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How to get a 3yo to read

(21 Posts)
randomthoughtprocess Fri 05-Aug-11 11:57:13

(this might not be in the right topic...)

I'm trying to help DS (3.6) to learn to read. He loves books, has really good vocabulary & can read all his letters etc.

However, if we're trying to read a word, the usual conversation is:

"Can you read the letters?"

"T A P"

"That's right! Now, can you say them closer together?"

"T A P"

"Excellent! Now, can you tell me what the word is?"


"Ummm, why?"

"Because it starts with T"

How do you go about making the connection between letter sounds, and the corresponding words? I'm not really thinking about phonics at the moment, I think we need to cross the bridge of letters = words first - but how do you do that?

ShowOfHands Fri 05-Aug-11 12:01:15

You don't. You carry on reading. If he likes pointing out letters/sounds, encourage him and it will click.

Themumsnot Fri 05-Aug-11 12:04:05

Are you teaching him the letter names or the letter sounds? Because he needs to know the sounds in order to make words out of letters. So you have to think about phonics if you want to teach him to read.

Nagoo Fri 05-Aug-11 12:06:04

phonics does that. He can't do blending yet, so he won't be able to read.

You get him ready for reading by playing rhyming games so he listens to the sound of the words.

Don't push him or you'll put him off. You don't get a medal for having an early reader.

randomthoughtprocess Fri 05-Aug-11 12:08:45

ShowOfHands Maybe I'm just being impatient - it just feels like I'm not explaining it right...

Themumsnot - Yes, he knows the letter names and the sounds - so in the example above he just needs to remove the pauses between the letters in order to get to the word - indeed, he sometimes says it quickly enough that the pauses often disappear, but he hasn't mentally connected the letters to the word.

StrikeUpTheBand Fri 05-Aug-11 12:12:31

When you say T A P, are you saying "Tuh, Ah, Puh"? Try to keep the sounds as pure as possible (so without any 'uh' at the end). It then becomes more obvious. Thus 'l' isn't pronounced "luh" but "lll", 's' is "ssssss" not "suh", etc.

Alphablocks (you can access most of it on CBeebies website) is excellent for teaching blending the sounds together.

I was a reception teacher and my DS knew his sounds by 2 and was reading simple words by 2.5. And no, I didn't sit and coach him, he was just made that way (recognised shapes and colours and numbers early too). DD is not quite the same as him...still bright but doesn't have that sort of concentration span. I don't think given the same input (just normal peg puzzles, jigsaws and CBeebies) that she would pick it up in the same way. She is better at other things though.

PrettyCandles Fri 05-Aug-11 12:16:53

At 3 to say that T-A-P spells train because he recognises the initial sound is very good! Especially as, for many children, train actually sounds like chrain.

Don't push him, let him advance at his own rate. There is no advantage to reading early - nor is there any disadvantage.

Play to his strengths: he is good at initial sounds, so play games like asking him to bring you three things that all begin with "buh", or make up nonsense phrases that alliterate, or have the same vowel sounds. Label a few things, then, when he is familiar with the labels, put the labels on the wrong things and get him to correct your 'mistakes'. Play around with rhymes and rhythm.

randomthoughtprocess Fri 05-Aug-11 12:17:15

Nagoo I don't think of myself as a pushy parent (who does...?) - he's very interested, and always wants to know what all the words say. If he wasn't bothered, I'd be happy to let it rest, but it's something that he wants to do.

But how do you explain blending? That's what I'm getting at, I suppose. He's really trying to learn words, & really keen to sit down (we spend a few minutes each morning looking at it, at his request), but he is getting frustrated with not being able to 'get' what the word is, & I feel like I'm not explaining blending to him properly, or clearly enough.

ShowOfHands Fri 05-Aug-11 12:20:33

When dd was inbetween knowing the sounds and blending we played eye spy for 23 hours out of 24. She was obsessed.

The goal isn't to teach your ds to read but to help him enjoy books and the process from chewing board books to independent reading. Don't worry about forcing it or testing him, just carry on chatting to him and sharing books and before you know it he'll be reading MN over your shoulder and asking what a twunt is.

