How to start teaching a child to read with phonics?

(171 Posts)
Zimbah Mon 12-Nov-12 22:40:22

This is probably a really stupid question... I've read hundreds of threads on this forum about phonics and have got myself in a tangle about how to actually go about teaching DD to read. She's 4, knows the letter sounds for the alphabet, and has started being able to separate out sounds within words although this is still a bit ropey. What do I do now - I'm paranoid about getting it wrong and making things harder, I initially started by teaching the old "Letterland" style sounds e.g. Muh for M, and now despite months of me only saying MMM she sometimes still says Muh. Can I just jump in with some reading scheme books? I know there are 44 sounds, but presumably I need some actual books to teach them within a word context, once she's learnt more basic ones?

And yes I realise I can do what I like as I'm her mum but I would prefer to follow a synthetic phonics way of teaching if possible, as that's what she'll do at school next year, so I'd rather that was her starting point.

ditherers Mon 12-Nov-12 22:47:12

Or you could do nothing and let her learn along with her classmate at school. That's what my ds did - i knew nothing of phonics and learned along with him. He is in his second year now and ort stage 10 so it obviously didn't do him any harm not knowing the sounds before school - most children won:t -you may find you have had your views skewed by the posters on here.

FromEsme Mon 12-Nov-12 22:50:29

There are videos on youtube to show you how to pronounce the phonemes.

Check that she actually understands what she's reading too.

I could read before I went to school and I think it really set me up for a lifetime of loving to read. Think you have to be careful that you're doing it correctly, though.

simpson Mon 12-Nov-12 22:56:29

If you think she is ready you need to get some phonics books.

The songbirds pack of books for sale by the book people are fab....They start with basic books like "Top Cat" and " Bob Bug" which are great little stories to start reading and easy to follow....

You can also check out the Oxford owl website, they have some books with no words in to discuss what is happening and then you can build up from there...

The alphablocks programme on cbeebies in fab too....

It might be worth checking out your local library,my DD's first ever book that she read was a library book called "Run Rat Run" ( think "Rat ran.....Rat hid etc etc")

Zimbah Mon 12-Nov-12 22:57:31

I could just leave her to learn at school, but that's nearly a year away and she's really interested in reading and writing, she asks me how to write words like Mummy etc, it would seem a bit odd to put her off for a year.

Esme - I know how to pronounce the phonemes (after research to double-check), but what do I actually do? Give her some cards with CVC words on? Go straight to books? I just feel totally clueless.

Zimbah Mon 12-Nov-12 23:00:21

Sorry, I cross posted. Thanks, ok so I can start with some books, I'll have a look online and will check out the library, didn't think of that. She's just discovered the alphablocks computer games and enjoys doing them.

ReallyTired Mon 12-Nov-12 23:01:22

Jolly phonics have loads of lovely resources you can buy or you can just make your own.

With my children I played games with no text. Ie Robot speak

"touch your h-e-d" (ea is one way of saying the e sound)
2wave your h-a-n-d"

Or in the supermarket

"please can you get me some m-i-l-k"
"Where is mummy's c-ar?"

Its not reading as such but training the child's ear to blend sounds.
Dd has taken the game a stage further by attempting robot speak.

I would not get children to read from books at this point. Its just too hard. With my children I made simple word boxes of intially 2 letter words



as the got confident I have done simple C-v-c words ie. cat, dog, sit, etc.
I have introduced them to longer works by getting to read simple 3 letter word like

"pin" and then getting them to read "spin"

Diagraphs like "ai", "oo", "er", "or" or "ee" are quite hard and I found it helps to underline the diagraph.

Don't introduce reading books until a child is confident with blending and knows some tricky words. Otherwise its very hard. Its better for a parent to read books so that the child can enjoy the story.

simpson Mon 12-Nov-12 23:04:43

Personally ( I was in the same situation as you a year ago - although DD had already taught herself to read at a " cat sat on a mat" level without me realising blush) I would go straight to basic books as you want to make it enjoyable for your DD.

To me is so much more important to nurture a love of reading iyswim and flash cards at this stage might put her off. So lots of talking about what is happening in the pictures and sounding the words out together etc etc.

You can always introduce games later on ie write cat, dog, pig on card and stick them around your front room and have a winner who gets to the correct word first...

Does she go to a nursery school attached to the school she will attend?? Can you find out which system they use ie jolly phonics or RWI???

ReallyTired Mon 12-Nov-12 23:14:15

The problem with introducing reading books too soon is that the child will resort to guessing as they have not learnt any other strageries. Some children find blending a difficult skill to master and will take short cuts by guessing from the picture or the context. My understanding was that the OP wants to avoid mixed methods.

If the OP wants pure synthetic phonics then she needs to use decodable books in the early stages. Word boxes are not flash cards as such. They are for practicing the skill of blending. The child decodes the words rather than remembering them as wholes.

Nuturing a love of reading and teaching a child to read are completely different activites. I agree that children need to be read to. If a parent reads then a child can enjoy whole range of literature.

"Can you find out which system they use ie jolly phonics or RWI??? "

I don't think it matters too much what synthetic phonics system a school uses. There are 44 sounds and they are exactly the same sounds in both systems. Many schools use a mixture of both jolly phonics and RWI.

