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Are most children capable of reading before writing?


lacell
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Yes.

But I come from an early reading family.

It might well be that later readers would be capable of the fine motor control to write letters *as* they were learning to read.

 

Since my experience is with early reading, I would NEVER demand that a child write a letter in order to learn it!  (Unless the child in question were already seven or something.)

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IME, it depends on what the child is more interested in.  I have two here that are the same age, one wanted to develop writing skills before reading (phonics), one wanted to jump into reading but didn't have the fine motor skills for writing at the time.

I will say I find it helpful to have tactile aids to act as an inbetween.  The child slowly writes with their finger/traces the letter as they say it aloud but isn't required to write it on their own.  It sets the stage for later writing development and puts a mental image in their brain of how the letter is formed.

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In general, do you think the statement in the title accurate? I am speaking of phonetic reading, not sight word memorization. Do you think it slows children down to not read until they can write the letters?

 

I don't know about most children. I think it is hard to do a controlled study on this due to ethical concerns.

 

I would not ever slow reading simply because a child could not write. I would treat them separately at least at the beginning.

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I was having dd watch Letter Factory at the age of about 2.  She had a magna doodle that she played on.  One day she drew a letter they were showing on the video.  I started working letters with her then.  She does really well with all her upper case now and almost all of her lower case at 5 1/2.  She has been writing for a lot longer than she has been reading.  Something that may or may not have had an impact on ability was she had been using sign language for awhile before she started writing.

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Both my children could spell for several months before they could blend. They both watched letter factory young as well and could write their letters very early. My son was older than my daughter before he could spell. He could spell as fast as he could read once he started phonics, my daughter could read faster than he could spell when she started phonics. My son's reading took about a year of practice until he could read faster than he could spell.

 

Using magnetic letters, I wonder if many children wouldn't be able to spell before reading, I would be interested to know, I don't know which would be easier for most children.

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My son spells better than he reads. His writing is excellent as well.

Approximately 6 Phonics programs later, the last 3 much faster since I finally tried out Don Potter's suggestion of using the Phonovisual charts, my son was reading at grade level, around the beginning of the 3rd grade, I think. He is now reading several grades above grade level, but not yet at the 12th grade level, so I do Webster's Speller with him a few times a week. Once he got to grade level his progress was very fast since I had been doing the Webster syllables with him from the beginning.

 

I only used 6 different programs with him because I had them on hand and like to pretend I am not doing the same thing all the time. He needed a lot of repetition, although many of my remedial students have needed even more, I still felt the need to change programs to not drive myself crazy.

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My son spells better than he reads. His writing is excellent as well.

 

 

We should seriously sit down for coffee sometime.  That was my ds at 7yo. He was spelling SWR A-I, but not reading anything.  And, the spelling didn't stick in his long-term memory b/c....well, he wasn't reinforcing it via reading.

 

 

 

To answer your OP, I think the act of writing is an aid to learning to read.  Many kids need to FEEL a T and say /t/ to really know "T."   I would not expect the child to write perfect copies at the earliest stage, and he may only be able to trace the letters, not write.  But, kids should be learning letter formation along with letter sounds.  They need to feel the words, not merely see them. But, the writing is not central yet...it's merely an aid to the act of learning to read.

 

Once kids are really reading, then it's time for reading to be an aid to writing.  The roles reverse.  Spelling is reinforced by reading.  Grammar is reinforced via reading.  Composition is first learned through reading.

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If you are talking about writing as in handwriting with a crayon or pencil, then writing was slightly after reading because I didn't teach my kids.

 

My oldest however trace the letters in the air or on the carpet very early, about the same time he learn his phonics through leapfrog. He stand and walk very late though.

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We should seriously sit down for coffee sometime.  That was my ds at 7yo. He was spelling SWR A-I, but not reading anything.  And, the spelling didn't stick in his long-term memory b/c....well, he wasn't reinforcing it via reading.

 

 

 

To answer your OP, I think the act of writing is an aid to learning to read.  Many kids need to FEEL a T and say /t/ to really know "T."   I would not expect the child to write perfect copies at the earliest stage, and he may only be able to trace the letters, not write.  But, kids should be learning letter formation along with letter sounds.  They need to feel the words, not merely see them. But, the writing is not central yet...it's merely an aid to the act of learning to read.

 

Once kids are really reading, then it's time for reading to be an aid to writing.  The roles reverse.  Spelling is reinforced by reading.  Grammar is reinforced via reading.  Composition is first learned through reading.

