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did you teach your child to read / write before reception?

46 replies

mamatilly · 03/09/2009 10:48

just listening to Womans hour and they are discussing whether we should be teaching our children to read and write before beginning Reception class... My four year old has one more year of nursery and knows alphabet/can write some letters in his name, but just wondering whether it is the norm for rising 5s to already know phonics etc...

should i be creating a reading/writing program over this coming year to give my boy a head start or should he simply be enjoying the simplicity of play?!!! my preschool is definitely NOT proactie and it seems more mother and toddler than preschool really...

anyway,what did you do?


OP posts:
MissSunny · 03/09/2009 11:25

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MissSunny · 03/09/2009 11:27

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Mamazon · 03/09/2009 11:30

i have tried. i have really really tried. she just doesn't seem to take it in at all.

her nursary was very much like the one amissunny describes. i thought they were not teaching her properly but it is their policy to teach through play and that life social skills are more important at this age etc etc.

i guess i will just hope that they have laid the groundwork and she will just pick it all up at school.
Her reception teacher is a good friend so i have bet her a nights worth of drinks on me if she can get her to write her name by Christmas.
(its quite a long name so she'll have to earn it)

kathyis6incheshigh · 03/09/2009 11:37

DD seems to know quite a few letters from nursery but I haven't taught her.
DH keeps going on about the fact that she's 4 and still can't read because we could both read at 3 . I keep having to tell him she is perfectly normal.
I'd far rather she spent the time at nursery playing and socialising. If she was keen to learn I would have helped her, but the impetus would have to come from her IYSWIM.

AMumInScotland · 03/09/2009 11:48

No - what is the point in training teachers to teach children to read using all the best methods, and then having parents do it themselves at home?

MillyR · 03/09/2009 12:00

I taught DD to read when she was in reception. The teacher asked me when I was going to teach DD to read.

Perhaps I should have moved to Scotland!

bruffin · 03/09/2009 12:02

Some schools don't like it they are reading before they start, others like my dc's primary are fine about it. One of our local primaries complained to my dc's preschool that the children were too advanced when they startedand told one girl that she had to wait for the others to catch up!

Both mine did jolly phonics at nursery but DS is dyslexic and didn't really click with reading until YR2 but now reads really well.

DD was interested in reading so I bought her the ladybird phonic books and she was reading before she started but absolutely flew in the first term of reception.

thehairybabysmum · 03/09/2009 12:04

Agree with others that the nursery focus is on learning through play rather than 'taught' stuff...isnt that part of thte EYFS concept?

Saying that i would like my ds to be able to write his name before school (not sure why i think htis though?) and he is just starting to do that. So if we do a birthday card he will write his name.

He does know most letters, not really sure where this has come from. He loves books and i do talk to him now and then about the words so that he starts to understand that letters = words and that the words tell him about the story IYSWIM.

I did buy him some pre-school work books that a friend had and he likes doing those, they get them to follow lines and distinguish words form pictuers in preparation for reading/writing. Thats as far as ill go i think...he seems quite interested, trouble is im a bit slack in my consistency of using these books, we've only done it a couple of times and i bought them in June (was having a rare burst of enthusiasm)!

(hello Kathy!!)

OhYouBadBadKitten · 03/09/2009 12:39

dd taught herself to read. She rather surprised us all when one day she announced to her playschool teacher at story time 'I can read that book' pointing at the book in the teachers hand. And she proceeded to do so. It wasn't a book she had had read to her before as far as anyone knew.

Made my life very easy

Playschool showed her how to form her letters properly for writing.

Reception teacher was great, she kept dd with group reading so she didn't feel odd but let her bring her own books in for individual reading.

pooter · 03/09/2009 12:48

personally i think if a child is read to regularly they will grow to like books and want to participate, so you just wait until they show they are ready and facilitate from there. I heard the Woman's Hour interview, and although i do rate the bloke as a teacher of older kids, (he was on a documentary iirc) i dont think he was making much sense about starting them off early. You cant force a child to learn - you have to wait until they are interested and then make it fun. Im willing to bet that the main reason we have children leaving primary school unable to read is because their parents dont read to them or demonstrate an enthusiasm for learning.

Im an ex teacher and planning to home ed my DS though, so im opting out of the whole system and letting my DS develop at his own pace.

Reallytired · 03/09/2009 12:52

A good reception teacher has no problem with a child being able to read. They would have a problem with a child being unable to dress themselves, not being toilet trained or having no manners.

