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Learning to read before school - Why?

(45 Posts)
BikeRunSki Mon 21-Sep-09 14:08:06

I really, really don;t want to start a fight, but I am genuinely curious as to the point of teaching a child to read before they start school. I know three people who have done this and this is what has happened:

1 - Child could read and write about 100 words, was bored and became disruptive. Went private after 2 terms of state primary school, where she could have more attention. Family sold house to afford this, is n doing so ironically moved out of catchmemt area of state primary that they had deliberately moved into.

2 - Similar situation. Reception class child now goes into Class 2 for reading time.

3 - 4 year old pushed by parents once he started school, now 5, reading books for 9 year olds. SENCO at hasn't a clue what to do with him. Very shy child anyway, tends to read "big books" by himself rather than join in rest of class.

I really can't see what any of these children have benefited from being advanced readers, and certianly inthe first two cases there is some degree of disruption to the child. I am clearly being naive as their parents all think it is great. Please could somebody explain?

(I couldn't read until I was 7 (due to hearing and speech difficulties as a younger child) but it didn't seem to hold me back.).

BTW DS is only 1, and no, he can't read.

lockets Mon 21-Sep-09 14:14:56

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lockets Mon 21-Sep-09 14:17:35

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MadBadandCoveredinSequins Mon 21-Sep-09 14:23:08

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Reallytired Mon 21-Sep-09 14:24:00

I taught my son to read before starting school at the age of four. He wanted to learn and we just did 5 minutes a day. He started reception being able to read simple C-V-C words. He loved reception and made lots of friends as well as academic progress.

Lots of children can read a bit before starting school. Its not unusual and a half decent reception teacher can differentiate for it. If the school does not meet the needs of a child who can read then its a poor school.

I think there is a difference between a child wanting to learn a skill and being forced.

GooseyLoosey Mon 21-Sep-09 14:32:53

I did not teach ds (6) to read before school as I had learned and was profoundly bored in my first year and it had an impact on my relationships with my peers. It worked beautifully, he learned quickly and soared to the top of his class. I felt smug.

I took the same approach with dd (5). She had/has no interest in learning and if she does not get what is going on in class she cannot be bother to concentrate and the teachers seem ill-equipped to make her do so. Once she has got something at home, she applies it at school and is proud of herself. Not teaching her anything at home has been a disaster. I no longer feel smug but instead feel as though I have let her down. You can't win really.

merrymonsters Mon 21-Sep-09 14:58:20

Both my sons could read pretty well before they started reception. They were both one of the oldest in their years and reading clicked with them at about 4 and a half. With DS1, the teachers took him and a couple of other children out of the jolly phonics lessons and did some other literacy activity with them. I don't think you can force a child to read if they're not ready. Why hold them back if they're able to do it?

I don't understand this idea about being bored with reading. I am 42 and I'm not bored with reading. Surely being able to read means you can skip a lot of those horribly boring ORT books and go onto more interesting books.

MadBadandCoveredinSequins Mon 21-Sep-09 15:05:30

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singersgirl Mon 21-Sep-09 15:05:41

Lots of children want to learn to read before they start school. One of mine did, so I taught him. The other one didn't, but learned quickly when he did start. Yes, bits of the phonics lessons were dull for the reading child, but then so were bits of the number work, as he was already reading numbers up to 1000/doubling and halving etc. I didn't actively teach that - he just picked it up. I've said it all over the place, and will say it again - he really enjoyed reading (still does) and it was a very useful skill for him (Top Trumps, puzzles, comics, recipes, signs, menus, board games etc are all much easier if you can read.)

And I'm still not bored with reading, even at a year older than Merrymonsters!

GooseyLoosey Mon 21-Sep-09 15:19:03

It was not an issue of being bored with reading but of being bored with the process of being taught to read when you already could. There was not then (and not sure much has changed) sufficient flexibility/resources to deal with children across such a broad range of ability so the teacher taught down to the lowest common denominator leaving those who could read to twiddle their thumbs in boredom.

claraquack Mon 21-Sep-09 15:30:51

Why not, if the child genuinally wants to learn? It opens up a whole new world to them and the sooner they can read for themselves, the sooner we can stop reading those tedious books to them! I learnt to read before school as I learnt alongside my older brother. I have always been an avid reader and feel it enriches my life in so many ways. It is nothing to do with pushy parenting, it is about helping your child achieve what they want to do. To not help them would be like refusing to speak to an early-speaking child when it was just starting to talk, surely?

My dd1 has just turned four and is starting to read very slowly and in her own way, eg I am not pushing her. But she has a whole year left in pre-primary so would probably be bored if she didn't start.

mathanxiety Mon 21-Sep-09 15:41:28

Two of mine learned by themselves at age 4. They just picked it up. They weren't bored in school because they had teachers who knew their job and provided a great learning environment, with challenges for every child in the classroom.

MoonTheLoon Mon 21-Sep-09 15:50:25

Agree with claraquack. My DS1 started reading at 4 and was just interested in reading, I blame the Mr Men. Anyway now in Yr1 and confident because he is doing well, is now free reading to some extent, gets up in the morning and starts looking at his books. No one has 'made' him but I will happily encourage him particularly when all you ever hear is that boys don't like reading.

