads for pleasure and who is beyond the reading age assessment scheme.
I just read to her lots and lots with voices particularly in books like Grandma Chickenlegs. I still read to her now as we just love discovering a story together. I feel the most important thing is to foster a joy in stories.

Allthatglitters789 Sat 20-Apr-13 22:58:06

I have only just started by following words with my finger when reading ds1 a story he's 4 in July and the only word he recognises is his own name hmm I'm not pushing him as he will learn in his own time but I think one is much too young for that.

BackforGood Sat 20-Apr-13 23:10:48

What Cory said.
Read to them
Talk to them
Listen to them
Explain things when you are out and about
Point things out when you are out and about
Share books with them
Let them hear rhyme - in books and in songs and nursery rhymes.

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.

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

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.

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

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

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!

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.

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!

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.

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.

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

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.

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'

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

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.

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.

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?

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!

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

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

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

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