This is a good website

AbbyR1973 Mon 12-Nov-12 23:26:00

DS2 is 3 1/2 and sounds fairly similar to you. DS1 started in reception this year and reads really very well. DS2 of course wants to do everything DS1 does.
He already knew all letter sounds- we looked at them with jolly phonics because that is what most schools seem to use plus it's fun- both DS's love the actions. Until 2 months ago DS2 could recognise the letters in words but couldn't hear the blend ie he could sound out c-a-t but couldn't hear cat. He has suddenly got it and has been playing around by himself with a leappad game with CVC words in it. He also plays on reading eggs whenever he wants to. Now he can recognise half a dozen high frequency words-I go to he she we be the etc. I have some of the songbirds so we look at them from time to time now he is sounding out. I agree it is hard work for them if they have to sound out every word so I give lots of help at the moment and read most of it for him. Sometimes at bedtime story I will stop at a word I know he knows and ask him to help me. He likes to read the title of his bedtime story out too pointing to each word. Sometimes we work backwards too and I'll read the title and then ask him to find a particular word. He mostly does this through knowing the initial letter sound at the moment but its a start. Lots of modelling with sounding out too.

simpson Mon 12-Nov-12 23:26:18

The school I do my placement in had different sounds for RWI than they did for JF ie the nk sound.....

I agree you don't want your child to be using the pictures to guess. I suppose my DD could already read at a basic level when I gave her basic books but I do think you have to be led by the child....

learnandsay Tue 13-Nov-12 12:30:58

You can always introduce games later on ie write cat, dog, pig on card and stick them around your front room ...

This is how I did it when my daughter was a bit younger than 4. I started with pseudo words moo, coo, boo and stuff. If your daughter is older than mine was and knows her letter sounds I guess there's no reason not to start with cat and dog. I don't know your daughter but I think the advantage of starting with moo, boo, coo is there's very little difference between the words so the child doesn't need to work very hard to select the right word and it leaves more time to enjoy "playing the game." Maybe because the words are nonsense words the child doesn't have to work out whether the word corresponds to anything. (I don't know if that's a real advantage.) It was a long time ago now. But I think my daughter got the game straight away.

Malaleuca Tue 13-Nov-12 12:53:21

Designed for 4-6 year olds - hard to beat IMHO - BRI Beginning Reading Instruction, as one mum said to me, all you have to do is 'shut up and listen'

rrbrigi Tue 13-Nov-12 13:11:42


I read your DS interested about writing as well. Please check with the school where she will go if they use cursive writing or not, because if you tech the wrong type it will be a nightmare for her to learn in the other way as quick as her class mates.

rrbrigi Tue 13-Nov-12 13:13:46

Sorry I mean your DD.

cornflakegirl Tue 13-Nov-12 13:44:09

Usborne do some Very First Reading books that have a bit for the parent to read (the actual story) and a much simpler bit for the child to read. My son likes these, and they're not so painful to listen to.

I think that using the pictures to help with reading the words is a good thing. We use a range of skills when reading, to do with context and understanding, not just recognising phonemes.

ReallyTired Tue 13-Nov-12 14:41:34

"I think that using the pictures to help with reading the words is a good thing. We use a range of skills when reading, to do with context and understanding, not just recognising phonemes. "

The OP stated she wanted to do synthetic phonics. You cannot do synethetic phonics with mixed methods in the early stages. The whole point of synethetic phonics is that you build up very simply so that the child gains confidence. It is too much to expect a child to use a range of skills at the start of their journey in learning to read. Dyslexic children get confused by learning lots of different skills at once. Even bright children can be dyslexic.

Learning to infer meaning from context is a very advanced skill that many children struggle with in secondary school. Expecting a reception child to even attempt to do this is unreasonable. Ofcourse reading is a lot more than just barking at print recongising phonemes and blending, but Rome was not built in a day.

Tgger Tue 13-Nov-12 16:13:23

Take her lead as you have done up to now. So first of all she needs her letter sounds, and then she needs to start blending as pp have said. Personally I would keep it informal and in games etc/looking at the books you already look at and just pointing out words/doing a bit of blending as you go along, until you are pretty sure she is blending fairly easily. Then when you do jump in with a reading book it is more likely to be successful and easy and you will both have fun with it. With DS nursery just slipped into conversation "oh, he can blend well now and has started reading,"- oh really!!! Well, he was an older one, 4.8 at this point and they had been doing all the sounds and blending all year. He then read the first 3 levels of Songbirds over the Summer without much trouble at all- no struggling stage at all (hooray!).

learnandsay Tue 13-Nov-12 16:28:27

tgger, which is the struggling stage you're referring to?

simpson Tue 13-Nov-12 16:34:42

The usborne reading books linked earlier are read a page and then the child reads a (simpler) page....

maizieD Tue 13-Nov-12 16:49:49

I think this might be something that gives the impression that there is a 'struggling stage'

I agree it is hard work for them if they have to sound out every word so I give lots of help at the moment and read most of it for him.

So long as the text contains only words which use the graphemes (sound spellings) that the child already knows (plus one or two that they are currently learning) they must be allowed to sound out every word if necessary. They will only achieve fluency and automaticity with practice. Sounding out and blending is exactly the practice needed, however painful it might seem to the listener...supplying the words may lead to dependence on an adult/skilled reader when what you are trying to achieve is independence.

