How do I help my daughter prepare for the yr 1 phonics check?

(244 Posts)
Churmy123 Tue 30-Apr-13 14:00:24

Hi
My dd is 5 (6 at the end of July) and is in year 1. She enjoys school, is well behaved and as far as I know doing well and progressing as she should be. The feedback from her teacher has always been positive. At the last parents evening I was told that she has a flair for creative writing and her writing skills and handwriting are at a year 3/4 level. She also said my dd was one of the 'better' readers and in on turqoise books. At home she is currently confidently reading Enid Blytons Famous Five books. Yesterday after school the teacher called me in to discuss my dds phonics skills. They had done a 'mock' test (last years test I believe) and my dd had only scored 29 out of 40 (32 being the 'pass' mark). She asked if I could do some extra work with my dd at home to try and get her up to the 32 mark before the 'test' in June. She gave me some sheets with words on to work through with my dd and also recommended the 'phonics play' website. We did some of this at home last night and my dd appeared to find it easy and didn't struggle with any of the words. Do I just continue doing this at home? Or could it be that she was having an 'off' day on the day of the 'mock' check? Or is it the 'alien' words that are confusing her? I'm a little confused!!!
Thanks. x

Fragglewump Tue 30-Apr-13 14:05:18

I hate this test and I'm a teacher! It is confusing as some words are real and some are made up - eg flumch all you can do is tell her she needs to read a mix of real and nonsense words to check that she can sound out and then blend unknown words! I wouldn't worry about it much 29 is a great result and it will have no bearing on her long term success - it's just another meaningless stick to beat teachers/schools with!

learnandsay Tue 30-Apr-13 14:07:30

I'm a little confused as to why the teacher is asking you to do her job for her! If you want to accept the task (and I'm not at all sure that I would,) you can read lists of words both real and alien from various discussions on mumsnet and compile your own list of 40 words and then test your daughter yourself. Hopefully you'll then find out if it's the real words or the fake ones that she's having trouble with. You might want to have a time limit and not help her with any words if she struggles. I guess that might be hard for a mum because maybe one person's help is another person's not helping.

lougle Tue 30-Apr-13 14:08:07

Surely the test is meant to be an accurate assessment of your DD's ability to decode unfamiliar words?

My DD2 is not 6 until August, and I'm not going to be at all surprised if she fails the check. I'll be glad if she does, because it means they'll give her extra help in the weaker areas. I'll be glad if she doesn't, because it means that she's secure in the techniques.

What I wouldn't want, is for her to be taught to test, then struggle with application in every day reading. That doesn't help anyone.

blueberryupsidedown Tue 30-Apr-13 14:11:06

Really? We don't even know when the check will be. Teachers don't talk to parents about it, we will receive a letter saying if they have passed or if not they will receive extra help at school. I think that the best way to do it is to try to find a book that will have more unusual words (I find that books about animals, or planets, or factual books with unusual words) and observe your child when she 'decodes' the words. Does she sound them out first? Is she blending the words correctly? Is she trying to replace an unknown word with a word that she is familiar with?

My DH is a teacher and he was watching this clip the other day, it might give you an idea of what the evaluator is looking for.

www.education.gov.uk/schools/teachingandlearning/assessment/keystage1/a00200415/phonics

If the phonics test is to check progress then what favours will it be doing to coach? Just to make the teacher look good?? She knows what she knows and if her phonics are t up to scratch then she wouldn't be on turquoise surely? Just do your reading as normal. smile

Churmy123 Tue 30-Apr-13 14:12:12

Thanks for the response Fragglewump. I must admit I was a little worried and concerned last night but feel a bit better about it all now. The words that the teacher gave me were 'real' words and she sounded them all out perfectly. So I wonder if the teacher can also give me some 'alien' words to try too? I think I was just surprised. Yesterday she wrote an A4 long story about fairies in the garden and it was all spelt correctly including words like queen, special, goblin.

learnandsay Tue 30-Apr-13 14:18:09

Here's a list of words used. But you might have to modify the words if your daughter has already seen this list. But it gives you an idea.

www.tes.co.uk/ResourceDetail.aspx?storyCode=6171845

I would not bother 'coaching' your child for this test.

