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My pre-schooler and phonics/learning to read

(43 Posts)
JessiCake Thu 23-Mar-17 20:26:53

I should start by saying that we live in the sort of part of W London where a certain degree of what (for want of a better term) I'll call 'pushiness' is very much the norm.

DD is just 4 and due to start school in Sept. For various reasons we have chosen an independent school but it is a non-selective one (one of the reasons we chose it)

Her (lovely) pre-school is doing some great work on learning letters (they've been doing this for a while now) and she is now slowly moving into the realm of basic phonics. The pre-school work with them at their own pace, so the kids are at very different levels.

DD is NOT INTERESTED IN PHONICS AT ALL. Well, that's not strictly true. Whatever marginal interest she may have is totally supserseded by her personality type which is that she hates not being able to do something instantly. So even when she expresses an interest in looking at some basic phonics (her cousin gave her an old workbook) my heart absolutely sinks because I know she won't 'get it' within 3 seconds and this will lead to her getting frustrated, upset, and giving up immediately.

So we have steered clear. She starts school in Sept and we will obv give all the support she needs then to what she is learning in school.

BUT... from recent conversations with other mums, I have got the impression that DD is very very behind compared to where pretty much all the other kids are. Some are taking home actual phonics reading books for reading 'practice' (DD only just knows all her letters, and has wobbles even on that) and a couple of her friends are able to read simple picture books too.

I desperately don't want her to get to school and be 'behind' where all the others are as I know her only too well and she is so incredibly sensitive that it will knock her confidence. She is the kind to get terribly upset when she can't run as fast as her friends and she doesn't get 'spurred on', she just gets upset and gives up.

So.. should I, against most of my better instincts, try to do more at home with her? I think really both DH and I are a little surprised she's not showing any interest in the phonics etc because she is so obviously very bright (not just saying this - she catches onto concepts incredibly fast, she makes terrifically astute observations, her imagination is phenonmenal and her vocabulary etc is noticeably very advanced) and because she just loves being read to so much. Her concentration is such that she will sometimes sit for up to an hour being read to and she is increasingly choosing 'chapter books' from the library for me to read to her as she just loves 'stories' so much and gets so much out of them.

But phonics - she couldn't care less. She would rather just play, and until very recently, I felt anything else was best left until formal 'school'.

So was a right, or should we be encouraging her more? DH and I have a horror of pushing her but otoh gentle encouragement isn't pushing, i suppose?

Thanks for any advice or suggestions in advance.

JessiCake Thu 23-Mar-17 20:28:05

Sorry, that ended up being really long...

booellesmum Thu 23-Mar-17 20:37:13

I wouldn't push her. She will get there in her own time. Learning doesn't have to be all formal either. Go on long walks and look at the letters on road signs, look at food labels in shops, make it fun.
If she likes being read to pick a sound for the week like 'oo' or 'sh' and point them out in the book and then get her to make the sound. This doesn't seem like so much effort to them as you are reading the rest of the story.

Boiled7Up Thu 23-Mar-17 20:38:31

She is just four. She is a baby!

Let her be. She will read when she is ready and pushing so young (IMO) will do more harm than good.

Read her lots of stories, sing all the time and do nursery rhymes. That is all she needs.

JessiCake Thu 23-Mar-17 20:40:49

Thanks Boiled, that is absolutely my gut feeling.

I'm having a wobble after a few days of getting lots of startled looks when I mention that DD is only just OK with letters and certainly isn't anywhere near 'reading' or making phonics sounds...

DH has just told me I'm mad for even thinking about it, and he's generally spot on about these things. grin

Thanks, I needed to hear that.

JessiCake Thu 23-Mar-17 20:41:35

Thanks too booellesmum. It's good to get a view from outside the goldfish bowl...

JessiCake Thu 23-Mar-17 20:42:42

Oh and that's great advice about the making the sounds when reading to her... I've been doing it for a while, come to think of it, when we read Cat in the Hat... good old Dr Suess!!

AuntieStella Thu 23-Mar-17 20:45:23

They're possibly startled that she knows her letters, as that's a completely unnecessary thing.

So she can learn, and she'll get there. If she's not interested in learning to read, ther's no need to push her. Being able to talk clearly, and hear the sounds that make up words, are two useful ore-reading skills. Is she OK on that?

JessiCake Thu 23-Mar-17 20:50:01

AuntieStella - if only! Nope, these were all mums with kids being sent home with reading books, and who'd been telling me how well their kids were catching onto phonics...
Yep, she definitely can hear the sounds that make up words - she sometimes points that kind of thing out to me herself actually eg she might say 'car-pet - that sounds like the word 'car'.
It honestly is refreshing to hear these views, thank you. I've always known there is a very very pushy element to the parents we live amongst (albeit they are lovely people too) but you can tend to forget how much so when you live with it on a daily basis...

refusetobeasheep Thu 23-Mar-17 21:00:28

The private school my dd attends were quite clear that parents do NOT need to teach their children to read. The school you have chosen will have their own method of getting your child reading, no need to confuse them with different methods beforehand. Just provide support as the school asks you to.

JessiCake Thu 23-Mar-17 21:04:23

Thanks refusetobeasheep - you're right, of course, and that's reminded me what they mentioned at the open day - they too specifically said they did not want children to be taught to read as it wasn't in fact helpful.

I'm really really glad I posted on here this evening and can't thank you all enough for the sensible replies. I feel like I can breathe again!!

