Advanced search

How old were you when you learned to read confidently, and what made it happen?

(35 Posts)
ITCouldBeWorse Tue 05-Jul-16 18:46:48

Not a stealth brag about me or my dd!

I am working in a school and thinking about literacy planning. We get a lot of children with reading ages far below their actual age for many, many reasons. Obviously we do everything we can to help, but I have been thinking about how different your needs must be in learning to read confidently at 5,10,15,20 or 25.

So I was also thinking about what is needed to help, if that makes sense. I am trying to avoid making disengaged children disengage further!

I wondered if people could even remember when reading stopped being tricky for them (assuming it has, I realise there are EAL, visual impairments and learning difficulties) and if they could remember what helped?

Thanks very much if you are willing to bear your soul this way! Equally if you are seeing things fall into place for your do or students would you be prepared to comment!


originalmavis Tue 05-Jul-16 18:51:46

I was reading before I went to school at 3 and was reading Winnie the Pooh (ye olde version) properly in primary one (I remember taking my copy to show the teacher). I loved books and had access to loads at home.

We are a family of bookworms and I'm the youngest, so I guess it's part genetic, part being surrounded with loads of books and part having a teacher as a big sister.

BertrandRussell Tue 05-Jul-16 19:00:43

I have a theory about this!

I think that when lot of children learn to read, become free readers and all the rest of it, they are perfectly competent readers and may even read for pleasure. But they can stick at that point for ages and it can be a very long time before reading becomes effortless. I think this is why some patents get frustrated with children who don't seem to want to read- it's because it is still hard work, even though they are fluent. I noticed this with my ds- he was a free reader very early and read- but it wasn't til he was 9- about 4 years later - that I saw a switch click in his head and reading suddenly became effortless and pure pleasure. I can actually remember the moment when it happened- we were camping and it was raining and we were all reading. He was reading the third Harry Potter. It had taken him ages to get half way through- then the switch went, and he finished the rest that afternoon and evening. I think a lot of children's re like this. It takes much longer than we thing.

LynetteScavo Tue 05-Jul-16 19:03:35

I was nine.

The class was no longer on a reading scheme, and we were left to choose to read what we wanted. I read two books in the whole year. One was very long, intended for adults.

I went in to the class a poor reader I had no idea and left with a reading age of 14.

Reading overlays have helped DS2 massively. I've read 50% of people have some sort of visual stress, so I think it would be worth checking if they helped. He couldn't really read until he was 6.9, and then it was a book which really engaged him...DH was reading it to him, and DS asked if he could read some and he did! DH may have cried

I am a huge believer in phonics, and have seem synthetic phonics schemes such as RWI work incredibly well. Having said that phonics never worked for DD. She just cannot hear the sounds in words. She has had to learn the shape of each word to remember it. So a huge amount of exposure to print, but obviously you'll be doing that at school anyway.

BertrandRussell Tue 05-Jul-16 19:13:08

Oh, and we have a volunteer scheme in our school where people come in and read with year 7s who are "behind" with reading. Each child has an hour a week, reading to and being read to , chatting and playing games like scrabble. They make an average of 9 months more reading age progress in a year than the kids who don't. Happy to tell you more about it if you like.

Oh, and another thing we do is to "normalize" reading in the school- every teacher has a book with them and tries to be seen reading whenever possible. The PE teachers in particular (very high status at out school) -they pull a book out of a sports bag when going to matches and things- "Whatcha doing Sir?" And a conversation starts. Sometimes!

Cagliostro Tue 05-Jul-16 19:13:35

I was 2, I don't know really, my mum just used to read my favourite books to me and miss out words so I could say them. I think she used flashcards too. I remember reading to the class on my first day, and I was just allowed to sit at the back when the class were doing reading lessons (not sure if they were doing phonics or what, it was around 1990). I was a real bookworm but often stuck to the same books, as I found that I was pushed to read long/classic literature, because I COULD read it - but I couldn't understand it, so I gave up and retreated back to my beloved Blytons etc. I really wish this had been picked up on. I still aced things like comprehension tests though, because I could read the words (and have no idea what it was about overall) and then just figure out what the questions wanted, and find the information that way, without actually understanding it IYSWIM. I have recently been diagnosed with ASD though so not surprising that my development was very wonky generally. smile Both my DCs are probably autistic too.

