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Learning to read - does it make a difference...

(40 Posts)
SoupDragon Fri 29-Apr-05 08:11:07

...when they do it? I always thought it was important to learn to read early. Certainly I could read books by the time I started infant's school just before I was 5.

DSs go to a school where they don't teach them to read. I mean, they must be teaching them to read somehow but it's not the "learn these words" sort of way. DS1 couldn't really read anything when he finished reception - I doubt he would have managed the "words they should recognise" list. Ye half way through year 1, it's clicked and he can read virtually anything, making a very good stab at very complicated words too.

I was always of the opinion that they should learn to read very early because that's what both DH and I did. I don't remember not being able to read at all and therefore don't remember learning so I don't know how it worked (although I believe Sesame Street played a part!!) I trusted that DSs school knew what they were doing and it seems that they actually do - their methods work.

So, does it actually mean anything that a child can recognise the 50 words at the end of reception? Does it matter if they can recognise them at the start of reception? I'm beginning to think not.

DH is keen to start DS2 reading before he starts in reception whereas I think it's more important to concentrate on making reading appear a fun and useful activity - I don't want DSs to think it's a chore.

This is meant as a discussion really, I'm not after advice I'm just curious. I am truly amazed at how the reading suddenly clicked with DS1 and how he can read even difficult words very soon after really starting to read by himself.

emkana Fri 29-Apr-05 08:25:29

Well I was nearly seven before I could read (went to school in Germany) and I don't really see that it has done me any harm whatsoever. I even managed to go to uni!

I'm amazed how in this country there seems to be such a push to teach children to read as early as possible. I mean, what does a two-and-a-half year old really gain from knowing the letters? Children here start school very early as it is, I'm quite happy to leave it to the school to teach to read and to let my children enjoy other things until then.

emkana Fri 29-Apr-05 08:26:45

Oh and I'm glad that I've been told that in reception the emphasis is still very much on play. I think play and social learning is so important, there's plenty of time for reading in years to come!

marialuisa Fri 29-Apr-05 08:30:09

Have to be honest and say that I think it takes a lot of other work to get to the "click" point for reading.

DH didn't learn to read fluently until quite late (into juniors)and it's noticeable that although he reads for work he doesn't read for pleasure at all and TBH listening to him read DD a bedtime story is painful! I was reading fluently (Enid blyton level) before I started school and DD is the same, I don't kid myself it means she's esp clever though, i think she's just "that way", rather than particularly athletic IYSWIM.

Hulababy Fri 29-Apr-05 08:35:00

I don't think it makes any difference int he long run TBH. DH's cousins live in Sweden and didn't start school until much older than here - about age 7. There was no formal education before then and no pressure to get them reading, learning, etc. But all three can now read fine, and they have caught up education wise very easily. The eldest girl came over to the UK when she was about 14 or so and did a year here. She was completely up to date and not behind at all, in may ways she was ahead. She is now studying law in the UK and doing really well.

The older DD gets (just 3yo now), the more I wish formal educatoion here didn't start so early.

WHY do our babies have to go to school for 5 full days so early? At 4yo they are so young really.

DD is a bright and alert little girl at present, and I am sure she'll be fine when she does have to go to school. But I just wish her fun years at nursery would last longer - more emphasis on play and social skills, then reading and writing.

Sorry - off on a tnagent there!

tiddlypom Fri 29-Apr-05 08:40:04

I think the problem is that when people talk about very clever adults, they often say something like "and they started reading at 2/3/in utero!" etc, as if early reading is an indicator of extreme cleverness. I suspect that some early readers go on to be v clever becos they get so much attention from adults for their ability to read - in other words, it's a huge confidence boost and they begin to believe they are clever.

I also think that in this country we have to remember that in lots of European countries they don't expect kids to read until about 7, and the kids still achieve the same.

Also, like Philip Pullman, I think reading should be about loving books, not the technical ability to decipher individual words.

SoupDragon Fri 29-Apr-05 12:06:09

DSs school is lovely because the reception year is very much a continuation of Nursery - play orientated but with the play activities chosen to teach them stuff without them noticing they're being taught. I have no qualms about them starting at 4 (If I could have got DS2 to start at 3 I would have been happy - he is so ready )

WRT reading, I used to get agitated when friends at other schools used to harp on about how much their child was reading but I would now guess that DS1 is pretty much on a par with them.

Gobbledigook Fri 29-Apr-05 12:10:11

I'm loving this thread! I agree with you all!

DS1 starts reception in September - he's very, very bright, no doubt about it, but he can't read yet and I really don't care! He can read his name and his brothers name and names of friends at nursery but he couldn't read any words in a book I don't think.

4 year olds should be playing, having fun - they learn all they need to just doing that at this age

Gobbledigook Fri 29-Apr-05 12:11:27

My friend told me the other day that she met a woman at a playgroup who harped on and on about how brainy her child was. Like my ds, starting reception in September so must be about 4. Apparently she took him to the doctors and he pointed up to a sign and said 'that says Consulting Room' - which it did but do we believe her? Nah!

Hulababy Fri 29-Apr-05 12:12:35

Reading some of the other threads recently about poor behaviour in school pupils and teens, wonder is maybe spending the first couple of years of school on playing and learning social skills - how to share, how to be with others in a nice way, respecting others and themselves, etc - might be better than forcing our little ones to read and write.

KBear Fri 29-Apr-05 12:14:51

Soupdragon, my experience seems to be pretty much the same as yours. Not much structured "reading" seemed to be going on (although DD always had her head in a book and loved me reading to her). Towards the end of reception they were given word walls containing tricky (ie not phonetically correct) words to learn. This progressed in Yr 1 to harder word walls and spellings every week. Suddenly, the last few months (halfway through Yr 1) she is reading everything, knows words I didn't know she knew etc etc. It's all come together.

