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

christinarossetti Sat 25-May-13 13:52:00

This is interesting. When I first heard about the phonics screening, I was a bit hmm about whether children need any more tests and thought surely most of them have got a good grasp of phonics after 2 years of being taught them.

Now, having seem so many posts about teachers asking parents to 'practice' before the Y1 phonic screening, I'm tending to think the screening is a good idea.

I would be really annoyed if my child's teacher only expressed concerns about their phonic knowledge at the end of Y1 and even more annoyed if this was just to increase their pass % in the screening rather than because they recognised that inadequate phonics will impede their learning to read.

Dentvincent Sat 25-May-13 15:47:06

That sums up how I feel - thought I was being precious. My husband thinks its good it has been picked up but I feel it should have been picked up earlier, especially as we had been led to believe she was almost into the top group - which btw I find very frustrating that children of 5 are already 'ranked'.' my DD now says she will have extra every day - which I'm not sure whether is a push to pass the screening or to actually aid her. (probably will do both).

Dentvincent Sat 25-May-13 15:48:28

I'd kind of thought she was doing well at reading and phonics but maybe she is reading well despite not fully grasping all her phonics!

mrz Sat 25-May-13 16:24:52

The purpose of the screening check is to identify those children who aren't secure with phonics. The teacher has realised before the test which is good and to be fair if the problem can be resolved by the 17th of June it can't be a huge problem ...

christinarossetti Sat 25-May-13 20:10:01

Yes, it is good that individual children's lack of security with phonics is being picked up but it makes me wonder if phonic knowledge would have been seen as a priority if there wasn't a screening test to be got through.

So I am now fully in favour of the screening text, it seems.

Are you sure that the teacher will tell them whether a word is real or not? Have been doing Obb and Bob this morning and DD is getting the words in the wrong categories; changing words to make them sound real to her, or feeding real words she hasn't met yet to Obb. Not sure whether to help her or just try and make her familiar with every word in the English language before June.

christinarossetti Sun 26-May-13 08:37:03

This is from mrz up thread, who is a teacher and administered the phonics test last year in her school.

"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 Sun 26-May-13 08:38:12

Yes the teacher will tell the child when words are real or the names of types of imaginary creatures [rolls eyes at that part] I think the pictures are an unnecessary distraction and would rather they weren't there.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/check-administrators-guide-phonics-screening-check (page 12)

The following text provides an example of how you could introduce the check.

• In this activity, I am going to ask you to read some words aloud.

• You may have seen some of the words before and others will be new to you.

• You should try to read each word but don’t worry if you can’t. If it helps you, you may sound out the letters before trying to say the word.

• This practice sheet shows you what the words will look like.

• Have a go at reading out loud these four words which you should have come across before [at, in, beg and sum].

The words on this side [turn over practice sheet] are not real words. They are names for types of imaginary creatures. You can see a picture of the creature next to each word.

• Can you read out the words on this page for me [ot, vap, osk and ect]?

• Ok, now we are going to start reading out the words in this booklet and I’m going to write down what you say on my sheet.

In this booklet there are four words on each page. I will tell you at the start of each page whether they are real words that you may have seen before or words for imaginary creatures.

The first page has words for imaginary creatures and you can see their pictures.

• Can you start reading the words to me?

daftdame Sun 26-May-13 09:37:49

You may roll your eyes mrz...you probably would have had eye strain if you'd encountered me as a child. I would have loved that the words were names of imaginary creatures. It would have given meaning to the whole task. My whole life at that stage was wrapped up in fairy tales.

I probably would have worried me if I was asked to read something I could not have made sense of to the teacher, without context. Admittedly I was petrified of the teachers...

mrz Sun 26-May-13 11:43:43

I know children (and adults ) like imaginary creatures daftdame but their were some children who were totally distracted by the pictures they were unable to think of anything but the creatures.

