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Teaching to read with just books - will this take forever?

(8 Posts)
3birthdaybunnies Tue 10-Sep-13 18:08:35

Ds is VERY keen to read. He is one of the oldest in his year - nearly 4. I have been trying to teach him in a fairly relaxed way - pointing out letters when we encounter them. He now knows most of his single letter sounds- but still gets b, d, p and q confused. He is starting to read books. He can decode and blend most words on pink level, but I have to help him with harder words like 'down'. He will only cover the single sounds at nursery so the harder sounds I will need to help. I really don't feel confident doing this, I have listened to the girls read but they showed little enthusiasm/ inclination to read so their phonics teaching has generally been at the same level as their reading. Next year he will be in streamed Read Write Inc phonics groups. Just wondering whether reading with books alone is enough or whether I need to try to find a way to teach him if I don't want to spend the next year listening to oh no floppy . He is currently choosing to read 3 books a day

hmsvictoria Tue 10-Sep-13 18:12:25

I taught DD to read at 4 with just books, it's a doddle with an enthusiastic child.

educatingarti Tue 10-Sep-13 18:34:47

Wow - how great that your Ds is so enthusiastic about learning to read already.

Try shared reading - read books to him that are harder than he could manage alone but let him read occasional words that he can manage with his current knowledge. Let him choose his own books from the library/bookshelf (within reason - don't start on War and Peace!) and just enjoy them together. This is probably the most important single thing you can do.

You could look at other phonic reading books that are on the same level he can already manage (Songbirds Phonics? Read Write inc?). Many of the bargain books companies ( Red House and Book People) sell massively reduced sets of these.

Try some websites - there's lots out there for free with simple phonics activities for a 4 year old. I like Starfall if you don't mind the North American Accent. This might help you to start to tackle some of the more complex phoneme/grapheme correspondences.

Software: I like Nessy products and you can get their Hairy Phonics program for less than £20 as a download (and there are free bits to try on the website to see if it suits). here Again this may give you confidence to start to teach other graphemes using the structure of the program if you wanted to.

If you pm me an email address I will send you a copy of a booklet I have produced suggesting fun games and activities that parents can do to help children learn phonics and suggestions of websites that might be useful

Once he is more settled in at nursery they will (hopefully) realise that he knows most of the basic single letter/sound correspondences. If he is showing signs of getting bored/turned off by things being too easy then you could ask them if it would be possible for them to differentiate some activities at a more complex level for your DS and any others that are ready for it (but do it in a friendly, non-pushy way!!)

Think about contacting a local tutor with experience in teaching student through phonics. Before anyone shoots me, I'm not suggesting that a 4 year old has formal tutoring every week - but - if he is showing frustration at not being able to progress further and you are not sure how to help, you may find a tutor who is willing to offer you advice on what to do next and maybe just run a couple of sessions with you to show you the next phonic stages. I (as a tutor) would certainly be willing to do this as long as I was sure the parent wasn't pushing the child faster than they should be going. I'd probably want one session with your ds to assess where he was at and see if I though he was ready for more, but then I would be willing to work with the parent to guide them on how to do it!

Ferguson Tue 10-Sep-13 20:09:28

As a TA I found some children responded well to 'shared reading', where I would read, pointing to words as we went along, then pausing the finger on words the child already knows, so he can say it. That way, a child feels he is reading a more difficult book than he could manage on his own.

Make sure you yourself do know the correct phonics sounds, as if he picks up incorrect sounds (and some teachers are still using wrong, out-of-date sounds!) he will get confused.

He also might enjoy starting to BUILD words using the "SoundWorks" method; the kit is very expensive, but it's easy to make a simple version yourself. Mount largish printed individual letters on cards, with the letter "a" stuck in the middle of a larger card so there is space for other letters to be placed either side of the "a" to make CVC words. Ask him to add letters to make the word "c a t". Now ask him, what letter does he need to change to make "h a t". (Say the sounds slowly and clearly, to give him the best change of success, maybe emphasizing the one he needs to change.) Now ask, how would he change "h a t" into "h a m". Choose words that he will know, and that can be easily transformed into a different word by changing just the first or last letter. In due course, if that goes all right, make boards with other vowels for the middle sound. Obviously, only pursue this activity if he is happy to try it, and don't 'pressure' him. Depending on his pencil skills, later he could have a go at writing the words.

An excellent book to help with phonics, which can be used throughout primary school, is the Oxford Phonics Spelling Dictionary, £5.66 from Amazon, and you can see sample pages here:

3birthdaybunnies Tue 10-Sep-13 20:29:33

Thank you that is very encouraging. He only reads when he wants to at the moment but he is very enthusiastic. His teacher assessed him today and said he seemed really enthusiastic and was able to read and blend cvc words with her.

I am not sure whether they will differentiate, I think that most of the phonics they do is done in their circle time - although I am sure that they will help him with some sounds when they crop up. I don't want him to miss the basic sounds as his speech isn't totally clear - which is why I started him on letters as I know that has helped dd2 to speak more clearly. There is always one qualified teacher as well as TAs. They also have given him a reading record and some books (the ones he read this afternoon). We have at home songbirds and project X along with a few ort ones. I go them for dd2 who really struggled with the traditional non-phonetic reading scheme books.

It was/is such a struggle with the girls so it is nice that he wants to read (at the moment). I just feel a bit daunted that he is reading sentences already and still a year to go. He is so ready for school, in many ways I wish he was a month older. He is fantastic company, very funny and chatty, but I do worry that he will continually be bored - which is why we moved from one preschool setting to another this term. I will pm you edicatingarti for the websites. He loves computers/phone apps so maybe I need to think about setting an afternoon session a week aside for it. I realise that little and often is probably better, but once he gets onto the computer he doesn't want to do anything else, so I do try to do more physical /social/play things with him instead in the time between lunch and school run.

3birthdaybunnies Tue 10-Sep-13 20:40:30

Oh that sounds like a great idea Ferguson in the book which he had today there was a 'missing letter' task which he thought was hysterically funny. I think he would enjoy that.

His handwriting is not great yet, all of mine have really struggled with handwriting, but at least the girls writing is more legible than dh's! He does enjoy holding a pen and drawing pictures so I'm not really pushing him on that - although I realise that the disparity won't be so good in school as I think that they have to know letters and write them clearly as well as knowing the sounds to move up the levels.

educatingarti Tue 10-Sep-13 20:56:40

The games in my booklet might give a good alternative to the computer - also happy to forward it fir free ti anyone else who wants to pm me an email!

If you want to do computer/apps - what about setting a timer for say 20 mins and letting him do it "until the timer rings" - then follow this up with another fun but non-computer activity

The starfall site I linked to has printable things you can do as well.

3birthdaybunnies Tue 10-Sep-13 21:24:19

Booklet recieved, thank you, will download it to look at tomorrow. A good idea for the timer, he is scarily a child of his time. He can change the language on the apps and back again for the fun of it before I have a chance to ask our Polish neighbours how on earth to get it back, he could 'read' 'loading' on the phone before almost any other word, but then again his first spoken word, in context, was 'strum', so maybe he's just a bit quirky!

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