Early reader/gifted reader?(69 Posts)
Hmmm? How to write this without sounding first world/smug/awful? I will stick to the facts as far I can see them. My son was very standard in terms of his development milestones (walking/using a spoon etc) except that he both talked very early (quickly developed a very large, very mature vocabulary) and that he read very early (2 yrs old) and didn’t stop. Now he is nearly 4 (next week) and can read incredibly fluently. I am a teacher (but not early years) so know a little bit that reading before school is not unusual but also not common. However, what I’m trying to gauge (and think about what to do with the little man) is whether having a reading age (decoding - just reading a list of increasingly longer, more complex words) of 11 yrs old (according to a range of tests we've slipped him that we usually give my older kids at school) at 4 yrs of age and being able to pass the KS1 (for 7 yr olds) reading SAT (comprehension) comfortably at 4 yrs of age is in the sort of “nice one top of your class” camp or whether, as I suspect, it might be “nice one top of the the class two/three years older than you are” camp. The bit we are really thinking about is that both me and his dad were unashamedly nerdy (Firsts from Oxford, Harvard PhD) but neither of us could do much more than write our names and letters before we started our (state) schools. We don’t really want advice about “let him get on with it”, “round him out” or “don’t push him/make him weird” as we are both a bit nerdy/weird ourselves (‘18th century Flemish woodcuts’ is the current bed side reading) and know that it takes all types of people to make a world and don’t mind at all if he goes down the really nerdy nerdy route. What we really want to know is what fiction to give a boy of this age who can read beyond his years? His maths and writing are similar but that is easier to deal with as we just find him the next thing to work out/story to do. Also, has anyone had a similar child and how did your state school deal with him (just to make clear - we have no intention of telling school)? GParents are pushing for prep schools but I can’t see what the strictly academic advantages would be for the money? Has anyone “upyeared” their child in the state system? Good/bad consequences in the long run? When did you do it? Just one year? Two? I know, I know - it’s not a problem - but we just love seeing this little “hoover” so excited about learning (will read for an hour instead of faff about on the IPAD - by choice) and are wondering how best to keep him buzzing about it all for as long as poss. Thanks in advance for any advice/suggestions.
My daughter was reading chapter books by the age of 6 and she jumped a year at school. She did well, top of class for many years but now at 12 she is just a bit better than average. Putting her up a year is something I deeply regret and the worst decision we have ever made for her. She's doing well, mature and socially all great but I think that she'd still be flying really high if she were in the age appropriate class. My husband and I disagree now on what, if anything we should do, we might lost a year of her childhood or her living with us. Situations such as going out late, boys, drinking, clubbing etc are all ahead of us and we are really not looking forward to it.
I as put up a year in primary school and socially it was awful. Also the secondary school wouldn’t take me until I was the right age so I had to repeat year 6!!
DS1 was assessed when he started reception as having a reading age of 14+
His school were really good with him (he had poor fine motor skills so helped him loads with that/taught him touch typing etc) as well as finding higher level work for him. On reception he went into the literacy and maths groups with the year 2s (should have been higher but they didn’t think socially it would be a good idea)
His primary school was in a wealthy village (so lots of kids of lawyers/surgeons etc who push thier kids/kids inherit thier brains etc and it was always implied that DS was amazing and way above the norm.
DS never really like reading fiction books but would devour any factual books (his favourite book one Christmas was ‘ transit maps of the world’ and he has recently read prisoners of geography - about how geography shapes global politics!
When he was 5 (he’s 11 now) he liked the lift the flap books from usbourne, lots and lots of space books and things like horrible histories/marvellous maths etc
Fiction wise the only books he ever really liked was lord of the rings and the hobbit. Think he was about 7 when he read them properly though. Richard Scarry books were always a hit though thinking about it although think he was much younger - 2/3
In my opinion infants is about so much more than just learning to read and doing maths, it’s learning how to get on with lots of different people, become more independent, learn to adhere to routine and rules (which we all have to do in our working life), learning to play and share and have fun, learning manners and empathy etc etc. If they can already read it just gives them more time to focus on the other stuff and also means they will always be ahead of the curve in infants (once you get to secondary it really doesn’t matter who read earliest!)
