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teaching my DD to read

(23 Posts)
sproutpudding Fri 02-Jan-15 20:31:16

Hello, lovely ladies of Mumsnet! Happy new year. I'd really appreciate your advice. My DD (aged nearly 5) is keen to learn to read and I'd like to teach her, but I'm not sure how to go about it or even if it's a good idea. I'm not even sure if this is the best thread on which to post about it?

We don't live in the UK and DD wouldn't learn to read in English at school but in the local language: it's European so uses the same alphabet if that's the right word but the vowels and some of the consonants are pronounced differently. And she'll have to wait another 18 months before she'll be taught to read at school (but not in English of course).

So: would it be confusing or in any way a bad thing if I taught her to read in English? If it's not, how could I do it? Are there any good how-to books for parents, or do we just plunge in with 'This is Peter' sort of thing? She loves books and we have plenty, but should I use a reading scheme to help her learn some basic words? If a reading scheme is a good idea, what would you recommend?

Sorry for so many questions! Any advice gratefully received. smile

Ferguson Fri 02-Jan-15 22:28:42

Hi - sorry, I'm not a lovely lady, but a retired man, but I WAS a Teaching Assistant and voluntary helper in primary schools for twenty-five years.

I am not really qualified to say if DD should learn to read English, but could she not learn to read in your local language? Does she speak and understand English?

Of course, a lot of TV, music and movies are in English (or American English) in countries all over the world, so most people can hear English, even if they do not 'learn' it at school.

In UK schools now, reading in taught by "Synthetic Phonics", and there are web sites, books, and (I would guess) CDs or DVDs about it.

If you can explain to me why you want her to learn in English, and not her 'natural' language, I will come back sometime and see if I can advise what books etc might help.

titchy Fri 02-Jan-15 22:52:44

Presumably OP is English and they speak it at home..

maizieD Sat 03-Jan-15 00:41:06

If you do decide to teach her to read do it with phonics. It is pretty straightforward. This site will give you lots of free information and has a very good, inexpensive, programme to download.

Chances are that in her 2nd language she will be taught to read with phonics. Having already learned to read English with phonics she will understand the idea of sounds being represented by letters and, being familiar with the spoken language, she shouldn't have much of a problem.

I'm sure that other mumsnetters abroad have taught their children to read English. Hopefully they may be able to give you some advice.

sproutpudding Sat 03-Jan-15 08:23:58

Hello and thank you for your replies.

Ferguson, please forgive me for calling everyone a lovely lady. blush Titchy is right, my DD is bilingual, in fact her English is a lot better than her other language. She doesn't need to learn it, she's just interested in learning to read. There seems to be a lot of material out there and I am not sure where to start nor even if it is advisable to start.

maizieD, thank you so much for that link, it looks really helpful. How interesting that learning phonics might help her with her other language (I was a bit anxious that if I taught her to read in English she might be confused later).

HalfSpamHalfBrisket Sat 03-Jan-15 08:27:37

Have a look at the 'teach your monster to read' website, its good for fun, basic phonics.

BMO Sat 03-Jan-15 08:30:14

My son has learnt the basics very quickly with Jolly Phonics at school.

vikinglys Sat 03-Jan-15 09:08:56

I'm in a similar situation to you. My oldest was interested in reading and I used read write inc materials with her to do the basics before she started school. Using her english phonic knowledge and her knowledge of the community language (which is her stronger language but not by much) she had figured out reading in the lokal language too. She reads well in both languages. However, english lessons at school have been pretty disasterous for her english phonics so we are now going through things again with spelling in mind this time using schofield and sims workbooks.

Number 2 pretty much taught herself to read but given my experience with Number 1 we are also working on phonics for reading unfamiliar words and spelling. Again read write inc and schofield and sims stuff.

MMmomKK Sun 04-Jan-15 11:13:35

I taught both DD to read before they started school. As I didn't grow up with English, and my language is purely phonetic, I had to research how it is done in a language, where same sound could be represented by different letters. If you take a bit of time and read up on the current approach to phonics - it's not difficult at all. And it does help with reading in other languages. DD1 has also starts reading in her second language, that has a different alphabet. DD2 is still only in R, so will start a bit later with the reading in the other language.

Basically, to start to read, the kids need to know the letters. Important, that those are learned not by their "names", but by sounds. A is not "ai", but the sound "a" in "apple". And so on.

