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to not be teaching my 2 year old phonics?

(128 Posts)
nancerama Mon 11-Nov-13 14:39:10

It seems that competitive parenting is creeping into my social circle of what were, up until now, laid back lovely parents of toddlers.

DS is 2.5 and his friends are all of a similar age, give or take a few months. Of late, everyone seems to be dashing out and purchasing Jolly Phonics packs or similar, because, apparently, their DCs really, really want to read.

DS loves books and we read together for around 1 hour a day, but I just can't bring myself to start formal education. My heart says we should have lots of fun reading together and understanding books, but my head (and my fellow parents) tell me that it's important to give him a head start before he starts school.

Please, fellow mumsnetters. Reassure me that they are all bonkers.

OwlCat Wed 13-Nov-13 22:02:30

We have Jolly Phonics books in the house from my older child but I can't imagine using them with my 2.7 year old for at least another year. He loves being read to and it's the only time that he'll sit still but he's definitely nowhere near ready for reading himself yet.

jamdonut Wed 13-Nov-13 21:45:05

I read to all three of my children...piles and piles of books..we loved to snuggle up on the sofa and read and read.

My older two couldn't read before starting school (but very quickly learned) whereas my youngest actually could read when he started Foundation. I didn't teach him ,he just kind of figured it out for himself! His teacher started him on level 4 books,when everyone else was on pictures and no words. Phonics (in school) only helped for spelling and writing.

I wouldn't sweat it. Keep reading loads of books to your DS,and let school teach him phonics when he gets there.

sherazade Wed 13-Nov-13 20:40:17

No teacher worth his or her salt is going to have a problem with a child arriving in reception already reading.

No they aren't, it's actually great when I get children who are able readers. But the able readers:
haven't been 'pushed' or taught at home; they are always self taught
the less able readers are often sitting at home with flashcards and handwriting books and just don't want to know.
Some children are made to write reams of nonsense at home and are less confident writers who worry about spelling or making mistakes.

Children will read when they are ready. Memorising sounds is the least important precursor to reading. Children more vitally need 'pre' reading skills such as being able to enjoy stories independently, recognising rhyming patterns, sequencing and narrating, using pictures for comprehension, etc. Exposing your child to plenty of books and sharing them together, singing rhymes and songs, quality conversation and dialogue with your child, is how you get them to be great readers, not making them memorise sounds.

My dd went to nursery abroad. She missed several months of reception due to limited school places when we moved back to the UK. When she joined reception in November, she didn't know a single letter sound. By January, spring term, she was an almost fluent reader. I did nothing in the way of memorising letter sounds with her. She learnt those at school, but she had an avid interest and passion for books and storytelling which equipped her to be a good reader.

LimitedEditionLady Wed 13-Nov-13 18:20:42

My ds loves numbers and is not at all interested in letters so we do number things as he really is obsessed but im no way going to try and teach him anything hes not inquisitive about at the age of 2.Isnt there a certain way to teach this kind of stuff now?Id rather let him do this with his peers at school and support him along with that.Yanbu and shouldnt feel pressured into conforming.

madmomma Wed 13-Nov-13 15:55:41

God how boring - everyone agrees.
I agree with whoever said upthread that the people who sound the pushiest are those who decry teaching early reading to be doing the child a disservice. I haven't heard anyone say that others should teach at home, but many people have said that one shouldn't. My first child was reading fluently in nursery and could read all the take home books in early years. But she wasn't bored at all. She still enjoyed all the books and I stretched her at home. Nor was she confused and in need of the teacher to 'undo' how she was taught at home. She got on with it. She wasn't and isn't super bright. No teacher worth his or her salt is going to have a problem with a child arriving in reception already reading.

NoComet Wed 13-Nov-13 13:44:18

Utter nonsense, some DCs read very early and some don't force feeding disinterested ones phonics isn't going to help.

Some early readers do turn out to be G&T. DFs DD for example, but not all.

DD2 couldn't read at all before starting school, but was the best reader in the class by KS1 SATs, could read with expression. By end of Y3 she could happily do a Y6 reading SAT comprehension.

There is no need to rush!

RandallFloyd Wed 13-Nov-13 13:32:13

It's no different at all creamy. Horses for courses innit.

Kids are weird. Fact.

CreamyCooler Wed 13-Nov-13 13:20:20

I can't see how a toddler learning their letters and sounds is any different than knowing all the names of the hundreds of Thomas the Tank engine trains if that is what they are into.

