Q&A: My 4 Year Old Doesn’t Want to Read

blockquote_bg My granddaughter is 4 years old will not pay attention when we try to help her with her reading. She will look everywhere but at the book. She knows her numbers and can do sums if she is in the mood to do so. I get so frustrated as she is very bright but when her teacher tries to get her to do it she makes mistakes and we know that she can do it. Please help with some tips please on how to get her to stay focused.

Since your granddaughter is not yet 5 years old, I am not that concerned about her not being interested in reading. I see you are writing from the UK, so maybe standards for reading are different than in the US, but in the US we typically start focusing on teaching reading at age 6 or about the age children leave kindergarten and enter first grade. There are many children who learn to read before age 6, however, much of that is due to today’s societal pressures to focus on academics to “get kids ahead”. At age 4-5 children should be working in pre-reading skills such as letter recognition, learning to write their name, etc. Pushing kids too early to stay focused on academics can turn them off to it. This article about when kid should learn may be of help to you.

Also keep in mind that the average 4 year old’s attention span is about 5-10 minutes per task, especially for an academic task or a task new or difficult for them. They may be able to pay attention to a movie or game or free play with toys for a 1/2 hour or more, but don’t expect that level of attention across the board. If you want to focus on reading & she is not interested in books, make it more fun for her and instead of forcing her to sit and look at a book, use note cards with words or short phrases written on them that you can tape to items around the house or use during her free play times. For example, if she is playing with the tea set, focus on reading “More tea please” or “The cup is red”. If you make reading more fun & she is at the level to do it cognitively then she may show more interest and sustain attention for a longer period.