DD was 6 I'd say, she did reasonably well with phonics, was a little below average I think but then halfway through year 1 it just clicked. She is very fluent, and can put expression in pretty well now (she's just turned 9) but she has similar comprehension issues to me unfortunately. It's only been recently that she hasn't freaked out about reading black and white books. She said that reading books without colour pictures made her brain hurt, because it was too much for her to imagine (i.e. having to imagine what the characters were wearing etc as well as what they were doing).

DS couldn't read while he was at school, he had a speech disorder so all communication was hard for him. De could sound out simple CVC words and that was about it. We then withdrew both DCs from school when he was 5 (DD was 7) and the speech disorder vanished within 3 months. His reading vastly improved too, and now he's at the stage where he's picking up anything he can to read. I think he just needed quiet and space to hear himself think. smile

Louw1988 Tue 05-Jul-16 19:14:55

I can't remember when the switch went for me, i can only ever remember reading

My dd is 6 now but has really bad eyes (she has to have eye drops 3 times a week in the better eye to help the worst one work as she wouldn't wear a patch) both her eyes are very poor and she has to work really hard in reading so doesn't enjoy it much at all
She really started wanting to read and write (don't shoot me) when I turnt on the iMessage on her iPad, now she will sit there and read/write messages very happily - we still have melt downs when it comes to her reading books but I don't force her anymore

I think the phonics really do not help at all, I know it's probably normal but dd spells the simplest words wrong because of this whole split sounds
You can make sense of what she's trying to write kind off

Kennington Tue 05-Jul-16 19:15:32

Around 8. It was Enid blyton what did it!
Before that it was just the odd word.

Alanna1 Tue 05-Jul-16 19:15:55

I was reading before I was at primary school. I don't remember learning to read. I also don't remember a time I couldn't read fluently, either, but I am sure it existed!

Kennington Tue 05-Jul-16 19:16:22

Yes and phonics confuse me now and my gut says it is awful. But I have no evidence to back up this statement!

Jasonandyawegunorts Tue 05-Jul-16 19:18:03

10 - The cover of Terry Prattchett's Mort intrigued me so much that i Pretty much learnt to read to find out what it was about.

ohmygodyouguys Tue 05-Jul-16 19:20:09

I don't remember ever struggling with reading. In P1 when we were doing letters and the teacher was saying Ah, Buh, Cuh etc apparently I corrected her. My mum used to sit me in front of Countdown when I was tiny so must have learnt my letters from that. Probably not the best teaching method though! Reading has just never been a problem for me and it was how I spent most of my time.

eddiemairswife Tue 05-Jul-16 19:20:44

Started school at 5yrs 3months. Couldn't read, but knew my ABC. Don't remember much about learning to read apart from flash-cards. Didn't have any problems. Read Milly-Molly-Mandy and loads of Enid Blyton. I remember reading in the Daily Mirror about a boy who died in foster care. I was just 7 at the time. This was many years ago; no TV so reading was my main entertainment. Both parents were avid readers.

lougle Tue 05-Jul-16 19:22:07

I was reading before I started school and a free reader at school before 7 and at home much before that. My exposure to books started very early. My Dad used to read 'Winnie the Pooh' to my Mum, my brother and me as part of our bedtime routine every night. I remember devouring books - Enid Blyton, all the Famous Five/Secret Seven/Malory Towers/St Clares. Ramona the Brave. Nancy Drew. Worst Witch. Roald Dahl. Grimms Fairytales. Readers Digest short story compendiums. You and Your Rights - a massive consumer rights book on the law (strange child). Sweet Valley High. Point Crime/Point Horror/Point Fiction. Some books really stuck out for me - The Bewitching of Alison Allbright; Izzy-Willy-Nilly. So, for me, reading was effortless and natural. It was my favourite thing.

DD1 has SN so is still learning to read at 10.6. She's making slow but steady progress.

DD2 learned the technical skill of reading relatively fast but really didn't enjoy it at all. I was so disappointed. I tried to explain how exciting it is when you get into a book and she looked at me like I had two heads! Now, at 8.10, she has discovered Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson books and she is captivated. Today she has come home from school, sat on the sofa and I haven't even heard her breathe. She's read about 290 pages of her latest book which was only delivered on Sunday.

I think, certainly for her, it's a combination of gaining confidence with reading fluency, and finding a genre that is interesting enough to make reading worth the effort until you've built up the stamina to read anything and everything.