Of course, it's not good to overface the child with huge chunks of text to sound out and blend.

learnandsay Tue 13-Nov-12 17:06:38

I suppose it depends on whether you've bought the text from a shop or written it with a marker pen. Because if you've written it with a marker pen then you're not going to write words that your child struggles with. At your leisure you can then add new sounds and new words and make better and better stories. Fairly soon you end up way beyond

Dan and Ann can ban a fan and a pan. (Which a school gives you.)

But you're not trying to get the child to read Beatrix Potter or Enid Blyton either and wondering why she can't.

mrz Tue 13-Nov-12 17:36:05

learnandsay everytime you post about your child's school I'm more and more shocked that such a place exists shock

Tgger Tue 13-Nov-12 18:05:15

Yes, all I meant was as maizie says sounding out and blending take plenty of practice. I was pleased that DS had had this practice and the easy parts had become automated for him so when he got to Mum Bug's Bag he read it independently straight away with enjoyment. Hooray!!

coldcupoftea Tue 13-Nov-12 19:12:54

I am a primary TA and also have a 4yo in reception. I take 3 phonics sessions a week and use the free resources on the phonics play website for planning, as do most of the teachers and TAs! There are lots of free games that we use too, such as Buried Treasure.

Alphablocks is great, and very true to synthetic phonics. I have also just ordered the set of Julia Donaldson Songbirds books for DD for xmas, for her to read alongside school books.

mrz Tue 13-Nov-12 19:25:56

coldcupoftea can I ask if you have received any phonics training or is the Phonics Play site it?

coldcupoftea Tue 13-Nov-12 19:37:36

Mrz, yes of course! It is just a helpful resource, which I thought might give the OP a good insight into the phonics phases.

mrz Tue 13-Nov-12 19:39:32

I was just interested as I'm finding many schools haven't had any real training (sometimes in school training from literacy coordinator or LEA advisor if they are lucky)

DilysPrice Tue 13-Nov-12 19:44:53

I read the Ladybirds phonics books with my DCs - they're not fully decodable, but they introduce the various phonemes in a structured way, and they were fun to read..

I picked out decodable words from the books I was reading to the DCs anyway - the little bits of text in speech bubbles, or the onomatopoeic sound effects on the pictures, and asked them to sound them out for me. We literally did about 30 seconds a day as part of our bedtime reading.

DilysPrice Tue 13-Nov-12 19:47:08

And I played "What's in the box?"
Shoebox containing small toy/picture/household object with CVC name, word on the front on a Post It note. No clues, no pictures, instant gratification when you get it right.

coldcupoftea Tue 13-Nov-12 19:47:20

Yes, we were lucky, we have had two full days with a literacy advisor from the LEA this term, who also left us stacks of resources.

mrz Tue 13-Nov-12 19:50:10

ah! right

midseasonsale Tue 13-Nov-12 19:50:41

I wouldn't bother myself but if you are keen, to start you only need to write out some CVC words to begin with - sit, sat, tin, etc .. and get her to blend the sounds. At school they tend to start doing this as soon as they have 4 or 5 letter sounds under their hat.

midseasonsale Tue 13-Nov-12 19:52:30

don't push it if she isn't ready or interested though.

learnandsay Tue 13-Nov-12 20:26:19

I think I wouldn't bother is an unfortunate phrase, (putting words in your mouth, I'm guessing you mean something more noble like, perhaps it would be wiser to leave it to the professionals?) In my own view of course a parent should always be bothered by her child and teach her everything she feels able to. In the old days people used to write cat, dog, man on the fridge with fridge magnets. You can still do that. But if you buy a marker pen you can get a lot more words made because you need an awful lot of very similar fridge magnets to make sentences. I know. I bought them.

mrz Tue 13-Nov-12 20:51:37

"In the old days ..." I must be really old when I was a child the fridge door was French polished hmm so even if we'd had magnetic letters they wouldn't have stuck.grin

mrz Tue 13-Nov-12 20:56:21

I learnt to read with 1910 edition of Arthur Mee's Children's Encyclopeadia (8 volumes)

learnandsay Tue 13-Nov-12 21:00:12

Right, mrz, but not in 1910! obviously. You know, you always sound pretty sprightly to me. (I shouldn't have posted this because I'm the one who's always against personal comments and that applies to nice ones too.) I hope I'm not a hypocrite. (Wonders how she's going to get her four year old to read that one. hmmm,)

BooksandaCuppa Tue 13-Nov-12 21:03:29

Something similar, here, mrz. And my Nan's six volume set of the wives of Henry VIII. I must have been a particularly bloodthirsty four year old...

mrz Tue 13-Nov-12 21:05:54

No not in 1910 they were in my grandmother's library and the only books suitable for a child although I moved onto Nicholas Monsarrat when I was 6 or 7.

learnandsay Tue 13-Nov-12 21:07:55

cuppa, can you remember who published those six volumes? I can't help thinking that you girls are taking the wee wee. I can't imagine a four year old reading all that stuff. My mum used to say that she read Chekhov at five. I never believed her. But she used to love saying odd things for effect.

mrz Tue 13-Nov-12 21:18:17

Sorry learnandsay I'm being deadly serious. Before I started school I loved curling up with Grey's Elegy and How Horatio Held the Bridge (from said books)

learnandsay Tue 13-Nov-12 21:23:30


CheerfulYank Tue 13-Nov-12 21:25:43

Marking my place to read later smile

maizieD Tue 13-Nov-12 21:27:23

I was just interested as I'm finding many schools haven't had any real training (sometimes in school training from literacy coordinator or LEA advisor if they are lucky)

Or unlucky, in the case of the 'training' our LA gives sad

maizieD Tue 13-Nov-12 21:32:17

I can't help thinking that you girls are taking the wee wee. I can't imagine a four year old reading all that stuff.

