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How important is reading practice (year 1)

(20 Posts)
gastrognome Sat 07-Sep-13 14:29:06

My daughter has just started in year 1, having turned five in July. She began reading using a phonics based approach last year, and I am not sure how to rate her progress. We have a house full of books, and she has always loved listening to stories and hearing me read books to her, but is very reluctant to practice reading herself.

It is always difficult to get her to read her school reading books. She sighs, fidgets, looks out of the window, changes the subject and generally finds it very hard to concentrate on the story. I thought it might be because the books were boring (they are!) so we chose some other age appropriate reading books together and although she loves the idea of reading them, she doesn't seem able to concentrate hard enough to read more than a few words.

Is this normal for a five year old? I would love to find ways to encourage her to read without sounding preachy.

Her school don't seem worried about her progress, but as we live in a country where most kids don't learn till they are 6, I don't have much scope for comparison.


dingledongle Sat 07-Sep-13 14:49:37

My DS I'd exactly the same. He is read a story every night and really enjoys a range is stories (factual/fiction etc).

It is an uphill struggle to get him to read and the behaviour you describe with your DD is my DS too.

I have a pact with him to read and we persevere to read most days trying to encourage him that as he gets better he can read more interesting books(I agree the books are pretty boring!).

I know that does not help but I have tried to reason with DS, I have got cross. I have tried bribery too. Just take it each day and I explain that he needs to read most days as the teacher has asked me to get him too.

Sorry if that does does not help, but you are not alone!!!

Cheryzan Sat 07-Sep-13 14:57:22

I certainly regret all the stress and upset I caused by trying to get DD to read school books which she couldn't read.

So if the books are too hard for her (ie she can't read them) I most certainly don't recommend you pressuring her to read them.

And I would interpret all those avoidance tactics you list as symptoms of the book being too hard for her.

dingledongle Sat 07-Sep-13 15:05:21

I think you need to establish the cause of the avoidance. I can only say my DS avoids not because he cannot read but because he does not want to! I asked the teachers directly about his abilities and their experience of DS at school.

daftdame Sat 07-Sep-13 15:09:54

Sometimes you can make it more fun by taking it in turns to read dialogue etc. This is good as she can model your expression too.

There comes a time when you have to insist and play the 'What will your teacher say?' card with homework though, unless you are happy for them to do none.

dingledongle Sat 07-Sep-13 15:12:22

Agree with daftdame we do make our reading fun and talk around the story to try and make it more interesting.....

mrz Sat 07-Sep-13 15:16:48

Few five year olds have the skills and knowledge to be able to read completely independently and if they are presented with texts beyond their current level of ability will be reluctant.

cupcake78 Sat 07-Sep-13 15:28:29

My ds is like this. I try and get him to read the odd word in story's and as long as he's reading at school and can do it I try not to push him.

After school he's tired and gets very frustrated with reading homework!

PastSellByDate Sat 07-Sep-13 17:18:46

Hi gastronome:

Your DD sounds very similar to my DD1. She was slow to pick up reading (but frankly thinking back she has always been a bit slow to 'get' things and then out of the lbue she would just suddenly do it no problems).

My advice is this:

water on a stone - don't worry about whether she's doing any reading or not, but just make reading to your 5 year old part of the day to day norm. Trust that gradually week by week, she will get more involved.

little steps - try spotting some common words (often termed high frequency words - words like I, she, he, we, they, The End, etc...) - that appear over and over again in the story. Let your DD read these. We started off quite literally having DD2 join in reading with DD1 by saying 'I' whenever it appeared and 'The End'. She was very excited to 'be reading' and it meant everyone got a turn.

I'm not clear whether you are learning to read in another language or in English (because you say you're in 'another country) - but if this is about reading in English consider looking into something like jolly phonics (there are some lovely workbooks that are very relaxed and more like colouring books - which help teach sounds) and alphablocks (link here:

I fear I do agree with your DD's school - 5 is very young and I would also see this more as a 1 - 2 year project (possibly longer if this doesn't come naturally), then that she is somehow behind. Remember that in other countries kindergarten (reception) isn't until the year they turn 6 with 1st grade (Year 1) the year they turn 7. So the 'English' system is starting very young and in terms of end results at 18 doesn't seem to benefit hugely from the enormous rush to get young children into formal education.

I would be pleased she loves books and enjoys being read to. Also don't underestimate the importance of hearing books read to you. It's also building important language skills. This is complicated old stuff and each child learns in their own way and at their own speed.

