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Not reading at 5

(47 Posts)
ks Tue 16-Jul-02 20:19:05

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Art Tue 16-Jul-02 21:06:26


I know its really difficult not to worry and not to compare your dss progress with others in the class. Some children, particularly boys just take longer to get going.

I am a reception teacher so I,ve seen a huge range of 5yos. Its hard to know whether their is cause for concern without knowing if your son is just 5, nearly six, has been at school all year or only 1 or 2 terms?

Usually by the end of the year I would expect the majority of the class to recognise most of the letters of the alphabet, their own name and some of the names of their friends and common words that tend to crop up a lot - 'and' 'I' 'Mum' 'Dad' ...

Some children learn well by using the sounds of the letters and building them into words, but obviously they need to recognise the letters first. Other children find it easier to recognise and remember whole words. Every child is different.

It sounds a bit from your message as if the problem is your son's attitude? Maybe he just hasnt been ready? or been put off in some way? The most important thing is to get him interested in books and the reading should follow.
If the school arent too concerned, dont worry. You may find it just 'clicks' soon.

Maybe you could ask to have a meeting with the new class teacher to discuss your worries. They may have some ideas of ways you could help your son at home over the summer, and will be able to tell you more clearly if they think that there is cause for concern. They will also be able to tell you the sort of things the SEN teacher may be doing to help/assess your son's level.

Sorry if this is a bit waffly - didnt really answer your question, just try to relax over it, otherwise ds will pick up on it. (Easier said than done I know)

SofiaAmes Tue 16-Jul-02 21:31:08

ks, don't worry as your son will defintely pick up on it. He is a bright alert kid and will start reading when he is ready. As art said, try getting him interested in books (read to him daily, make games of letters when you're reg.plates are a good one, etc.). There is so much emphasis on learning everything early nowadays and i'm not sure there is any evidence that it makes a difference to happiness/success in the long run/later in life. Boys are generally a bit slower at things (does't change much when they become men...). As i mentioned in another thread, my stepson wasn't reading at 6 and barely knew his alphabet and one summer we make a great effort to "jump start" him and it worked and now he is more or less caught up with his class. Reading isn't his best subject, but he is exceptionally good at others...

ks Tue 16-Jul-02 22:22:29

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WideWebWitch Tue 16-Jul-02 22:26:09

Ks, I'm not that much help but ds is 5 in Oct and starts school in Sept and is nowhere near being able to read. I'm not worrying about it: he seems bright enough and I reckon he'll learn once he's been at school a while and is good and ready. The way I see it, what's the rush? I'm sure he'll get there. (shows an interest in letters, stories etc)

ks Tue 16-Jul-02 22:29:18

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pob Tue 16-Jul-02 23:46:27

ks, it certainly sounds like your ds has everything he needs to read except the motivation to try himself - maybe he doesn't see why he should read, as it serves no purpose for him. Reading stories in books is only one aspect of reading, there are plenty more which might 'inspire' him. Is he still at school now? If so, try sticking simple notes from you in his lunchbox - "I love you!", "Let's go to the park after school" whatever. If not, get relatives, or even better, friends who are going away, to send postcards or emails addressed to your son. If he writes and sends replies with your support, this is reading too. And what about those fridge-magnet words....they don't have to be the school-based ones, anything that he could make silly sentences up with on the fridge to make you and your dh laugh. The most important thing, as Art said (and definately the most difficult!), is to make sure that ds does not feel that you are worried, so his not reading becomes an issue for him too.

PamT Wed 17-Jul-02 06:29:54

My own DS2 is very similar in his reading situation. He has just turned 6 and is due to go into year 2 in September. I find our attempts at the school reading books infuriating because he sometimes can't remember a word from one page to the next and words that he has been reading for months sometimes completely baffle him. He was put in a special group at school to help him with his literacy skills which upset me a bit at first but I do think that children need all the help they can get when they are first learning to read and write. DS also found it quite hard to settle down to working rather than playing so I think that a lot of his problems are due to immaturity. DS1 (9) had a reading friend at school last year, she was a volunteer who had gone into school to help develop reading skills and really encouraged him to read more for himself. He really enjoyed these sessions and was so proud when he got to the end of his first real paperback.

