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Learning at 4

(45 Posts)
TwinSetAndPearls Wed 10-Aug-05 21:36:23

My dd is a september baby, so will be going to school next year, if she had been born a few weeks earlier she would be starting school this year.

Dd has always been very clever for her age, I know everyone says that about their kids but in my case it is true Everyone who comes into contact with her from nursery staff to doctors to passers by in the street comment on dd.

My dp is into teaching dd, she loves to sit and do the little workbooks, she is already doing basic arithmetic, writes and reads a few words as well as being a little sponge for obscure knowledge which she reproduces at odd moments. When she sits on a bus she has to count all the passengers and then add and take away as people get on and off. She came home with dp today whooping with delight about her new present, Oxford Tree flash cards

I am a little uneasy about this as I know that coming from a teaching/child psychology background I could be a pushy parent from hell. Dd does have lots of friends so I am not worried about her being disliked for being a swot but this a concern for the future. My ex wanted to send her to a local private school which is renowned for hothousing children , but I didn't let him as I want her to be as normal as possible. So I steer in the opposite direction and encourage her in more artistic things and develop her imagination and social skills.

But she does love "learning", she loves the fact that she can read some of her books and do sums. Should I just go with it, accept the fact that if she was born a few weeks earlier she would be doing a lot of this at school anyway.

charliecat Wed 10-Aug-05 21:38:12

You are lucky shes so clever
She will probably be bored senseless in reception though, they go right back to basics, colours, numbers, alphabet etc..

TwinSetAndPearls Wed 10-Aug-05 22:04:38

That is another worry, my Mum taught me to read and write before I went to school, but after they had checked I could read the set books I was allowed to go on ahead. I enjoyed school as I enjoyed being ahead, but I went to an exceptinonally good school.

I did check with dd nursery which is attached to the school she will be attending and they were fine with dp teaching dd at home. They just asked that we did not do anything that would contrdict with what they would do ( and in no circumstances to do Letterland!!) so have been using phonics and she has started reading the Oxford Tree books. The nursery said this was fine as she would just whizz through the books until she found her level.

foxinsocks Wed 10-Aug-05 22:16:55

I think if she wants to do it, then great. BUT be prepared for her being bored at school - they may well let her zoom along in the reading scheme but she will have to sit through some very basic stuff aswell (remember some children start reception not knowing all their letters). Also be prepared for comments from other parents and other children (who are always very quick to spot those who have different skills to themselves).

If she is socially able then I'm sure she'll be fine.

Hattie05 Wed 10-Aug-05 22:26:19

As others have said, so long as she is enjoying this and it is not too force upon her then carry on.

Pre-schools and nurseries will let children develop to their natural level anyway, so she won't be the only one who can read when she starts school, and i disagree with the 'being bored' comments. I ran a nursey, and the reception teachers from the local school used to report back to us that they could tell which children had attended nursery's/pre-schools by those that had the sorts of skills you are describing your dd to have. The teachers said it were the children that didn't have those skills were the ones that were struggling.

Having said this, i have also carried out and read research which proves there is no gain from learning to read and write early, in terms of ability in adulthood.

QueenOfQuotes Wed 10-Aug-05 22:27:41

I'd just go with it, if she's enjoying it it's not going to do her any harm. The only 'danger' comes if shes' being pressured, but some children just love learning and IMO that's something to be encouraged.

foxinsocks Wed 10-Aug-05 22:43:44

I was bored at school for around the first 2 years because I could read/do maths but then my social skills weren't up to much (probably explains my bad behaviour at school!).

Dd could read before she started reception - they just started her on a higher level of the ORT. At state school (like dd) in reception they normally have 30 in a class, 1 teacher and 1 assistant and spend most of the time playing (as far as I can see) - they all seem to do the same workbooks whatever level of work they are capable of doing.

fqueenzebra Thu 11-Aug-05 05:46:51

Hattie said:
"I ran a nursey, and the reception teachers from the local school used to report back to us that they could tell which children had attended nursery's/pre-schools by those that had the sorts of skills you are describing your dd to have. The teachers said it were the children that didn't have those skills were the ones that were struggling. "

are you saying that most (or even "nearly all") children who go to nursery/preschool know all their letters, can do simple arithmatic, can read a little, before they start reception?

(The head of the local preschool also said something to the effect that she would consider her preschool to have failed if nearly all the children couldn't write their names and numbers before they started reception.)