Elisheva Thu 23-Mar-17 21:16:29

Neither of my sons knew their letters beforehand starting school, ds1 could barely hold a pen let alone write his name or anything. Was still struggling to get ds2 to keep his clothes on when he was 4.
At 9 and 7 both are happy, confident students and above average readers.
Research has shown that early reading makes no difference to a child's long term academic success, and early phonics could even be detrimental. What does make a different is lots of talking, exposure to a rich, varied vocabulary, and being read to.

Feenie Thu 23-Mar-17 21:19:19

Research has shown that early reading makes no difference to a child's long term academic success, and early phonics could even be detrimental

Detrimental? Don't be ridiculous - research shows now such thing.

Feenie Thu 23-Mar-17 21:20:10

No, not now. Cheers, autocorrect hmm

TeenAndTween Thu 23-Mar-17 21:21:09

When you say 'knows her letters' do you mean she knows the names of the letters (unnecessary and possibly confusing at this age) or knows the sounds (ie the phonics)?

If you have been teaching letter names I'd personally stop doing that straight away. Then have a break of a few weeks from any phonics or letter names, and then restart purely with phonics.

TeenAndTween Thu 23-Mar-17 21:22:55

ps More important is stuff like putting on shoes and coats etc.

Elisheva Thu 23-Mar-17 21:26:31

If a child is taught phonics before they have a good grasp of phonological awareness skills then it can muddle them, which then takes a bit of unpicking when they arrive at school. I don't mean they should never be taught phonics, if they are ready at 4 then why not. But it shouldn't be taught to all preschoolers regardless of where they are.
Plus, if phonics is taught badly, e.g. adding a schwa sound, then that's not going to help at all.

JessiCake Thu 23-Mar-17 21:27:27

Teen, I mean the phonic sound of the letters... that's what she knows, not the letter name. When I say she is now starting phonics at pre-school I mean she is being shown how to put together eg an 'a' and a 't' to make an 'at' sound. However, as I said upthread, the majority of her friends seem to be waaaaaaay beyond that sort of thing, and moving onto reading (simple, but still) actual books...

But no, she certainly hasn't ever been taught the letter 'names', only the phonic sound (much to DH's bemusement, because he really struggles with knowing what 'sound' to make!)

Starlight2345 Thu 23-Mar-17 21:28:47

My DS could read before school simply because he was interested and wanted to learn .

However if he had shown no interest we would of simply just carried on enjoying sharing stories.

The love of books is far more important than been able to read them at 4.

Millybingbong Thu 23-Mar-17 21:40:45

She just sounds like a normal preschooler. Stop analysing her and putting her into boxes - "she gives up easily, she is very bright, she doesn't care about phonics..." and just enjoy her. She is a child

Youdosomething Thu 23-Mar-17 21:41:37

And lots of print around and mark making in terms of realising that print is a means of sending a message that someone else can read. This should be very informal, through play, shopping lists, a diary, cards, etc. Mark making is about just that, her marks. It won't look like letters yet, but she can 'read' it to you, so transferring that message. It can be anything she wants it to say.
This will build her concept of reading having a purpose.

My DC's had a 'writing box' in which I put anything that they could write on, envelopes that came with junk mail, pads from hotels, cheap jotters, labels, post its. They could use these freely. We would make tickets to go with the train track, write letters from their teddy, write each other post it messages and read them at teatime - just fun.

Continue reading, a love of story and all that great language is fantastic and will help your daughter to read and write. Play word games, the usual 'I spy' and even the rhyming version ' something that sounds like/rhymes with' ... Play sound games to build segmenting/ blending - ask "can you h-o-p? And she will. Add other actions s-i-t, j-u-m-p etc.

As an EY teacher myself, prior to my current job, children who have all of the auditory skills combined with an understanding of the purpose of reading and writing are just ready to fly once learning is formalised. And always remember in Europe reading starts when children are older and more ready. Our children don't achieve higher, they just slog at it, sometimes to the point of being put off, for a longer time.

Have fun with her, you sound great in your supportive and reasonable attitude.

Waddlelikeapenguin Thu 23-Mar-17 21:44:17

Look up the Einstein quote about "if you want your children to be intelligent" ;)

She's 4!!!

My eldest is of the type you describe gets it first time or won't do it & she learnt to read mostly by learning to write - she copied what was written. Then at some point when she was 6 a switch flicked in the brain & she was reading chapter books.

YesILikeItToo Thu 23-Mar-17 22:32:05

My dd wasn't interested until it became compulsory- she was well aware that she could access all the material by saying, 'Can you read me this?'

CruCru Thu 23-Mar-17 23:20:03

She may just not be quite ready. That is okay. Once she gets to school, she'll pick it up and make loads of progress very quickly.

It's worth bearing in mind that you probably only hear about the 4 year olds who are reading ORT level 9 books. All the mums of kids who refuse point blank to hold a pencil / look at a book (like my son) probably look at their feet whenever they hear about the early readers. It's easy to get the impression that loads of children are reading well already when actually it is only a handful.

mrz Fri 24-Mar-17 05:57:07

*"*^*I mean she is being shown how to put together eg an 'a' and a 't' to make an 'at' sound.*^ *"* just to be clear at isn't a sound it's a word.
I'm a huge phonics advocate but I really don't think it's necessary in preschool unless the child desperately wants to learn and then it needs to be taught well which unfortunately isn't always the case when untrained (in how to teach phonics) staff are trying to impress "pushy" (your word from the OP) parents. Taught well a child can have the success of reading and spelling a word in the very first lesson.

Sounds shouldn't be taught in isolation always in the context of words and decoding (for reading) and encoding (for spelling) should always be part of the "lesson".

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