Don't worry, learnandsay. Although I am now clearly a genius, I didn't learn to read until I went to school, age 5, and progressed through pretty 'normal' reading material (i.e children's books) until I was abut 10 grin

I realise though, that this is a pretty poor show for mumsnetter sad

learnandsay Tue 13-Nov-12 21:40:57

I bought the Oxford children's histories to read to my daughter and was cheerfully explaining how the Romans invaded, when she said "mummy, why is there so much blood in this story?" The books have been in the cellar ever since.

mrz Tue 13-Nov-12 21:45:20

Perhaps we were less squeamish as children. I certainly was quite familiar with slaughtering livestock and by age three I was quite handy at castrating lambs

learnandsay Tue 13-Nov-12 21:56:22

Well indeed, maybe. I guess that's the good thing about Usborne, they can explain history without everybody's insides needing to be displayed in each illustration!

mrz Tue 13-Nov-12 21:56:23

maizieD after chatting to teachers around the country I think the training most LEA advisers give is pretty dire ... many are providing training based on having read Letters & Sounds hmm

Zimbah Tue 13-Nov-12 21:56:38

Wow, so many replies! Thanks all, lots of good ideas for me to try. I gave the 'robot speak' a go today and DD seemed to get the hang of it immediately. Buoyed by her success, this afternoon I tried writing "at" on a piece of paper and encouraging DD to sound it out and blend it. With a lot of prompting, after she repeatedly said "a" "t" as separate letters, she guessed the word was Dinosaur grin. Think I'll stick with robot speak for the time being!

Tgger Tue 13-Nov-12 21:57:59

love the dinosaur, that gave me a good chuckle grin.

mrz Tue 13-Nov-12 22:03:30

I don't think being a precocious reader made me in anyway a genius just an only child in a house full of adults with lots books for company. My son was a much earlier reader and I actually thought that was quite normal until I had my daughter who didn't learn until she started school.

BertieBotts Tue 13-Nov-12 22:08:07

I love the robot speak! Will definitely try that with DS - seems a fun way of practising without sitting down and forcing it, but also helps them to understand. I worry sometimes that he wants to be able to read so much that he might be jumping ahead and doing more harm than good. He has some of those little square board books still (for babies really) but he loves looking through those and "reading" them, and he keeps noticing patterns in words which are the same, for example, writing a birthday card for his classmate Tommy, he noticed that the "mmy" was the same as in Mummy. And tonight he told me that tractor, train and truck all start with the same sound "T". (and tr, even, but he didn't pick up on that)

He tries to do blending, but I can tell he doesn't really understand it - and things like he'll look at the word under a picture and say "Sunflower. Look, Mummy, sunflower starts with the sound "F"", not realising that the caption just says "flower". So I think the robot voice might help and support what he's doing at nursery.

ReallyTired Tue 13-Nov-12 22:10:05

It sounds like your dd is doing well. When modelling blending it helps to say the first letter sound louder than the others and you have to say the letter sounds quite fast.

Its great that your lo said "a", "t" even if she didn't get it. If your dd doesn't get the word straight away it helps to model blending. (Ie you say the sounds with the "a" slightly louder than the "t") It links the robot speak to what is on the paper.

mrz Wed 14-Nov-12 09:25:59

I would suggest holding onto the first sound - so <a.....> -<t> (extending the first sound if possible rather than robot talk. It's much easier for the child to hear the word when they are first learning to blend.

SoundsWrite Wed 14-Nov-12 17:13:10

Hi mrz, I read 'How Horatio Held the Bridge' not long ago to my fifteen-year old daughter and she loved it. I thought at first she'd pull the usual teenage 'yeah whatever' line at first, but no, the more I read, the more absorbed she became. smile

mrz Wed 14-Nov-12 17:22:44

I've always loved narrative poems SoundsWrite, I'm pleased your daughter enjoyed it too smile

JackieLanaTurn Wed 14-Nov-12 17:34:50

I've accessed an app called Mr Thorne does phonics, but you can also access his videos on Youtube. They are really clear and quite funky...

BooksandaCuppa Wed 14-Nov-12 19:44:58

<refers back to halfway through thread> I didn't say I could necessarily read many of the words in those books, learnandsay, but they were definitely what made me want to read more/better...I particularly loved the maps of Europe in the encyclopaedia and remember trying to pronounce 'Kazhakhstan'...