Hattie05 Thu 11-Aug-05 06:53:36

fqueenzebra, obviously their abilities were completely varied, and i would say only a handful in each year could actually read. But yes virtually all of them could write their name and numbers and were all near to reading/basic maths.

throckenholt Thu 11-Aug-05 07:56:44

my DS1 is just 4, has been going to playgroup up to 4 times a week, started when he was 2.5 (1 session per week).

He is starting school in September.

He can't read - he can recognise some letters and numbers, and his name and his brother's names. He can't write. He can count reliably to 12 (then goes off on his own sequence to 20, eg 18, 16, 13,15). He is beginning to get the idea of simple arithmatic.

I would consider him to be bright and at least on a par with his playgroup peers.

So my experience doesn't match Hattie's.

In answer to the original question - if my DS1 wasn't starting school until next summer then I guess he would be on a par with your dd.

I would say encourage the joy of learning and try and make sure she doesn't get bored at school. But also give her the opportunity to try other things as well (things she might not find on her own).

Hulababy Thu 11-Aug-05 08:26:10

"are you saying that most (or even "nearly all") children who go to nursery/preschool know all their letters, can do simple arithmatic, can read a little, before they start reception? "


DD is 3y 4m, and starts school in Jan 2007 (next academic year). She has been to nursery 2 days a week since being tiny, and still goes same amount.

She can write her own name, can recognise numbers 1-10, can recite numbers way at least up to 20 (but always misses 15), can count to at least 10, recognises about 1/3 of her letters - still confusion with b, d, p, q etc. She will do very simple adding/subtracting (what is one less/more than..etc).

She loves little work books and magazines with activities in. She likes to do her work when daddy is working in the early evening or a weekend. This is entirely led by her though and she only does what she wants. I wouldn't dream of making her do it.

Monstersmum Thu 11-Aug-05 08:45:17

My DS has just turned 4 and starts reception at the end of the month. He has done a full yera of full time nursery attached to the school.

His nursery teacher commented a few times that he is very bright for his age HOWEVER - he can't write his name, can recognise some but not all letters, counts up to about 15 then makes it up as he goes along (must admit my fav number is eleventeen!) and he can't hold a pencil properly yet. Doesn't have the concentration skills yet which I believe is more common in boys.

From my experience girls seem to be way ahead of boys at this age - in some Scandinavian countries they actually start boys at school a year later than girls. And I think that may be something they are trying on Australia too.

But I am a bit concerned that my DS will struggle in Reception being the youngest in the year and just lacking the necessary concentration skills. Any suggestions?

throckenholt Thu 11-Aug-05 08:56:33

Monstermum- my DS1 is at the same stage as yours and the same age. Hopefully the schools are used to and able to cope with the wide range of skills presented in the first year from just 4 year old boys to nearly 5 year old girls there must be a huge gap in concentration and aptitude for sitting still !

Apparently in boys the fine motor skills needed for writing and drawing etc do not develop until about 5-6, and the large motor groups (eg legs etc) are developing at 4-5 and there is a huge urge for boys to be running around doing something physical. Presumably the schools know this and channel them accordingly.

foxinsocks Thu 11-Aug-05 09:01:03

monstersmum I don't think you have anything to worry about. My dd was just 4 (last year in August) when she started reception and although she could read (because she was desperate to!), she couldn't write at all.

In her year there were 90 children, 30 in her class - the majority couldn't read at all, most could count to 20 but almost all would make a mistake along the way, around 10-15 could recognise all their letters and only a handful could write (although most would make an attempt at their own name).

The teachers make allowances for the younger ones anyway - there were some boys (also born in August) who started with dd who could not recognise most of the numbers, letters, couldn't read or write and by the end of reception they were happily getting on with their work and doing fine!

A year is a long time when you are 4 and I am sure in every reception year there are vast differences in ability (and social skill).

Hattie05 Thu 11-Aug-05 09:10:28

Throckenholt, i ran a fulltime day nursery with a large majority of the children attending from 7.45 until 6pm 5 days a week.

For the record, i am not suggesting it is particularly important for children to be at this higher level of development before they reach school. Just wanted to reassure Twinset that her dd will not be alone!

I think the important things is, as others have said, letting the child develop in their own time. The curriculum allows for this varied stage of development and any good teacher will ensure no child is either bored nor struggling to the point of damaging their future learning.

