Gap with different education systems - learning to read

(24 Posts)
TheMagicMumber Sat 09-Feb-13 14:30:11

(reposted from primary ed, no replies there)

DD is 3.8, and fairly bright. She can write her name, count, can read individual letters, sound out and read/guess some short words.

If we were in the UK she would start reception in September, when I presume she would start to learn to read.

She's at school (start earlier here) but it's sort of a pre-school. She goes into Kingergarten at 5 then year 1 at 6. They don't start learning to read or write until then (year 1).

I would be happy with this approach if we were sure to be staying here until she were at least 7, but we just don't know. I know of people who have put their kids back into the UK education system not knowing how to read and write, and it has had horrific results on their self-esteem and feelings towards school.

So, should we be teaching her to read at home? If so, how? I am a teacher, but secondary, so no idea really about phonics etc. Any ideas for resources? If not, what to do with her if we go back into British system?

Thank you.

OP’s posts: |
mumblechum1 Sat 09-Feb-13 14:34:30

I think if she seems ready to start learning, then teach her. DH taught DS to read before he started school, he isn't a teacher, and it seemed as though he was going over a few books with him (v simple, just a few words each page) and ds got to recognise what the letters meant and just "got it" quite easily. It was in the Easter holidays when I was working full time, and by the end of the fortnight DS was reading properly, just very basic stuff on a par with the Biff and Chip books.

He did know all his letters through playgroup, though, so I guess it was just connecting the letters into words that he needed to be shown.

TheMagicMumber Sat 09-Feb-13 14:38:55

Thanks. So, he didn't use any special books, ORT or anything?

OP’s posts: |
mumblechum1 Sat 09-Feb-13 14:46:38

No, just some which were on the shelf, they were very repetiive though, if you're going down this route you may want to try the "that's not my mummy/bear/whatever" books, as there's a lot of repetition so the child recognises a lot of what's on the page and just learns one or two new words each time.

The disadvantage of DH having taught DS before he started school was that the school refused to believe that he could actually read, and said he must be memorising, until I got them to try him on a Yr1 book which had only just been published. grin

DontEvenThinkAboutIt Sat 09-Feb-13 15:13:20

We had this problem exactly. It is tricky because I taught my DS's to read at home they were vey willing then they ended up sitting around waiting for their peers to catch up. It didn't matter that much but I wondered if they would have been better off in the UK system. We got a child psychiatrist report for our DD to says she would be fine to start kindergarten a year early. This worked extremely well for her although when we moved countries we put her in her correct year.
DC's are ready to learn to read at such different ages it is a shame there can't be a more flexible approach. My DNephews struggled in UK reception and would have faired better with a later start.
I taught my DC's to read using lots of different things including computer games, personalised worksheets (that sounds so much fancier than they were) lots of being read to, and by setting a good example to them (DH and I are big readers) . I also used the Oxford reading books (the ones with Chip in confused )
I think it depends on the DC's. Mine all learnt in different ways.
The are now Uni age and still big readers.
I see your DD is 3.8 does this mean she will be very young for the year?

DontEvenThinkAboutIt Sat 09-Feb-13 15:16:38

We also had great success with a etch-a-sketch and a long, long car journey.....
I swear my eldest started the journey not being able to spell and finished the journey capable of writing short sentances.

TheMagicMumber Sat 09-Feb-13 15:26:08


She's middle of the year, and our terms are Jan-Dec, so she's neither young nor old. I know other children are also ready to start gently (according to their parents) but it won't be done in school. I can't help but think there could be some middle ground, but I'm not in charge of the curriculum!

OP’s posts: |


DontEvenThinkAboutIt Sat 09-Feb-13 16:47:21

SA ?

rushingrachel Sat 09-Feb-13 17:09:19

I agree, if they're ready teach them. If they don't want to they'll make that as clear as daylight within a day or so. It's a bit like potty training in some ways!!!!

My DS has had a fascination for letters, learning sounds etc since he was leas than 3, and he is not yet 5 and can read very fluently because I picked up that he liked it and I would say encouraged him rather than taught him.

We are in Brussels but he is in British primary and since starting reception the knowledge he had already has given him wings and he has flown along.