I guess we're saying a love of books has an equal place with the mechanics of reading, as best taught it seems with phonics.

mrz Wed 14-Nov-12 19:53:47

and not always 100% accurate Jackie so be selective

JackieLanaTurn Wed 14-Nov-12 21:41:55

Point taken Mrz. Thanks.

There's the read/write app too. That does the pronunciation of phonemes and the reproduction of graphemes. It's a bit harsh on the marking, but we've found it helpful.

legoballoon Wed 14-Nov-12 21:51:30

Why don't you contact the school she's going to, explain that she's showing an interest in letter-sound correspondences and ask if you could have a list of the phase 1 and 2 sounds that she'll be doing. That way, what you teach will 'join up' with what she goes on to do.

Otherwise, I found the ORT 'read at home' books good. Also 'Floppy's Phonics'.

Alternatively, focus on consonant sounds with fairly regular letter correspondences e.g. s,t,p,n and introduce the short vowel sounds, and make your own CVC flashcards, e.g. hen, cat with a very limited number of phonemes/letters. Use these to make up games, e.g. if you can sound it out, you get to keep it.

Make sheets with simple CVC words such as cat, dog etc. and draw 4 cartoons and ask her to link the cartoon with the word.

Check out the alphablocks game on the cbeebies website - although she would need help and some are quite complicated - it might give you some ideas and confidence.

At the end of the day, she will go at her own pace - playing eye spy, asking her to identify the 'F' on a car number plate, asking which two letters are written the same on a street sign etc., will all help her become aware of the subtle differences between letter shapes, and help her spot patterns, as well as reinforcing the important message that we live in a very literate society.

They will teach phonics at school, and there is always an element of whole word learning for most children, as the 'sight words' are not sounded out in the same word, but learn, as suggested, by word shape. You can buy old-style Peter & Jane books, which are dull, but which introduce the first 100 sight words too. If you read them, you could always ask her to point to a word beginning with 'h' etc.

Finally, don't underestimate the importance of reading to your child for pleasure. If you can inculcate a love of literature in the early years, you give your child the motivation to explore and own books of her own in the years to come. By reading more complex narratives than those you will find in the 'phonics' books, e.g. 'Fantastic Mr Fox', you will encourage her to think about how characters are developed, how books are divided into chapters, the structures of stories, as well as developing a much wider vocabulary and knowledge of the world which will help her become a more successful reader once she gets past the synthetic phonics stage.

Good luck!

legoballoon Wed 14-Nov-12 21:53:07

Oops! I meant "in the same way... but learnt"
Sorry, pushed for time.

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 18:30:39

"They will teach phonics at school, and there is always an element of whole word learning for most children, as the 'sight words' are not sounded out in the same word, but learn, as suggested, by word shape."

Sorry not true... children don't need to learn whole words by sight and all words can be sounded out in exactly the same way. The difference is that sounds in some words are written in different ways but if your child has been taught correctly and well they will know the alternative ways sounds are spelt.
Learning words by shape is a very inefficient method as so many words have the same shape.

legoballoon Thu 15-Nov-12 19:41:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bonsoir Thu 15-Nov-12 19:44:39

"Well, in my experience, children use a range of strategies."

Actually, what you really mean is my intuition tells me children use a range of strategies. Huge quantities of scientific research using MRI has now established that children do not use a range of strategies. They use phonics.

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 19:53:57

Perhaps you should qualify that a little Bonsoir. Scientific research using MRI has established that good readers use phonics.

legoballoon Thu 15-Nov-12 20:36:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 21:21:33

Have you ever stopped to question what makes Michael Rosen an expert on teaching children to read? Have you ever stopped to wonder how many young children he's actually taught to read?

learnandsay Thu 15-Nov-12 21:27:56

Well, mrz, we're never going to know for sure, but from the look of his poems he has a few children of his own. He may well have taught four. He may have taught more, or helped in his extended family and perhaps he did other things too. He's not claiming to be an early years primary school teacher. He happens to have strong opinions on how language works. That's not surprising. He's a poet. You don't have to be a civil engineer to have an opinion on the state of the roads.

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 21:31:08

Four children ...WOW then he must surely be very experienced and knowledgeable hmm

Yes I've watched Casualty once so I know I can advice doctors how best to teach their patients learnandsay .... or perhaps not!

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 21:31:45


learnandsay Thu 15-Nov-12 21:33:22

Well, I've only taught one and she seems to be doing well. Some people are just right the first time.

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 21:38:08

only time will tell ...

learnandsay Thu 15-Nov-12 21:44:49

Meaning what?

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 21:47:13

meaning ... if she's doing that she's been badly taught

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 21:49:37

sorry that should have been on the "straight " sounding out post

learnandsay Thu 15-Nov-12 21:50:34

And she should have been doing what?

learnandsay Thu 15-Nov-12 21:55:00

She hasn't been taught that. She's inferring it. She recognises igh from sight, high, light as (eye) she sounds out stra, she knows igh, and adds (t) at the end

she hasn't been taught to do that. She using what she knows to read the word

she hasn't been taught how to read it.

She hasn't been taught how to read a lot of words that she can read she uses the knowledge that she has to work out how to read them.

Her phase is "figure it out."

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 21:58:11

Then perhaps she shouold have been taught it when she was expected to read it...

