Since she’s four, I’ve been hearing more and more that she ought to be at nursery. And that she must start school soon. More and more and more. And I’m also hearing about friends’ children who are reading, writing, hang-gliding etc, at the same age and younger.

It’s hard to remember that Linnea responds badly to being tested and prefers to keep anything she’s ever been tested on a secret. I know she can read because she’s done both word recognition and letter sounding out – but she swears now she can’t do it. And it seems to be true. Part of me thinks I’ve failed and part of me thinks she’s working on some new skill to do with reading, where before she did rote shape-recognition and guesswork, she’s now trying to figure it out from individual letters and she doesn’t quite like it as well because she can see the bits she doesn’t understand.

Praise is hard to navigate. It makes her fail on purpose.

All of this makes me think school would be a bad idea for her. But also that I’m a total failure, because goodness, a four-year-old who can’t read! I could read at four. Loads of my acquaintances children can and do read at four. Where have I gone wrong?

And let’s not discuss bladder control.

  1. Anna’s avatar

    Kate couldn’t read at 4. Holly could probably do so, but I need to find the quality time to teach her.


  2. Helen P’s avatar

    I could read at four. I could read at three, according to my parents. But none of my three children have started reading until they were rising five – certainly Felicity, who is exactly the same age as Linnea, can recognise her own name and is starting to write it, thanks to nursery, and can recognise some letter sounds, also mostly thanks to nursery, but is nowhere near actual reading. I’m fine with that – they all get there in the end, and I would imagine that the sounding out and reading that Linnea could do and now claims she can’t, will all come flooding back to her when she is ready, and make teaching her reading a painless procedure. :-)


  3. T.’s avatar

    I was kept from learning to read until age 6.5 when I started school. German children are usually kept from exploring Topics Only Teachers Can Teach, and they often start school at close to 7.


  4. Radegund’s avatar

    It’s hard to be firm in the face of your local norms. But lookit, there is NO. WAY. Linnea won’t learn to read, given the household she’s growing up in. When it becomes interesting enough to make an attractive personal goal, she’ll do it. Until then, you may need to practise those smiling stock answers…


  5. Anonymous’s avatar

    Christopher began to Demonstrably Read at 4y7m.

    Three months later he tested at a Reading Age of 7 (well ahead of most of his class). When he was actually 7 he read all of HP followed by The Hobbit, with LoTR just after his 8th birthday. (A book I – who could read Malory Towers at 3 – got bogged down in at the age of 11.)

    Linnea is quite obviously immensely bright and I don’t think you need to worry on this issue. I vaguely remember reading that Montessori schools don’t teach reading at all till the age of about 9.

    “Linnea doesn’t want to read” sounds like a decent stock answer to me. Depending on your audience you can deliver it with a shrug, a firm glare, or rolled eyes ;-)

    Julie paradox


  6. Philip Newton’s avatar

    Oh goodness, this is something I struggle with occasionally as well.

    When Amy was small, I thought, I won't rush her into reading, won't force her to, she'd be bored in school if she already knew how to but the others don't, I don't know.

    But now, when I read about children her age (six now) or even younger reading, I wonder whether there's anything "wrong" with her.

    It's a bit of a comfort that (as Tatjana said), reading here in Germany typically comes in school, which (for her) means when she's nearly seven. So she's not "behind" by the standards of The Curriculum.

    I'm still not sure what to feel about her complete disinterest in reading. She can read her name, but doesn't seem to attach any importance to reading herself, at least not right now.

    I suppose the "skill W has to be learned at age X" and/or "skill Y will/should/has to be learned before skill Z" templates are shaping my thoughts here.



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