We live in a very competitive world. Every parent wants to give their children a start that they didn't have.
At times parents are unsure of what they need to do academically for their children so that they are not behind before they begin school. I think at times the parents are far more anxious then their kids.
A lot of parents face the dilemma of whether or not they should teach their children to read before they start school so here is my advice from what I have observed from teaching.
All children learn at their own pace. This cannot be rushed. It can be facilitated but not pushed. The best thing that you can do for your child is to immerse them in rich text. Give them a love for reading by choosing books that they enjoy and want to have read over and over again.
I found with my own children that Dr Suess books worked a treat. Our boys would frequently request them and often finish off the sentences. There most favourite books were Green Eggs and Ham (of course!) and The Sneetches.
Lynley Dodd's books are also all time favourites in our household. Harry Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy is very catchy and fabulous for boys with all the different dogs he meets on the way!
Check them out these books and others at booktopia
Once students are immersed into books often they will start to want to read. This can vary with a wide range from 3 through to 7. Not wanting to read early doesn't mean that your child will struggle at school or wont be academic. The whole process is about going gently so that your child becomes a lifelong reader, not a I have to read reader. You need to make sure that you never push your kids. This 99% of the timewill backfire. You don't want to stop your child from reading before they even start.
Internal motivation is the key. Ensure you choose books that your child is passionate about. One mother this week had her three year old sound asleep in his pram clutching to a book about wind mills, a wind mill made out of straws and a stuffed toy. She has searched everywhere for books about windmills to satisfy his interests. He is so into this theme that at his daycare they have begun to do a unit on it.
It reminded me of eldest son, Max when he was 4 and his love for Dr Suess books. He painted a picture of his own version of a Dr Suess character. Max then made up a story that went along with it.
Some children are however very ready to begin reading. Max was ready to learn how to read before school. So what did I do? We purchased some books from the Reading Eggs. They started very simply and gradually moved on.
What I liked best about this series of books was that they don't just focus on the written word but more importantly their ability to comprehend what they have read. They are bright and colourful and have a website link if you want to sign up.
So should I teach my child how to read before school? In short ask your child if they want to...look for the signs of engagement and most importantly give them a lifelong love of reading!