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 21:58:23


learnandsay Thu 15-Nov-12 22:02:21

Why? If she can work out how to read on her own why should she have to wait for a system to catch up with her?

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 22:07:04

She doesn't have to wait ... she should be told when she meets the word.

learnandsay Thu 15-Nov-12 22:08:50

And if she doesn't need to be told? What if (as she says herself) "she can figure it out" on her own?

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 22:10:54

Well if she knew straight away of course she wouldn't need to be told but if she sounds it out as "igh" hmm

learnandsay Thu 15-Nov-12 22:13:23

She doesn't sound it out as igh that's not what I said. She sounds out


and makes stra-eye-t

and converts that into straight.

And on the basis of the words that I've seen which contain "aigh" I'm not motivated to correct her.

Feenie Thu 15-Nov-12 22:14:57

Er...that is indeed 'sounding it out as igh'. hmm

Feenie Thu 15-Nov-12 22:18:12

It's a dangerous misconception which, on this occasion, led to her guessing 'straight' correctly.

But could lead to incorrect guessing if allowed to continue.

What about 'eight', for example? If she sees 'igh' in isolation instead of as another 'ay' sound (eigh) that could hamper her accurate decoding of a series of words.

learnandsay Thu 15-Nov-12 22:25:16

Well, that depends on what we're referring to when we talk about "it". Sounding "it" out as eye. It refers to igh which represents eye in right, Wight, sight and so on. The aigh combination of letters appears rarely in words other than those which contain the entire word straight. Therefore in the instance of aigh I consider the risk low and will take no further action.

In the case of eight, there are a lot more words (161) that contain that combination of letters. My daughter and I will look at that pattern much more closely.

zebedeee Thu 15-Nov-12 22:43:24

But learning that eigh can be ay may lead her to dangerous shale-type sedimentary rock card tricks rather than the safer nimble fingered sleight of hand ones.

learnandsay Thu 15-Nov-12 22:46:22

Zebedeee, we haven't examined eigh yet. So she hasn't learned it as anything, yet.

legoballoon Thu 15-Nov-12 23:02:12

"but this could lead to incorrect guessing if allowed to continue"

or independent, problem-solving attitude?

Most native speakers, when acquiring English, over-generalise their past participles and arrive at words like "eated" before they eventually note the correct form (in this case "ate"). If learnandsay's DD makes incorrect guesses, that's not going to stop her from learning to read.

A child sounds out p-u-t, and arrives as "putt". Where does that leave a purely synthetics phonics model? Or is that a "tricky word" (aka whole word learning in a sheep's clothing?) The jury's out on synthetic phonics, and there are vested interests in presenting it as a pedagogic panacea.

Sweet dreams zzzzzz

Just place marking. This thread is really relevant for my ds2. Thanks.

maizieD Fri 16-Nov-12 00:36:00

^ The jury's out on synthetic phonics, and there are vested interests in presenting it as a pedagogic panacea.^

Oooh. We've been reading Michael Rosen and The Guardian, have we?

I'm afraid that the only jury that is 'out' on SP is the one that contains either people who have had no experience in teaching large numbers of children to read with SP, those who have an academic reputation built on Whole Language theories to defend or those who have been brainwashed by said 'academics'.

What is astounding is that people such as authors of children's books who have a real vested interest in having as many children as possible reading sucessfully (increased sales of their books, just in case it needs spelling out) are fighting so hard against a very sucessful method of teaching reading.

Of course, cognitive psychologists, who have been researching how children best learn to read for several decades now, are just about completely in agreement that phonics is the most effective method of teaching reading and that whole word methods come a very poor second.

But why let scientific research and evidence get in the way of unevidenced dogma?

Mashabell Fri 16-Nov-12 07:24:36

Fluent readers decode unfamiliar words, but the 7,000 or so most used ones they read as whole words by sight, as all readers of these posts do.

For as long as children need to stop and work out the correct sound for oo, ow, a and many others, as in 'boot - foot', 'how slow', 'many aprons', they are not fluent.

The ultimate aim of all reading instruction is to be able to recognise and pronounce those words as wholes, as we do in speech, without hesitation. A bit like learning to put names to faces. Learning them all by tedious phonic sounding out is certainly not the only route.

After a few weeks of phonics, my children and now their children all discovered that a far more fun way of doing so was by reading and re-reading some of their favourite books, like the Dr Seuss ones (with a lot of encouragement from me) and they all were / are among the best readers in their classes.

Phonics is ok to start with, but some children need very little of it for learning to read.

It's more essential for learning to write, but still very insufficient for learning to spell the likes of 'any, many, said, head, friend, leopard'.
Masha Bell

Bonsoir Fri 16-Nov-12 08:57:21

"Not just intuition, but classroom and parenting experience."

Observation of children reading, or attempting to read, tells you nothing about what is going on in their brains.

Bonsoir Fri 16-Nov-12 08:58:14

Mashabell - what you call "sight reading" is just very fast phonics wink

legoballoon Fri 16-Nov-12 12:11:29

MaisieD "Oooh. We've been reading Michael Rosen and the Guardian have we?"

