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Can someone who knows about language/reading development in small children...

(14 Posts)
snickersnack Wed 03-Sep-08 09:35:50

...please tell me at what age you'd expect them to develop what I think is called phonemic awareness? dd's nursery has queried the fact that at 3 years and 9 months she doesn't seem to have any. They didn't seem to think it was a problem, particularly, but they commented that they were surprised as she's very articulate, has been talking fluently for a long time and is very interested in letters, books etc.

I'd never given it much thought until they mentioned it, but they're right. She's been asking about letters for over a year now, has lots of alphabet books etc. but she absolutely can't break a word down into sounds. She knows cat starts with "c", mummy starts with "m" and so on but I think that's probably more to do with the fact we've told her and she's got a good memory (she remembers a book more or less word for word having been read it once) than because she can break the sounds down. If I say "what does computer start with" she looks blank or guesses. We've always spent a lot of time talking, reading and so on, but none of it seems to have stuck.

Now I certainly don't have any expectations of her being able to read at this age, but the fact nursery mentioned it made me wonder if I should be worried about this. They also mentioned she has a problem with past participles - for instance, I can see when she says "I goed" she knows it's not right but she still does as I think she's applying logic rather than intuition.

Do I just ignore this and put it down to nursery being hyper-thorough? Or should I start worrying?

FAQ Wed 03-Sep-08 09:40:31

just ignore - DS1 struggled with reading until he was in YR1, and DS2 (about to start school - 5 in November) has only recently started trying to figure out what letter words begin with

In fact it's only been the last month or so that he's been able to say (for example) that computer starts with "C" - previously it was "comp" (or something totally random)

FranSanDisco Wed 03-Sep-08 09:44:39

Having worked in Nurseries I don't think this is anything to worry about as your dd is still very young. I remember my own dd, who was very articulate and considered bright, trying to break down CAT. We sounded out C A T and then I said "so what does that spell?" and she said word beginning with T. However, once she started in Reception it all fell into place and she was a free reader by the middle of Yr 1.

puzzle Wed 03-Sep-08 09:46:55

You are doing all the right things by talking and reading lots.
My DD is also 3 and can't do this either.
I am trying to make her some sandpaper letters - pieces of board or cardboard with letters cut out of fine sandpaper stuck on. The child should trace the shape of the letter and then you need to say the sound of the letter, e.g c is "kuh". You can then use them for simple spellings such as cat = "kuh" "aah" "tuh".

FranSanDisco Wed 03-Sep-08 09:48:33

I am really surprised they mentioned an issue with words such as "goed". Rather OTT imho shock.

AMumInScotland Wed 03-Sep-08 09:59:44

My DS at that age would just look at me blankly if I asked that kind of question, despite being chatty and enjoying books etc. When he started school, reading just suddenly clicked and he got the hang of it in no time. I guess it's just one of those things where lots of little pieces of the puzzle develop at their own speeds, and once all the pieces are there it makes sense - it's no real surprise if one of the elements hasn't developed yet, even when she's doing fine with the rest of it. I'm a bit surprised that nurseries mention these things, but I guess they are supposed to be giving you feedback on this stuff. I expect its one of their tickboxes!

drivinmecrazy Wed 03-Sep-08 10:00:02

Just wanted to agree with every thing said here. My DD1 was considered very bright, and was speaking in sentences at about a year old but At pre-school age she just didn't seem to have a good grasp of phonetics or sounding out simple words. many of her peers at different nurseries were well on their way to reading when they started reception, but she just flew past them when she started school. She is now way ahead all of them. I must admit it infuriated me that she didn't seem to 'get' what other 3 & 4 year olds seemed to take on board quite quickly.
Having said that, she went to a brilliant nursery which intentionally did not teach pre-schoolers to read, but spent time preparing them to learn when they started school. DD1 is now 7 and DD2 now attends the same nursery and I am shocked how the new government 'milestones' are affecting the curriculum. She has just turned 3 and in the last year at the same nursery she has been assessed several times to ensure she is hitting the milestones. When she was 2 1/2 it was commented on that she couldn't distinguish between a square and a rectangle and the colour pink and purple. it makes me so cross that they are not allowed to just have fun before it all gets serious at school.

snickersnack Wed 03-Sep-08 10:05:52

Thanks everyone, I do love MN!

Feel much better now hearing you all telling me about your experiences. I came home yesterday after picking her up from nursery and spent too much time Googling. She doesn't have any of the other early indicators for dyslexia - she's not clumsy, spoke early, has a good vocabulary, can count, knows her alphabet etc etc - but that seemed to be quite a prominent one which made me wonder if that's what nursery was getting at. Yesterday was her last day at nursery - she starts preschool next week - so spent all evening wondering if I should broach it with preschool or just relax. So am going for the relax option, as she's a lovely and smart little thing who I'm very proud of.

FranSanDisco Wed 03-Sep-08 10:07:43

One of the reasons I decided to stop working in Nurseries was because of the tick box mentality that is being forced on 3 and 4 yo. Unfortunately alot of the staff aren't trained to teach a child to "read" or "write" and so it becomes very text book and rigid in my experience and not very interesting for some children.

pudding25 Wed 03-Sep-08 11:51:05

I am a yr 1 teacher and your dd is still very young. Don't worry. She will start picking it up in reception.

snickersnack I think that's a great response you have just given. She will read and read beautifully in her own time. smile

They are still so small it makes me feel quite sad that they are pushed so hard so young.

DD started sounding out letters very early on at about 3. DS1 who is 4.5 has only just started and is sometimes hit and miss. It is diffficult not to want to push them when their siblings/other children are doing it so well, but the absolute best thing to do, is just what you are doing by reading a great deal with her.

desperatehousewifetoo Wed 03-Sep-08 12:16:23

Using words like 'goed' is normal at this age.

Children learn irregular past tense by listening to it being used 'went'.

As they get older, they start to internalise rule sysytems e.g. add -ed for past tense. They then start to over-generalise and add -ed to all irregular verbs too. (hope that makes some sense!)

This won't last for long and is quite normal.

My dd (3 1/2 nearly) can't identify sounds at the start of words either. I'm not worried.

neolara Wed 03-Sep-08 12:28:28

I'm an educational psychologist (or rather I was pre-children). Desperatehousewifetoo has described exactly why you shouldn't worry about your dd getting past tenses wrong. And you don't read anything into not being able to recognise initial letter sounds at this stage. At your DD's age, some children can do it, but lots and lots cannot. It does not necessarily indicate that there will be any problem at all.

desperatehousewifetoo Wed 03-Sep-08 12:57:28

Neolara - I was an slt (what seems like a lifetime ago, before children!)

I'm very relieved that you agree with mesmile

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