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Learning to read before starting school?

(27 Posts)
verywiseowl Mon 20-Oct-08 12:10:47

Someone I know is teaching her (just) 3 year old to read. Not because the 3 year old is wanting to do so AFAIK, but because the mum thinks it will give her a head start when she start school.

I deliberately didn't teach my DS (now in Reception) on the basis that I'd rather he did it at the same time and in the same way as his class mates. Although TBH there's no way he would have been receptive to formal teaching anyway and I'd probably have scared him off reading or life.

Are there any specific advantages (or disadvantages) in teaching a pre-school child to read?

compo Mon 20-Oct-08 12:12:10

the only disadvantage I can think of is that he will be bored in reception
my ds can't read and he's in reception
he brings home the ORT reading books with Floppy etc with no words in and has to tell us the story following the pictures
I imagine if he could alrady read that would be boring for him

julen Mon 20-Oct-08 12:18:25

If the child enjoys learning to read, fine. If not, it seems counterproductive to me; no sense in forcing a child to teach something they are not yet ready for. Especially reading - reading should be fun!!

Dottoressa Mon 20-Oct-08 12:18:42

My DS could read fluently when he started Reception. He started reading when he was two, and I took my cues from him (we used to go round reading signposts and such like). I felt that it would be unfair and frustrating not to go with the flow; when he went in to Reception (he only did the last term, as he's a summer baby and I thought that he was too young for school at just four), they started him on the Oxford Reading Tree at level 7. He found it too easy, so they moved him on to free reading instead. It was not a problem! He is now six, and still miles ahead of his classmates in reading; again, it is not a problem. I don't know if it's because he's at a private school, though? I don't know how state schools generally deal with children like this.

OTOH, My DD, who's about to start Reception, doesn't even know her letter sounds yet!! She is not in the slightest bit interested, so I haven't forced the issue at all. She'll do it when she's ready, and I'm sure she'll be reading by the time she leaves home.

As with most things, I'd say there's no wrong or right - it's just generally best to do whatever's right for any particular child.

mumblechum Mon 20-Oct-08 12:22:46

DH taught DS(then 4.3) to read one wet Christmas. He was keen and very proud of himself. When he started school 9 months later he was fluent and I think it helped his confidence enormously that he was reading more interesting books than his peers.

mimsum Mon 20-Oct-08 12:23:03

it doesn't give any advantage at all (unless the drive to read is coming from him, in which case it'll give him access to books at an earlier age)

kids even out and develop at different ages - neither of my boys could read at all when they went into Y1 but by Y3 they had a reading age of 16 and were way ahead of the children who'd been reading in reception

I could read before I started school (just picked it up somehow) and I remember feeling quite isolated in infants because of it

singersgirl Mon 20-Oct-08 12:23:05

I taught DS2 to read at 3 and a bit, because he asked. He showed he was ready too and was really very keen. I didn't teach DS1 because he didn't ask and, in fact, though he learned to read effortlessly in Reception, he still wasn't really interested in doing it.

DS2 wasn't bored in Reception because he was able to read books at his level; he didn't mind doing Jolly Phonics actions and thought they were quite fun.

I think with very young children you've got to make sure they want to do it, whether it's mental or physical. I wouldn't have tried to get DS2 to ride a bike at that age because he couldn't pedal and it would have been miserable for him and me. I didn't try to get him to write either because he clearly wasn't ready for that.

dilemma456 Mon 20-Oct-08 12:26:40

Message withdrawn

Anna8888 Mon 20-Oct-08 12:27:06

I consulted my DD's (3.11) English teacher about reading last week.

The teacher was very clear that if a child is asking to learn to read ie manifestly ready, it is pointless to stall him/her. But you don't need to do a reading scheme - you can just learn to read with what you have around the house.

My DD's favourite past time at the moment is typing out all her family's names on the computer.

Nemoandthefishes Mon 20-Oct-08 12:30:18

Ds was 5 last week and in reception. He wanted to learn to read so last year we played some games about spelling out words robotically etc. Then he progressed to wanting to buy books so we get the cheap tescos read at home ones. He loves it but I only do it because he loves it and also obviously he is one of the older ones in his year.I think dd2 will be like ds as she is 22mths but already likes to play phonetics games etc. As a complete opposite dd1 is 3 in dec and not interested in the slightest in anything that even hints at being academic,,however dancing and princesses she is a genius ongrin

gladders Mon 20-Oct-08 14:09:32

ds is 4.2 and his nursery have been trying to teach letters since Jan with no joy.... I haven't intervened.

And then recently i explained to him why he was being taught letters, and started lookng at signposts etc with him, BANG he has learned all the letters - almost overnight.

so - long story short, if your friends child wants to learn, thats great and, if she doesn't then she won't and everyone will get cross and upset.

Dottoressa Mon 20-Oct-08 14:44:47

Anna's point is a good one. My DS learnt to read at home without us following any kind of scheme. The first sentence he read was: "Private driveway: no parking at any time" (!), as there's a notice saying this on our way to the shops. At two, he was making out the individual letters on said notice (which was really quite dull for me, but hey ho). We also used to read thrilling things like shopping lists, road signs, and food packaging.

As I write this, DD is complaining about her blocked up nose meaning that she can only recognise the letter 'a' hmm

Horses for courses!

keevamum Mon 20-Oct-08 14:51:39

My DD1 could sound out simple words and read familiar stories before she started school. TBH I found she was very bored in her reception year as she could do just about everything already and her teacher never differentiated for her or others like her. It really discouraged her from liking school as she lost that keenness to learn and it's never come back. I have made up my mind with DD2 not to try to teach her at all. However, it did give her early access to reading and this is something she still loves so I suppose it has it's benefits but I hated seeing her so bored at school.

maverick Mon 20-Oct-08 14:56:59

If your child is interested then I recommend that you have a go. The fact is that the majority of schools are still using mixed methods to teach reading -i.e. they are using a synthetic phonics programme such as the DCSF's programme Letters and Sounds alongside high frequency word memorisation and whole-language reading books such as Oxford Reading Tree. This combination will almost completely negate the benefits of the synthetic phonics teaching.

