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Reception/Early Years teachers-what's the best way for parents to begin teaching reading?

(34 Posts)
AntoinetteCosway Mon 17-Feb-14 15:49:52

DD is 2.5 and showing interest in letters. We have letter magnets on the fridge and she can pick out a few of the letters but not all-a, b, c, d, e, g, h, m, o. So far I've just told her the sounds of letters she's asked about and told her words that begin with those sounds. However, when she's playing with them she'll say 'mummy' when she points to the 'm' rather than actually saying 'm', and so on. If I say, 'show me a 'd' for dog or daddy' she'll point to it, but if I point to it and ask 'what letter is this?' she'll either say nothing at all, or say 'daddy'.

It's occurred to me that I'd like her to learn the alphabet and to read etc in the way that will be taught at school and pre-school so that she's not confused. I also don't want to teach her anything wrong. For instance I didn't learn phonics myself and am not totally clear on some of do you differentiate between k and c? And is x 'ex'?

What makes it easiest when children start learning this stuff at school? Is there a particular system that's best to use? She goes to nursery one day a week but they're not doing anything like this and looked at me a bit askance when I asked for their advice. She's in the toddler room and I think they thought I was a really pushy parent trying to get her reading ASAP. In reality I just want to encourage what she's interested in and do it in a way that won't make things more complicated later on!

Any advice gratefully received.

Sleepyhead33 Mon 17-Feb-14 16:01:42

A link to the sounds the children need to leanr in order to be able to blend, then read. Most schools follow a scheme 'based' on letters and sounds. They may introduce the sounds in a slightly different order. eg Jolly Phonics introduce 'SATPIN' first.
x is pronounced more like 'ks' Think about how you hear it in box.

TBh though, unless your daughter is extremely keen to get started I would just keep reading to her. That will develop her understanding and vocabulary and promote a real love of reading in a way that just learning to decode at 2 and a half won't.

Sleepyhead33 Mon 17-Feb-14 16:04:11

Sorry, I meant to say, this is probably of limited use as I am a y6 teacher. I am sure some early years experts will be along with better advice soon enough!

AntoinetteCosway Mon 17-Feb-14 16:07:30

Thanks for the link. She does love reading (or, you know, looking at the pictures!) and being read to but I don't think she associates that with the letters on the fridge, if you see what I mean!

teacherlikesapples Mon 17-Feb-14 16:08:58

The best activities are those that are play based, fun & interesting. Ideally they will develop her vocabulary & language ability,- so being read to (fiction & non-fiction books) sensory activities (messy play) outings, singing, rhyme.

Begin to use letter sounds instead of their name. Check that you are using the letter sounds correctly e.g mmmm instead of muh.

The cbeebies website has loads of alphablocks games & resources

Most schools use the Letters & sounds document

If you scroll through to page 10 of this, it gives you some fun play based activities & gives you some of the theory behind it. Don't be tempted to jump ahead to phase 2. Just repeat & adapt the activities in phase 1, even if she seems confident, this will help strongly consolidate her understanding.

AntoinetteCosway Mon 17-Feb-14 16:09:52

No, it is useful! I'm a secondary English teacher and have always been amazed by the concept of teaching something from a starting point of nothing. I really don't get how primary teachers do it! When I'm asked what a word means I can relate it to other words...I would be a rubbish primary teacher because I rely on that previous knowledge and understanding. So I don't want to mess up my own child before the primary teachers do their magic!

AntoinetteCosway Mon 17-Feb-14 16:10:44

Thanks teacher, I will have a look at those now.

BackforGood Mon 17-Feb-14 16:12:25

HAve to agree with Sleepyhead - the best thing you can so is read to her and read to her and read to her again. She will develop a love of reading (hopefully) and an understanding of how stories work, a knowledge of the world, a sense of rhythm and an ear for rhyme, an understanding of 'what a word is likely to say' when she sees an unknown word when reading later, she will be able to produce much better words and phrases when she is ready to be doing writing in different forms, and so on and so on and so on. Don't push a toddler into mechanical de-coding, but encourage their desire to read.

AntoinetteCosway Mon 17-Feb-14 16:14:46

Thanks. I think I'm coming across really badly here. I'm honestly not trying to push her into anything! She just likes playing with the letters and picking them out so I thought there might be a way to do that alongside all the reading we do anyway.

tiredbutnotweary Mon 17-Feb-14 17:38:37

Hi Antoinette

My daughter was showing a definite interest in letters and reading at around 2, however I was worried about being a pushy mum and held off buying magnetic letters until she was a couple of months off 3. I honestly wished I hadn't worried about it, she was interested and that's what mattered.

