Sounding out, whole word and phonics question

(482 Posts)

My dd is doing well with her reading. Y1.
At home we read more extensively than school books so I am aware there is an element of pushing her above her school ability so to speak. But her school books are not particularly challenging ORT Level 7.

When she approaches a long unknown word, she basically panics. Small words if unknown don't cause problems, just long ones.

If phonetic, I ask her to sound out. But she can't. I think she reads in a whole word way, and she tries to make a word that she does know without really looking at the word.
Eg
Tethered she wanted to read as teacher.

She has a lazy supply teacher this year so hasn't made much progress in school, plenty at home though.

Is this fear normal progression?

I wondered about the phonics test because if she can't sound out unknown words then this could be a problem.

learnandsay Sat 12-Jan-13 21:21:48

You do not need to be taught digraphs and alternative spellings in order to read them you need to be taught them in order to identify them. You do not need to identify them in order to read words, any more than you need to know what a diphthong, a monophthongs or a glide is.

Tgger Sat 12-Jan-13 21:35:44

"This is, initially, a far more labourious process than just being 'told' the word and memorising it. "(re blending)

Which is why I would sometimes tell DS a word. As it is indeed laborious so there is only so much a child will want to do. If they are enjoying the book it's good not to put them off and it might be appropriate just to tell them the odd word depending on their stage of reading/the book etc. I agree with mrz on this re it depends on the context of the reading.

"Insisting on sounding out and blending all words right from the start makes the process automatic and easy and eliminates the possibility of regression once memorisation fails."

Insisting is good sometimes, not other times. Most parents would agree with that I think. I think we are more in agreement than disagreement Maizie, it's just your approach I dislike.

Tgger Sat 12-Jan-13 21:37:39

learnandsay, it's helpful to be taught the code is it not? It's much easier to be taught/shown it than to work it out yourself.

Tgger Sat 12-Jan-13 21:49:56

OP, if you have those concerns re the phonics teaching could you do it yourself?

Re-reading your original post it looks like you need to get your DD more confident at blending and trying to blend. Presumably she can do it a bit to have got to where she is. Maybe it's the transition from reading easy words which are automatic for her now to coping with the harder ones, which she needs to blend, that she is finding tricky.

I think DS had a similar stage and maybe those children with the good memories shy away from the blending as they haven't had to use it much up to that point- for DS he liked to know the word straight away, often did, so it took a while to acquire the "blending habit" for harder words. Having the phonics in place to use for these words is crucial though or you are onto a non starter.

learnandsay Sat 12-Jan-13 21:55:37

Yes, it's better to be taught the code than to have to work it out for yourself if you can use it. But there is a thread not far from this one where a mother is asking for a non phonetic reading scheme because she tried for years with both of her sons and phonics and they couldn't learn to read. But one has made great strides teaching himself whole words and the mother suspects that her second son might need to learn whole words too. The implication of many phonics enthusiasts is that phonics should be the only method allowed and to hell with anybody or anything which needs anything else. Well, there are people who do need other things and they need to be allowed to have access to other methods as required. Penicillin is fantastic. But have you noticed that it's not the only medicine? What would happen if doctors started forcing patients to take penicillin when it wasn't appropriate simply because it has miraculous properties in so many circumstances?

Tgger I think that's it exactly. She blended 18m ago with cat sat bin etc.
she gradually has stopped using the skill, it hasn't been reinforced at school and her phonic knowledge is behind what it should be.

I have got some useful phonic stiff from on here so will dig out and practise.

I am also going to be a bit more insistent on talking alien. (Remembers DD face when I asked her in French if she could speak French as she picked up a book in library in French - total disdain ) grin she is still only 5!

Tgger Sat 12-Jan-13 22:08:07

Yes, but I'd vote phonics first with every child before anything else. Even us whole word readers were taught to sound out. To me phonics just seems a more methodical type of old fashioned sounding out, with more consistent rules in place that aid spelling as well as reading, all be it with exceptions.

And children will use other methods too, whole words, context etc. But if I mention those I tend to get flamed (dives under cover).

Tgger Sat 12-Jan-13 22:14:51

Great OP, sounds like a plan smile.

That sounds bad if they are not practising at school though. They should be going over the sounds every day I think. Is it worth talking to the teacher a bit more about your concerns- make an appointment so she has time to talk to you? Sounds like that relationship (home-school) is not the best though sad.

maizieD Sat 12-Jan-13 23:10:52

. I think we are more in agreement than disagreement Maizie, it's just your approach I dislike.