LondonJax Wed 13-Nov-13 13:14:43

Oh and our DS is still having toileting issue, it is medical though and until a year ago couldn't hop! So he may be a word wizard but he still has things to learn and concentrate on.

LondonJax Wed 13-Nov-13 13:10:25

Similar to your RandallFloyd, our DS was obsessed with one of those bus toys you can get that teaches shapes, numbers and letters. I only realised he was so into it when I heard the blooming toy say "well done" over and over again. We didn't do formal teaching because, to be honest, we didn't know what to do and we felt that it was best to be led by the teacher when he started school. So we just helped support what he was learning at school. One of his classmates was a good reader too but his mum sat up until 10pm, I kid you not, working with the child until they learned the word cat! Madness! Our DS picked up a few words which he learned by memory before he started school. Like Tesco ! Because that's where we shop and he noticed the word on their products at the dinner table. If we went past a shop we'd point out how the word Sunday (as in Sunday opening times) could be two different words Sun and Day so he picked those up. If he showed an interest in other words we'd show him.

We also read a lot, using our finger to trace along the words with our speech, he had two or three short stories before bed and often asked for a story during the day if he was having a little down time. So he was surrounded by words.

He too loved Alpha blocks - they actually taught me a few things I had missed at school due to illness too!

Anyway, he picked up reading very quickly once he started at school. He is now in year two and had a reading age assessment recently which showed he's really advanced but that's because he's enjoying words and we've never put pressure on him to learn, we've just made it fun and helped him see how useful it is to be able to read.

cornflakegirl Wed 13-Nov-13 13:05:03

I agree with Joysmum. Letter sounds are just a thing you can do with your child, like baking, counting, colours, riding a scooter. When my children ask about letters (like they ask about everything), I tell them the letter name and the sound it (most often) makes. I spent some time on the Jolly Phonics website making sure I got those sounds right.

I'm sure children who learn to bake at 7 or 8 are very rapidly as good at it as those who have been involved in baking from an early age. I don't see that as a reason to refuse to bake with a child under 7, or to castigate a parent who buys their child a mini baking set.

RandallFloyd Wed 13-Nov-13 12:55:32

^ By the age of 5 or 6 all their peers will be reading and they will eventually plateau and the fact that they know their sounds at the age of 2 will fade into significance^

Ok, ignore my ramblings. That's a much more concise way of saying what I was trying to say grin

RandallFloyd Wed 13-Nov-13 12:53:22

My DS is 2.3. He know the names of all the letters, their sound, the sounds of some of the double letters (Th. etc) and can sound out simple 3 letter words.

This is, however, naff all to do with me and wholly due to an utter obsession with Alphablocks. And I do mean obsession.

If I let him he would watch it all day every day. He also has loads of the little Alphablocks tiles you get free with the cbeebies magazine and plays with them all day every day. He has a little purse that he fills with them so we can take them every sodding where we go.

He's also great with numbers thanks to a slightly milder obsession with Numberjacks.

I do not, in any way, think this will somehow make him more 'advanced' when he starts school as apart from the fact that he is an August baby they are all at different levels when they start. It all evens out pretty quickly. Plus they all have strengths and weaknesses.

So whilst I may internally beam when we have to stop on every street corner so he can say every letter of the road name, I'm less smug about the fact that he is absolutely rubbish at colours, is nowhere near ready to start potty training, and can't reliably tell me where his nose is!

I have no idea what Jolly Phonics is but teaching a 2 yo how to spell does not sound like my idea of jolly.

pianodoodle Wed 13-Nov-13 12:43:09

Half the time if it's a rubbish story I don't even read the words I just describe the pictures...

"Oh look! That kite's stuck up a tree. And here comes a boy with er...a stick, or something" grin

sherazade Wed 13-Nov-13 12:28:22

I say this to parents all the time and i'll say it again:
The great readers aren't the ones who've been 'taught' to read from early on -putting aside the fact that babies and young children can't be forced into reading just as they can't be forced to crawl or walk; they'll only start blending when they're ready so teaching them their sounds early on is a waste of time.

The great readers/achievers are the ones who, at the age of 3 or 4, can pick up a book and read it in their own words, using their imaginations to sequence and narrate their own stories, by building on their own life experiences or on prior knowledge gained from discussion or even the stories their parents have read to them. By the age of 5 or 6 all their peers will be reading and they will eventually plateau and the fact that they know their sounds at the age of 2 will fade into significance.

nothing jolly about phonics for 2 year olds.

Saying that, my DS was reading by himself age 3


see how easy it is to foster insecurity in others?

Kids want to learn, you can't stop them. There is too much emphasis on formal learning as it is , from too young an age.