When I did get the magnetic letters I also got some info on jolly phonics and Letters and Sounds (Letters and Sounds is a free resource available on-line). I had always used letter sounds when she asked or pointed at letters so she didn't have the confusion you mention your daughter's having at the moment. She already knew some letter sounds but I then followed SATPIN (having only those magnets on the fridge) and then added the next lot once she was confident with the first 6. We only did it for a few minutes a day, sometimes more, sometimes not at all.

She blended her first word c/a/t before she was three but I kept it so low key that when she started school (at a few months over 4 years) she went onto red books (i.e. she was hardly a fluent reader).

At this point I assumed I'd be handing over reading to her school but was aghast that they were promoting guessing and had boxes full of look and say books, so I decided to accelerate her phonics learning at home so that she could decode these books and not have to engage in the look at the picture to guess the word I can't decode game.

I'm not saying this to ignite the how best to teach children to read debate. My point is that I've really enjoyed teaching my DD to read - we've read to her every night since she was 12 months but that's an entirely different enjoyment, albeit a critical one. She's a summer born 5 year old in year 1, she's on level 12 (the one after lime, after which, at many schools, children are free readers). She reads chapter books for pleasure and whilst she may always have been quick to pick up reading if I'd left it to the school I've really enjoyed teaching her myself.

I'd say go for it smile, make it as fun and relaxed as possible. Once she can blend words confidently then move onto giving her tiny simple sentences. Repetition is useful unless she's an incredibly fast learner. Once she's confident reading simple sentences she's ready for the simple books. This method of reading little sentences rather than straight onto books is the Read Write Inc method (they call them ditties) but you can get simple sentences from Letters and Sounds or just make up your own. I think this process really cements the idea that it's the letters and words that are the key to reading. I'd also recommend the jolly phonics flowers for the tricky words (you can get these on amazon but they are quite large). I also used the lists of 100 and then 200 high frequency words once she started school as these are helpful in reading the look and say books. DD still learnt all these words through blending.

Finally the Oxford Phonics Dictionary is quite useful and I think everyone who uses them recommends Dandelion Readers and also the Sounds-write programme

LadyRochford Mon 17-Feb-14 17:46:09

Do a search for phonics song on YouTube. DS (3) really likes them and they are helpful for you to check you are getting the sounds right.

ziggiestardust Mon 17-Feb-14 19:04:51

We've downloaded an app onto the iPad, for DS who's 3. It gives you three letters and gets you to trace all 3, then asks you to pick out one of them, so pick f out of a lineup of F, Z and K.

It also does phonics when they get progress a bit more.

It's good, and DS enjoys sitting on my lap and doing it.

ninah Mon 17-Feb-14 19:10:07

have a look at Phase One phonics activities, based on sound discrimination - eg 'Metal Mike' the robot segments sounds in words using his robot arms to sound them out
try and pronounce the sounds purely eg mmmm instead of muh rrrr instead of ruh (google Mr Thorne for online demos)

Willdoitinaminute Mon 17-Feb-14 22:56:53

I resisted the temptation to teach my son to read early despite his interest and did exactly as advised by previous posters. I had read a little about early readers learning to identify words but often being poor at comprehension later on. So he started from scratch in preschool with synthetic phonics. He was a little slow to start due to hearing loss(glue ear) but took off dramatically after having grommits fitted. He overtook many of the early readers in Yr 1 and is now the most advanced reader in his yr (yr4) He has amassed a fantastic vocabulary and uses complicated words in context.
He read to teacher or TA 4 days a week in KS1 and every night at home. We always rewarded reading at home by reading more complex chapter books to him for at least 30 mins every night. He now has a passion for reading and is good at sight reading with expression.
He loves words and will stop and ask for the meaning of a new word rather than just decoding it. He also learnt to read silently to himself early on which allows children to build up their speed.
I think that increasing their spoken vocabulary is far more important than teaching them to read. Decoding is so much easier when you are familiar with a word.

catkind Tue 18-Feb-14 00:13:51

Not in any way expert, but I have a DS in reception who's loving his reading, and DD who's nearly 2 who would like to join in.

