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Why on earth shouldn't you teach reading if you jolly well feel like it?

(244 Posts)
learnandsay Fri 01-Mar-13 09:53:07

Is it really all that bad?

Olgathebrickshed Fri 01-Mar-13 09:54:54

Who says it's bad?

I taught one of mind to read long before he started school. It wasn't a problem from any point of view. He wanted to learn; I taught him. School gave him plenty of extra stuff to do once he started. My others weren't interested, so I didn't push them.

fanoftheinvisibleman Fri 01-Mar-13 09:55:34

I personally feel it is more important whether your child feels like it. If they do then great, crack on. If not I think you risk putting them iff before they are ready.

VinegarDrinker Fri 01-Mar-13 10:04:10

I can't see how you can stop them learning if they want to, even if there was any good reason!

My DS is only just 2 but has been fascinated by letters for a couple of months (with colours then numbers then shapes before that). He constantly asks "what that says?" And "what that letter?" so as a consequence now knows most of the alphabet phonetically and recognises a few common words. I would be surprised if he isn't reading before reception.

What's the alternative? Lying to him? Refusing to answer his questions? Trying to distract him with something inane?

You may as well say don't teach them numbers, or shapes, or how to walk or talk.

learnandsay Fri 01-Mar-13 10:04:40

I'm not sure what happens in most houses around the country, but the ones that I'm familiar with tend to have alphabetical fridge magnets and the children learn to read their names, possibly mummy and daddy and maybe cat and dog with varying degrees of reliability. It doesn't seem particularly geared towards teaching them to read as such but just a natural extension of what can be done with fridge magnets and a child who shows an interest.

fanoftheinvisibleman Fri 01-Mar-13 10:18:58

I'm referring to the more formal approach of sitting down with reading books.

I can only use my own ds as on example. He hated reading with a passion but always loved books. He could recognise words like his name and words he saw often but really, that is merely shape recognition. He didn't know WHY that combination of letters made that word so itwasn't reading as such.

All through reception he got upset over reading. Thankfully his teacher was happy to go along with my attitude, which is basically that no 5year old needs to read as a life skill at that age. I felt it wasn't worth the upset and he finished the year still on ort 1.

He is now in year 2 and enjoys reading. He is on Ort 11 (lime) and doing really well. Trying to force the formal wnd of reading at 5 could have had the opposite result.

AMumInScotland Fri 01-Mar-13 10:26:35

I think there's a big difference between the kind of things you list as "normal" - of course children see their name, and letters, and learn about them because they are little sponges who learn all the time - and "teaching a child to read".

Some parents go out of their way to teach their child, buying or borrowing reading scheme books, and taking them through an organised system of teaching, with a definite plan of having them able to read within a short space of time. We've had them on here from time to time, grumbling about how their child is on X level at home and only Y level at school, or desperate to know just exactly how the levels in ORT compare with "Janet & John" or whatever they have picked.

That can lead to a very confused child, who starts school partway through one reading scheme and then has to start to make sense of a completely different way of working.

seeker Fri 01-Mar-13 10:27:26

Who says you shouldn't?

VinegarDrinker Fri 01-Mar-13 10:28:04

Yes I absolutely agree re forcing anything (I am a "free range education"/learning through play fan) but equally it irritates me when people assume we must be some kind of crazy pushy parents just because of following what DS is interested in.

learnandsay Fri 01-Mar-13 10:29:17

Very interesting, fanoftheinvis. It would be nice to know how many other teachers are as relaxed. But such an approach could conceivably have gone the other way too.

With my daughter I carried on from the fridge magnets to writing things down on paper. I suppose you could say that even that was shape recognition too. In the end she could read Dr Seuss and Little Bear books in nursery. But she only started sounding words out a few months before she started school.

learnandsay Fri 01-Mar-13 10:31:42

There are people in the nearby thread about teaching a three year old who are advising against it. I promised to debate the issue separately.

betterwhenthesunshines Fri 01-Mar-13 10:53:29

I think the advice against it is not about refusing your child information if they are keen and interested. But 3 is very early and some children will simply not be ready at that age. So to set out to 'teach them to read' could do more harm than good and lead to a lot of stress and heartache.

I know your DD took to it like a duck to water learnandsay . So did my son - he seemed to just learn by osmosis. We read stories, rhymes etc and although I didn't ever 'teach' him he just progressed and was and still is a very competent and extremely fast reader. He read a 320 page book yesterday evening, he's 11. And no, he doesn't skip bits. We still often read together and he takes in everything he's read and has an extensive vocabulary etc

But not all children are the same; I did all the same things with my daughter but for her, reading has been a huge struggle. I have done an enormous amount at home with her, and recently it is really starting to pay off, she is now 8. But the time has to be right and there is no need for a child to be able to read before they start school.

fanoftheinvisibleman Fri 01-Mar-13 10:58:29

It could havr taken longer to get to the same level as he is he would have got there is my point. If you walk into any GCSE class today I would impressed if you could look in their books and tell my which children were acomplished readers at infants and who weren't. The vast majority of children reach an age where they catch up and it no longer matters.