How can so many people get it so wrong? Kids need to learn about lots of things, about the world around them, about friendships, about creativity.

Leave those kids alone.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Wed 13-Nov-13 11:11:16

You're right it's obviously ridiculous. Singing the ABC song and reading together is normal at 2. Jolly Phonics is aimed at reception age children and not suitable for a 2.5 year old.

I'd say your friends are risking putting their children off reading when they start school. Imagine how boring it would be doing Jolly Phonics from scratch with your classmates when you've already been doing it for 2 years at home? Also, even if the parents teach the child to read well there is a genuine issue around the suitability of materials for children whose reading age is far above their real age. The content of age 7/8 books, say, is often not appropriate for a 4/5 year old even if they can decode at that level.

hopskipandthump Wed 13-Nov-13 10:09:34

sherazade - i easily read to my 2yo for an hour a day - more, I would think. That's adding up all the 5 -10 minute reading sessions, she wouldn't sit and concentrate for an hour.

I would think that's pretty normal, isn't it?

nancerama Wed 13-Nov-13 09:54:25

You're. Not your. Auto correct, I promise!

nancerama Wed 13-Nov-13 09:53:56

But Joysmum, surely what you are doing is taking what your child is learning at school and running with it. Encouraging the things she enjoys and finding new ways to explore the things she doesn't understand. Your supporting her formal education, and that's exactly what I hope to do.

Teaching phonics to a 2 year old in the hope that they will be ahead of their peers when they start school is a whole different thing.

Joysmum Wed 13-Nov-13 09:38:32

I think there's a lot of projecting by others as to the intentions and competitiveness of people like me who have been using Jolly Phonics (yay, no autocorrect mishaps this time!). I certainly didn't look to make my child better than other children, still don't. I just want her to be as happy and good as she can be.

Every one of us are encouraging learning through play whether it's making and decorating cakes, doing a bit of art, sand and water play or Jolly Phonics. For us it was just another fun way to play.

I really don't agree with formal lessons at an early age but I love seeing what my daughters latest interest was and running with it and hopefully having that interest help with things she's not good or interested in.

For instance, I mentioned before that although she loved the whole reading and writing experience, and still does, she never like rout learning and was later than most children at learning to count and later her times tables. Things that required judgement like colours and vise of language she was pretty swift to learn. That's why cooking was great, it involved maths and it's fun with consequences good and bad if you do or don't follow instructions. It also teaches so many other life lessons but above all it's fun so she doesn't know she's learning. Jolly Phonics was just the same, it's a game.

As I said, I'm sure all of us are happy for our kids to learn and welcome it and that the real debate seems to be about formal learning, rather than informal and fun learning through play. Tbh I think anyone who is judging others or seeing them as competitive wouldn't be right for the majority of people I know who did Jolly Phonics, we are just using a tried and trusted method when others are still doing the same thing of encouraging an interest in reading but without a specific method and others still preferring to not do any reading at all with their children.

The word 'pushy' has come up a lot. If you look back through this thread, I don't see parents who did phonics saying you should all be doing it, but I do see lots of parents who haven't done it passing judgement and saying you shouldn't. The anti camp are far more pushy in their beliefs than the pro camp. Says a lot I think.

sherazade Wed 13-Nov-13 09:09:59

you read to your 2 year old for an hour everyday?

Tailtwister Wed 13-Nov-13 09:02:26

I do think some children show an interest in reading at a very early age and it seems sensible to just go with it if that's the case. However, if you do go down the phonics route then you run the risk of them being bored in their first year of school. I didn't do anything apart from read to DS1 and he's already bored with the books he's bringing home having just been in school 1 term.

Pearlsaplenty Wed 13-Nov-13 09:01:30


It is silly to teach 2 year olds phonics. They have so many other things to learn about before they need to learn about phonics. Whatever happened to learning colours, counting, animals, household objects, vehicles, clothing, food, weather, dinosaurs etc etc hmm

harryhausen Wed 13-Nov-13 08:56:22

Exactly Pianodoodle. It's the totally lack of self awareness, or even normal social niceties that blows my mind. We all think our kids are great/funny/genius's etc, but why announce it on the equivalent of a huge notice board?

I even had the same parent banging on at me last year about how her amazing daughter had been given a Headmasters award (for something or other) and how rare these were and none had been given out since 2002. I stood silently nodding in full, self awareness that my own dd had 2 on the fridge at home.

It's madness. I never engage, but yet it still comes at me.

Sorry to derail the threadgrin

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