Friday, 11 November 2011

Learning to Read

One of the things as a parent that always worries me is how do we help teach our children to read, my eldest has always really struggled with letters and reading, he never found it easy, never enjoyed it. Yes, he loves listening to me read, but never wanted to know what the letters meant himself.

When he started School at 4 years old, as my first I was abit shocked to see that the teachers already expected him to have a good grasp of letters and the basic words. I had never really sat him down and taught him how to read, with it never being something he was interested in it wasn't something that I thought was urgent at 2 and 3 or even 4 years old. He could recognize and write the letters in his name to some extent, and a select few others, but that was about as far as we'd got when he started Reception, which to be honest at 4 I thought was reasonably Ok.

Now he is 9 and still struggles, and we now know his difficulties are deeper than just being a reluctant boy reader, and due to him being dyslexic. He has struggled for years and it has really knocked his confidence, and this is the main reason I find it difficult to actively encourage him to read or write when hes at home, knowing hes just spent the vast majority of the day in a structured environment probably being told to try harder, and do better, watching as his friends find things alot easier than him. I feel it is not beneficial at all for him to return home after such a day, and me join in with the 'you have to try harder' attitude and sit him down for yet more structured learning which he finds extremely difficult even if he does 'try harder'

Ultimately when it comes to any structured writing and reading at home,  I get frustrated and he gets upset, which is not beneficial at all, and so I do not pursuit it, when he does his homework I step back and if he does one sentence then I smile sweetly n pack it away, maybe its the wrong attitude to have, maybe he'd do better if I forced him to sit and re write out words thousands of times, but for me I want him to be happy, I want him to have confidence and find his strengths somewhere else, so when hes at home I let reading and writing take a back seat, we play and do things which never focus around a 'educational structure' yet I believe have more value, reading now tends to be mainly done via computer games, it is then that my eldest will try hard and want to read what is wrote in front of him, I try to encourage him to build his confidence by giving him other strengths to focus on like the amazing Smartgames, which promote spacial awareness and logical thinking which he excels at, and being creative drawing and such like. I would love him to thrive and want to pick up books and read them himself but I understand for him that's probably never likely to be the case, so why therefore waste his childhood forcing him to do something which is extremely difficult and unenjoyable, knocking his confidence and making him wonder where the fun things in life are.

Another difficulty in having my eldest who struggles was watching his younger sister who is only a year younger quickly catch him up and pass him in reading and spelling, and now his even younger brother starting out on the learning process, and doing fairly well, I want to encourage them to pursue and achieve in reading and writing, but equally not to rub it in my eldest face and highlight his difficulties even more. So again I often try to find things which are not so structured and more fun based to do with my youngest.

So when we were sent a pack of Ravensburger My First FlashCards, I was dubious, this sort of thing is exactly what I try to steer away from, I do not sit them down and flash up word after word with no prompts no pictures no game plan just you sit, I show you, you read it mentality. That was something that never worked with my eldest and made him quickly loose interest.

These flashcards however can be fun, and we have actually enjoyed them and they have become something we often get out to play with.

Mikey is 4 and just started Reception, he comes home with new words to learn every few days, he knows all his letters, but does not know many words as yet, however he is eager to learn - and this is something I do want to encourage so we get out these flash cards, which are a pack of 50 large blue cards, with one single white word on each side. So you have 100 key words which children in the foundation stage are encouraged to learn. With them being the basic words my eldest does easily read them too, so he can feel like the older brother and join in to correct Mikey if he makes a mistake.

We use these cards in the traditional 'flash' method where we pull out a few words and show them to Mikey where he says what the word is, and we play a few different games with them, one being where I find out a selection of words then give them to Mikey to order into a sentence, or where we pick out a word and they think up a sentence for the said word. Also these clear flash cards are great for pin pointing those tricky words such as 'said' and 'teacher' which you can lay out to just reinforce the words when the older two are writing a story.

There are alot of uses for these flashcards and they really can help with encouraging children to read and spell, if you have a child who is eager to learn and willing to join in with activities which contain a slight bit more structure to them than fun board games with a educational benefit, then these are great and a very useful thing to have in every school age childs household Priced at £5.99 you can purchase them online from ToysRus here : My First Flash Cards

Heres us playing with them in this video:


  1. Mmm looks good. I'm just starting to think about when we should begin playing with letters as DD turns 3 next month. I always though 3 was a good age but she seems awfully young still.

  2. Aww such a smart boy ! and I love his little elf costume he's got on x


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