Letter: Children who aren't ready to read

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The Independent Online
Sir: Thomas Sutcliffe and his son are locked in mutual bafflement: son can't read and Dad can't understand why not (Tabloid, 7 August).

For years, I have been baffled over why the British force little children to read before they are reading-ready. Making the connection between spoken sounds and little squiggly symbols on paper is actually quite a complex process. There is plenty of well-documented evidence, acted on in the States and in Europe, that most children make this connection around the age of six or seven. That is when they start school, and they learn to read in weeks.

In the UK we start them off at barely five, some as young as four. We have confused nursery school with school. We mass-produce educational "failures" who need special education to help them out of their misery. It has become a British cottage industry to provide therapy for children who were taught formal lessons before their time.

Quintilian was right - wait till they are seven. Parents could play with their children and they could enjoy each other's company in those precious early years. What a thought!

RUTH VECHT

Special Needs Teacher

London NW11

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