I did teach my son to read before school. He was very keen and he learnt quickly and easily. I didn't try and teach him to write as he had no interest. Reading at the age of four has given him a lot of pleasure. Even so I am sure if I have left it to the school he would still have learnt to read well. My son got a level 3 for reading in his SATs, but he is still on the school reading scheme.

However I think the most important thing for young child is aquistition of language. There is no point in barking at print if you cannot comprehend the print. I think the aquistition of language is best done through reading to a child, play and interesting activites.

anniemac · 03/09/2009 12:54

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Jux · 03/09/2009 12:57

Dd's nursery was vaguely academic and she learnt the alphabet, numbers, colours, shapes, a bit of writing and reading and simple sums. When she got to reception it was actively discouraged for two terms and she turned from being really excited by learning into a child who wasn't that interested. Fortunately, due to three years with two lovely teachers, when we changed her school, she is doing really well academically and has almost rediscovered her initial and instinctive love of learning.

I will never forgive that first school or the vile teacher they had there.

anniemac · 03/09/2009 13:05

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YorkshireRose · 03/09/2009 13:22

My DD recognised a few letters and numbers when she started in nursery class at 4. She picked this up from reading together. I did not try to formally teach her these things. She is now 10 and had reading age of 18 when she was 7.

Let your dc play and develop their creativity and love of learning for now. Leave formal learning to read for the age when they are ready for it or you risk putting them off learning for life.

Runoutofideas · 03/09/2009 15:46

My dd1 is 4.4 and starts reception next week. She can write her name and some other words such as Mummy, Daddy, her sister's name, love, cat, dog without me spelling them out to her. I discovered last week that she can read all of the words on the reception commonly used words chart which they had for sale in our local library. Just out of interest I asked her if she could read any of the words and she proceeded to read all of them. I haven't actively taught her though, she just seems to have assimilated it from being read to very regularly. I have always followed the words with my finger as I read and I think she must have got it from that. I hope school are able to work with her from this level. I'm sure she won't be the only one with the same sort of capabilities - equally I don't think I could have "taught" her if she hadn't been so interested. She's just quite a "bookish" character and is good at what captures her imagination. Building blocks and lego leave her completely cold so she's rubbish at constructing anything!

Katisha · 03/09/2009 15:47

Taught DS1 in a fit of keen parenting and didn't bother for poor neglected DS2.
Hasn't affected the outcome - they are both equally fine.

GrimmaTheNome · 03/09/2009 15:58

Nope. Oh, I tried to - I knew I'd been able to read before I started school so assumed it was normal. But DD (a) wasn't up for taking instruction from me - some kids really need a teacher not mum and (b) she wasn't ready for it. She didn't read fluently till the end of infants. 'Late developer' - DH was the same.

But now (starting yr 6) she seems to have overtaken the child who was reading Harry Potter at the end of reception, so I wouldn't worry too much about 'head starts' . Many continental countries don't start teaching literacy till the kids are 6 or 7 and get better outcomes. If your child wants to learn early, by all means encourage and help, but don't stress yourself and more importantly your small child if they aren't ready.

thegrammerpolicesic · 03/09/2009 16:42

Ds has learnt to read (depending on how you define that - can decode shorter words and sight read quite a lot but might be lost if you just handed him anything but the very simplest book). He wanted to though.
He did not want to write so I left him to it with that. Hence he cannot write his name even e.g. in a birthday card unless I draw dots for him to follow.

He also seems very numerate but I have no idea what the average child going into reception is like with this - counts to 100 when he can be bothered, can do simple addition, subtraction and has just freaked me out by working out in his head very quickly that if we had 8 biscuits and there were two of us, we'd get four each, ditto three.

Am intrigued as to how the school will manage his asynchronicity between reading and numeracy and writing.

Nursery did nothing with all this school-type work which is fine but I will feel let down if he learns nothing new in reception with his reading and numeracy (and yes yes I know social skills are important etc).

So to answer your question OP. My view is that IF he's really genuinely interested, go for it, but if he's not the worst thing you can do is push it and put him off (this happened with my MIL's attempts to get ds to write - he barely touched a pencil/ crayon for a year afterwards!!) He does sounds like he'll be 'ready' to do reading if he is willing given he's a whole year to go before reception and already knows his letters etc.