My dd is only 2.6 and so not yet at these stages, but i will let her lead the way, e.g she loves me telling her the letters of the name sign on her bedroom door each night before we go to bed and then when we read books she points to the words telling me they are the letters of her name (obviously they are not always, but she is showing recognition and interest in words, so i'm pointing them out more often to her now and telling her what they are. I certainly won't be rushing out to buy work books etc because i feel that everyday life holds enough learning opportunities, such as road signs, words in shops, choosing three apples in the supermarket - oh lets get one more and that will make four! etc

batters Thu 11-Aug-05 09:16:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

throckenholt Thu 11-Aug-05 09:18:36

Hattie - that is interesting. Do you think it is maybe because kids in a nursery situation are enourage to sit down and do things with pen and paper?

I have 3 boys (4, and 2.5 year old twins) - they rarely like to sit and play with paper and pencils (unless it means screwing them up !). They are much more physical and much prefer doing things that require movement. None of them have been to nursery - mainly at home (or out for walks in the woods) or at playgroup.

emkana Thu 11-Aug-05 09:24:50

TwinSetandPearls - why did the nursery tell you to not do Letterland? What's wrong with Letterland?

Hattie05 Thu 11-Aug-05 09:32:04

I think it helps. With the longer hours of a nursery, we obviously gave children the opportunity to do a bit of everything. We had a pre-school room which was laid out like a classroom, and all children over 3 had 30min-1hour sessions in there once maybe twice a day. And of course we were able to continue that curriculum during their play.
E.g the topic might be people who help us. so during 'class' time we talk about postmen and women. The children could write themselves a letter, stick a stamp on and then later on all walk to the post box to post it. Then maybe that afternoon whilst we are playing in the garden, we would have a toy post box, bikes to ride, post persons dressing up gear etc and act it all out.

Just one quick example, but d'you see how the longer hours there mean the entire day of play could revolve around the one half hour 'sitting still' session. The children used to get really enthusiastic about acting out what they have learnt about in the homecorner, or in the garden, or with their lego and play people.

Of course this can all happen at home, but they don't then have peers to bounce ideas off. And i know i don't spend my whole day encouraging this sort of play with my dd as i get distracted by mumsnet ! the washing, the cleaning, socialising, shopping ...... It was easy to do in a nursery because you had nothing else to do with your day! well except for the paperwork but that wasn't such fun

throckenholt Thu 11-Aug-05 09:35:34

yep - can certainly see the difference. The day in the nursery is altogether more structured and themed. At home it is much more free and less focussed.

no idea which is better (if either) and I guess different kids suit different environments.

throckenholt Thu 11-Aug-05 09:37:25

but I guess not many kids at nursery can hammer in nails or use a saw or tell you all the different makes of tractors and other farm machinery and all the different crops they are growing and when things needs to be done ! (not sure if that is a good thing )

Hattie05 Thu 11-Aug-05 09:37:47

Yes to be honest i don't think either is better. Totally agree certain children thrive in nursery and others would be better at home.

My previous post included all the 'academic' type stuff to learn. But i worried about nursery children - where was their love, cuddles, emotional support, chillin' with mummy which me and dd enjoy! All of that could be considered more important stuff to experience before entering the big bad world alone?

Hattie05 Thu 11-Aug-05 09:38:40

LOL yes we're on the same wave length

Neither do they learn how to enjoy Abba and scissor sisters including all the dance moves

aloha Thu 11-Aug-05 09:51:16

My ds turns four in Sept. He can count up to 100 (probably more - can easily read numbers much higher) - can count in French too. Can read some words (probably more than I think) and knows all his letters (has done for a year or more). Can do sums - adding, taking away even the odd bit of mulitiplying. However, he can't put on or take off the simplest item of clothing without a huge struggle, is still desperately unreliable re toileting, and I am so grateful he doesn't go to school for another year, I really am. I think the 'academic' stuff is much less important than practical and social skills.

throckenholt Thu 11-Aug-05 09:58:28

aloha I agree that at 3-4 it is much more important to be able to dress yourself, mix with other children, know how to play with other people etc.

Sounds like your little boy is a sponge for "mental" activities but needs helps and encouragement in the physical and social things.

Mine on the other hand are reasonable at all of those things but do not excel in any of them.

As long as we all appreciate that they are all different and all have strenghts and weaknesses hopefully we will be able to help them get on well.

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