My advice having really battled with DD1 (who really struggled with reading until Y4) is see this as a marathon and not a sprint. There's no pressing need to have her fluently reading by Christmas, but more realistically I'd set an achievable target (and talk to the teacher for advice on this) along the lines of by the end of this school year I'd like her to be able to attempt to sound out words and be able to read most 1 syllable words like c-a-t or h-o-t.


PastSellByDate Sat 07-Sep-13 17:23:27

Oops forgot to add

Absolutely sympathise with school books being 'boring'. My advice is try to mix it up again. Most schools don't mind if you don't read the guided reading books - as long as you're reading.

If you haven't already consider joining a library or look into e-books. Oxford Owl has lots (for free) and good advice on supporting early readers:

They also have a maths site for early years/ infants as well: - which also may be of interest.


gastrognome Sat 07-Sep-13 17:30:31

Thank you everybody.

I am glad to hear we are not alone! I might just pull back a bit and read the books with her, and let her join in when she can. I certainly don't want to push her harder than she can go, as she hates having to "persevere" at things if she feels they are a chore. Of course I don't want to mollycoddle her either, but it is a fine line and hopefully we will find the right balance.
She does have a very visual memory and sometimes seems to be relying on her memory of the words rather than sounding them out, if that makes sense. She will sound something out beautifully but then make wild guesses at what the word actually is, usually based on the accompanying picture.

PastSellbyDate thanks for your post - she is going to a British school with English national curriculum. (She is bilingual Eng-French though)
My close friends with children of the same age are following the local system and therefore haven't started reading yet, so I don't have anyone to chat about this to in my circle of friends. I sometimes wonder whether DD would have adapted better to the local system but its too late to change now!

gastrognome Sat 07-Sep-13 17:31:57

Thanks for the links! Will check them all out.

PastSellByDate Sat 07-Sep-13 17:45:58

Hi Gastrognome:

What you describe - visual memory (memorising favourite books) and guessing text by picture are absolutely normal. Both DDs were adept at this and loved to read to me from well memorised favourite books. Indeed I think I could recite the Gruffalo entirely with DD1 in Y6 and DD2 in Y4, it was read so often when they were younger.

When they had a session of learning to read (introduced for DD2 - sadly not offered for DD1) - we found out this kind of 'decoding' skill is essential in pre-readers.

Oxford Owl has lots of advice on how to help/ encourage reading - and I think that's a good place to start.

It sounds like you have a very sensible approach - you don't want to do all the reading for her and respect that ultimately she will need to do it. As ever, how you get between now and that halcyon day when she's free reading seems a huge mountain to climb. But Rome wasn't built in a day - as they say.

She's only just turned 5 and is very young. It sounds like she's making a good start and right now keeping her positive about reading may be more important than making huge leaps and bounds of progress.


gastrognome Sat 07-Sep-13 18:00:18

Thank you so much. Am feeling a lot more relaxed now. Will investigate Oxford Owl smile

JugglingChaotically Sat 07-Sep-13 18:13:23

had the same thing with DD3. I read the books and she read some words. We took it in turns ( well 1 word from DD to a page from me!) Lots of chatting re pictures when getting bored. Gradually she read more and more and now reads pages at a time.
It's hard for them to concentrate. Don't worry, it just takes time!

Swimmingwithsharks Mon 09-Sep-13 21:59:52

Gastrognome, it's fine if she seems to be memorising some words. That is part of learning to read too. At this age reading abilities vary enormously. Once she works out how much fun it is to read for herself, this conversation will be a distant memory. But I agree just continue to read every night with her, occasionally asking her to read a little. It could be the last sentence on every page, then the first and last and then each alternate page. Don't get discouraged. Whatever, don't let her get stressed over it. Have every faith that she will eventually start reading independently with your consistent support.

avolt Tue 10-Sep-13 14:14:55

We overcame a similar hurdle by taking turns to read a page. We quite often did it at bedtime where there weren't any other distractions.

manchestermummy Tue 10-Sep-13 15:26:53

avolt we do this too. DD1 was able but reluctant, but somehow doing this together has really helped.

TeenAndTween Tue 10-Sep-13 20:29:06

We found reading before school was better as DD wasn't tired then.

nancy75 Tue 10-Sep-13 20:38:31

I was going to suggest the same as avolt.
I would read a paragraph then get dd to read a line and so on.
Start off with just a few words from your dd and most of the page from you, gradually get your dd to increase how much she is reading.
Stop often and chat about the story, explain any new words, talk about what might happen next.
Try also to makevthe whole thing ofvreading nice for your dd. Strange As this sounds I found that my dd loved reading in bed, we both get in my bed, snuggle up together and dd reads to me. It has become a nice time for just us to spend together and gets dd reading at the same time.

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