We rely on advertising to keep the lights on.

Please consider adding us to your whitelist.



Advanced search

Learning to read at 4/5 or later?

(159 Posts)
Pico2 Wed 23-Mar-16 21:13:08

This is just out of curiosity. Looking at children in reception, some learn to read really quickly and others after 2 terms are still struggling with the one letter sounds. I know that many countries start formal learning later. Is there any evidence (for reading English) that those children who will spend the next couple of years struggling would do better or worse if they started at 7?

Hopefully they learn something between 4 and 7. I've not seen a struggling group being taught, but I'd find it stressful learning something I found that hard and I wonder if the gain from starting early is worth that.

Also, is there some sort of 'readiness' that comes at different ages for different children, or would those not ready at 4 still not be ready at 7 without some sort of intervention?

irvine101 Wed 23-Mar-16 21:53:53

In my native country, children start school when they are 6/7. But, they learn to read and write in kindergarden, so when they start school, most children are ready to learn using text books. I don't remember many children struggling to read when I was a child. They don't start formal education until 7 doesn't necessarily mean they don't start learning until 7.

Pico2 Wed 23-Mar-16 21:58:40

That's interesting as the impression often given is that where children start school later, the alternative is playing without overt academic content.

Do all children learn to read in kindergarten, or just those interested enough to choose it?

Are they learn a more phonically straightforward language?

Haudyerwheesht Wed 23-Mar-16 22:05:47

Both my kids started at 41/2. Dd learnt to read almost immediately ds took, literally, years. He's just 9 now and is bang on target and absolutely loves reading.

MMmomDD Wed 23-Mar-16 22:06:50

I don't think there is any studies specifically about reading, but generally I think the studies show that before 7 it's beter for kids to learn through play. So - it doesn't look like there is benwfit in starting formal education at 4.
Just look at international comparison of how school kids compare among countries.

But it's not like the system is likely to change, it it. So - we just need to live with it.

In my observation - reading kicks in at different times for different people. By Y3-4 most kids are able to read well. Some end up loving it, some don't. And that doesn't really depend on when reading "clicked".

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Wed 23-Mar-16 22:08:40

I think there is some neuro evidence to suggest that the pathways required for reading begin to develop when you start to teach reading, rather than being a developmental skill in the same way as talking.

I've also seen some stuff that suggests that the most are ready to start by their 4th birthday, nearly all by their 5th birthday and all but a few by their 6th. A later start may help some children, but there would still be a number that need intervention.

Given the complexity of the English alphabetic code, it would still take longer for English children to learn to read if we started at 7. There is more that they need to learn than in other languages. We'd probably be looking at 9 before many children were able to move towards reading to learn.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Wed 23-Mar-16 22:11:29

Just look at international comparison of how school kids compare among countries.

Which international comparison? If you take all the data from international studies, it shows no correlation. You have to cherry pick it to make it look like that.

irvine101 Wed 23-Mar-16 22:15:35

I think it really depend on each setting, and I don't remember being very academic style learning. I think reading and writing were introduced as a part of everyday life. And many start at around 3/4, so there are plenty of time til school. Certainly no pressure of testing.
I can't even remember how I learned it, by the time I started school, I was able to read and write. My language is phonetic, so if you learn the letters, you can read very basic stuff.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Wed 23-Mar-16 22:32:29

I think this is one of the issues that can confuse things.

If you are working with Finnish or Turkish or something similar children learn the letters, then they can read simple texts. It's probably a similar level to the knowledge that Jolly Phonics teaches in the 1st 9-12 weeks of reception. Except that English speaking children then have another layer of learning on top to be able to master written language.

I suspect that teachers being better trained in how to teach reading probably helps too. It's a bit hit and miss over here which probably impacts those children that take a bit longer to get going more than those that pick it up easily.

Pico2 Wed 23-Mar-16 22:49:17

It's interesting that children can end up loving reading even if it took them a long time to learn. I would have thought it would be off putting to spend so long and make slow progress, but I guess that good teaching doesn't make it feel like that b

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Wed 23-Mar-16 23:18:14

I think loving reading can be a very personal thing.