Like your DD she's very interested in letters, and having a big brother we already have letters and phonics stuff around the place. It's become so much a habit to spell things out for DS that DD's naturally got caught in the crossfire and started picking up bits.

We did carefully wait for school to teach DS to read. There seemed little point really, once there they all set off at their own pace and did a lot of the learning at home anyway. I think that's inevitable, we read with him every day for as long as he wants, his teacher reads with him once a week and has quite limited time. So with DD I'm happy to just follow her lead.

Look on youtube for the jolly phonics songs ("a-a-ants on my arm" etc), that's how DS has been taught the letters at school, and he's taught some of the songs to DD now too. It also shows you how to sound out the letters in a phonics sort of way.

Both of mine have gone through a phase of seeing a d and saying "daddy", I think that's quite normal. Just keep using different words yourself and she'll get it.

As others say the main thing is to keep reading to them and enjoying stories and books. I think reading simple books as well as more exciting ones helps too. If you sometimes read books with 2-3 words on a page they have a chance to start making connections which they wouldn't with just reading the Gruffalo & co. We have some beginner phonics readers that DD has adopted as bedtime stories.

Just my experience tho!

columngollum Tue 18-Feb-14 07:41:48

Don't push children. When they're at the bottom of a hill in a buggy let natural inclination guide them up. The best thing to do is leave them in the and the pushchair at the bottom of the hill and sit in a cafe higher up.

All forms of parental teaching are wrong and children should learn what they can naturally or remain ignorant for life.

columngollum Tue 18-Feb-14 07:42:44

and the

Paintyfingers Tue 18-Feb-14 07:51:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

catkind Tue 18-Feb-14 08:34:24

Columngollum, made me grin. Not being a regular here I'm not quite sure if you're being sarky or using inspired choice of metaphors. If there was a cafe at the top of the hill DD would be there waiting for me demanding cake!

AntoinetteCosway Tue 18-Feb-14 09:23:11

Thanks for all the ideas and advice.

I could read at 2 (we lived abroad and my mother was determined I wasn't going to be behind!) and have always been a keen reader, hence interest in English and eventual career, so the idea of not encouraging this interest of DD's at all is alien to me but I take on board all points about vocab being more important than decoding etc.

noramum Tue 18-Feb-14 10:54:48

I also didn't teach DD formally. I actually didn't even teach her phonics, we taught her the letter names.

First - while I learned to read by phonics, it was far too long ago and at 2 I didn't even think so far ahead how DD would learn to read. Secondly the nursery taught songs like the ABC song and I just went with the flow there. Her pre-school teacher actually told me they weren't even allowed to teach reading, just letter names and letter recognition through games.

We had lots of fun and discovered that in England street signs and the number plate from cars are in a very convenient height for a toddler. The daily walk back from nursery stretch to nearly twice the time.

DD started therefore from scratch, had her basic phonics done in a matter of weeks and reads very fluently. Give them the time to just play.

Love of books and reading can be shared and should be shared anyway, listening to somebody reading is very important.

WooWooOwl Tue 18-Feb-14 11:25:17

I think it's useful to teach children the alphabet and letter names before they start school if they are interested.

When they get to school it will focus on phonics, and there are plenty of children at the school I work in who are coming along brilliantly with their ability to learn and blend sounds, but who can't identify capital letters or match them up to lower case letter at all. It's a problem when they start to do typing on computers, because they'd be able to type words without help if computers all had lower case letters on them, but they don't!

There is only so much time in a reception class for literacy, and the focus is very much on phonics and reading, and the other knowledge surrounding it doesn't get enough attention IMO.

At two, I'd leave formal phonics teaching for a while, especially when it's a given that they will have to sit through lessons teaching the individual sounds when they get to school.

Use picture books that have, for example, B, b, and a picture of a ball on one page. They are really useful, even though they can seem too young and basic for intelligent children who are advanced in their learning. Puzzles that match upper case and lower case letters are good too.

And don't forget numbers! Parents are so keen to get their children reading as if that's the only thing that matters in early education, but being able to, count, recognise numerals and know what each number represents is important too. There is no point in rushing ahead with reading when there are so many more basic skills that should be mastered first.

Paintyfingers Tue 18-Feb-14 11:26:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bigkidsdidit Wed 19-Feb-14 14:44:45

Ziggie what is the name of that app please?

columngollum Wed 19-Feb-14 14:52:01

I don't think counting to ten is all that hard to teach/learn. But more/less add/subtract is trickier. It can be done slowly, with imagination.

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