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How soon can you start teaching a child to read?

(93 Posts)
50shadesofbrown Sat 20-Apr-13 21:17:24

My DD is just about to turn 1 (yes I know it is too soon yet). My Dsis tells me that her DD can recognise several letters & asked for flashcards for her 2nd birthday in 2 months.
My DD has been making specific sounds (isit - what is it, agah - all gone) since 8 months, & has said 'book' a couple of times, but nothing else yet. Without wanting to sound (or become) a pushy mum, what can I do & roughly when, to encourage her verbal development?

noramum Sat 20-Apr-13 21:27:01

Forget flash cards.

Buy proper books and read stories, sing songs together, speak to her in normal language and give her time to talk back.

Yes, I am sure some children can learn to recognise words when parents use flash cards. But flash cards are about recognising a shape not about sounding out letter and making a word. Most children will struggle to recognise the same word when it is written in a different font or handwritten.

CalicoRose Sat 20-Apr-13 21:33:07

This learn to read program with Perceptual Reading is for children aged 6 months to 36 months

So 1 is certainly not too young grin

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sat 20-Apr-13 21:37:24

Ds was 1 and 2 weeks when he started to recognise and say letters. A friend bought him a toy bus (the ones with the letters on the side, numbers on the top and shapes. Press the button and it says the sound, change the settings and it asks you to find a letter). He could read books at 3 and a half (Mr Men) as it clicked IYKWIM. He is a very bright boy and quick at picking things up but having a child like this isn't a bed of roses.

namechangea Sat 20-Apr-13 21:39:29

My kids are thick as f**k obviously.

cory Sat 20-Apr-13 21:44:22

It won't matter in the long run whether your dd learned to read at 2 or at 6. What will matter is that she has learned to enjoy talking to you, learned to enjoy a good story, learned to take interest in the world around her, learned that questions are there to be answered and that the world becomes more interesting if you ask questions. Those are the foundations to build her future reading on, not the ability to recognise a certain shape by a certain age.

AbbyR1973 Sat 20-Apr-13 21:50:27

What noramum said.

You can't teach a child to read until they are ready and that will be a different age for every child. Some children might start letter recognition very early at say 2 years, other perfectly normal children may not reach that stage until 5. They need to have certain developmental skills before learning to read such as pattern recognition.
Flash cards are generally not the preferred method of teaching reading by schools.
I think the most important getting ready to read activity you can do at any age is to read to them and share books with them.

looseleaf Sat 20-Apr-13 21:53:12

I bought a fantastic book called Teach your Baby to Read: the Gentle Revolution . Strongly recommend it though we're only on day 3 of trying as DS loves it and we run out of things to interest him so it helps. He's 21months and has been interested in words for some time and recognises many but now learns a new one in seconds. He loves it and especially any challenge so will recognise 2 word phrases like 'no diving'.

I always felt children can be pushed a bit early here and this is the last book I would have bought but I read the reviews in it and am quite convinced by its argument that the brain learns brilliantly well v early and think DD (6) would have responded well to this too.

Namechangea I don't know how old your kids are but bet they're super bright! Our dd just wasn't as interested as DS / was interested in more normal things so it wouldn't have occurred to me to start so young.

50shadesofbrown Sat 20-Apr-13 21:53:26

Really helpful, thanks to all who replied. I feel less guilty now for not trying to 'teach' her, will carry on with the reading stories etc.

exoticfruits Sat 20-Apr-13 22:08:36

Noramum said it all. Join the library and have fun.

ReallyTired Sat 20-Apr-13 22:17:23


It is pushy parenting gone mad to teach a one year old how to read.

Whole world methods can do long term damage to a child. It is better to teach a child to decode using phonics. There is a risk that a child who is taught by whole word flash cards will not develop decoding skills. (This is less of a risk in the type of child who teaches themselve to read without parental pushiness.)

A one year old is not ready to learn to read. A child needs to aquire language before they can learn to read and COMPREND. It might be possible to teach a two year old to bark at print with flash card but understanding a story is a different thing. It is better for long term development to get your child to have a wide range of experiences. Go to the park, the shops, feed the ducks, go for walks, read to them and talk and talk and talk even more!

I think the best age to start teaching reading is when the child can talk in good sentences and concentrate for about 10 minutes on a puzzle or drawing or toy. In my experience my children have picked up reading very quickly when taught using jolly phonics at four years old.

If you really want to hot house your child then its more effective to work on fine motor control than reading.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sat 20-Apr-13 22:19:52

It's far better to teach a 1 year old how to play. I didn't set out to teach mine; the bus did it all! 'Toys' like this are a nightmare.

exoticfruits Sat 20-Apr-13 22:20:12

It isn't a race! One of my DSs was a very early reader, one was very late and one somewhere between - no one can tell which was which (and no one cares).

nicky2512 Sat 20-Apr-13 22:22:38

My two both great readers

nicky2512 Sat 20-Apr-13 22:24:03

Sorry posted too quick! Was going to say prob because we all read lots together and enjoyed books, not because of actively trying to teach them.

