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not to be pushing reading/writing etc on my 4yo pre-schooler?

(38 Posts)
tjandpootle Mon 29-Nov-10 19:57:41

My DS is a September born 4 year-old (so due to start Reception next year as probably the oldest in his class).

He goes to a great pre-school 3 mornings a week - they do loads of great activities but don't push the reading/writing beyond knowing letters and writing name/numbers 1-9. He's with a childminder for 2 full days while I work. When he's with me I like to do fun stuff with him - swimming, knocking a football around, playing games etc. I feel that he'll get plenty of time on the reading and writing when he's at school and it's not a race.

However, my friends with similar aged DCs are all talking about the amount of things they do at home to 'support their learning'. They drop in how their DC 'wrote a list for Father Christmas' or 'I've had to buy the Oxford Reading Tree as DD was doing so well with their reading'. They seem to think we should be giving them a head start and if they start school ahead they'll stay ahead. Am I being unreasonable in denying my DS this potential head start and leaving it until he's at school?

DrSpechemin Mon 29-Nov-10 19:59:53


TottWriter Mon 29-Nov-10 20:01:11

I think it depends. Your firneds might well end up having the swotty kids, if they're pushing them that hard (and they probably are), but will that actually make them happy?

In the end, to a degree you have a choice - push for academic ability or push for happiness (with obvious overlap either way as all children are different).

dearprudence Mon 29-Nov-10 20:02:16

YANBU. My DS couldn't read before school, but became a very strong reader by end of reception.

DirtyMartini Mon 29-Nov-10 20:04:39

YANBU. Follow your child; some kids want to learn early. Some are not bothered. Neither way is better.

My mum taught me to read a bit early, at 3, because I apparently asked to learn; but later on, I felt that being "ahead" in terms of reading level was a bit of an unwelcome difference between me and the other kids in my class. It was not a big problem but it certainly didn't make me happier, as much as I loved reading.

christmasmum Mon 29-Nov-10 20:05:01

I'm no expert on this but my friend is a primary school teacher and says that kids who can read well before school get very bored re-learning and often are the ones to play up in class - swings and roundabouts I guess!

spidookly Mon 29-Nov-10 20:05:28

You are giving him a headstart:

"I like to do fun stuff with him - swimming, knocking a football around, playing games"


"He goes to a great pre-school 3 mornings a week"

Learning is not just literacy. You are supporting his learning.

If he gets keen on reading, then teach him to read, if he wants to write a letter to Santa, then show him how to make letters.

But you are absolutely right, it's not a race. Those other children aren't "ahead" of him. Hopefully they're just doing their own thing.

Or if they're unlucky they're being pushed by their parents and not getting supported in their learning at all.

ConstanceFelicity Mon 29-Nov-10 20:06:31

YANBU at all.

Plumm Mon 29-Nov-10 20:06:59

YANBU. DD is in reception and learning to read now. When she was in transition (part of the same school) I was worried that she showed no interest in reading and spoke to her teacher about it. She said that if DD is not interested in learning then not to push her as it would only put her off. I am happy with the pace at which she's learning.

FWIW, i was a very early reader (hence the reason i was a bit worried about DDs lack of interest in reading) but I didn't go to university or even finish A levels - i just enjoy reading.

Booandpops Mon 29-Nov-10 20:07:30

My dd is in reception. We do a few books a week and one set flashcards a week or fortnight but that's it I feel thats enough. At 4/5 yr still a tiny wee thing getting used to school and friends wmetc that's enough IMO
I want dd to gave fun at home or we do swimming etc She is doing well and I'm very happy with her progress. No need to push to hard
Sone of my nct lot schools are really pushing homework at this stage but I notice there school stats are actually worse than my dd school. Not pointed this out however. I think yr dead right.

RhinestoneCowgirl Mon 29-Nov-10 20:07:52

Well my DS is 4, but a late July baby, so already in school. His preschool was as you describe, he learnt to write his name but that was pretty much it. Which is how it should be I think.

Even now in Reception, we read with him every day, (including the reading scheme books from the school) but I don't do a lot of other stuff around formal literacy. Like you I think that there's plenty of time for that - and I certainly don;t want to turn him off.

When I ask DS what he has done in school he tells me things like 'Me and P played in the tent' or 'I swept up leaves with L and put them in the compost'. To me the social interaction is so much more important for him atm.

LifeForRent Mon 29-Nov-10 20:08:30

While I don't think you're being unreasonable, as it is indeed your choice...I'm steering the other way. I'm sitting on the fence with home schooling atm, (my ds is almost 1...!) but I see kiddies who are 5, 6, 7 years old who cannot handle basic reading, telling the time etc, and it makes me shudder. I'm huge on education, and the earlier the better for my son...hence why I won't let him go to a child minder, I am genuinely worried about how it will interfere with "proper" education. But I'm slightly obsessive and slightly weird.

onceamai Mon 29-Nov-10 20:10:38

YANBU - your child will do it when he's ready and at that point he will want to do it. This comes from a parent of a child who was obsessed with sounds and the alphabet from about 2. He pushed it not us. He read his fist HP at the beginning of Yr 1. He read it in Latin at the beginning of Y6. His GCSE options are: French, Latin, Mandarin, Greek. His parents pushed cricket, football and MATHS. He's in the bottom set for maths grin

OmniaParatus Mon 29-Nov-10 20:12:13

YANBU. My sister taught me to read at four because I asked her to. If your Ds doesn'twant to learn you might put him off. Enjoy your time together you will be helping him with homework next year!

coolascucumber Mon 29-Nov-10 20:18:07

I tried the relaxed approach, letting them learn at their own pace and now wish I had encouraged more reading before school started.