Then come important skills like "blending" - i.e. hearing that c-a-t sounds together make "cat". "Segmenting" is the opposite of that. When DDs were learning that we played a lot with "Metal Mike" - a shoe-box robot that spoke phonetically. I found it in the Letters and Sounds guide.

I found Letters and Sounds publication quite useful in describing activities to develop those skills. Just google it - it is done as a guidance to the UK teachers by the Dept. Of Education, if I am not mistaken. The site below is not the actual publication, but can be helpful with suggestions.

As far as the reading schemes, after seeing a lot of them, I now prefer Jelly and Bean, in combination with Dandelion Launchers/Readers. They have nice books and well structured to follow phonics learning progression.

Good luck!

MMmomKK Sun 04-Jan-15 13:10:05

Also - Songbirds by J Donaldson are good books for early reading practice. And great pictures. We really liked this one - has 12 little books in one.

ReallyTired Sun 04-Jan-15 15:06:13

Jolly phonics is ideal for five year olds. My daughter loved the jolly phonics activity books with stickers. We also used the finger phonics books and the jolly songs CD to learn the letter sounds.

It is best to start of with decodable books. Jelly and bean books are really good

My daughter's school used dandeloin readers and songbirds to start with

There are some free ebooks on however not all the titles are decodable.

QuiteQuietly Sun 04-Jan-15 15:34:39

Unit 1 of Dandelion Launchers is free on itunes. The other units are about £4 each - each unit is about 4 books I think (not through them all so far).

sproutpudding Sun 04-Jan-15 19:02:33

Goodness, thank you all so very much for all those resources - that's plenty to be getting on with. Also, I feel a bit less daunted by it all now. Somehow in my mind 'phonics' equated with 'complicated scientific approach which if administered incorrectly will make your child hate reading for the rest of its life'. But phonics with stickers! Stickers are like crack for my DD! And while I haven't followed up any of the links in depth yet, the Jelly and Bean books do look nice too and we're already Julia Donaldson fans.

So thank you all!

Mashabell Mon 05-Jan-15 06:51:54

would it be confusing or in any way a bad thing if I taught her to read in English?
Bad thing - no. How confusing depends on the child. Some take to being bilingual far more easily than others.

If it's not, how could I do it? Are there any good how-to books for parents, or do we just plunge in with 'This is Peter' sort of thing? She loves books and we have plenty, but should I use a reading scheme to help her learn some basic words? If a reading scheme is a good idea, what would you recommend?

This too depends on the child. Many children have learned, and continue to learn, to read largely by themselves, especially if they know lots of nursery rhymes and then start to link the words in their head to those on the page.

She'll be learning to read her other language entirely with phonics, but because English spelling is phonically irregular, with identical letters quite often having more than one sound (e.g. o in on, only, once, other) a large part of learning to read English is not really phonic at all. - It's learning to recognise tricky words like 'one, two, to' as wholes.

Phonics, in the sense of learning the main sounds for English letters and combinations like ch, sh, ai is the easy part, and bright children who are keen on learning to read learn that very easily.

Before buying any phonics courses, try some of the free online stuff first.

ReallyTired Mon 05-Jan-15 08:44:37

Marsha, phonics is the best method for most children. It's certainly a good starting point. There are more children who struggle with starting with mixed methods than phonics. Anyway a beginner has to start somewhere. No one expects a five year old read complex words in the first term of reception.

Maybe an accomplished reader uses a range of strageries, but methods like guessing un familiar words from context can wait. You don't teach a beginner swimmer butterfly stroke even if one day they may need to master butterfly stroke to swim competitively.

I forgot another free site. is good.

I found jolly phonics good value for money. Children like attractive and colourful resources. I think you need to remember the cost of printer ink with printing free resources.>rck=UTZxWW9lb2gyeVJIcUxFb1pWVXhEdEdONk5uTTByNVZnWjR0NU45R0lrTzIwRkx6MisxVWlFSjdRTFRhUm5MYlloOXFEUHJJUFhjZXBtdVFVZHJOT1E9PQ&gclid=Cj0KEQiAiamlBRCgj83PiYm6--gBEiQArnojD2WoKXJecxomWsFUeHWpFatislAYUAhatUoOfNiK9ygaAiny8P8HAQ

Most five year olds love stickers, hand actions and music. there are quite a few jolly phonics videos on YouTube if the op wants to see what they are like before buying.

