teaching to read before school?

(18 Posts)
metoothree Tue 20-Nov-18 13:50:50

My 3.5 year old DS is in a generally wonderful nursery abroad, in his dad's country. The staff mostly don't speak English - which in itself is great, we want him to learn his dad's language - and don't really read at all with the kids, partly because it's a Waldorf, outdoorsy type place, and partly because there is very little 'reading culture' here.

We will (probably) stay here another few years, so he won't start school in the UK until he is 5. So my question is: should I teach him to read at home?

He loves loves loves books and, with only minimum intervention by us can recite the alphabet and read and write some letters already (although he is left handed and writes backwards...). Normally I would not want to push him until school starts, but considering he will be starting late and won't get any formal teaching in the nursery, will he be behind if I don't?

And if so, how?! Could any one who knows what they are talking about point me in the right direction, as I have no idea where to start, and googling is just confusing... thanks in advance!

OP’s posts: |
GoldenPomBearBadge Tue 20-Nov-18 17:03:22


Sounds-write are brilliant and have a free course to show parents how to teach their children. I’ll go and look for it and be back...

TeenTimesTwo Tue 20-Nov-18 17:05:56


Reciting the alphabet can be counter-productive as they need to know the sounds not the names of the letters.

GoldenPomBearBadge Tue 20-Nov-18 17:05:58


There you go. It’s not all pretty and sparkly with cute names or actions. It’s just based on research and works. I used the method for my children.

RatherBeRiding Tue 20-Nov-18 17:08:32

Phonics. I pre-taught both mine to read before school but one was like yours and loved books, loved being able to recognise the letters and the easy words and basically taught himself with a little prompting from me about sounds and joining them together.

GoldenPomBearBadge Tue 20-Nov-18 17:12:56

That Sounds-Write Udemy is phonics OP.

Other ways of teaching phonics are available and are great. It’s just you’d probably have to do a bit of research and get some knowledge yourself. Sounds-Write have done it all for you.

I also love Phonics International.

caringcarer Tue 20-Nov-18 17:22:16

I am a teacher and taught all three of my children to read before they started school. My dd had a reading age of 8 years and 5 months when she started school at 4 years and 7 months. Start with letter sounds and for only 3 or 4 mins at a time. Once they can make letter sound get a list of first 50 key words and introduce about 3 words and point to word and sound out letters to say word. Add a new word every other day. Make it fun. If they lose interest stop immediately. Make it into a game. I would set out 3 rows of 3 words in a grid of 9 and ask if they could pick a row and get them all right. etc. Then move onto 4 x 4 grid, then 5 x 5. Once can read 25 words get simple books with a word or two on each page. I uses Oxford Reading Tree as this is used in may schools. There are characters called Biff and Chip. If you try and he does not seem ready leave for 6 weeks and then try again.


newtothisriver Tue 20-Nov-18 17:28:13

I am a teacher and taught all three of my children to read before they started school. My dd had a reading age of 8 years and 5 months when she started school at 4 years and 7 months

Can I ask you, as a teacher, what benefit this had?

Sethis Tue 20-Nov-18 17:30:24

I credit my mum teaching me to read with any success I have had in life at all. I entered primary school with a reading age of 9+ and spent many happy hours reading whatever the hell I wanted, instead of having to choose from the "Red basket" or the "Blue basket" which is how our library was organised back in 1993. I left Primary with a reading age at or above the highest possible measure on the scale they were using at that time, and went on to inhale the secondary school library as well. After that, going onto University and studying a Humanity and reading dozens of textbooks was, if not easy, at least not as hard as many other people found it.

Given how abysmal I am at mathematics and the arts, my reading ability has always been my saving grace. I can't recommend enough how far you can propel your child towards success by reading often, reading early.

GoldenPomBearBadge Tue 20-Nov-18 18:05:31

Be careful with Oxford Reading Tree and Biff, Chip and Kipper. A lot of those books are not “phonics” books.

Tomorrowillbeachicken Tue 20-Nov-18 18:56:39

You are better off with songbirds from ORT

BottleOfJameson Tue 20-Nov-18 21:10:08

Yes. And definitely use phonics and "pure sounds". I'd look for resources such as jolly phonics, and once he can blend just read little and often together.

Enidblyton1 Tue 20-Nov-18 21:23:13

I’m going to go against the grain and say that I wouldn’t worry about trying to teach him to read. The single most important thing a parent can do is read interesting stories to their child. It will fuel his imagination and give him a huge vocabulary. When he does start formal schooling, he can learn the nuts and bolts of how to read and write.
No harm at all in doing some phonics with him if he and you are both really enjoying it. But I would stop the moment that he loses interest. Otherwise you could do more harm than good.

missyB1 Tue 20-Nov-18 21:30:16

Being able to read at that age isn’t important but a love of books does give a big advantage I believe. Knowing the phonics sounds also helps a lot with the preparation for reading. Find a good phonics program, I used jolly phonics.

eromdap Tue 20-Nov-18 21:36:36

Nurture that enjoyment of books and don’t force learning to read if he is not interested. The two eldest of my three children were reading before school, yet it is the youngest that has the greatest comprehension and vocabulary skills, he wasn’t interested in reading the words until he got to school, he just enjoyed the stories. My eldest struggled with comprehension as this can be overlooked in reception when developing technical reading skills. My middlest (aged 11) has now suddenly become a bookworm! Thanks to a generous mother in law and frequent visits to our local library we’ve always had loads of books in the house (not that I really read much!)

Kokeshi123 Wed 21-Nov-18 04:54:30

In the UK, school (including phonics instruction) starts with Reception year, which children start in the September after they turn 4 (not 5). After that, they start Year 1, which starts the year after they turn 5. Is your child going to start school in Reception or Year 1?

If your child is going to start Reception, they will start from scratch so it is fine not to teach any reading before that unless you want to.

If your child is going to start Year 1, the other children will have been doing phonics for a year so it is probably a good idea to cover the early stages of phonics and reading before he starts.

Sounds Write and Jolly Phonics are considered good resources which fit with the way children are currently taught in England and Wales. Try the Jolly Phonics workbook and look for videos online which will show you how to do them with your child.

The main thing to do is, make sure you do NOT do harmful activities which will confuse your child and create a layer of muddle and bad habits that the teacher will have to spend time unpicking.

Start off by showing your child how words can be broken down into individual sounds, then start showing your child how each sound is represented by a letter, starting with "s" "a" "t" "p" "i" and "n" as these are the easiest ones to distinguish and remember. SW and Jolly Phonics will take you through this process. Watch this video here for a guide on how to present sounds correctly. Avoid adding "uh" vowel sounds to the consonants.


Present lower case letters ONLY in the early stages and show your child how to form each letter correctly. Do not muddle your child by introducing upper case letters in the early stages--they can learn these later on.

Show your child how to read consonant-vowel-consonent words to start--sit, pin, etc. Be patient--this is harder for kids than it looks.

Do not teach letter names or encourage your child to spend time reciting the alphabet. This slows progress by confusing children about what sounds the letters most often stand for.

Rachelover40 Wed 21-Nov-18 04:57:11

Mine could read and write a bit, as well as simple sums, before starting school. It all came about naturally and gave him a bit of leg up when starting school but not too much. It was fun.

metoothree Wed 21-Nov-18 05:09:10

thanks so much for your suggestions everyone - I'll do some research and note your collective advice, eg on stopping when he loses interest. And I think I'll wait a while anyway - my natural instinct would def be to just continue reading to him until school starts, but with no input at all from the nursery, I think I will start gently with phonics and see how it goes.

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