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Letter recognition and "reading" before speech

(9 Posts)
totallynaive Sat 06-Oct-12 15:10:19

Interested to know what other mumsnetters think of the following.

My 19mo ds loves having books read to him and is beginning to recognise letters of the alphabet and enunciate them (not because I've been trying to teach him them, though I have just started running my finger along under the words I'm reading to him to let him know there's a connection there). We haven't used flashcards or tried to hothouse him. His speech is still fairly basic. He loves asking for "tea", spotting a "bee" or bringing me the house "key", and is making real headway in saying "baked beans", but dh and I are the only ones who can understand most of the other words he uses regularly, bar "cat", "car", "dada", etc. So he's not a wunderkind on the talking.

He can clearly understand most of what we're reading to him and so what I'm wondering is whether it would be a turnoff for him for me to focus a bit more on letters and sounds in stories and assonant words - e.g. showing him lists of assonant words with pictures - so he can pick up the fundamentals of reading. I was able to read proper Grimms fairytales by the time I was 2.5, having pretty much taught myself how to read through word recognition on my brother's Ladybird Peter and Jane books, and I don't believe in holding off for some magic age if a child feels ready and is interested. Speaking may well be harder than reading in some ways. They're different skills. Anyone think I'm a nutter, or have some particular wisdom here?

Marmiteisyummy Sat 06-Oct-12 15:35:35

Honestly I think you need to back off letters and reading. Speech is by far the most important thing at his age, concentrate on that. It's vital to both of your happiness that you can communicate well as early as possible.
Reading is wonderful, but at this age he'll be enjoying the pictures and the rhythmic sound of your voice.
Children are amazing and maybe he will read early, but IMHO trying to teach a 19m old to read may well put him off til much later. Just teach him to love books and the rest will follow.

madwomanintheattic Sat 06-Oct-12 15:58:09

<shrugs>
I don't really understand the question tbh. If you are reading to your child and letting him follow along, then if he has a particular aptitude (and your day includes stuff like noticing letters and symbols on the street) there's a pretty good chance he's just going to pick it up anyway.

Dd2 taught herself to read before she could talk (she was a late talker though), and ds1 taught himself to read way before school as well. The only one who didn't read traditionally before school was dd1, and she was the one who knew and recognized all her letters and sounds at 18mos. (Don't ask -I went away for the weekend on my own, and when I came back, dh and dd1 had a new party trick. She just recognized every letter at random, wherever they were, or would go and find them and point them out. Lord knows how (or why) he did it). But it didn't increase her rate of knowledge, and she just learned in yr r, having known all her letter sounds for three years.

It's completely normal for some kids to just notice letters and words in the world around them and match them with sounds, and then just transfer that to books, if they have open and frequent access. We didn't know dd2 could read until she learned to talk. I came home after a night out and mil told us dd2 had read the lion the witch and the wardrobe. We laughed at her.

You don't need to teach or show him anything. Just read him stories, and explore his world. The bloody Golden Arches were 'looooooook! It's m for mummy!' In excited 2 yo terms. Poor kid didn't know it was a burger store until she was 5.

totallynaive Sat 06-Oct-12 16:35:03

You're so right, Madwoman. It does make sense to me that some children, like your dd, can read before they can talk, which is why I thought I might help my ds along a bit while giving him some opportunities to enjoy the puzzle-solving aspects of reading - but if his brain is that way inclined he will just do it on his own.

I think part of the problem is that I'm a bit bored with the household chores and a bit overexcited about having this spongelike brain hanging round me all day. If I get on with the bloody housework chances are he'll have to learn to play independently for longer and develop more in the ways he wants to.

Fantail Sun 07-Oct-12 02:00:58

My DD is 19mos as well and also loves books and being read too. My Mum is a primary teacher who specialises in literacy, especially helping children who are struggling after their first year of schooling, so I get a lot of advice...

My Mum would say that comprehension and building a good vocab is just, if not more important than knowing letters and numbers. She gets children who don't know colours, don't know what a pig or sheep looks like. So even if they can decode the text, they don't know what they are reading about, so it is all pretty uninteresting and pointless to them.

I think that exposing your DS to lots of experiences rather than concentrating on letters and sounds is just as important. So perhaps a visit to the city farm and then a trip to the Library to find books about animals and farms and then some animals for him to play with while you make dinner?

madwomanintheattic Sun 07-Oct-12 02:03:59

He can help make dinner too... Obviously age appropriately, but there's a lot to be said for getting them involved with whatever you're doing, and chatting about it. <and just give him a duster to wave around. It won't be functional in the least, but kids love to 'clean'. Until they hit five and you actually want them to be functional...

AngelDog Sun 07-Oct-12 02:38:49

I agree with madwoman.

My DS knew all the letter names & sounds by 18 months, although his talk was fairly good (500+ words by 19 months, though sentences were quite a bit later to develop). He learnt them by playing with foam letters in the bath - he'd hold one up, grunt in his "what's this?" way and I'd tell him the name & sound.

Now he's 2.9 y.o. and can read basic sentences like "Wibbly Pig can dance. Can you dance?" by sounding them out, and has plenty of sight words too.

I actually don't read with him much (DH does more though he doesn't talk about letters, sounds etc) but we talk lots about words & letters when out & about - mostly road signs and signs on shops.

It definitely came from his interest rather than my 'teaching' though. For example, he was really into letter y, so we'd spend loads of time in shops reading words with y in. Then he wanted to know what road signs said.

Then we progressed to phonic rules e.g. he'd be trying to sound out the word 'drive' in a road name, and I'd explain about silent E making the I a long vowel sound rather than a short one. As he gets older, it gets easier as he can make it really clear which of the many random comments I've made he wants to keep talking about.

LucyBorgia Sun 07-Oct-12 04:13:19

Focus on developing a love of story, an anticipation of exploring good quality bedtime stories with you every night, sequencing, prediction and breadth of vocabulary. The party trick of reading at a preschool age is redundant if you have not fostered a genuine love for books.

UrbanSpaceMum Mon 08-Oct-12 21:29:25

Have your son help with the housework. Takes longer but he'll learn loads and it's less boring. Make yourself a list of all the skills he could learn, like how to crack an egg, how to spread tomato sauce and sprinkle cheese, what ingredients go into a cake, how to measure them out, hanging wet washing to dry, sorting the clean laundry to put away, folding it, setting the washing machine and the microwave, doing the shopping. There's loads of reading tasks to include, like following a recipe, choosing a bottle of wine that costs £4.99, reading road names on the way to places. He'll pick up the letters and numbers on the way.

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