SueDonim Wed 17-Jul-02 06:53:33

I've found when mine have learnt to read that it's as though a light bulb has gone on in their heads and one day they just 'know' how to do it! They couldn't read one day, then they could read the next. It's as though an electrical connection has been made or something.

Don't forget too, that in some countries, children don't even begin school until they are 6 or 7, so I don't think not reading at 5 is anything to worry about at the moment. Good luck!

oxocube Wed 17-Jul-02 09:09:09

ks, I agree with SueDonim. I really don't think you should go into panic mode about this. 5 is still very little and, as I have posted before, chidren have so much to learn in their first few years and IMO should not be pushed too early. In most of Europe, kids do not start to read and write until they are 6. I think Scandinavian countries may even be 7 (please correct me if I am wrong).

My own son is almost 7 and his reading would be considered 'below average' in U.K. As an example, k.s. he can read stuff like "the man is looking at the dog" - very simple stuff, and he takes a long time to work through a text. He starts a new school in August , his first International school, as up til now, he has always gone to local schools and learned the language of the country we were living in. I do intend to do a little reading with him each day in the holidays (about 5-10 mins p day) as I think this will heklp his confidence as much as anything else.

Another thing which comes to mind is that when we think about what our kids can do at school, such as reading, isn't it a bit of a case of "My son could read at 4 - what level is your son at?" or "My *** has finished all the books recommended for his age. He's on to stage 8 now" So much pressure to perform and conform and all the other great things a child can do such as making fantastic Lego models or learning to swim (not that my d.s. can do that either!) or having great social skills can be easily overlooked. Try not to worry, k.s. I'm sure it will just 'click' when he is ready.

GRMUM Wed 17-Jul-02 10:29:27

I agree in many countries children start school at 6-7.Here in Greece its average 6 1/2 and they learn to read very quickly But greek is very phonetic and you just pronounce exactly what you see in front of you not like english which is much harder having so many rules and exceptions to rules.I would suggest trying to take the emphasis away from reading = books and try other more everyday things-shopping list -your son can read you the list and cross off items as you find them,signs and notices in shops,the park etc,looking in the paper to see "whats on", a list of things to do in the next week, a diary of activities to do during the summer holidays etc As you say that he loves being read to it may be that he enjoys this so much he doesn't want to read to himself?

Marina Wed 17-Jul-02 10:55:33

ks, you can't win, really. I am sure if you were casting your net widely you would have seen at least one head who DIDN'T want children reading before five, to a certain extent it is still governed by school preference/policy, even in the state sector. And as others have said, all over Europe, children older than him have not yet been taught to read because their education policy recognises that 4.5-5.5 is not the optimal time to be teaching little children this, especially boys. And most of these countries currently have better education systems and superior rates of adult literacy to us...
I think it is entirely normal for a boy of five to be obviously capable of reading but equally not quite ready to make the leap. Easy to say, but try not to worry...

ks Wed 17-Jul-02 12:39:47

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Azzie Wed 17-Jul-02 12:58:00

ks, my ds will be starting school this September. I looked at the local private schools as well as our village school, and for a variety of reasons we have decided to go with the village school for the time being. However, one school I looked at - very highly thought of (and expensive!), lots of competition to get into etc, just didn't feel right to me. The children seemed too well behaved (not that I don't like well-behaved children), and I just couldn't see my ds fitting in at all.

Now it sounds like my ds isn't well-behaved - he is, he just has a lot of energy and enthusiasm and I don't want it knocked out of him just yet!

Have confidence - you know your child really well. If you feel he wouldn't fit in, or be happy, at a school then don't send him there. Some children cope well and are happy in an academic and ambitious/pushy school, and for some it just turns them right off (speaking from personal experience).

