Phonics test - sudden concerns and how to help

(161 Posts)
Dentvincent Thu 23-May-13 17:59:02

My DD came home today with a note to say she wasn't making expected progress in phonics. She is Y1 and is due the Phonics test in June - which I have only really heard about on mumsnet until this note. It was a bit of a surprise as it has not been mentioned at all till now. She is on orange book band and pretty much always gets all her spelling right. In fact I thought she was doing really well. They have given me some websites to look at with her which I've done tonight. She seems to be great on all the real words - but I think 'knows' them now as they look pretty simple and so isn't using her phonic knowledge. The a made up word comes up and she just tries to make a real word out of. How can I help her best and should I be a bit annoyed that someone hasn't mentioned it before. She is in the top but one group in the year and at every meeting they have said she is flying

Thanks for help

Galena Thu 23-May-13 18:32:45

Do you ever play nonsense word games with her? DD loves making up rhyming words, whether they are real words or not, which can be interesting when she's rhyming with duck! She giggles about made up words. I think just the concept that there can be nonsense words is a learning point in itself. Also we've just been reading Dr Seuss books and they are quite good for nonsense words... I would suggest either 'There's a wocket in my pocket' or 'On beyond zebra'. Worth a try?

mrz Thu 23-May-13 18:33:59

Encourage her to actually look at the word and say the sounds in order. You might have to cover the word and reveal it sound by sound. The check uses less common real words so they may not be ones she "knows".

Fragglewump Thu 23-May-13 18:39:43

The test has a page of real words then a page of nonsense words then real words then nonsense. So just tell her that she can use whst she knows from reading to guess how to say a nonsense word. That's all she needs to do. You could write some silly words for her to have a go at. Dumb test confusing for children but has to be done at the moment!

mrz Thu 23-May-13 18:45:25

It shouldn't confuse children who know how to decode words ... the teacher is meant to tell the child which words are real and which are pseudo.

mrz Thu 23-May-13 18:47:29

Interestingly the evaluation of last year's check shows that most schools aren't teaching synthetic phonics.

freetrait Thu 23-May-13 20:28:34

Yes, I think I would be annoyed! DS and his year 1 class have been reading nonsense words as well as real words and playing the game where you put real words in one pile and nonsense ones in another all year.

Dentvincent Thu 23-May-13 20:56:35

Thanks everyone. We often do nonsense rhyming and I'll get the dr Seuss books out again - although she seemed to read these quite confidently. I didn't realise they got told if they were made up words or not - that will probably help - I think she currently sees a word and assumes it is real and guesses. She has a good memory eg - gets all her spellings correct at second attempt and therefore doesn't always rely on her phonics knowledge. I think now she is reading better she just doesn't sound out as much.
I guess I am pleased it has been picked up but it has knocked her confidence 'I can't do the phonics test' etc - so am cross it has been made obvious

Euphemia Thu 23-May-13 22:13:05

Interestingly the evaluation of last year's check shows that most schools aren't teaching synthetic phonics.

Are they actively not teaching it, or do they claim they are teaching it, but are doing so badly?

(That is one of the clumsiest sentences I've ever written! Apologies - I'm tired, okay? grin )

simpson Thu 23-May-13 22:24:49

I would be fuming if a school suddenly told me 3 weeks (or so) before the phonics test that my child was behind. Surely they will have known this earlier (if they were doing their job correctly)??

Will 2nd and 3rd others just make some words up like strit, plog, chom etc etc and see how she gets on...

I would also ask the teacher which sounds she is struggling with...

allchildrenreading Thu 23-May-13 22:35:23

Dentvincent - try a notched card to make sure that your child is decoding through the word. It's extremely effective - and doesn't cost anything..

http://www.piperbooks.co.uk/documents/3Notched_Card_Technique_000.pdf

mrz Fri 24-May-13 06:43:10

"^Are they actively not teaching it, or do they claim they are teaching it, but are doing so badly?^"

74% of schools questioned said they still used mixed methods

christinarossetti Fri 24-May-13 07:47:04

Does anyone know what % of children 'passed' the screening test btw, and how many were expected to?

maizieD Fri 24-May-13 11:43:35

Wasn't the 70+% figure you quoted, mrz, from the report on the Phonics check pilot?