He would have been SOOO bored if they hadn't started until 6/7. And that's why I bothered. He's not so good at other stuff so wanted to encourage the area he was good at.

A couple of recommendations for materials if you do decide to go ahead. Firstly there are a couple of BBC packs called "fun with phonics" with a workbook and DVD. My DS entirely learned his phonic sounds from sitting in front of the DVD and still has the poster on his wall as he loves it. Usborne do some nice phonics flash cards. And the Book People sell packs of Oxford Reading Tree books at a really low price. We still use them to back up what he does at school when he gets bored. As another poster mentioned they are repetitive but that is good.

I would say follow your parent instinct about what your child is ready to learn and you can't go wrong by helping at home.

SquinkiesRule Sun 10-Feb-13 20:41:11

Dd taught herself to read while in Preschool here(age 4) We did have Jumpstart preschool on the computer that she loved to play the games on and she also liked to play on she did really well.

SquinkiesRule Sun 10-Feb-13 20:41:27


Weta Mon 11-Feb-13 14:27:25

They don't start reading here until 6 either but my 5yo has been absolutely desperate to learn and his (British) teacher is happy to encourage any children who are keen.

She suggested these flashcards for learning the letters.

Once he had all the letters/sounds he started bringing home ORT books a few times a week and is loving it.

If you're concerned about going back to the UK and she seems keen to learn, then why not? As someone else said, the only real problem is that she may be bored when they do reading at school, but I guess the teachers will have to deal with that and she probably won't be the only one.

natation Mon 11-Feb-13 15:41:03

Try and follow the lead of the child and not push them higher thinking they are going to be more intelligent because they can read first. Do not underestimate pre-reading and especially pre-writing skills.

I work with 3 to 4 year olds, they constantly surprise me. The child I thought on outward signs was most ready for reading due to the fact that child can recognize the whole alphabet and is way above average in production of English has ended up on closer inspection to not be any good at putting any of those letters together or decoding simple words and the letters in isolation and in different forms was unable to recognize the letters! That child is not at all ready and made their feelings quite clear they are not ready!

If a child is ready, then do it, especially if you can see they are behind in other things. Always play to a child's talents and try not make a great deal of where they are lacking.

cheaspicks Tue 12-Feb-13 12:10:08

My dd is the same age and more or less reading now. Like a previous poster, I would say I have encouraged rather than taught her to learn to read - obviously I provided the means for her to learn the letters (and letter sounds), but I haven't used flashcards, or worksheets, or done any sort of deliberate practice sessions with her.

What I did do was ask her to find easily recognisable words when reading books to her - "Peppa" or "Maisy" at first (your dd can probably already do this, I suspect). Then I asked her to find "Mummy", "Daddy", etc. and started testing to see if she could find "pig" when it came up in other books that weren't Peppa ones. We have the set of ORT books from the Book People which come with a booklet giving some tips about how to use them with your child - dd has had the first four books so far and really likes them. I think she's probably made a leap now and won't gain much from reading the others, though.

I sort of half-heartedly introduced phonics to dd as well using the Finger Phonics books and she does try to sound out unfamiliar words. She recently took a Kipper book into kindergarten and the teacher reported that she had sounded out the word "ridiculous" - I don't actually believe this, I think she sounded out the first couple of letters and that jogged her memory.

We're also in a similar situation re school - DD will start at age 6 if we stay here, which we fully intend to. However, there are circumstances in which I can imagine deciding to move back to the UK and the idea that dd could potentially go into Y2 unable to read is untenable. So I would say, go for it, but don't make a big deal out of it or put any pressure on yourself or your dd.

mathanxiety Tue 12-Feb-13 20:14:51

Most of my DCs were ready to read and basically learned by themselves at home before school started on phonics (at 5/6 in the US).