I do think that from the very first ABCs you do with your child it all goes in, gets stored in the brain somewhere then bursts out just when they are ready. For example, by DS is 3 and a half. No interest shown in writing or learning numbers, ABC or anything. Suddenly, sitting together the other evening reading, he took a pen and wrote numbers 1-5 and most of his name! I was so shocked but now I know he's ready, he's interested and we're off!

FLUM Fri 29-Apr-05 12:15:25

Always reply the same but can only tell you from my experience.

i was a very late reader - learnt between 7 -8. Went on to be very academic, 2:1 degree and professional qualification. love reading.

my brother: v. early reader - taught himself around 3 years from back of cereal packets. also fairly academic (not as good at exams as me ) and he is now a linguist.

Gobbledigook Fri 29-Apr-05 12:16:52

I have no idea how old I was when I learned to read!!

Hulababy Fri 29-Apr-05 12:17:07

Me neither.

SoupDragon Fri 29-Apr-05 12:18:05

Funnily enough, DS1s reception teacher did come things like that Hulababy. They used to have "friend for the week" where names were paired up randomly and you were partners for the week, learning what the other liked to play, being with them for paired activities etc. It really made the class bond well.

SoupDragon Fri 29-Apr-05 12:19:27

I must remember to ask mum how and when I learned to read. I do remember that my dad was amazed at how fast I used to read

Ameriscot2005 Fri 29-Apr-05 12:20:41

I don't think it makes a difference long-term when they learn to read (assuming it's in the standard 4-7 age range). My DD1 started school in the US but they didn't teach reading in kindergarten, so she still could not read when she started Y2 in the UK. By the October half-term she had caught up with her peers and was in the top group.

But I have found that the children enjoy reading, so I think it is good if they learn sooner rather than later. It can be annoying to have a young reader though - you then have to move on to speaking in French to keep secrets from them.

Hulababy Fri 29-Apr-05 12:22:29

Your DS's school sounds locely Soupdragon; hope DD's will be as good when she starts - not for another year or so now.

batters Fri 29-Apr-05 12:39:30

I always thought that it was an advantage for a child to be able to read before they started school. Not an academic advantage, but something that would help build their confidence. And I do still agree with that to a point.

Dd could read when she started school, but she was really, really wanting to read. When we read books together she did not see this as a chore at all, she was very enthusiastic.

She was way ahead of lots of others in reception class when it came to reading. Now, two years later, she is still one of the most able readers. And more importantly, she still loves reading, she has a passion for it. And I do think that this has helped her with her school work in general.

What I really find sad is that in Year 2 there are still a few of dd's class that can barely read. There are about 5 out of 30 kids I think who can literally recognise words such as "and, the, cat" etc but nothing else .

frogs Fri 29-Apr-05 12:53:00

What I've found does make a difference is HOW they learn to read. Dd1 taught herself to read with the assistance of some old Peter and Jane books, so she bypassed the school's reading instruction which at that time consisted of standard National Literacy strategy 'word tin'/ ORT 'Look and guess". There are still a lot of kids in her class (now Y5) who are reading books aimed at infants (early Magic Key type stuff).

Ds, four years later, and by no means an instinctive early reader, was taught to read by a 'synthetic phonics' scheme the school had bought in. The difference is astonishing. Right from the beginning he could tackle unfamiliar words, and will still revert to very efficient sounding-out when he gets stuck. He and about 10 of his classmates now have to go to the junior library for their reading books, and ALL the kids in the class are reading at age-appropriate level (Y1). And this is a pretty mixed, inner-London primary.

sandy25 Fri 29-Apr-05 13:24:34

My ds1 has dyslexia and he is 7 and is only just learning how to read, his brother is 6 and can read perfectly. It is hard on those who learn slower,especially if they have others around them who are younger and can do it better then them. I had trouble getting ds1 help at school, he was either too good or not good enough at reading for the education department to want to help. he did not know all of the letters of the alphabet untill this year. has any one else encountred these kinds of problems getting thier children help?

chipmonkey Fri 29-Apr-05 13:28:14

ds1 was very keen to read at age 2-3. Knew all letters by age 2, could read at the level of an 8 year old by the time he started school at 5. He was very inattentive in school though, poss because he "knew it all" already and HATED colouring. His 1st year was a nightmare. ds2 was much more difficult to teach and tbh because we'd had so much trouble with ds1 I didn't take the same trouble to teach him. But I really regret this now. In school, they use the "letterland" letters in infants. Then the following year they change to using the "real" names for the letters. Ds2 is having real trouble with this and I really wish I had familiarised him with the ABC names when it would have made more of an impression on him. Even though ds1 had more problems in the beginning, I think , in the long run it was better.

chipmonkey Fri 29-Apr-05 13:33:14

The only thing is frogs, that I find phonics and English are not a good mix. There are SO many words that don't "work" phonetically and ds2 breaks his litlle heart trying to work out "laugh" and "know" phonetically. I think the key words are good. It gives them a good baseline to work on and its certainly what I will be doing with ds3. (poor little mite, he's 4 months old and I'm planning his reading lessons!

sandy25 Fri 29-Apr-05 13:35:31

Ds1 used "letterland" at school, i found that as a dyslexic he found it very useful. it was a turning point for him in learning to read.

pixie54 Fri 29-Apr-05 13:42:44

my DD is just 2 and knows all her letters both upper and lower case (and has done for a while). I really only had to tell her once or twice. I do read a lot to her but I am completely at a loss as to what to do next.
I don't want to 'push' her and I worry about doing the wrong thing, but I think I need to do something as I can't imagine how the next two years before school will pan out. Like one of the other posters, she isn't interested in colouring. Her school will be using the Thrass method.
Can anyone help?

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