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Teaching a child to read / write

(65 Posts)
confusedinlondon Wed 17-May-17 19:34:47

Hello,
I would like to teach my child to read and write (improve his pen control). Any suggestions about how best to do this.
He is 3 years old. Like most 3 years, he doesn't sit still for long.

I just want to instil a love of learning at an early age. I don't want to pressure him in anyway.

I was thinking of getting the Jolly Phonics books and spending 10 mins a few times a week reading them with him. As well as reading other books to him, to get him into the habit of holding / enjoying a book.

With the writing, I was planning on get some books to practice his pen control.

Any idea or suggestions.

mrz Wed 17-May-17 19:37:28

Avoid the books that "teach" writing by tracing over dotted or grey letters ...they teach tracing not writing. At age three I'd be inclined to focus on fun activities to develop fine motor skills and shoulder girdle strength

CatsCantFlyFast Wed 17-May-17 20:12:12

There's tonnes of internet resources about teaching phonics and which letters/sounds to start with. Plenty of phonics flash cards you can buy too. You'll know soon enough if he's interested or not and you can go at his pace

The dotted lines surely teach them pen control?

stargirl1701 Wed 17-May-17 20:16:52

If you want to I still a love of learning then just play - child initiated and child directed play.

mrz Wed 17-May-17 20:39:04

"The dotted lines surely teach them pen control?" As I said it teaches them to trace not to write

irvineoneohone Wed 17-May-17 20:40:56

mrz, why is tracing bad?
my ds did lots of tracing straight lines, wavy lines and swirly lines etc, which I think helped him with fine motor/ pencil control skills.

mrz Wed 17-May-17 20:48:15

Tracing isn't bad but if your aim is to teach writing then it's totally useless.

VANITYKM Wed 17-May-17 20:48:35

My sister is a primary teacher and said don't push writing at this age. Their muscles in their fingers are not developed and it is actually painful for them to write. Also, you don't want your kid to be really bored in reception.

grasspigeons Wed 17-May-17 21:00:12

Can you do fine motor skill stuff that is more fun, like hama needs, chop sticks, play doh, scissors that kind of thing?

There's nothing wrong with doing a bit of writing if he enjoys it but practicing pencil work sounds very miserable for a 3 year old. I suppose a dot to dot, or drawing through a maze might be vaguely fun for a few minutes.

You could look up dough discos or write dance as well

We enjoyed the jolly phonics songs at 3 in terms of reading.

Alexandra87 Wed 17-May-17 22:00:55

I did the age three learning to write things with my eldest 2 and it honestly made no difference to them actually learning to write properly. With reading maybe just flash cards and teaching him the phonics sounds. Although all schools use phonics to teach reading these days kids still do need to know ay bee see type alphabet so you could also teach that if he gets a grasp of phonics before reception. I wouldn't push it though as that's a sure fire way to put kids off for life. My dcs teachers have always commented on how much my dc love books and how they can tell we are a big reading/ book family and this has helped with their learning to read. So don't underestimate how important small things like a bedtime story and visits to the library can be

mrz Wed 17-May-17 22:10:06

Please please please don't teach your child the alphabet (letter names) before school.

BigWeald Wed 17-May-17 22:24:13

I started teaching DS to read when he was 3. He had been able to recognise all letters, and knew their sounds in our other language, from around 24 months and was keen to learn to read.

So it was a matter of showing him the sounds the letters make in English, and of learning how to blend.

We used Reading Eggs. We had 3 months free as a reward for doing a survey. In hindsight I see lots of problems with Reading Eggs but for us it worked. DS did the first 40ish lessons and cracked blending. It was fun and he enjoyed every minute of it.
After that I bought the full set of Songbirds books. DS really loved the feeling of being able to read a whole book by himself! He read and re-read the first few books until he knew them off by heart... that's when he started reading signs when we were out and about too. By the time he started school (a year after we had set out to learn to read) he was reading the yellow level Songbird books.

I was really pleased I had taught him to read when I realised how poor the phonics teaching at his school was. By the time he was confronted with their decidedly mixed methods, he was solid enough in the first few stages of phonics that he didn't get too confused.

DD is now three but nowhere near ready to learn. She is keen but confuses the letter shapes frequently, and programmes like Teach Your Monster To Read and also Reading Eggs move forwards way too fast, and don't give her the time she needs to consolidate each letter/sound before moving to the next. So we're giving it some more time. I'm sure she COULD learn but it would be painful and off-putting, and there is simply no need for that!