I didn't do any formal teaching with flashcards or having them sound out words after introducing sounds, etc., just read with them with my finger moving under the words as I read. They loved repetitive books like The Runaway Bunny, and never tired of hearing the same story read over and over again, so I ended up reading many Beatrix Potter titles until I knew them by heart. Lots of long words and advanced vocabulary in BP titles, plus complex sentences. Another type of material they liked very much was poetry. I think this helped with their awareness of vowel sounds, and of course the rhythm made it appealing for them. Above all, I repeated words we had encountered in our reading, and even phrases from BP, when conversing. DD1 was reading Nancy Drew books by age 6.

They watched Sesame Street and other tv programmes where letter sounds were introduced, and when we were out and about I pointed out signs, logos, and other symbols.

I agree with Natation's caution here -- 'Do not underestimate pre-reading and especially pre-writing skills.' To be successful readers in the long term, and take the initial breakthrough to the next stage a full foundation needs to be in place. Talk and talk and talk and talk and do not be afraid to use long words or speak as if you were writing (pausing for commas) or reading, using the cadence of the written word.

LillianGish Tue 12-Feb-13 20:38:39

Do not underestimate pre-reading and especially pre-writing skills. Absolutely. I had a very long and interesting discussion with an English primary teacher about the endless drilling my dcs did drawing spirals and wiggly lines etc etc before finally being taught to write at 6/7. She couldn't believe how beautifully they write - I told her all the children in their class write in the same way. She was fascinated - and convinced we don't do enough of that in the UK. You may find that she actually has an advantage when she gets back in the British system. My dcs learned to read in French - taught entirely phonetically and immediately transferred this skill to reading in English (when I asked them how they knew that the letter combinations made different sounds in English than French they looked at me as if I was stupid - how could I possibly have thought they wouldn't work that out for themselves!)

natation Tue 12-Feb-13 21:31:22

This is entirely anecdotal, but I have 2 left handers in the family and 2 right handers. In the UK there seems an expectation that left handers are messy handwriters and well they can't be easily helped! I remember when our left handed 7 year old was only 4 years old, discussing with her teacher my concerns that she would be able to write neatly, I got a blank look like "what are you talking about, what is wrong with left handers?". Well now she is 7 years old, after spending 3 maternelle years doing squiggles and spirals, dot to dots etc, the last maternelle year practising all her letters for real, plus the phonics too, she started at age 6 to learn to join up those letters and did it perfectly like the right handers in the class! She also learned to right with a specifically designed modern fountain pen for little hands.

No I don't think the UK spends enough time in the 3-5 year EYFS curriculum practising these pre-writing skills, more schools should try out those cool fountain pens too. They do right and left handed ones too!!!

natation Tue 12-Feb-13 21:34:02

PS yes good right / write spelling mistake!

mathanxiety Wed 13-Feb-13 04:16:45

The sight of those 'plumes' brings me back -- all handwriting was performed with a fountain pen at the primary school I attended (in Dublin). All the girls had permanently inky fingers.

natation Wed 13-Feb-13 09:16:29

No inky hands with the modern fountain pens :-)

mathanxiety Thu 14-Feb-13 05:35:45

So no blotting paper on the list of school supplies? We had little books of it the way children have post-its now.

natation Thu 14-Feb-13 10:44:09

No blotting paper - yes I remember my sister's blotting paper, her school used fountain pens, mine used biros. And with the fountain pen, you have the standard "effaceur" to rub out mistakes and replace it with non erasable ink.

mathanxiety Fri 15-Feb-13 03:15:32

I recall two-sided erasers with a white pencil side and a grey pen side and the holes you could gouge in your paper with the grey side - it was a little like sandpaper in texture.

Shanghaidiva Sun 17-Feb-13 07:54:41

We were living in Austria when I taught DS to read. I used jolly phonics and ORT books. He was a confident reader when he started school there at 6. He then learnt to read in German with the rest of the class which worked well and as school is only in the morning we continued with a bit of English every afternoon. At age 8 we moved to China and he attends at British school. Hie reading was assessed at age 11 when he was 8 and he had good comprehension skills. Spelling was the area he had trouble with as he used German spelling convention - k instead of c for example. I also found it harder to do any written work with him at home, teaching him to read and discussing books was a lot easier.
I taught him to read for the same reason - we weren't sure how long we would stay in Austria. He is now nearly 13 and we are still overseas. Fortunately he can now spell!

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