FunnysInLaJardin Sat 20-Apr-13 22:24:37

DS2 is 3 and can't read. DS1 is 7 and is really getting it now. He love to read everything to the extent that we have to say OK DS1 STOP reading everything.

gwenniebee Sat 20-Apr-13 22:27:25

As a primary teacher, I think you do best just to continue enjoying books with your child. If she is interested in "proper reading" she will begin to pick it up when she is ready. I suppose if you wanted to you could point at the words when you are reading so she knows that is where you are looking.

LapinDeBois Sat 20-Apr-13 22:31:36

As a parent of a very early reading child, I would say be led by your daughter. I never planned to teach DS to read, but TBH I couldn't have stopped him if I tried - I basically 'taught' him by just answering his questions and allowing him to pursue his interests. He's now in Reception and exceedingly bright/ahead for his age in literacy and numeracy. My second son (aged 2.5) is very different - although he does know his letters (largely because his older brother insists on drilling him frequently grin) he has nothing like the intensity of focus that DS1 had. I'm following exactly the same 'philosophy' with him - yes, making sure we read lots of stories together, which he loves, but otherwise letting him follow his own interests (which are almost exclusively jigsaw related). I have no intention of pushing him to learn to read before school unless he shows an interest.

chickensaladagain Sat 20-Apr-13 22:32:21

Both my 2 were early readers -before their 3rd birthdays

I never did flash cards, vocab sheets, jolly phonics -nothing
Although people assumed I must have been a pushy mum

We just shared stories, talked about things in the supermarket like can you see the milk? type questions and we sing constantly well I do, they are now at the stage where they find me particularly embarrassing and they figured it out

Preschool children are like sponges but they learn what they want to learn and sitting them down with flash cards is really not in their interest

50shadesofbrown Sat 20-Apr-13 22:38:59

I did suspect my Dsis was being a bit previous with the flashcards. I think I am generally of the opinion that reading to DD is less pressure & suits my slightly lazy style. DH & I don't thrive on pressure so I suspect she may be the same.
namechangea - FWIW my DD will be 1 in a couple of weeks & despite months of trying, is only just figuring out how to put food in her own mouth. All kids have strengths & weaker areas.

LapinDeBois Sat 20-Apr-13 22:42:49

(Incidentally, the early signs that DS1 wanted to learn to read were that he started asking what letters and numbers signified, and constantly asking things like 'where on the page does it say 'gruffalo' or 'tiddler'?' or whatever, when I was reading to him. From then he would endlessly ask us to 'play letters' with him, eg wanting us to give him simple words to read. If you do want to respond to an interest in literacy, it doesn't have to be all about flashcards - I'm convinced that general wordplay is also really helpful in developing language. So we've always done lots of silly rhyming games, and played lots of I-Spy. I also think (based on zero actual knowledge, so sorry if I'm wrong!!) that there's no harm in exposing children to language that's too hard for them. With both my boys I've read them lots of fairly grown-up poetry, and stuff like Edward Lear and Dr Seuss from a very young age, and I think it gives them a feel for the general shape and cadences of language. They always ask for more of it, anyway, so they clearly like it!)

LapinDeBois Sat 20-Apr-13 22:47:30

chickensalad I feel your pain on the pushy mum front. Only last week I had a mum at school come and ask me about my 'system' because she wanted to 'work on' her 3 year old to get him reading. My friends know that DS is just DS, and that I don't lock him up and make him do phonics for hours he does that himself, but I suspect some of the mums who don't know me so well probably think I'm a right pain. When DS started school I found myself apologising to the teacher because he could read so well - luckily she's absolutely brilliant and told me not to be an idiot.

Lonecatwithkitten Sat 20-Apr-13 22:50:48

Remember it's a marathon not a sprint. DD joined a reception class with a large number of gifted children who had been reading since they were 2.5 years only able to recognise her own name. 5 years later she is the only child in the class who willingly reads for pleasure and who is beyond the reading age assessment scheme.
I just read to her lots and lots with voices particularly in books like Grandma Chickenlegs. I still read to her now as we just love discovering a story together. I feel the most important thing is to foster a joy in stories.

Allthatglitters789 Sat 20-Apr-13 22:58:06

I have only just started by following words with my finger when reading ds1 a story he's 4 in July and the only word he recognises is his own name hmm I'm not pushing him as he will learn in his own time but I think one is much too young for that.

BackforGood Sat 20-Apr-13 23:10:48

What Cory said.
Read to them
Talk to them
Listen to them
Explain things when you are out and about
Point things out when you are out and about
Share books with them
Let them hear rhyme - in books and in songs and nursery rhymes.

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