Karam · 03/09/2009 20:28

Definitely agree with the pps. Follow your child's lead and you won't go far wrong. If they want to read, great but if they don't, well, they'll learn at school. Children all even out in the end... its no biggie.

DD1 was fascinated by writing, and was asking questions and so started learning her letters at 2 3/4. She was reading at 3, and at the end of her reception year, was on the purple reading level. However, her friend who didn't learn to read until just before / at the start of reception is on the same reading level. Just DD was interested earlier. Could be because we have loads and loads of books (she has her own adult sized bookcase of books), she sees me using them a lot as part of my job, and books have always been used as a treat / reward in our house (I love books and have two 4ft x 6ft bookcases jammed packed with books).

Similarly, DD2 is now 2 3/4 and has started to get interested in books and letters. She asked to watch the Jolly phonics video 3 times yesterday and whenever she sees a letter, she asks me what it is. However, like DD1, I suspect she'll be bright, but her early advantage in reading will even out in the end. But, I don't push I just put the relevant books on the bookshelf and wait for DD to bring them to me. When she is ready and willing, I look at the books with her. That was my policy with DD1, and she now has a complete love of reading.

Karam · 03/09/2009 20:31

Meant to add, I think nurturing the love of reading is far more important than the age they learn to read. I'd rather have a child who only learnt to read at 7, but learnt the joy of books than a precocious reader who hated reading!

Hulababy · 03/09/2009 20:39

I didn't teach DD anything before she went to school.

She could write her letters and numbers. She taught herself. This had good and bad points. She knew her letters and hot they looked. However, as she taught herself the writing before I had really noticed fully she formed them in an odd way, and this is really hard to correct later we have found. Fortunately she now does form most letters okay (they look fine, just not done properly if you watch her), although still not all, despite being 7y and going into Y3.

She knew all her letter sounds and a few of the blends and phonemes. She didnt know all the letter names though. She was just interested and picked them up.

She couldn't read. She could pick out her name and thinsg like mummy and daddy. She could spel out things like that too and could sound out (and spell out when writing) simple CVC words.

However, she started schoo at 4y5m and picked up reading very quickly and was doing really well within the first weeks.

In her class only one child could read when they started (and she is no longer top of the class for reading BTW) and some didn't know most letters and some were unable to recognise or read their own name. All doing well know though, although all at different levels. Starting point doesn't seem to have made much difference though.

primarymum · 03/09/2009 20:54

One of the difficulties teachers have is that, as has been said, many children can learn or be taught to sight read a considerable number of words, they recognise the shape of the letters and words. But they have no idea WHY the word says what it does. So, to be honest, they can't read, they can recognise words in much the same way they learn to recognise shapes. So if you do want to teach your child to read ( and they want to and are ready to learn) before they start school, then please go ahead! But you really need to know HOW to teach reading, or the Reception teacher will have to "unlearn" your child and that is MUCH harder than a child that cannot read at all!

Runoutofideas · 03/09/2009 22:28

But if they are blending sounds and understand the component parts of words, then they have a far deeper understanding than purely recognising the shape of their own name, so in my view they are starting to learn to read properly. My dd would be able to show you how to change "cat" to "mat" or "sat" and tell the difference between a "ch" sound and a "sh" sound. She gets confused with combined vowel sounds such as "ai", "ie" or "e*e" which have different sounds depending on the context anyway. I really do not agree that she will need to "unlearn" this in order to be able to learn to read - which incidentally cannot be done purely phonetically and must include a certain number of read by sight words as so many words in the English language do not follow the rules of phonics. Ultimately though if reading helps children to feel confident in their abilities and promotes a love of books, language and learning then I really do not see an issue with starting whenever they are ready.

Builde · 04/09/2009 06:47

I made a positive effort not to do formal with my dd before she went to school. I preferred to do activities and playing and to respond to her interests.

Having not gone to school myself until I was 5, I thought that starting at the age of 4 was too young anyway.

Anyway, after a year at school she can read pretty well. And, after a 6 week holiday of doing no 'reading scheme' reading, her reading has improved again...just by existing!

The important thing with pre-school children is to read bedtime stories and respond to their questions. Do not put on the TV! That wastes everyones time.

Do not worry about any debates on how children learn to read. Jolly Phonics is the current system but phonics doesn't get you very far in reading...children just learn to read! And, it's not really a big issue...most people nowdays learn to read. They just do.

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