ShowOfHands Fri 05-Aug-11 12:21:58

You can't explain blending to him. He'll get there in his own time. There are lots of free phonics sites with games to send you mad. DD quite liked them and I was rather mesmerised by the primary colours and odd sound effects.

randomthoughtprocess Fri 05-Aug-11 12:25:07

StrikeUpTheBand yes, he'll use "pure" sounds. Basically, he can say the word, because he'll say the right letters and can say them quickly enough together that they basically come out as the word - but he's still actually saying the letters, not the whole word - the sound is correct, but the comprehension isn't there, iyswim.

PrettyCandles Thanks for the suggestions, I'll see if we get somewhere with those. I'm certainly not pushing him - he wants to be able to read the words, I'm just struggling to explain that the letters need to be blended together.

randomthoughtprocess Fri 05-Aug-11 12:30:10

ShowOfHands I agree, & I'm not trying to coach him. He does various cbeebies games etc, but he seems to glaze over a bit & focus on the colours, where to click etc - maybe it's sinking in more than it seems.

randomthoughtprocess Fri 05-Aug-11 12:33:23

ShowOfHands oh, and we've already had to explain that, due to an accidental car-related slip of the tongue. "No dear, I didn't say the man was a twunt, he said he was infront..."

kaluki Fri 05-Aug-11 12:34:37

chill out. He's only 3.
Reading should be fun at that age, if he 'glazes over' then he's not ready to learn it yet. Its great that he has a good vocab and is interested in books but let him be a kid while he can - there is plenty of time for learning to read when he starts school.

randomthoughtprocess Fri 05-Aug-11 12:35:42

Ok, so it seems the general consensus is that it's not down to poor explanation, it's just something that'll come with time. I'll just make sure that we keep reading loads & let it sink in.

Thanks all for the advice and suggestions

PrettyCandles Fri 05-Aug-11 12:36:41

If he's getting frustrated then it's time to switch activities. You don't want him to think he can't do it, and therefore be put off reading. There are so many pre-reading activities that you can do, which feed into reading.

FWIW both ds1 and dd took a long time to 'get' blending. Even though they could blend phonemes they could not apply this skill and actually read. For ds1 it clicked during the summer holidays and he began Y1 a fluent reader. By the time he finished Y2 he had a reading age of 11. Dd took a little longer, and began Y1 reading more poorly than when shefinished Reception. Her teacher advised me not to push her at all, not to be at all bothered by dd's reluctance to try to read. And, sure enough, within 6m dd 'clicked', and she bounced right up through the reading groups and also finished Y2 with a very advanced reading age.

Ds2 start Reception in September. He loves all the games I mentioned, and is surprisingly good at rhythm and rhyming, but hasn't a clue about blending.

randomthoughtprocess Fri 05-Aug-11 12:45:02

kaluki no, he glazes over when he's playing on the cbeebies website. It's doing reading together that he really enjoys and is interested in - he is just getting frustrated that he wants to read the words, & I'm trying to see whether there's a better way of approaching it.

To be clear, I honestly couldn't care less if he isn't reading by the time he's in school - I can see that he's bright & when he does start I know he'll be fine. What I do care about is that this is something that he enjoys, but wants help with, and I want to find a better way to help him.

randomthoughtprocess Fri 05-Aug-11 12:51:35

PrettyCandles thanks for the advice. I'm really not concerned about "development", as it were - it'll work out in the end. You're right about switching activities - I can see that he's getting frustrated, & that's why I'm looking for alternatives.

randomthoughtprocess Fri 05-Aug-11 12:53:12

Right, thanks all for the advice. I'd better get back to work.

LadyMaybe Wed 07-Sep-11 20:28:18

Hi, I have a DS who is 3.5 and is similarly intrigued by reading, letters, sounds etc - I got a free trial of something called ABC Reading Eggs, which is an online thing that goes through lots of little stages with games, rewards, songs etc. DS asks for it everyday so we sit together - it has elements that include blending but also uses contextual recognition and word memory. You might take a look at it.
One other suggestion, do you have letter-shaped fridge magnets? You could try using space to show him how the letters sounds are separate at first then physically move them closer together while 'closing the gap' with the sounds as well. It's fun to make silly words together, even if you can't use the fridge magnetic whiteboards are easy to find. This stage is amazing, isn't it!

beautifulbooks Mon 26-Sep-11 20:25:18

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