Yes he loved Richard Scarry! Lowly worm is a hero in our house! As a teacher of 11yr olds I always wince about the whole “everyone learns to read eventually” idea. Reading is so hugely multidimensional that I can hear two pupils read a text and they sound identical but one can pick a text apart like Sherlock solving a crime and the other has barely grasped more than the basics. This is my point really - he can decode (as you say - everyone will at some point be able to do this) - what, in people’s experience, is the best way to help him continue to explore the deeper bits of reading - harder books? Move him up a year? The Classics? Thanks to everyone for their comments - especially those further down the track with older kids.
For reading material, look at the classics: they are going to be far less likely to be unsuitable in content, but will be more complex in language, which should provide some challenge. Paddington Bear, the Moomin books, tales of Robin Hood and King Arthur, Greek myth, Bedknob and Broomstick, Mrs Pepperpot etc etc.
Also, if you know any other languages (preferably something he won't be doing for GCSE) that's always an interesting challenge. My mum starting teaching me German when I was 6, as I was already a fluent reader.
I think moving him up a year would only really work if the child was very very mature for thier age, AND very socially adept (I say this as DS could hold his own in a conversation with adults but was useless at playing with other children his own age) as well as being excellent at all aspects of thier education.
Otherwise I feel it’s best to just encourage thier interests, provide a wide range of reading material, and a rich extra curricular range of activities and trips. Just let the child lead.
There are plenty of children’s classics that he might enjoy - I remember reading and loving Swallows and Amazons in my first year of primary school. Just take him to the library and let him choose what he wants. I was also a very early and voracious reader and was never really directed by anyone - I just had access to a great library and devoured everything from Enid Blyton to Charles Dickens during primary school.
Personally I would go for breadth of reading. For many things with able children breadth over depth is one of the better approaches as it's nurturing a love of learning and wider skills rather than ploughing down the train tracks at lightening speed.
You can also buy books with high reading ages but a child friendly interest level (sort of the opposite of what I buy weak readers in ks3 - books with low reading ages but teen interest levels). Have a Google but they do exist.
I had a child like yours, but I doubt that you would want my advice as it doesn't sound like we share similar values. For me, it was very important to ensure that dd was well-rounded and that she developed good social skills etc. I had no interest in pushing her, and declined the suggestion from our state primary to move her up a year, because I wanted her to stay with her peer group. It doesn't sound like we would see eye to eye on how to deal with a "gifted" child, so I won't offer advice.
What I did come on to suggest was that you go back to the older "classic" children's books, of which there are many, as they tend to be more complex than modern books while the themes/stories are still age appropriate.
I wouldn't move him up with his reading just yet. If he's just decoding, then really work on his inference. DS and I were both reading at 2, and with him, I found that lots of simple book talk was beneficial. Talk is invaluable and if you're questioning him on a text in a fun way, it can be very enjoyable. There are lots of activities available online. I also agree with expanding reading material. Comic books (The Phoenix is great), First News, Non-Fiction texts etc.
I had read the Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Little Women, Black Beauty etc by age 7. My teachers gave me more advanced books but I was grateful not to move up a year. It would have felt awkward. Great reading is wonderful but no need to add pressure...just encourage and ensure there is more challenging material available in my view.
My ds could read at two, he read the fire escape directions when he started nursery, he has autism and hyperlexia so the reading and his ability to manipulate numbers meant very little in the grand scheme of things.
Many many moons ago I had a reading age of 15 plus on entry to school, df found me reading Valley of the Dolls age five (quickly confiscated) and I could and did do the crosswords in the newspaper at six. I was and always have been an avid reader which brings with it a lot of acquired knowledge. I was always top of the class but I wouldn't say I was gifted.
When my kid was that age they were just getting in to the Harry Potter world, read the first book just after they turned 4. 4 is when they got into series books in general, particularly ones with on going mysteries and liked to pose theories.
You will have issues with getting public school to teach at their level rather than sit and work on sounds for months so I would suggest inquiring at private schools if you can afford it
My ds at 5 or 6 enjoyed Wimpy Kid. He's quite funny and you can read him on many levels I think. There are some quite grown up family dynamics but it's also just amusing. He also loved a science book called The Way Things Work. He learned lots of interesting things from that book. W
How to train your Dragon was another thing he read early. The books get more complicated as you go on but he read the first couple quite early then took a break. Also Roald Dahl, you get some nice versions with lots of colour illustrations nowadays.
My ds was streets ahead of the other kids when he started school but a good few of them have caught up with him over the years. The only difference now is in the number of books he has read. I wouldn't try to place him ahead of his age group in school, I think that would be a really bad idea. When they get older he is always going to be a year behind. Silly things like a local trampoline park runs different sessions for kids aged over 8. What if someone invites him to an 8th birthday party and he's only 6 and can't go? If he wants to join Beavers but he's not old enough to join with his friends? Don't do it.