Regarding writing, DS was not keen at all, didn't enjoy drawing either, so we did stuff like Hama beads and Monkey bars instead.

Neome Wed 17-May-17 22:27:47

Why so concerned about letter names mrsz?

lorisparkle Wed 17-May-17 22:28:17

Learning to listen is really important in reading and writing. Listening to different sounds, listening to rhymes, making silly sentences with the same initial sounds , etc. All help. To be able to read and write you have to be able to hear all the different sounds in words so any listening activity is great. Learning all about books and how they work is really important so sharing stories pointing to where the words are, showing where you start to read and the way the words go all help. When young children start to write they use their whole arm and shoulder so lots of big writing movements really help - mark making with chalk outside, mark making on a wall or easel , and then anything like play dough, beads, sand, etc all help. Showing them the purpose of writing so giving them a piece of paper to 'write' shopping lists etc is good too. Having a love of books, stories, learning, exploring etc are the most important things.

mrz Thu 18-May-17 05:28:03

Letter names are a useful convention but don't help when learning to read or spell and can actually hamper many and make learning much more difficult so best avoided until a child is secure with Sounds.

Nix32 Thu 18-May-17 05:39:44

Play lots of I Spy and focus on sounds he can hear. Rhyming games. Don't make it formal - play as you go about your day.

Squishedstrawberry4 Thu 18-May-17 05:51:32

You'd be much better off getting your child hooked on you reading books. Being a bookworm does wonders for their education

If you must do anything, get the jolly phonics book with CD so you'll be correctly pronouncing the sounds.

Squishedstrawberry4 Thu 18-May-17 05:53:53

Rather then write, do lots of fine motor skill related activities. So Lego, drawing, beading

catkind Thu 18-May-17 13:56:33

DC's school use a trace/copy/write kind of model for learning handwriting, seems to work for them. DD's gone from her own made up letter formation in a large and untidy mix of capitals/lower to small, neat, mostly joined cursive over a couple of terms.

We didn't bother much with writing before school as it doesn't really make sense to teach one style and then have to change it completely when they go to school. DD did do lots of drawing and stuff, and had sort of worked out how to draw letters but not in the correct order, so fine motor skills were ready to run when she hit school.

DS who wasn't interested in drawing before school really struggled with writing, didn't have the fine motor at all. Though whether he didn't have the fine motor because he didn't draw, or didn't draw because he didn't have the fine motor is hard to tell.

I wouldn't personally go out getting official phonics resources unless they were obviously demonstrating they were ready and wanting to read. Things like alphablocks are fun for preschoolers. Also good for teaching parents how to use phonics sounds not letter names! We did have letter things around - fridge magnets, blocks, loads of books obviously - and when they seemed interested would sometimes point out letters. Or games like i-spy (but with something beginning with "mmmmm", not "em") when they could hear sounds.

mrz Thu 18-May-17 17:00:41

It's an extremely old fashioned method and ineffective method. Correct letter formation needs explicit teaching or children just draw shapes starting or ending in completely the wrong place which then takes more work to correct than teaching correctly in the first place.

catkind Thu 18-May-17 17:48:12

Of course they teach them the order to write it too. The tracing sheets helped them to practice independently at school or at home. Also had arrows for where to start each letter, so they had a prompt for order; but easier to remember order than to have to remember the whole letter formation cold right from the start.

mrz Thu 18-May-17 18:54:53

That's the problem with tracing ...they get into bad habits when tracing independently.

mrz Thu 18-May-17 19:12:25

From How children Learn to write words

catkind Fri 19-May-17 00:45:13

From a home perspective, having a sheet to trace was a real help in steering DC to make the right pen movements in the right order, so that they could then practice that and move on to forming the letters on their own.

For example we were sent a laminate sheet with DD's name where she could trace on the top two lines then had two blank lines for practicing writing it herself. That was something she could do by herself - they hate having to admit parents know anything - but I'm sure I could have nudged if I'd spotted any bad habits starting up.

I guess they must have done similar in the classroom as the teacher can't be in attendance for every child every time they wander over to the writing corner. I didn't see them in action though. I tend to assume reception teachers work by black magic, it's the only way I can explain their keeping 30 4-yr-olds under control.

mrz Fri 19-May-17 06:35:35

The teacher can be in attendance to ensure every child is being instructed how to write letters correctly so that it is reinforced rather than setting up poor habits with tracing. From a teachers perspective it's much harder to see if a child is tracing the letters incorrectly than to see if they are independently writing them correctly in their free play so poor habits slip through and become ingrained.

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