 

That would be lovely :001_smile:

 

That is precisely where I'm getting hung up. My almost 7 year old writes excellent cursive. I like that. I don't want to mess that up. I also want my almost 5 year old to learn cursive first as he did. BUT, I'm noticing that OG programs use manuscript tracing. The big question for me is does it work to trace the letter in cursive (feel the "t" in cursive for example) while reading it in manuscript? Is it really necessary to trace it in manuscript? There was a time in history where children only learned cursive in elementary and still read fine. But was that true even for those with dyslexia, or did they miss out? Even manuscript doesn't look exactly like bookface, especially the "a" and "g". Dancing Bears seems to have solved that issue by having the child read in only their print. Eventually, of course, they would have to transition out of that. I suppose I could have my kids start out reading only cursive, such as blend phonics, Word Mastery or Alpha Phonics in cursive. I'm a little nervous about having my kids trace manuscript with their finger and then expecting them to write in cursive. Isn't tracing similar to writing in terms of muscle memory?

 

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Mine were about the same age for writing and reading.  In their doodling, they recognized that some of the doodles looked like certain letters and that's all it took.  Reading, however, progressed much faster than the writing.  Probably the first thing that all my kids learned to write was their name.

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Mine seemed to go hand-in-hand, with reading slightly ahead and progressing more quickly.  All three of mine started trying to write letters shortly after starting to sound things out on their own.  The more they got excited about reading, the more letters they wrote.  But the reading definitely gained ground faster...though it could be because they were all early readers to one degree or another, so the fine motor was not quite there yet.

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I think it depends upon the kid, but...with my 3 youngest (the ones I've taught reading to) the reading came first.  Teaching my 2nd oldest to spell did not "take" until she could read independently.  #3 wrote in pictures until he could read.  With youngest, she wasn't at all interested in writing until she started reading.  She also "wrote" in pictures. She did get that there was writing, but she knew that she couldn't understand writing, so she didn't try to convey meaning through writing.  Now that she's reading, she sounds out words and tries to write them so we've started spelling instruction. 

 

BUT, I can see it happening the other way or simultaneously.  My oldest attended school for kindy and 1st and was reading at a 3rd grade or so level by mid-kindy.  He was also "allergic" to his pencil (he hated to write, it took years after we took him out of school to get him to be willing to write things with his own hand---none of my other kids were like this).  But he has always been able to spell, even without formal instruction.  He sees the words in his head and he writes them, so I suspect that if motor skills hadn't been in play he would have been a simultaneous writer and reader.

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I believe that typically reading comes before writing.

 

However, I think it depends on the child. My DD has always been advanced fine motor skills wise and has been writing legible letters since before she turned 3 (4 now). Writing came before reading for her, but I have not formally taught her to write in the same way I have taught her phonics. She seems to learn better if she can write the words she reads. But, she's been obsessed with writing and drawing since before turning 1 and has a love for all writing and drawing utensils.

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Both my children could spell for several months before they could blend. They both watched letter factory young as well and could write their letters very early. My son was older than my daughter before he could spell. He could spell as fast as he could read once he started phonics, my daughter could read faster than he could spell when she started phonics. My son's reading took about a year of practice until he could read faster than he could spell.

 

Using magnetic letters, I wonder if many children wouldn't be able to spell before reading, I would be interested to know, I don't know which would be easier for most children.

I wonder this as well. Some friends share their children's "writing" assignments from Kindergarten and they have incredibly imaginative spelling. It's clear that their spelling doesn't match their reading.

 

My DD4 seems to have reading and spelling go hand in hand, but has incredible handwriting. She only spells what she knows though. Perfectionism is strong with her!

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Probably. I can't imagine the point of doing tons of writing without being able to read what one is writing.

I can't really see an educational point, but my middle dd has begged to do copywork since before she was 5, and she couldn't read a lick. She always wants to write things, which she does by dictating to dh or me (or dd9) what she wants to say, we write it down, and then she copies it over - completely unable to read it (unless it is a cvc word, or some CCVC words (we've *finally* moved beyond cvc words!)). She can (and does) fill a page with extremely neat handwriting - none of which she can read (instead she remembers what it says and tells it back from memory - but she often wants us to read it to her - she doesn't consider her telling it back from memory to be reading).

 

But it is helpful to be able to do spelling to introduce her reading words - she's spelling (and reading back) words ahead of where she is in her reading lessons - makes the reading lessons go better, because she's already worked through them a few times in spelling.

Edited by forty-two
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I think it depends greatly on the child.

 

My 1st three were definitely read before write. I wanted to like O-G methods like SWR and WRTR, but with my oldest there was no way it would happen in that order. She read her first word looking at a sign from the back seat of the car at 2 yrs old - she had years of struggle with fine motor and still has shaky spelling and penmanship.