One, any competent teacher would not need this test to show the, how your child is performing.

Two, you are just encouraging the people who set these tests to set more of them.

Three, the test may have little to do with your child's progress and

Four, she's 5/6 and,shouldn't need to do extra homework as it is.

Churmy123 Tue 30-Apr-13 14:19:30

And thanks to everyone else that replied whilst I was posting my first reply! learnandsay I suspect it's the 'nonsense' words that she's struggling with. We had a go at the 'phonics play' website last night and she got nearly all the 'phase 5' ones correct. It amazed me that she could sound out the words prophet and sphinx and dolphin. But classed the first two as 'nonsense' as they are not in her vocabulary!

Sorry about all my typing, one handed feeding baby!

As a PS if your child needs extra help then she needs proper support not coaching to pass a test.

learnandsay Tue 30-Apr-13 14:28:43

Maybe the teacher has quite a few children who failed the "mock." And can't see how she's going to raise them all this late in the day.

But if each individual mum coaches her own child for ten minutes per day between now and test time, who knows? Maybe double the number of passes?!

Genius. grin

Churmy123 Tue 30-Apr-13 14:30:32

Thanks again everyone! My original panic has now passed. Thanks for the link learnandsay. Nicknamegrief I do agree with your comments. We don't really have much spare time in the evening for more homework. She loves reading and writing and often after school she will sit and write a short story. So I definitely don't want to stop her doing this just to free up some time to do phonics.

christinarossetti Tue 30-Apr-13 14:49:19

It sounds like your dd is doing very well, although the school's teaching of phonics may not have been great.

If you 'coach' her, the school misses the opportunity to recognise its current, genuine weaknesses and improve in the future.

I would honestly carry on as you are.

EskSmith Tue 30-Apr-13 14:58:53

I agree with Christina, this test is meant to be a snapshot of the child's phonics ability, gained over the last 5 terms in school, not something to be coached for. If you coach her to pass then an incorrect snapshot of the school's ability to teach phonics.

BTW sounds like your daughter is doing very well by the way, I wouldn't see any cause for concern, just let her carry on having fun with words and stories.

Every new word is a nonsense word to a child until they understand it and know what it means.

How did she know the first two words were 'nonsense' - do you know they are really nonsense? They could just have an obscure or adult meaning. e.g. flit, mosh, berk, prang

mrz Tue 30-Apr-13 18:25:28
learnandsay Tue 30-Apr-13 18:28:03

No, if the word appears in an otherwise meaningful sentence there is usually a presumption that the word is also meaningful as long as that has been true in the passage so far.

Ok, learn&say If I'm at a music festival, and someone says: 'Want to mosh?' How do I know what that means? Dangerous to accept without knowing! grin

Equally: - Where's Andrew? Oh, he did a flit. Not always easy to determine what the meaning is.

mrz - really interesting link, thankyou

mrz Tue 30-Apr-13 18:39:17

John saw the huge £$£%#&£*@*& at the museum. Helpful, meaningful sentence?

learnandsay Tue 30-Apr-13 18:42:25

If somebody says "do you want to mosh?" then you can assume that they're using the unknown word as a verb. You can ask them what it means.

want tomosh
or want to mosh

could mean anything because it's not a proper sentence and includes an unknown word.

mrz Tue 30-Apr-13 18:45:36

I've used a real word in my sentence but changed the code ...helpful?

learnandsay Tue 30-Apr-13 18:48:13

Well, that actually does happen:

Superbobbin hit Bad Andy - POW (*&(&**^^

or Supergirl said "Oh, &(&& I've forgotten my tights!"

mrz Tue 30-Apr-13 18:56:26

*Superbobbin hit Bad Andy - POW (&(&**^^

Superbobbin hit Bad Andy - POW groiks!

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