The new girl in my class (Buttercup Bogwort) transferred from the Enchanted Forest Primary School and the class pet is a baby dragon but I still say the silly pictures are unnecessary ...

daftdame Sun 26-May-13 11:52:47

Well it just makes the task exciting...over-excitement versus worry over a suspiciously meaningless task (I would have worried, why?). I guess I like to understand, give context to things. But I guess the concern of over-excitement is equally valid.

mrz Sun 26-May-13 12:13:01

Have you administered the task daftdame?

daftdame Sun 26-May-13 12:15:58

No, just relating my own experiences as a child. Also this was in reference to modifying the test as it already exists.

daftdame Sun 26-May-13 12:17:36

I did also read that (on an earlier thread) another teacher found the children responded well to the aliens.

mrz Sun 26-May-13 12:29:36

which would be a really good thing if the point of the exercise was for children to respond well to cartoon imaginary creatures

daftdame Sun 26-May-13 12:56:42

Don't you think making a test activity enjoyable and meaningful, by building context around it, is ever valid?

Using fiction / analogies to explain or give meaning to activities that would in themselves be dull, or only meaningful in terms of one person testing another, makes sense to me.

Since a child may not fully appreciate why they have to be tested making the test meaningful in another way makes sense.

Usually, in context, even singular words make sense, they may be a label for example or a shopping list. A child is discovering meaningful information, the reward is in the meaning.

Now if you take the point out of reading, it could be somewhat alienating (excuse the terminology but it does relate to good old Karl Marx).

fuzzpig Sun 26-May-13 13:00:35

Really interesting about Reading Eggs - I'd heard good things about it but will avoid spending my money on it now.

Just wanted to second Dr Seuss - brilliant for nonsense words. Red Fish Blue Fish is particularly good - DD really loved Mr Gump's Seven Hump Wump grin

mrz Sun 26-May-13 13:39:20

I think there are many more effective ways to make the check enjoyable daftdame, if that were the purpose of the pictures (which isn't the reason they were included).

Our Y1 pupils must have enjoyed the check last year as they asked if they could do it again

fuzzpig Sun 26-May-13 14:11:58

It sounds like the kind of thing DD will enjoy.

pooka Sun 26-May-13 14:21:40

Our school bollocksed this up last year somewhat - ds passed and was one of about 40 percent.

The teachers didn't tell them which words were "made up". There was a bit of a gruesome post-mortem.

Bonus has been that phonics teaching much improved this year, and there have been meetings with parents to discuss how the test will be operated, how parents can help their children and so on, in conjunction with the general improvement in phonics teaching.

So fingers crossed....

Incidentally, ds actually learned to read at 3, and is very fluent. He was more of a look and say kid. But I'm glad that he's also learned the synthetic phonics since he started school - great for when he comes across really unfamiliar words and can decode.

daftdame Sun 26-May-13 15:29:54

Just out of curiosity, why were the alien pictures included, mrz? Also what did your pupils find particularly enjoyable?

mrz Sun 26-May-13 15:40:39

The pictures were included to identify which words were real and which were made up because some people (mainly the press ) thought children aren't clever enough to understand when the teacher says "these aren't real words" that the words aren't real hmm ...

The children enjoyed the 1-1 time (teacher's undivided attention no distractions or interruptions) sitting on the couch relaxed, with a relatively easy task laughing at the funny words and of course a reward for trying their best.

daftdame Sun 26-May-13 15:48:04

Well that is probably where my experience is lacking since I did not like my teacher's undivided attention blush. Thanks for answering though, mrz.

mrz Sun 26-May-13 15:52:46

You disliked all of your teachers?

daftdame Sun 26-May-13 16:01:14

I didn't dislike all of them. However I always found 1 to 1 with teachers quite intimidating. Even in secondary the 'constructive' criticism was quite mortifying.

My reception teacher smacked me and some other children (bad old days) and I was petrified of her, she always seemed to be angry about something. I was very shy and it took me a while to like school.

Academically I liked the work (always quite bookish) and I made friends so I found my enjoyment this way.

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