 

I'm so glad I didn't wait for her to be able to write. But I also know there are so many different, yet valuable and legitimate, ways to learn.

Edited by Targhee
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In general, do you think the statement in the title accurate? I am speaking of phonetic reading, not sight word memorization. Do you think it slows children down to not read until they can write the letters?

 

 

I think most are capable of reading, or at least have phonemic awareness before reading.  Honestly, it depends on the child.  My oldest developed typically - being able to recognize sounds and form letters concurrently, my second could write before he could read, and my DD (now 7) started reading (phonemically) just before she turned three.  It varies so much between children that I don't think a blanket statement can be made.

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I am somewhat baffled by the idea of spelling first. Not that I don't think it is possible or happens, but I'm curious as t how one spells without reading. DD now spells words she knows, but only ones she can read. Can your kids read the words they spell? I'm interested in how spelling before reading works.

 

They could slooowly and painfully sound them out.  My kindergartener is at this stage right now.  He is getting better at sounding out words, but spelling is still easier.  Reading hasn't clicked yet.  He is right on the edge.

 

I don't know how other people teach spelling first but this is what I do.  First the kids learn to recognize the first sound in a word orally, next the last sound, and then move to being able to orally sound out the whole word.  At the same time we are working on learning letter sounds.  Then we put it together, by orally sounding out the word and picking the right letters for each sound.  I'm there facilitating.

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It may depend on what you mean by writing.  Do you mean being able to form a few letters?  Or being able to compose written sentences?

 

With my kid who had vision problems, the ability to physically do the letters was linked to the ability to recognize them visually.  I think what helped her most in that regard was a set of Wiki stix - ABC cards.  We also did other activities that made the letters 3-D and allowed her to experience them physically instead of just visually.  Soon thereafter, she about doubled the list of letters she could recognize.  She began recognizing words about the time she could write all of the letters from memory.  But her reading development outpaced writing development as time went by.

 

My other kid could write words before she could read much.  She knew the word "fox" and I could ask her to write "box" before she could read "box" in a book.  This was at age 2 or 3 though.  She has never been fond of writing, so we didn't do much of it, yet she became a fluent reader at 4.

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They could slooowly and painfully sound them out. My kindergartener is at this stage right now. He is getting better at sounding out words, but spelling is still easier. Reading hasn't clicked yet. He is right on the edge.

 

I don't know how other people teach spelling first but this is what I do. First the kids learn to recognize the first sound in a word orally, next the last sound, and then move to being able to orally sound out the whole word. At the same time we are working on learning letter sounds. Then we put it together, by orally sounding out the word and picking the right letters for each sound. I'm there facilitating.

So is he spelling on his own too? Or is a thing you do together? We do spelling by saying words slowly. Not that we do formal spelling, but if DD asks how to spell something and it's a word she could sound out, I have her say it slow and pick out the letter sounds. But, she doesn't spell on her own much beyond basic CVC words.

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My daughter wasn't much interested in our attempts to learn to read at 4. We managed CVC words, basic sounds... It wasn't until she wanted to start writing down her stories and asking how things were spelled, at around 5.5, that she really was ready to buckle down on reading. (Also clued me in that we needed a more systematic curriculum with spelling and grammar integrated from the start). Of course I write for 2-6 hours a day and she sees that so she was trying to emulate me, but that was the progression for us.

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I remember being perplexed by how long it took my kid brother to go from spelling to reading.  He could spell a list of words at age 3, but was at least 5.5 before he could read some of those words.

 

I think a lot of kids can write their names before they can pick out their name from a short list of written words.

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The beginnings of spelling and reading occurred together for my son. He started spelling out short words with straws and such before actual handwriting though. While there has been leaps occuring in both at different times, overall both are at about the same grade level, I think.

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In general, do you think the statement in the title accurate? I am speaking of phonetic reading, not sight word memorization. Do you think it slows children down to not read until they can write the letters?

 

I don't know about most children. I know even my early reader could write his name before he could read.  (And many other words with magnets. He watched Letter Factory, and that series. And asked me constantly "How do you spell MOM" "CAT" "HAT" etc.)

 

My daughter can write her name, "Mom" Thank you, etc (copying off things I write) but cannot read yet.  She guesses at words based on the first letter or two.

Edited by vonfirmath
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I don't know about most children. I know even my early reader could write his name before he could read. (And many other words with magnets. He watched Letter Factory, and that series. And asked me constantly "How do you spell MOM" "CAT" "HAT" etc.)

 

My daughter can write her name, "Mom" Thank you, etc (copying off things I write) but cannot read yet. She guesses at words based on the first letter or two.