MangoIsTheNewApple Tue 05-Jul-16 19:23:29

From observing both my kids, there comes a point when they've got enough phonics down pat (and memorised some of the common words that they can't yet decode using the phonics they've learnt so far). It's at that point that they fly. For both of them it was a couple of months before their fifth birthday - they went from slightly halting decoding to reading fast and silently and voraciously.

Floralnomad Tue 05-Jul-16 19:25:10

I can't remember not being able to read , I could read the newspaper well before I started school and I must say that I found helping my own DC learn to read very difficult probably because I just couldn't see how they couldn't just 'get it' . Neither of my DC were keen readers as children although both were competent by 6 and had reading ages well in advance of their age , DS really took up reading when he was at uni and dd when she was about 12 .

GreenSand Tue 05-Jul-16 19:28:35

Not sure when I learnt to read, by can remember being totally put off at secondary by having to read a book Just in class, and all out loud, so it was excruciatingly slow. I just couldn't get into the books, as we only every read a few pages at a time. I tried reading them all the way through before we did them at school, but that just made them worse. I've not touched a classic or Shakespeare since, and probably should have.

So, I'd say, books that speak to the audience (topic, fact/fiction and leval) and speed need to be appropriate.

NotCitrus Tue 05-Jul-16 19:40:15

I can't recall not reading, but never read anything long until one bored afternoon I noticed Five on a Treasure Island had the same author as Noddy and started ploughing through it. Read the whole thing in about 5 hours, followed by the rest of Blyton over a few years. I remember getting a sack of about 100 Nancy Drew's and Hardy Boys age 10, and they certainly sped up my reading further.

MrNC couldn't read more than individual words until age 12 when he embarked on the Hobbit, had an aunt help with phonics, and by the time he was halfway through LOTR was a reasonable but very dyslexic reader. It was noticeable at uni that he was one of few students who always went to original papers, not reviews, because the idea of them being easier to read didn't apply. He likes reading but needs a joke or something to happen in every paragraph as it takes half an hour to read a couple pages.

Ds went from word by word to reading fluently thanks to Toxic magazine and other crap, but only 2 years later is reading actual 5-8 chapter books - there's clearly an extra jump needed.

Fidelia Tue 05-Jul-16 19:43:29

I was was Enid Blyton for a couple of years, then Shakespeare (long story, short: Dad refused to buy more books (aged 8), so challenged me to read Shakespeare). Now I read anything I fancy; high brow, low brow...a good story is what'll grip me.

Ds1 was 7, it was Tom Gates, then Harry Potter

Ds2 is is Tom Gates

Fidelia Tue 05-Jul-16 19:45:23

Oh and the big leap for each of us, was being told it was ok to read in our heads and not out loud. We all seem to read much faster/more easily in our heads.

YesThisIsMe Tue 05-Jul-16 19:46:45

I can't remember: my mother says I was 3.....she was very very bored, stuck in a flat with a toddler and a baby with no transport, friends, or TV so she taught me to read so we'd both have something to do. I think the key is having absolutely nothing more fun to do grin.

UntilTheCowsComeHome Tue 05-Jul-16 19:53:16

I can't ever remember struggling to read. My mum taught me at 3 and I was reading well by the time I started school.

In fact I was sent to the library to read on my own (accompanied with an eye roll) as everyone else read the 'house on 3 corners' or whatever it was.

My mum always had a book in her hand, nothing fancy, the latest Ruth Rendall or whatever but it definitely made me want to read for pleasure too.

I read a lot of Enid Blyton as a child.

My 2 boys both learnt at 3 too, but don't really read a lot for pleasure now. DS2 might read a bit but neither of them are particularly into reading.

ITCouldBeWorse Tue 05-Jul-16 21:16:15

Thanks so much everyone. I do have a suspicion that more to means less reading, so less fluency but there are so many great educational shows that seems a tough call.

I am s big fan of phonics as a starting point, but think it could be off putting to an older child. But without them surely they will struggle to progress! Funny to hear about Blyton - still popular!

MangoIsTheNewApple Tue 05-Jul-16 21:49:26

I do think being thoroughly bored is important, too. I'm pretty strict with screens (they get about half an hour TV at a set time) and the rest of the time if they are bored I suggest chores or reading. I don't know how you would re-create that in school, though...

EarthboundMisfit Wed 06-Jul-16 08:51:59

I remember vividly staying up in bed one night reading my first chapter book without pictures from cover to cover. It had a green cover and was something about ponies. I loved it. I'd have been about six.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now