Whilst there is still this wide-spread lack of understanding in schools re. how to teach all children to read, then it's a good idea to 'school proof' your child in case they are amongst the 20% who don't learn to read when mixed methods are used.

If you're keen to have a go -then there's this excellent online programme that sticks closely to synthetic phonics principles:
Early Years Starter Package; Young-child resources for children aged 3-5, for pre-school settings and parents who want to make an early start with synthetic phonics:

georgiemum Mon 20-Oct-08 14:57:03

If she's ready, no problem. I don't think it will be an advantage though.

I come from a family of bookworms and my eldest sister was training to be a teacher when I was tiny so I could read by 3. I was reading Winnie the Pooh in primary 1 (which I started a year early). I was bored witless by primary 2, as I had read all the books a year earlier - the teachers didn't know what to do with me so I was stuck in a corner with a bloody maths book (and I am seriously bad at maths). I got lazy and complacent!

Remember - we do teach our kids to read and write young in comparison and we aren't turning out all the Nobel prize winners every year!!

fivecandles Mon 20-Oct-08 16:04:22

I think the age is an issue. You can have a child starting Reception at just 4 with a September birthday and a child starting Reception who will have been 4 for 11 months. So you might expect the nearly 5 year olds to have got farther on with their reading since they've had nearly a year longer at home/ nursery IYSWIM. My girls (both summer birthdays) certainly knew all their letters but couldn't read as such until midway through Reception though this was the same age in years and months as some who had started reading before they started school.

loadsofsmiles Mon 20-Oct-08 16:14:57

I think you have to go with the flow. If they are keen then certainly encourage it, if not leave it until they are.

dd1 learnt very easily and was very keen before school. I read to her loads and talked about words whilst we were reading. She could read chapter books fluently before she started in reaception.

I think this has been a huge advantage to her. She could access so much information around the classroom and school (signs, notices, stories, information books, song sheets in assembly etc), that school was really facinating for her. For this reason she was not bored. There was so much information to learn and take in that other children in her class did not have access to. How can this be a disadvantage?

Her state primary gave her appropriate reading books and handled it very well. She probably sits through jolly phonics sessions too, but has never complained about this. I think revision, as it is for her, is never a bad thing.

She is now in year 1 and is a very happy little girl who loves school.

fivecandles Mon 20-Oct-08 16:19:44

Out of interest loadsof does your dd have an autumn birthday?

keevamum Mon 20-Oct-08 17:37:59

I know you didn't ask me but my DD1 was a fluent reader too but she was a late July birthday!

loadsofsmiles Mon 20-Oct-08 20:37:54

Yes she does, which I realise makes an enormous difference at this age.

I didn't post to brag about what my dd can do. I just wanted to point out that reading before school (as long as the child is interested in learning and not being pushed) is not a disadvantage. I don't understand why someone would choose not to encourage their interest in reading, just to stop them getting too far ahead. Reading in itself would not cause boredom in a reception class. Apart from the phonics work (which is probably about 15 minutes of a day), most reading skills would be taught individually or in a group of similar ability children.

DeJaVous Mon 20-Oct-08 20:44:14

My mother taught me to read at 3 and I'm pretty certain it has been a disadvantage.

She made up her own system and it worked, my reading age was always well ahead at school and have always loved reading. TBH it was a PITA at primary because I ran out of official reading books a couple of years before I left... Anyway, I have some spelling problems that seem to match exactly with her way of getting me to break down words by sound.

loadsofsmiles Mon 20-Oct-08 20:59:07

A school running out of reading books, is a problem with the school, not your ability to read. In this day and age a child reading well at the top end of a primary school (and even at the younger end) can always visit a library if they are short of reading material. I can't comment on your spelling difficulties but schools now teach reading and spelling by breaking down the sounds, which for many children is helpful way of learning. Children who read a lot often find spelling easier than those who don't.

Reallytired Mon 20-Oct-08 21:26:01

I taught my son to read before he started school. I got sick to death with him say "What does that say?". I read up on the internet about synthetic phonics and I became nervous about the fact that most state schools use mixed methods. I used jolly phonics to teach my son to read.

He was not bored in reception as he had a good teacher. His spelling is nowhere near as good as his reading, but I think that due to glue ear rather than the method I have taught him to read.

He read library books and adores reading at the age of six. Ofcourse kids do catch up, but my son has had a lot of pleasure in the meantime.

HellboundNinkynork Mon 20-Oct-08 22:06:06

It can backfire, as maverick points out. My DD was very interested so I did Jolly Phonics with her at age 4. When she started in Reception the emphasis was all on guessing the word from either the picture or the initial letter.

She quickly lost confidence in letter / sound correspondence and stopped trying to use her knowledge of phonics to read "through" a word. The school refused to take my concerns seriously and were very dismissive of the Clackmannshire research. I was very envy of my friend who had DC in private school where it was "phonics first, fast and only" to start with.

christywhisty Mon 20-Oct-08 23:19:03

DD read before she started school and DS didn't. One of the reasons I chose their school was because the weren't worried if the dc's could read or not. One of the other local schools complained to my dc's nursery that the children were too advanced when they started there and one little girl I know went there was not given any books to read as she had to wait for the others to catch up.

DD was given books to her ability from the very beginning and just absorbed reading.
DS (dyslexic) struggled until he was 7 and then caught up the ones that were reading fluently in reception and passed many of them.They both had a very good grounding in jolly phonics.

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