AnitaBlake Mon 21-Sep-09 16:56:06

I had read all the Mr. Men books before I went to school, I was bright and keen to learn so my mum taught me to read, simples. I doubt she pressurised me as I still remember the 'Mary poppins' incident when I was five, it was aimed at 9+, but I wanted to read it and boughtit from the school book club. The teacher made me come home with it to check with my parents if it was suitablehmm.

I read it in a week. The teacher spent moretime with the kids who couldn't read so well, and I got to go and read whatever I wanted! Everyone was happy!

DuelingFanjo Mon 21-Sep-09 17:00:10

you make it sound like they are actively trying to mess up their lives by teaching them to read early. I could read well before I went to school and I enjoyed it. I would much rather my children be able to read by the time they get into school than not, and wipe their own bums.

fluffles Mon 21-Sep-09 17:00:26

i learned myself before i started school because we were a really booky family and i wanted to copy my parents and older relatives and i got frustrated with only being able to 'read' books with an adlt... so i started by memorising whole books then individual words blush

it didn't do me any harm, i still learned phonetically after i got to school but i was probably a bit annoying for the teachers and was once caught in primary school reading nancy drew books inside my official reading book because i had read the official reading book in the first five minutes we had it blush

MoonTheLoon Mon 21-Sep-09 17:01:32

Following on from Anita, reading isn't the only thing they learn at school, my DS is pretty appalling at writing and colouring so hopefully the teachers spend a bit more time with him on that while others who are good at it can just crack on.

nellynaemates Mon 21-Sep-09 17:19:12

Don't know what we'll do with my son yet, but I was a very advanced reader (was reading age of 10 when I was 5) and I loved it! I got to read interesting books and show off at school shows because I could learn poems and stuff. I was probably a smug little git though

Jux Mon 21-Sep-09 17:48:44

Well, I don't know, some people read because they like it. Why wouldn't you share a passion you have with your child? Why wouldn't you share a passion you have with your child, when your child clearly wants to share it with you?

My brothers and I all learnt to read before we started school. My family (all, and I'm including cousins, second cousins etc) read lots and lots, because we all like it. DH reads because he likes it.

DD started learning formally while she was at nursery, but she had already started learning before then because I read to her every night and she would point at words and tell me what they were. She did it, because she wanted to. She was surrounded by books, saw DH and I reading, saw granny reading, uncles, aunts, cousins - almost every relative she had has been witnessed reading in her formative years, and almost every relative's house that she has visited is as full of books as our house is.

Should I not have encouraged or helped her? Should I have said "No, DD, you are NOT to read" until some unspecified time in the future? Do tell.

mathanxiety Mon 21-Sep-09 17:59:18

Fluffles, so funny about reading the Nancy Drew books! My DD read her way through Nancy Drew between age 6 and 7. The school librarian needed a note from me to say it was ok for her to take them out.

The only thing I would say about early reading, maybe especially for girls, is that you should try to get them interested in numbers and maths at the same time as they show interest in reading. I'm not advocating hothousing, but doing activities together that are fun and involve maths, like baking, using beads in patterns and to do simple calculations, building with blocks, drum rhythms, using an abacus to show 10s, 100s, 1000s, etc.

pranma Mon 21-Sep-09 18:15:53

I think it definitely has to be led by the child.My dd could read at 2.10 whereas my son didnt learn till 4.6[in Reception]both did equally well academically.

boolifooli Mon 21-Sep-09 21:32:10

dd was given a very simple 'reading book' in the last term of nursery because they picked up her readiness to read. I knew she knew her letter sounds but hadn't done any reading with her. She went from not reading (as far as we knew) to reading fluently in a few weeks. She's not bookish *at all* though and is more interested in playing and making a mess. She's so not the studious type!

BikeRunSki Mon 21-Sep-09 22:37:54

Thank you all. Some interesting points and experiences.

showmethewaytothenextwhiskybar Tue 22-Sep-09 10:53:57

I could read fluently before I started infants - I can't remember 'learning' at all, and my mum certainly didn't teach me, I just picked it up. I can't actually remember a time when I couldn't read.

It did cause a couple of problems at infants - my mum had to go into school to convince the teacher that I could really read as we weren't allowed to go any further ahead in our reading book without the teacher hearing us read. It was frustrating for a couple of weeks, but after that I was able to take in anything I wanted from home. I spent quite a lot of time in infants either doing stuff on my own or with a very small group of kids, so it was hard at times not to feel a bit left out.

For those reasons I wouldn't actively teach a child to read if they weren't interested, and as it happened mine were 6, 6 and 5 before it clicked for them - they're all avid readers now though, as am I

you don't necessarily know that all the kids in your OP were pushed by their parents - ime it's impossible to push a child into reading unless they're ready and interested anyway

overmydeadbody Tue 22-Sep-09 10:59:46

Well my DS just could read by the time he was 4, he learnt how to because he wanted to and spent (and still does spend) every spare moment with his nose in a book.

I didn't purposefully set out to teach him to read, it was just somethhing he got, like walking or talking.

DS is 6 now and can read fluently, like an adult, and he still reads all the time. It doesn't do him any harm to be able to pick up any book and start reading it.

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