All you can really do is ensure children have the skills they need to be able to read and then expose them to enough texts that they find something that engages them and makes them want to read more.

My nieces read in very different ways. The older one reads voraciously and always has at least 1 book on the go. The younger one does read for pleasure a bit, but mainly non-fiction books on whatever interests her at the time. I'm not sure I remember the last time I saw her with a fiction book. I don't know that there was a huge amount of difference between their early reading experiences at home or school.

Out2pasture Wed 23-Mar-16 23:31:17

2012 research topic on exactly this question.


Saracen Thu 24-Mar-16 16:09:34

I've wondered the same. Thanks for the link, Out2pasture.

It's a hot topic in home education circles, where most parents are of the opinion that it's best to start after the child is showing definite signs of readiness, and often begin to teach reading at a later age than four. Many wait until the child decides for himself to learn to read. Anecdotally, among the latter group seven seems to be a popular age for children to want to start, and many of them are very fluent readers within six months. (That isn't universally true. It wasn't the case for my own older child, who started learning at 6.5 and only read fluently at 9. Still, within a few years after that her attainment seemed very average.)

mrz Thu 24-Mar-16 16:22:23

And if a child never shows "readiness"?

irvine101 Thu 24-Mar-16 16:29:33

I assume most child would show readiness soon or later, by showing interest in books, magazines, street signs, letters, etc?

JolieMadame Thu 24-Mar-16 16:32:57

No formal phonics or reading here until 6/7

Doesn't seem to hold anyone back, and they all seem to learn a hell of a lot quicker - so nothing in September and then reading full sentences in what we would call stage 4 or 5 books by Christmas

I can't see any reason for starting all children at 4, but then I wouldn't hold a keen child back until 7 either. When the child is ready!

bigkidsdidit Thu 24-Mar-16 16:35:58

Is that in English?

JolieMadame Thu 24-Mar-16 16:37:24

Non UK

noramum Thu 24-Mar-16 16:46:40

I come from Germany and while formal schooling normally doesn't start until 6/7 years it doesn't mean that all they do is play.

In lots of areas (no "national nappy curriculum) the last year of Kindergarten is very similar to Reception, lots of phonics, number recognition, shapes, preparing mentally for school by playing games to train concentration and lots of fine motor skill practice. Formal schooling is a lot more formal than Y1 here, think more Y3.

German is a very phonetic language and most children can read simple books by Christmas. I think older children have the mental ability to learn faster than if you start at 4/5 but it also depends on the child. My sister could read with 5, I couldn't but read books like Malory Towers or Famous Five a year after starting school. You need to be able to read fast in order to carry on in school with all other topics.

My DD (started school here in England) was interested in books, knew the alphabet, loved phonics but had problems blending sounds for nearly a year. She picked up very fast and was always on the top level in reading as soon as it clicked.

I found it harder to teach DD to read English compared to teaching her to read German as German is more stricter in phonics than English. So here children have to remember more at a later stage when the first simple sounds are done. I think this slows some down.

mrz Thu 24-Mar-16 16:49:44

I'm afraid I wouldn't assume that Irvine ... If they aren't displaying readiness at age 7 ? 8? 10? Older?
Who decides what readiness looks like? I've met adults who've never shown any interest in learning to read ... Are they simply not ready yet?

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Thu 24-Mar-16 16:56:00

what are the signs of being ready to read?

irvine101 Thu 24-Mar-16 17:05:12

Well I think different, mrz. Some child may never show interest in books, but may show interest in writing on the toys, or names of characters on cartoon, etc.
I think it's quite natural for child to want to know the secret behind all those things you see everywhere, the letters. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong.

JolieMadame Thu 24-Mar-16 17:06:56

The signs to me mean asking about words and sounds, asking what words are when you're reading to them, knowing what sound their names start with etc

It's not rocket science.

Pico2 Thu 24-Mar-16 17:19:03

Out2 - thanks, I've read the abstract and will read the full answer later, it looks like a good article.

mrz Thu 24-Mar-16 17:39:46

If those are your reading readiness signs I know lots of adults who aren't ready yet Jolie

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now