Should my 4 and a half year-old daughter be reading by now?  At least a little?  Cause she’s not.

My husband is a voracious reader and his mother has always touted the fact that he was reading by the time he was 4.  So I’ve always had that age in my head as a marker for my daughter.  I wasn’t expecting too much before her fourth birthday (what exactly does my mother-in-law mean when she said he was “reading” at age 4 anyways?) but I did expect that she’d be moving in that direction this year.

Kiki’s friend Mary was over the other day and she picked up a book and confidently read a couple of sentences out loud.  It was impressive.  I wasn’t really too surprised by Mary’s reading ability.  This is a girl who would come over to our house when she was 2 and bring her mother book after book after book to read.  She had little interest in toys.  She only wanted to read.  Mary is one month younger than Kiki and, even though I know I shouldn’t, I couldn’t help but automatically compare my daughter’s abilities to her friend’s.

Kiki knows all of her letters and the sounds they make.  She recognizes (and can write) her name and a bunch of family members’ names.  She knows how to spell and identify a handful of words (dog, cat, stop, go, etc).  But that’s about it.

I think I’m doing what I need to – I read to her every day.  We read tons of books and she loves them.  I pick out certain words in books and try to get her to sound them out.  But this is where we struggle.  She’ll do it, but it takes a lot of walking her through it.  What letter is that?  Yep.  An S.  Now what sound does an S make?  This whole “sounding out” thing hasn’t seemed to click for her yet.  And she gets sick of the task quickly.

I’ll get her to do a few words and then she inevitably sighs and says, “can you just read the story Mom?”  And so I do.  I don’t want to discourage her.  And I’m afraid of making reading a chore.  I want my daughter to continue to love to read.

When my daughter was 3 I had a conversation with a friend of mine who had a kindergartener.  Her daughter read very well and I asked her what kind of things she had done with her daughter to help her get to that point.  She told me a couple of things but then said, “honestly I wouldn’t worry about the reading.  That seems to be pretty much all they do in kindergarten.  They work on reading skills.  So my daughter is bored a lot of times in class.”

I hope this is true.  I want to give my daughter the tools she needs to be successful in school.  But she’s only 4 and I want to keep my expectations and pressures in check.  So I will continue to read to her and gently encourage her to test the waters of her own reading ability.  But I will not push.

Sigh.  I hope this doesn’t affect her chances of getting into Harvard.


One thought on “Reading

  1. It’s hard not to compare your kids to others. I have a frIend who has a 5 yr old and 9 yr old, and she recently said of her 5 yr old, “I’m not worried. He’ll read when he’s ready.” I admire her relaxed attitude! Maybe it’s harder with the first child?! My 4.5 year old isn’t reading on her own either.

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