Toe by Toe - anyone used it at home?

(26 Posts)
Periwinkle007 Fri 12-Apr-13 09:58:31

my 5.5yr old reception DD seems to have some sort of visual processing problem. We aren't sure what and to be honest will probably never work it out but after a couple of people on here mentioned Toe by Toe I have have a look online and wonder if it is worth trying at home with her.

I know it is aimed at 7+ but she has a reading age of 7 and I think she would probably be able to manage it. We don't need to raise her reading age obviously but in order to deal with her problems she has learned whole words. She knows phonics and she can break words down but she has problems with it. We have got her coloured glasses which are helping but some fonts are still an issue for her on a white background.

I would like to help give her some sort of coping mechanisms/alternatives before there is an impact on her learning in general. Obviously if we started it now then hopefully by the time she starts in Yr1 she would be more confident about it.

She won't qualify for any help at school because she is still ahead and I don't really expect any to be honest as if we aren't 100% sure what the problem is how can I expect school to know what to do. Ideally she could benefit from sitting down with someone one to one every day going through things to work out what it is that is the problem and showing her ways to work with it but that would be great for every child in reception wouldn't it so why should she be any different. What I don't want is for her to have to sit and wait until she gets to yr2 before anyone helps her deal with it by which time she will then be falling behind with things and her confidence will also be suffering. I would rather try and help her now before there is too much of an impact.

Is this likely to help?

mrz Fri 12-Apr-13 10:01:26

I would look at Bear Necessities or Dancing Bears rather than Toe by Toe much better and more suited to younger children

Periwinkle007 Fri 12-Apr-13 10:03:19

thanks Mrz, not heard of them. will look them up

mrz Fri 12-Apr-13 10:12:59
mrz Fri 12-Apr-13 10:18:41

I would use things like spot the difference pictures, Where's Wally? type books, mazes (no finger following allowed) copying shapes and patterns

Periwinkle007 Fri 12-Apr-13 10:20:21

thank you. the only thing that would worry me with a programme for reception age children is that she knows so many words just by sight that I wonder if she would actually just read the words rather than learn the techniques if that makes sense. She knows all the alphabetic code, I have been through it with her over the holidays to check that, she knows them both just written as the combination of letters and in words although I still expect she just reads the words from memory. She is a bit better with sounding things out now she has her glasses and is actually seeing the letters in the right order but even the book band 10 books she has been reading this last week have very few new words for her and once she knows what they are then she knows. Thats why I don't think she is dyslexic but she certainly has something odd going on. Will have a look at the ones you suggest and speak to her teacher next week.
thanks again

Periwinkle007 Fri 12-Apr-13 10:25:06

see she is fine with puzzles and finding things. I really don't understand what the problem actually is. It is certainly helped with the coloured glasses/coloured backgrounds. In the last 10 days since getting her glasses she has read 8 early reader type chapter books with very few problems. I think I am just worried about her confidence with breaking the words down when she meets new ones, especially longer ones. I know for her age it isn't a problem but it is a definite sticking point with HER and HER ability and it isn't that she hasn't been taught, it is more that because she couldn't see the letters properly until now she has worked out her own way of doing things and hasn't been ABLE to do it like this before so we need to reinforce it. It will be reinforced a bit at school obviously but the words they are working with she already knows so it isn't helping HER. She probably doesn't need a whole programme but as she has potentially not experienced it all properly so far I do think she should have a bit of a recap to make sure that now she can see it properly she can see what she should have been seeing all along.

mrz Fri 12-Apr-13 10:26:57

Does that matter? The whole aim of teaching phonics is the child develops automaticity (can read the word without consciously thinking about it) It would only be a concern if she was making errors which would suggest she is guessing.

Periwinkle007 Fri 12-Apr-13 10:33:49

she doesn't make mistakes now she has the glasses. she used to make mistakes between there and then and where and when and a few others but with the glasses these have disappeared virtually overnight.

She reads fluently, only spelling things if they are new words or once she is tired (or if a strange font) so her actual reading is extremely good, I am just concerned she doesn't have the techniques for tackling new words as she hasn't been in the position to before and now it is hard for her to come across them in just general reading.

Perhaps I just need to go through a list of words with her that she obviously won't know and get her to practice a bit. I just wanted to reinforce the method with her first if that makes sense

mrz Fri 12-Apr-13 10:38:51

With Bear Necessities and Dancing Bears the idea is to use a "cursor" (a piece of card with a square cut from one corner) so that the word is revealed sound by sound to encourage the child to read what's actually there and to discourage the child from guessing.

Periwinkle007 Fri 12-Apr-13 10:58:11

ah ok - that sounds perfect. thank you

freetrait Fri 12-Apr-13 15:01:25

Have you thought that this could "just" (don't want to undermine a real problem) be the stage of reading she is at. When DS was at the same stage I had similar concerns re new words and he would make some simple mistakes when tired (re getting the wrong word altogether). As you say it is rare that they meet new words at these levels (9,10,11 etc) as often by then they are developing their other skills (comprehension) and can't zoom too far ahead in terms of harder vocabularly in what they read due to lack of maturity.