As for how school will manage his advanced reading, that entirely depends on the school and the staff. Some will relish the opportunity to discuss what he's reading with him and will suggest interesting books. Others won't have a clue what to do with him. That's the hardest thing, gueasing how the teachers will be. At the end of the day reading is only a part of the school day, hopedully there will be other things he will find challenging.
If he is reading and writing well getting a box of story cubes in his Christmas gifts. Make up stories and encourage him to write them.
I work in year 1 and our most advanced children are not as advanced as your son but they really love creating stories.
Thank you - yes fables and myths would be right up his street! Our gut feeling is that there isn’t really (near us anyway-south west coast) a sort of proper academic/entrance exam option at this age and we’ll just have top him up until he gets older. My dream is some sort of genuinely academically selective primary school so that he and other unashamedly nerdy types can witter on to one another about their latest topic of interest without being reminded (painfully- but yes I accept necessarily) by other classmates that to chunter on incessantly with ones head in the clouds/dusty old books all day is a bit odd/not quite right. Yes that’s it - a school full of
Hermione Grangers! Thanks again- off onto Amazon to order some books!
Def don’t put up a year - there’s no advantage to him. The advantage to him is in staying ahead of his peers so he can perform well in a levels etc putting him up just takes away this advantage
I would give him non-fiction to read and let him learn about the world and everything in it
I would also teach him chess to develop his mind
And I would start him at something he was bad/struggles at so he can know the virtue of trying hard and practising to improve - a sport, a musical instrument etc
As someone that had a reading age of 16+ when I was aged 5.5, and was out up a year in school, I say don't do it!
I'm not an uber-genius; I'm clever, and am very well-read, but that's about it. Socially, it was absolutely devastating when all my friends went on to the next school and I was not allowed to, and had to repeat a year with a bunch of children I barely knew.
My dream is some sort of genuinely academically selective primary school so that he and other unashamedly nerdy types can witter on to one another about their latest topic of interest without being reminded (painfully- but yes I accept necessarily) by other classmates that to chunter on incessantly with ones head in the clouds/dusty old books all day is a bit odd/not quite right.
Sounds bloody awful to me! Personally, I think it does kids good to mix with others who aren't the same as them. That's how they learn.
The challenge will be finding books with age appropriate themes. I absolutely wouldn't get him to read books meant for older kids (eg Harry Potter). He will be able to decode it but his world view and social and emotional development is so limited (because he's 4) that he won't properly understand it. And it will totally spoil the books for later when he is emotionally ready to read them because theyll be old hat. And that would be a tremendous shame.
I definitely wouldn't move him up a year. Could be a complete disaster socially even if it works academically.
Maybe find lots of kids non fiction to read.
And I would start him at something he was bad/struggles at so he can know the virtue of trying hard and practising to improve - a sport, a musical instrument etc
This is excellent advice. So much comes easily to "gifted" children. It's very valuable to give them the opportunity to learn how to strive, and indeed, to learn how to fail sometimes.
I was a fluent reader going into reception, and stayed academically very able, and did end up at an Oxbridge College for my degree. I had a fantastic memory which helped massively with learning and later with recall in exams. I’d say join a library, give him access to lots of books, let him choose things that interest him. I could read vastly more than I could understand so got bored of things that I could “read” in the early days. I remember trying Anne of Green Gables and just finding it so dull. I loved it 5 years later, I think I lacked the emotional maturity to enjoy that kind of story at that age.
My daughter is now 5 and is an early reader too and vocabulary is what we find we need to help her with. Odd phrases and new words crop up in chapter books and she can read them, but doesn’t understand the meaning and often doesn’t bother to ask.
Totally agree with RedSky’s advice- get him outside his comfort zone spin something he finds hard. My son was an incredibly precocious reader, and still (age 12) devours books, but I really regret not pushing him harder to try things he found difficult. Team sport in particular.
Also, best bit of advice I was given, no matter how well they are doing, praise effort not output, otherwise their self worth gets tied into getting things right/being clever, rather than working hard. That’s fine when they are younger and find everything pretty easy, but as they get older they need to know how to work at things. My son spent 3 hours in his art homework the other night- came down in tears and said “I have worked at this of hours and it’s still rubbish.” He was right, it was absolutely terrible, but I was prouder of him for persevering with that than for acing a science test the day before, as he hadn’t really had to work for that.
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