IMHO your tone is a bit unpleasant. However, I have followed the phonics debate for a long while and agree with some of what Michael Rosen says. I also think synthetic phonics is a good introduction to reading for many children (but you chose to ignore that as I'm not singing from exactly the same hymn sheet as you.) All I am saying to the OP is that, as they develop, good readers use a range of strategies - starting with phonics, whole word recognition (in the guise of 'tricky' words), and using context. Children need a range of input to help them learn to become good readers. Being read to, being helped to decode words around them, playfulness with language, songs, eye-spy, etc. all help.

There is now a lot of money to be made from reading schemes etc. Teachers are under pressure to get their classes to pass the PA test in Y1. There is still a lot of debate amongst academics about the best ways to get children able to read and reading. For me, as a parent speaking to another parent, advising a range of language and learning activities is not that controversial.

CecilyP Fri 16-Nov-12 12:54:47

It's a dangerous misconception which, on this occasion, led to her guessing 'straight' correctly.

How disparaging can you get? It does not sound anything like a guess; it sounds like a clever little girl using what she already knew to work out something that she didn't.

BTW, learnandsay, you can scrub quaigh of your list of aigh pronounced as ay words as the gh is voiced (as Scots pronounce the ch in loch).

maverick Fri 16-Nov-12 14:49:42

OED's word of the day ''poetolatry, n.: The worship or immoderate veneration of poets. Our earliest ex. is from C.S. Lewis' s Essays & Studies (1936)'', made me think of Guardian Education and M. Rosen grin

cornflakegirl Fri 16-Nov-12 15:19:24

Bonsoir - what about the email thing that did the rounds a while ago:

It deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteers be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

I know that the "first and last letters in the right place" isn't the whole story, and it is more complicated - and I know I can't read it as fast as normal text - but surely if it were just fast phonics, we wouldn't be able to understand it?

learnandsay Fri 16-Nov-12 16:04:19

It's funny cornflakegirl, but I think you're half right. I think the reason that we can read your garbled message is because we know (or think we know) what you were trying to say. Like

I **ing hate iticia* the& $&%ing make m- blo0d boil!

so we fill in the blanks in order to make the message make sense or egnarraer the letters until they make a word. If we didn't know how to read properly or the letters didn't look as though they dlow dekam a word meaningful in that context then we wouldn't be able to read it.

maizieD Fri 16-Nov-12 17:27:59

The reason that we can understand the jumbled text is that we are skilled readers who can do simple anagrams. If the words were more complex and more unfamiliar to us we would find it very difficult. As it is, it is just an amusing puzzle (though infuriating when it keeps being trotted out as some sort of 'proof' that phonics isn't particularly necessary for reading)

It is quite irrelevant to discussions of the best way to teach begining readers.

mrz Fri 16-Nov-12 17:33:47

Cornfkakegirl if you google it you will find it was exposed as a fake in 2007 but since then researchers from Durham University and the University of Massachusetts have tested the theory and found mixing the middle letters doesn't prevent readers from working out the word (much as you would any simple anagram ) but slows the reader down considerably and if the first and last letter are included in the mix then it become much, much slower.

radicalsubstitution Fri 16-Nov-12 17:45:10

zebedee - you are, of course, aware that slate is a metamorphic rock...wink

Bonsoir Fri 16-Nov-12 18:32:48

corflakegirl - when you read a text such as the one you posted, with muddled letters, you read it more slowly precisely because you need to slow down your processing of phonics to do so.

Feenie Fri 16-Nov-12 18:38:17

How disparaging can you get? It does not sound anything like a guess; it sounds like a clever little girl using what she already knew to work out something that she didn't.

It's a guess. She didn't read the word, she used the sounds she knew to read the word incorrectly and then guess the right word. It worked this time - but guessing is not a recommended strategy for reading. That's not disparaging - the child is not reading with me - it's just fact.

CecilyP Fri 16-Nov-12 19:37:03

I disagree. She used the sounds she already knew to make an approximation of the word and then tweaked the pronunciation to reach the correct word. It is hardly the lucky fluke that you seem to be implying.

learnandsay Fri 16-Nov-12 19:37:45

She read it. The words was in a sentence.

His mother said "come here straight away."

She know the phrase come straight away. And she can read the other words easily. If she was reading the word on its own in a list of words, (a thing that we don't do,) then it might have been a guess. I'll see. I'll ask her one day. Incidentally a description of phonics posted on mumsnet once explained that children are taught to sequentially sound out the variations of a letter or combination of letters until they find one that sounds right. That's guessing. So guessing is an integral part of how phonics works.

maizieD Fri 16-Nov-12 20:15:00

Incidentally a description of phonics posted on mumsnet once explained that children are taught to sequentially sound out the variations of a letter or combination of letters until they find one that sounds right. That's guessing.

Oh no. Someone else who doesn't know the meaning of the word 'guess' shock

Guess: Estimate or suppose (something)without sufficient information to be sure of being correct.

Children who know the alternative sounds represented by a particular grapheme are making an informed choice, not guessing.

Anyway, what a slightly odd sounding description of reading by decoding. Are those the exact words or just your paraphrasing?