Also, we found that DS became a lot more confident with new words/applying phonics as the phonics teaching at school caught up with his reading level. Phonics is taught extremely well at his school (if at the pace of the "average" rather than those further ahead, so a bit slow initially for him) so he had it re-enforced with the whole class. So even though he probably wasn't using it that much when he learnt to read (he has a fantastic memory and probably learnt whole words as much as phonics), he certainly uses it now both for writing and for new words.

talktastic Fri 12-Apr-13 15:19:18

Hi Periwinkle 007 - does she enjoy reading? It sounds like she's doing really well so far and I definitely wouldn't recommend Toe by Toe if you want to keep her motivated. I assume you read books to her so you could keep it relaxed and fun and occasionally point out a new word that's easy to decode phonically, e.g. "tablet" and sound it out together. It's fine for her to guess at words, that's a normal part of learning to read, but then if she gets the wrong guess talk about whether it makes sense in the whole sentence. Don't panic yet, have fun! I have two DD's much older than your DD and they both learnt to read very differently with differing levels of success in the early days, but it's all turned out ok in the end! Good luck!

mrz Fri 12-Apr-13 16:39:46

Sorry talktastic but it really really isn't fine to guess words and it isn't part of learning to read.

talktastic Fri 12-Apr-13 18:52:31

Whoops, sorry mrz and Perrywinkle007

Periwinkle007 Fri 12-Apr-13 20:59:41

Thanks - I do wonder how much is just normal development but once you know there is an actual problem you worry what is connected to that and what isn't.

ReallyTired Fri 12-Apr-13 22:31:51

If you want to improve your daughter's knowledge of phonics then the best way is to practice spelling words. This is a good book.

www.amazon.co.uk/Superphonics-Spelling-Ruth-Miskin/dp/0340851953

Toe by Toe is designed for adults with learning difficulties. It is too bland for a five year old. I think a five year old without learning difficulties would be bored rigid and put off reading for life.

freetrait Fri 12-Apr-13 22:33:04

Indeed. We found out DS needed glasses, and quite strong ones, when he was 4.11. Hadn't noticed any problem prior to this. I then wondered if some of his bad behaviour and tiredness at times had been connected to over-compensating with his eye-sight. Will never really know... just pleased to get the glasses to correct the problem!

Periwinkle007 Sat 13-Apr-13 14:15:02

thank you - I will look at spelling books too then. She brings home spellings from school and does well with them spelling them out phonetically and when she does writing at home (a lot of the time) she does try and work out if she wants ai or ay etc, not normally right but that doesn't matter.

We used Toe by Toe at home with both DS1 and DD, both of whom seemed to hit a bit of a wall with decoding phonics. My mother (retired teacher) already had the materials so it didn't cost us anything. It is very boring dry, but it is effective. Little and often, with stickers for motivation. We only needed to do it for about 6 months. They have both turned into confident readers.

We didn't need to do it with DS2 or DS3 as phonics came very easily to both of them.

Periwinkle007 Sat 13-Apr-13 19:25:55

thank you - it is interesting how different children are isn't it. I think I will see how she gets on in the next half term now she has the glasses and see what her teachers think and then go from there. If they think it would help to follow something then perhaps I can do something over the summer holidays with her - 6 weeks of 20 mins a day

mrz Sat 13-Apr-13 19:33:14

Why don't you make your own cursor and use it to uncover words in her book sound by sound to stop her guessing.

Periwinkle007 Sat 13-Apr-13 20:06:49

yes I suppose I could do. She meets so few words that she doesn't already know that at least that would mean I could check how she does it. I think she would find it very easy like that though because she CAN do the actual decoding if there isn't lots of other text around which seems to clutter it all up for her. I will make one and try it just to check she can actually do it.

thanks mrz

SanityClause Sat 13-Apr-13 20:21:35

I used Toe by Toe with DS, aged 6.

It was brilliant.

I did a reading test (single words) I got off the internet with him, and pretty much scored his age for reading. Now, this confused me, as I thought he was quite bright.

Anyway, I did Toe by Toe, and a few months later, he did a similar test with an Ed Psych. His reading age was then found to be about 8 1/2 years. (I can't remember exactly, but I have the report.)

(Turned out he is bright, but with a "spiky profile".)

So, I know this is anecdata, but in DS's case, it was definitely worth doing.

kicker Sat 13-Apr-13 20:31:05

If the overlays help then she might have Meares Irlen. It's a perception problem rather than a processing difficulty. DD was diagnosed with this a month ago. We have been using this
There's lots of help/info on the site and my daughter has really enjoyed the program and made lots of progress in reading. Good luck

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