Reality at our school is that kids who start school able to read are regarded as brighter by the teacher, get placed on the table with the more challenging activities and are pushed towards the treats that the Gifted and talented get.

My kids spent most of reception learning colours, shapes and numbers that they had known for ages before starting school and thought alot of the time it was boring.

ChippingIn Mon 29-Nov-10 20:20:29

What you are doing is perfect

They will have an advantage over the other kids anyway as they are older, will have been at pre-school longer (or at least longer when they are older if you know what I mean).

They are only small for 5 minutes - enjoy it!

Bunnyjo Mon 29-Nov-10 20:22:30

DD is 3, but an August baby, so she will start in reception in September. She is progressing well and is good with numbers and letters, but is not good with writing so far - probably because she is that much younger than most. I am certainly not pushing her and would prefer to spend our time learning through play and doing things like baking etc, which she doesn't get to do at nursery. DD's nursery is fab, she is there 5 days a week and they have assured me that she is very bright and is on a par with her older peers, so I am happy with that.

They're still young children, most other countries within Europe don't begin formal education until the child is 6 or 7.

maxpower Mon 29-Nov-10 20:24:00

YADNBU - I'm a qualified primary teacher and I've not pushed my 4yo DD beyond anything she's instigated herself. I know she'd be more than capable of learning to read but she hasn't asked me to teach her so I've not 'forced' it on her.

spidookly Mon 29-Nov-10 20:27:47

wow coolas that sounds like a pretty shit school your children are at

PavlovtheCat Mon 29-Nov-10 20:30:31

rhinestone shock that is a good memory your boy has! when I ask DD, a 4 yo july born reception child what she did at school, she responds with 'i don't know' 'i can't remember'! She can't even remember her lunch option if she is having a school dinner day!

We are being very relaxed about it, guided by DD and not being pushy. Some nights she asks to do her school book, sometimes she wants to colour in and practice finding words containing the letter(s) of the day (they have a sheet with pictures to colour relating to the letter, to consolidate school learning), sometimes we ask her to come and read, and sometimes she is just too tired or not interested - we ask the question but do not push it, if she wants to, fine, if not, also fine.

However, she has developed her own thirst for learning letters/words now, so even though often too tired, she wants to know what signs say, she will walk around the supermarket, along the street, reading notices etc while in the car driving past things, identifying letters and some words, or trying to spell out words (often gets it right, for short words). She sometimes talks in her sleep about words/books and so we don't need to push too hard. She can count to 20 and sometimes up to 30 now, she practices it while doing other things, we practice adding and subtracting in normal things we do such as '3 more mouthfuls of food' 'i had one mouthful' so how many more do you need to make 3?' '2? let's count and see if you are right' that kinds of thing, so many opportunities to practice these things without sitting down with a book/paper and forcing them.

DD loves learning, and i hope it is in part because we try to make it fun and let her be the lead. I hope it continues that way, as once she has the passion for learning, the concentration will develop and she can learn application skills.

So, in long, YANBU grin

PavlovtheCat Mon 29-Nov-10 20:33:18

we read her a bedtime story every night regardless of whether she does her school book or not, and she wants to try to read/spot words in that too sometimes. Sometimes she just wants to look at the pictures/listen, but it is just as important as practising reading herself to hear a good well written story.

Bingtata Mon 29-Nov-10 22:33:36

YANBU to be guided by your child, but YABU to expect that any child who enjoys learning to read and write as being pushed by their parents.

My DD is 4 and will start reception in January. She honestly enjoys maths and learning to write and has indeed written a letter to Santa with some help with the spellings. She had me explaining fractions the other day with her pretend birthday cake. What should I have said when she asked about it? You are right that it is not a race, so don't assume pushiness on the part of parents with children who actively seek this kind of knowledge at this age.

Bingtata Mon 29-Nov-10 22:34:39

'is being pushed by their parents' I meant to say.

DD clearly does not get her swottiness from me. grin

curlymama Mon 29-Nov-10 22:41:25

YANBU. I completely agree with what Spidookly said.

As long as you are sharing books with your child, he will be fine. As far as writing goes, the best thing to do is to make sure he does things that will build up his fine motor skills. Stuff like rolling playdough between the fingers and squeezing it, anything like that really. There's no pint trying to teach a child to write when their hands aren't strong enough to hold a pencil to form a letter correctly. Im sure you will be doing numeracy stuff that you don't even realise, as with most of it. You might not realise how much you child is learning from the things that you do with him, but from everything you described, your child is learning plenty in the best possible way.

Tolalola Mon 29-Nov-10 22:45:03

YANBU to push it if your child does not seem interested. At that age, they shouldn't have to do more formal 'learning-type' things unless they want to, imo.

On the other hand, my DS is nearly 3 and is desperate to learn to read. I haven't a clue how to teach him this effectively, so am thinking about sending him to a preschool where they can help him.

Fwiw, a good friend of mine never learned to read at all until she went to school aged 5.5, and still ended up with an English degree from Oxford grin. I don't think the age at which they learn that type of thing makes a blind bit of difference when they're tiny, as long as they're not pushed into it before they're ready.

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