Because this extract is from the evaluationof the 2012 Check and is even more depressing..

..some confusion was evident among those who identified themselves as teaching phonics using a ‘first and fast’ approach. Of these schools, 85 per cent ‘agreed’ or ‘agreed somewhat’ with the contradictory statement ‘A variety of different methods should be used to teach children to decode words’, as discussed in Section 2.1.

This contradiction in teacher responses reflects the misunderstanding described in Section 2.1 regarding what ‘systematic synthetic phonics’ means, and what ‘first and fast’ in this context implies. The guidance makes it clear that phonics alone should be taught initially, and that teaching other strategies alongside phonics is not recommended. It would seem that the figure of 53 per cent of schools who claim to be teaching systematic synthetic phonics ‘first and fast’ is potentially misleading, and does not provide an accurate representation of actual practice in phonics teaching. A high proportion of schools are clearly teaching phonics, but not necessarily in the way a systematic synthetic approach would prescribe.

maizieD Fri 24-May-13 11:48:21

Sorry, pressed 'post' too soon.

This seems to me to be saying that

a) Only 53% of schools say that they are teaching systematic synthetic phonics using a 'first and fast' approach

b) 85% of the teachers in these schools use 'other strategies' too, which means that they are not teaching SP as it should be taught.

How this correlates to their Check results I don't know.

Dentvincent Fri 24-May-13 12:00:53

Notched card looks great- have 'made' already - the limit of my crafting!!
I am worried that she has slipped behind unnoticed - but can she still be ahead on reading and writing and just her phonics be slipped. I've been so impressed by how with phonics the whole thing seems to come together but now it looks like some basics are not there. She did tell me this morning about magic 'e' - I thought that wasn't supposed to be taught now

Bosgrove Fri 24-May-13 20:27:18

Our school has suggested that we get our children to play the Obb and bob game on the phonics play website, and told us that to pass the test the children should be working at level 5.

We were also shown last years test booklet, all the made up words have alien pictures next to them, they are the adult names, so if they know that hopefully they know not to try and make it into a real word.

My DD has only a very slim chance of passing the phonics test, she is in the bottom group for phonics, but is reading at a higher level than DS was at her age, and he is doing well in Y3 now.

To stop DD worrying I have told her that it is to test how well the teachers have taught her, and to do her best, but not to worry about it.

I think they said that about 2/3 passed the test first time, if they fail they get retested a few months later, but only retested the once.

mrz Fri 24-May-13 20:38:13

"Our school has suggested that we get our children to play the Obb and bob game on the phonics play website, and told us that to pass the test the children should be working at level 5."

I think they mean phase 5 of Letters & Sounds which children are expected to have covered in Y1.

"I think they said that about 2/3 passed the test first time, if they fail they get retested a few months later, but only retested the once."

In some schools 100% of pupils passed.
If a child doesn't achieve the expected level they will be retested next June.

Dentvincent Fri 24-May-13 22:48:04

We've been told the same about obb and bob - up to phase 5. Which dd seems to sail through.

mrz Sat 25-May-13 07:40:57

From memory Phonics Play doesn't cover all the alternative spellings

Dentvincent Sat 25-May-13 10:39:07

Would you recommend something else then mrz? DD has loved reading eggs but not sure what elae

mrz Sat 25-May-13 10:57:30

Sorry but I would avoid Reading Eggs like the plague

Dentvincent Sat 25-May-13 11:18:05

Whys that mrz?

mrz Sat 25-May-13 11:19:38

because it isn't how phonics is taught in the UK and will only confuse children

teacherwith2kids Sat 25-May-13 11:27:18

School I was in - VERY mixed ability & mixed catchment, but great teaching - all passed except the statemented pre-verbal child. All the other SEN children passed.

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