What approach do you dislike? I think my first post is perfectly reasonable in suggesting what seems to be the problem and the best way to deal with it.

Frustration at the 'mother knows best', 'it's all a matter of opinion' approach came somewhat later.

CecilyP Sun 13-Jan-13 09:43:39

OP, I wouldn't worry too much about the phonics test - the words are either one syllable, or simple 2 syllable words - certainly nothing as complex as 'tethered'. You can look up the sort of words that are in the test on-line.

Your DD has only done a term in Y1, so there are probably a lot more phonics sounds still to be covered. I also think it is perfectly normal to be phased by long words, however good and comprehesive the phonics teaching is. Also, if she is doing ORT, it will not be tailored to the phonics that she has been taught so far. In the meantime, I would encourage her to work out the words she can, but supply the words that she is likely to really struggle with. If she tries and gets a word wrong, it also gives you the opportunity to bring in some incidental phonics teaching.

mrz Sun 13-Jan-13 10:02:34

Can I ask why you feel you need to be more insistent on "talking alien" Shattereddreams? (what is talking alien btw?)

learnandsay Sun 13-Jan-13 10:26:59

I think talking alien was introduced fairly early on in the thread and came from the idea that in the phonics test made up words are marked with an alien. The OP's daughter keeps trying to make real words out of made up ones and playing the alien game we've surmised in this thread will stop her from thinking that they're human words.

mrz Sun 13-Jan-13 10:27:03

Can I also point people to an old blog by Dorothy Bishop
http://deevybee.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/phonics-screening-sense-and-sensibility.html

You can’t read for meaning if you can’t decode the words. It’s possible to learn some words by rote, even if you don’t know how letters and sounds go together, but in order to have a strategy for decoding novel words, you need the phonics skills. Sure, English is an irritatingly irregular language, so phonics doesn’t always give you the right answer, but without phonics, you have no strategy for approaching an unfamiliar word.

mrz Sun 13-Jan-13 10:28:10
learnandsay Sun 13-Jan-13 10:28:44

So how come people who never learned phonics can read?

mrz Sun 13-Jan-13 10:34:42

*even if you don’t know how letters and sounds go together*

some people are able to work out how our spoken language relates to our written language independently and with relative ease (it obviously takes longer that discrete teaching ) but many others don't work it out and struggle with only a limited sight word vocabulary to help them tackle texts.

learnandsay Sun 13-Jan-13 10:40:15

Whole word children are taught how letters and words go together not letters and sounds.

mrz Sun 13-Jan-13 10:48:16

Whole word children are taught how letters and words go together that is precisely what whole word teaching does not do learnandsay.

learnandsay Sun 13-Jan-13 11:07:56

It has to do that. Whole word children can spell.

CecilyP Sun 13-Jan-13 11:15:54

Whole word children are taught how letters and words go together not letters and sounds.

I am not sure what you mean by 'whole word children', but you can't have it both ways, either children learn words as wholes, with no reference to the individuals letters and their relevant sounds, or they actually do learn letters and how they relate to the spelling and pronunciation of the words.

learnandsay Sun 13-Jan-13 11:32:23

Well, I'm afraid I have to have it both ways, Cecily. Because whole word children can spell. I suppose the one concession to your complaint is that they aren't taught the letter sounds. But they most certainly are taught how to spell.

CecilyP Sun 13-Jan-13 11:44:55

I am still not sure how you define 'whole word children'. How can you be taught to spell without reference to letter sounds?

mrz Sun 13-Jan-13 12:06:49

The whole-word approach is a method to teach reading by introducing words to children as whole units without analysis of their subword parts. (Beck and Juel 2002)

Many, many children who learnt by whole words can not spell and were never taught to spell under the assumption that if they could read a word by sight they would remember what it looked like for spelling.

Tgger Sun 13-Jan-13 12:10:58

I'm not sure I understand the concept "whole word children". My mother taught her children the old look and say way but for her it included sounding out. My 4 year old is just learning her sounds and sounding out some cvc words. My Mum was quick to tell her "always sound it out."

mrz Sun 13-Jan-13 12:16:55

Tgger Look and Say doesn't include sounding out ...your mother has used mixed methods which was the recommended method before the Rose Report.

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