Dd could recognize her name and spell it before she wrote it. She wrote it fairy early (3), but recognized it as a sight word before she could write it. Not sure if that's the norm. Dd also did a lot of copy work before she could read, but couldn't independently write. I think it's the phonetic spelling prior to reading that baffles me. If they can spell a word phonetically, couldn't they read it? Even if it was slow reading?

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So she couldn't read the words she wrote? That's so intriguing to me.

 

Yes, I think they are different skills.  The one, realizing a word you want to say has these sounds in this order that can be represented by written symbols.  The other, blending the symbols someone else put together.  Going from whole to parts vs. going from parts to whole.

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Yes, I think they are different skills. The one, realizing a word you want to say has these sounds in this order that can be represented by written symbols. The other, blending the symbols someone else put together. Going from whole to parts vs. going from parts to whole.

So did she do imaginative spelling? I've seen some kindergarteners do that and I knew that their reading ability didn't match what they wrote. For example, they'd write "dawdr" for daughter.

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Most, yes, and the earlier a child reads the more likely it is to be a gap. DD11 was kind of an extreme case-she started picking out words in other contexts and decoding before age 2, tested at a 5th grade level before age 3, and at a post-high school level before age 6. Needless to say, she wasn't writing anywhere near that level. At age 3, she would painstakingly write a few words, at age 5, she could manage a sentence. (I have a drawing somewhere of a cobra labeled "I am venmos" at that age. The snake is a lot more recognizable than the letters). It took until about age 9-10 for her writing to pass what is very typical for her age level, and the primary reason was that she had finally gotten pretty good at typing.

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So did she do imaginative spelling? I've seen some kindergarteners do that and I knew that their reading ability didn't match what they wrote. For example, they'd write "dawdr" for daughter.

 

Yes, I think most little kids do this when they are writing for fun.

 

She recently addressed a gift to my kid and her spelling was 100% phonetic.  ;)

 

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I think it's the phonetic spelling prior to reading that baffles me. If they can spell a word phonetically, couldn't they read it? Even if it was slow reading?

 

Anything my girls could/can spell phonetically - on their own - they can read phonetically.  But they both had/have phonemic awareness deficits that make manipulating sounds - breaking a word into phonemes, or putting phonemes together to make a word - very difficult.  So they can spell some words phonetically - if I break the word into sounds for them - that they still couldn't read phonetically, because while they could decode the individual phonograms, they couldn't put those sounds together to make a word any more than they could break down the word into sounds in the first place. 

 

Now my oldest was a natural-born sight reader, and there were plenty of words she could spell phonetically (with help breaking the words into individual phonemes) that she also read by sight - but she saw no connection between /c/ /a/ /t/ and /cat/.  She might have been spelling phonetically (using phonics knowledge to write "c" for /c/ and "a" for /a/ and "t" for /t/), but she was reading entirely visually - she had not "broke the code" in any meaningful sense (that took a year of dedicated work on CVC words).

 

My middle child, otoh, does not even attempt to read by sight, and only reads what she can sound out.  But, like her big sis, she can spell words phonetically (when the word is broken down into sounds for her) that she then can't read, because she needs help to learn how those *particular* sounds blend together into a word.  But once she learns how those particular sounds blend together, she can sound it out on her own - she can read it.

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Yes, I think most little kids do this when they are writing for fun.

 

She recently addressed a gift to my kid and her spelling was 100% phonetic. ;)

 

Okay that makes sense! Thanks for clarifying for me. DD doesn't do much imaginative spelling. I'm sure it might come, but part of me thinks she's a bit of a perfectionist who prefers to not do something unless she can do it 100%

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So is he spelling on his own too? Or is a thing you do together? We do spelling by saying words slowly. Not that we do formal spelling, but if DD asks how to spell something and it's a word she could sound out, I have her say it slow and pick out the letter sounds. But, she doesn't spell on her own much beyond basic CVC words.

 

He doesn't write on paper much yet, but he can build simple words himself now, probably any one syllable word that uses the most common sound for the single letter phonograms.  He hasn't learned multi-letter phonograms or the other sounds that letters make yet.

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Interesting question. I have seen it go both ways. However, I've definitely seen it be that a child can read before they can spell much more often.

 

Either way... I feel like it's one of those things that gets enshrined in education in a totally annoying way... children will do A before they do B, as if the skills must be linear when they're simply not.

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They are such different skills.  Why should one be dependent on the other?  Both my boys read fluently long before they could write much.  Reading enriched their lives - I can't imagine forcing a child to wait until their motor skills are good enough to write.  What would be the benefit?

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