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When does a child start reading and writing?

Q: My four years 9 months old daughter still cannot read and write. Other children of her age can read and write. My daughter is very smart but maybe I neglected her studies because of household pressure; job and my elder daughter’s studies. She keeps playing ‘teacher-teacher’ and tries copying her teacher at school. Whatever questions she asks me, I always answer. I feel we are not good parents for her as she still doesn’t know how to read and write. Please tell me how should I teach her? Also tell me when does a child start reading and writing?

A:If your child attends a Nursery School which does not insist on teaching her the alphabet, it is quite natural that she does not know them. There are many views on when formal education (reading and writing) should start. Even the experts differ. However, the child is learning a lot of things through playing with material, toys and household objects. What children learn at age 3 and 4 is much more and much more important than only the alphabets. The child learns through play. The child's fingers at three are not developed enough to hold a pencil, but many schools push them into learning. Chalk pieces to scribble on the floor and crayons on large sheets of paper must precede the use of pencil or brush.

Please do not think of yourselves as inadequate parents. The child will catch up with peers who statred earlier, even if he starts at 5.

Quite often the school system decides the age at which children learn to read and write. In my view, most of them start too early. You should relax and let the school decide when and what they teach.

There are picture books and CDs available for young children. Whatever you do, bring some enjoyment into it for the child and for yourself.

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