Mashabell Mon 05-Jan-15 12:20:07

I agree that phonics is the best method for most children, especially in a class setting.

But if u know your child, other ways can be just as effective, i.e. for children who know lots of nursery rhymes and can start to link the words in their head to those on the page.

Buying a phonics course for a class is one thing. Doing so for one child a bit over the top.

maizieD Mon 05-Jan-15 12:30:54

maybe an accomplished reader uses a range of strageries,

Not 'accomplished' readers! Why would they need to be guessing?

Apart from that you are absolutely correct, ReallyTired grin

steppeupunderthemisletoe Mon 05-Jan-15 12:33:39

bi-lingual reading
op , as part of my job I help UK families who are overseas and educating kids either in local school or home schooling, most of the kids are bi/tri lingual, with English and community language, or 2 languages at home plus community language.

The research shows that the best way is to learn to read first in your strongest language, and then learn to read in your other languages. You are in a great position, as your dd can learn to read in English first and then learn to read in her school language.
You have had lots of good suggestions for phonics, you will also need a good selection of books to use as she starts to read. Begin with simple phonic based books and then start to add in the non phonetic cases, eg words like - the, why, who, what, come etc.

Bi-lingual kids are often quick to learn to read, it is to do with the concept that an object can be represented by more than one thing. eg by 2 words, or by a word and a mark on a page.

Have fun!

ReallyTired Mon 05-Jan-15 13:04:11


By a range of strageries I meant inference to work out the meaning of new words. If the word could not be sounded out by using British phonics because the word had croatican phonics then guessing would not help. Unless the person is fluent in croatican they would have be told and remember the word. (Or taught croatian phonics)

A British adult might know an obscure foreign word as a sight word from the news. They can't decode it because they don't know foreign phonics. If they saw the word in context they they would guess it. I suppose that an adult's brain would automatically assimulate the foreign phonics. (A similar process would have happened when children were taught to read by whole word methods. Whole word methods do work for most children, but are just inefficent.)

They would work out how to pronouce the name Khaled Khoja in the article below and sub conciously remember that "Kh" makes the same sound as k. I imagine that "kh" is somewhere in Debbie Heppleworth's list of really obsecure phonics variations.

That going off at a tangent. A five year needs to start off simple to build confidence. Synthetic phonics works well because the child starts off simply.

maizieD Mon 05-Jan-15 16:24:22

By a range of strageries I meant inference to work out the meaning of new words

Oh, got you. I was still thinking of identifying what a word 'says' rather than what it 'means'. smile

sproutpudding Wed 07-Jan-15 09:08:04

Thanks again everyone!

Of course, since this thread started, DD has declared she NEVER wants to learn to read EVER... But just in case she changes her mind, because, you know, that happens rather frequently, I'll be ready, armed with all these resources.

ReallyTired Wed 07-Jan-15 09:25:54

Maybe your daughter would like to watch Alphablocks. Its on BBC iplayer and there are games on the BBC website.

If you can't access BBC Iplayer then it is also on youtube.

IAlreadyToldSanta Wed 07-Jan-15 09:50:06

Hi sprout, I'm teaching dd to read at the moment. I've tried to make it as fun as possible and so far she's really enjoying it and not seeing it as 'learning', I think that's the key. We started off with bath letters and just playing in the bath bath with them, holdimg them up and making the corresponding sounds and making (small and easy) words by sticking the letters to the tiles and blending the sounds, for example when she'd learnt the sounds for s a t we could make the words at and sat on the wall. I bought some of the jolly phonics stuff and we've used them as a guide, following the order they recommend learning the letters. The first six are s a t p i n. Remember when your dd has learnt all the letter sounds she also needs to learn the sh, ch, ae, th sounds etc. I found the jolly phonics books useful for that too.

Other games we've played are drawing letters in shaving foam and making the sounds, letters bingo (orchard games is the one we have but you could easily make your own), using magnetic letters to make words on the fridge, playing eye spy (but make sure you use the sound of the letter) and I have downloaded some fun apps for my phone which she loves. One of them is level one of the oxford reading tree phonics and it's absolutely brilliant. Jolly phonics do apps but I haven't looked at them yet.

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