As to the reading thing, a friend's boy was slow to get started (although otherwise bright). The school got him some reading help (although they avoided the stigma of calling her an SEN teacher), and he came on in leaps and bounds. At the end of Year 1 he is reading very well.

As to him not wanting you to help him, maybe he has it in his head that it's a school thing? I know that my son won't let me teach him certain things, like reading or swimming - he wants a professional!

Your son sounds lovely. Try not to be too hard on yourself - the fact that you're getting tied up in knots about this proves that you are a caring and concerned mum. Just think how many kids there are whose parents don't give a toss and won't even go up to the school to see how their child is getting on!

ks Wed 17-Jul-02 13:07:57

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Azzie Wed 17-Jul-02 13:28:01

ks, it carries on all the way through as well. My dh did some tutoring for a Cambridge college when he was doing his PhD. He had one student, a lovely lad, who started to have problems and ended up having a breakdown. Dh says that, basically, Cambridge with all its extreme academic pressures just wasn't right for him. This lad dropped out, then restarted at another Uni (Leeds I think) and did really well. The atmosphere was different, and he was able to express his talents to the full when under slightly less pressure.

ks Wed 17-Jul-02 13:36:09

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Azzie Wed 17-Jul-02 14:08:37

I went to a private school, and I remember we had a girl in our class who everyone thought of as being the thick one.

She got 8 O-levels grade C or above.

Shows how distorted our view of everything was!

My dh went right through school in the state system and has an obscene number of exam qualifications (all A-grades). So the private sector isn't necessarily the best - I guess like everything there is good and bad in both.

ionesmum Wed 17-Jul-02 20:22:42

ks, my dd is only 5 mo so can't speak from experience, only to say that I agree that you should trust your gut instincts. You are a very good mother to be so concerned. I agree with the comments made about education starting later in Europe, all the studies show that they soon catch up and actually overtake children which start as young as ours do. I'm no expert but I think that play is far more important for under-sixes. As for reading, my cousin's son hated reading right into his teens when he discovered a liking for war novels. He's now an Oxbridge candidate.

And Einstein didn't even begin talking until he was six!

robinw Wed 17-Jul-02 21:36:44

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ks Wed 17-Jul-02 22:11:56

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ionesmum Wed 17-Jul-02 23:14:51

ks, of course being so concerned about your ds makes you a good mum. I am sure things will work out in time.

SofiaAmes Wed 17-Jul-02 23:17:11

ks, the high powered private school isn't for everybody. If you definitely want to go private why don't you look into some of the international schools around. I've got my ds on the waiting list (for 2004) for one in hampstead which seemed wonderfully relaxed. They don't even have uniforms and the kids truly come from all over the world. We went and visited and even my determinedly working class dh was impressed (it wasn't the "posh, stuck up place" he expected it to be). The intl. schools tend to use the intl.baccalaureate (sp?) system which seems to me to be much less rigid than the traditional english educational system.
By the way, I had a similar situation with my stepson: when he finally learned the alphabet, I realized one day that he had not made the connection that these "letters" were actually what made up words. It was several more months before he actually made that connection in his mind.
The best thing you can do for your ds is to make sure that he always views learning as a fun thing and never as a chore. This means letting him do things at his own pace and in his own way (ok, when he's 16 you can insist on a little more homework and a little less girls).
I went to state schools (in the usa), with a couple of years in a VERY alternative private school and still managed to get accepted to the best university in the us. My parents gave us a lot of freedom to explore in our education and I have always loved learning.
Good luck.

robinw Thu 18-Jul-02 05:42:56

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oxocube Thu 18-Jul-02 07:53:22

ks, Can I ask how old your d.s. was when he started doing consonant blends at nursery? In most U.K. Reception classes, the children don't go much past initial sounds IME.

And just to echo Ionesmum, you ARE a great mum, just a little worried

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