And I agree, we had a very special teacher. She told me (having checked over her shoulder first!) that she would rather 5 year olds have a great range of interests and improving social skills than any grip on academic results. I loved her, and told her in a card that both ds and I couldn't have wished for a better person to introduce us to schooling. I could tear up thinking about it! blush

fanoftheinvisibleman Fri 01-Mar-13 11:00:31

Oh but also, please don't misundrstand me...I am not against teaching children to read early. I just think it depends on the child and you shoyld be led by them. smile

learnandsay Fri 01-Mar-13 11:04:48

No, true, if the seven year olds are all reading Goodnight, Mr Tom in a group then you can't tell who started reading at three and who started at six. But if one is reading Winston Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples and the other is reading the Beano then you've got a good chance of guessing.

seeker Fri 01-Mar-13 11:10:52

Well, if the 7 year olds are all reading Goodnight Mr Tom then they shouldn't be. Wildly unsuitable, and wasted on children that age.

RaisinBoys Fri 01-Mar-13 11:19:19

There are people in the nearby thread about teaching a three year old who are advising against it. I promised to debate the issue separately.

I was on that thread earlier learnandsay and I didn't see anyone advising against.

They were saying that not all children are the same and reading will come for different children at different times. If you want to bombard your child with flash cards, letter games and phonics at 3, then great. Go for your life. You can impart a love of books and reading long before the mechanics of decoding.

"Winston Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples"!!! Give me the Beano reading 7 year old any day.

learnandsay Fri 01-Mar-13 11:24:56

There are a couple (or three in there, honest!) But then some people are just "against it." It doesn't much matter what the it happens to be.

ReallyTired Fri 01-Mar-13 11:33:30


Can you give us a link to the thread in question.

People's views on reading vary dramatically. Some have a steiner point of view and think that reading should be left until seven. I worry more about neglectful kids who do nothing with their children than those who want to teach reading.

Personally I think that three or four years old is a good age to start reading instruction. Children find it easier to learn new language or phomone sounds at three or four than they do at seven. The only problem with a three year old is that they have the concentration of a gnat. Having the concentration of a gnat is less of an issue with teaching reading at home than it is at school. In the home environment you have one to one where as school you may have 30 children to one teacher and a TA.

There are people who believe that all small children have perfect pitch, but virtually everyone loses their perfect pitch as they get older. I feel there is a lot to be said for taking advantage of the period when children have outstanding auditory perception.

claraschu Fri 01-Mar-13 11:37:52

I think it can give children a real advantage if they learn to read early PROVIDED that they were eager to learn. They feel more confident and see themselves as good readers, and in my experience that does have long term benefits.

Also, if parents have lots of fun teaching / helping kids when they are young, learning to read becomes a cosy, delightful, exciting activity, as opposed to the chore of having to spend 10 minutes on a (possibly boring) school reading scheme book (when you are tired and fed up already). Of course this isn't true for everyone, and loads of kids who learn at school love to read.

I guess I just enjoyed choosing my favourite books and doing things my own way. It was so much fun. I also loved not being involved with the different levels and colours of reading books, which seemed to turn reading into a job, or something to be evaluated, instead of just pure entertainment.

learnandsay Fri 01-Mar-13 11:38:54

seeker Fri 01-Mar-13 11:43:45

It seems quite obvious from that thread that the desire to read is coming from the mother not the child.

So no, under those circumstances,you shouldn't teach your child to read. Read to your child, read in front of your child, point words out to your child- but not teach to read.

DeWe Fri 01-Mar-13 11:50:35

My children all started to read when very young, they were aged about 20-22 months when they started.
All of them asked and I never made them sit down and do it, it was a game they asked to play just as anything else they played with.

There's a big advantage to them learning to read early. The early stage readers are actually interesting to a 2yo. To a 5yo they're dead boring. But to the 2yo the fact that Jane Loves Peter; Peter loves Jane, and they both love the dog (or whatever) does end up with lots of excitement from them.

I don't think it does set them up as brilliant readers above the rest of the class for all their school days, and it's not meant to. What it does is teach them at their level, when they want to, and you, as a parent can make it so much more individual-ds's first words he could read included "Concorde" and "Sonic boom". I would say they've probably settled down into roughly their natural space in the class round about year 2, from what I've seen.

I did teach them whole word recognition, but they all picked up phonics without any difficulties when that became relevant. No school has had an issue with them reading.

And my brother learnt to read (and write) before he could properly speak, because he had a speech problem. So he would write what he wanted to say, age 3yo.

motherinferior Fri 01-Mar-13 11:52:51

I said I wouldn't bother at that age and I stand by it.

I speak as someone who considers reading the most primal pleasure going. I have two English degrees. I write for a living. I still don't see a lot of point in fretting over teaching three year olds.

teta Fri 01-Mar-13 11:53:26

I do think if children are ready and interested by all means start reading .I could read before i went to school[but i remember being utterly bored in the first year of school sitting through the alphabet and letters].None of my dc's were ready until 5/6 years.I was taught using word recognition [as was my eldest,by me-overseas international school -no phonics programme].My other 3 have been taught by a set phonics system which seems to me to be a much better way of teaching[for the vast majority of kids].Schools test phonics knowledge in year 1 [government test].So it makes sense to read about how to teach this particular method before hand.I do agree there is a window of learning with each child that you shouldn't miss,plus i also think that you shouldn't rely on schools to make learning fun[because they often don't].

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