Cat98 Fri 16-Nov-12 21:23:03

I don't doubt that the scientific research alluded to is accurate and that, overall, phonics is the most effective way to teach children to read. However do you think that it is not necessarily one size fits all?
I know I was taught to read by my mum (I had a desire to, she didn't force me!) and was a fantastic reader which continued all the way through school and culminated in an 'A*' gcse, an 'A' at a level and a 2:1 at uni (could have been a 1st if I had done more work!)
She tells me she used a mixture of phonics and word recognition. I was also a really good speller.
Ds is also learning with mostly phonics but some recognition to support it and so far he is doing brilliantly. Of course he may start going backwards but I doubt it! I wouldn't change the way he is learning as it works for him, and clearly worked for me.
I appreciate that we are quite possibly exceptions to the rule. But like everything I think following a dogmatic approach for all children, shunning something that is clearly working because 'it's not the right way' isn't ideal.

Cat98 Fri 16-Nov-12 21:26:38

To clarify I am in no way saying that pure phonics shouldn't be the first strategy. But also some children seem to just 'get' the recognition thing even if it confuses the hell out of others. Schools therefore should probably stick with phonics, but flexibility should be adopted where possible. Though again I appreciate that with 30 children they may have to just adopt 1 method and that should be phonics.

mrz Fri 16-Nov-12 21:40:44

Some children find learning to read easy and will work out the way letters are used to represent sounds with very little direct instruction. For most children being taught phonics helps them "break the code" more easily and a small number of children with complex needs will struggle whatever method is used.
However the idea that looking at the pictures will help any of these children to actually read the text is clearly flawed...

Whole word learning can appear a fast track method - early level look and say books are very repetitive and some only have the same single word on each page. "Oh look, little William is reading Ginn 360 level 1!"

Feenie Fri 16-Nov-12 22:05:53

And the idea of hoping that some children will just work it out for themselves is a very odd way of teaching - and in my experience doesn't work for too many children.

mrz Fri 16-Nov-12 22:08:50

It's a very risky way of teaching ... suppose your child isn't one of the fortunate few who manages to do this how long do you delay direct teaching

Feenie Fri 16-Nov-12 22:12:29

Actually, it's not just odd - it's not teaching.

simpson Fri 16-Nov-12 22:12:59

DD can read quite a few words that I don't know how she does it...whether she guesses from the rest of the context of the sentence or actually knows the phonetic code for that particular word (maybe she has been taught in school and I don't know about it - highly probable!!)

It's quite hard to work out as she does not sound out aloud very much now...I do worry that she is guessing but I suppose she would not be so accurate every time???

She taught herself to read at a basic level (I don't know how) and this week completed her yr3 brothers spellings correctly , so I guess she is full of surprises!!

Feenie Fri 16-Nov-12 22:14:29

Indeed, mrz - especially since you have no way of knowing beforehand which children will struggle. Too many people have this misconception that if children are immersed in literature from birth then they will be fine. It doesn't work like that.

mrz Fri 16-Nov-12 22:17:01

My son was a fluent reader before he started nursery without any formal teaching, my daughter who had the same early experiences didn't learn until she was taught in reception.

maizieD Fri 16-Nov-12 22:17:36

^ However do you think that it is not necessarily one size fits all?^

I'm sorry, but this is a really daft statement. There is only one set of words which make up the English Language; are you saying that we should have lots of different ones because it's really not right that one language has to be used by all English speakers?

There is only one alphabetic code used to construct written English words. It has to be learned, explicitly or implicitly, for truly effective reading of English. Decades of research tells us that the most effective way for all but a tiny (3 - 5%) percentage of children to learn to read is to learn the code and how to apply it to the written word. If you're going to insist on the size analogy this tells us that one size fits practically all. Certainly far more than any other 'method' (well, there are only two other 'methods'; one is learning words as 'wholes' and the other is doing a mix of phonics and 'whole word' learning with some dubious guessing strategies thrown in).

Well taught phonics results in some 95 - 100% of children in any one school leaving KS2 reading competently (L4, if you're going to use KS2 English SATs results as a measure). Nationally with the old NLS 'guidance' only about 80% of children achieved L4. God kows what whole word children ever achieved because whole word proponents don't believe in assessment...but the dire results of whole word teaching (very predominate in the 1980s & 90s) were enough to galvanise government into trying to Do Something About It, resulting in the National Literacy Strategy (NLS) in the late 1990s (see above for its effect).

I can't help feeling that one size fits 95% of children is a big improvement on the one size NLS fitting 80% of children.

simpson Fri 16-Nov-12 22:19:26

Exactly mrz - DD could read before she started nursery (not fluent obv. Just SATPIN level) and DS now yr3 struggled for the majority of reception (although is Aug born) both had/have same up bringing...

mrz Fri 16-Nov-12 22:23:07

Interestingly my son is the one with SEN

Tgger Fri 16-Nov-12 23:56:50

So, can it be agreed that phonics is the way to teach at school, but that a lot of children will also use their own methods to crack the code. That's up to them and their brains surely. Are some people threatened by this, it seems that way?

I don't believe in telling children that their way is the wrong way if it has worked for them. Their brains are naturally much more creative than ours and if you embrace this creativity you let children fly. Of course we can show them our way that may be more logical and fit the rule more times than theirs, and perhaps after a time that's what they will start to choose rather than their first random rule, but IMO this should be done with caution when they are 4/5/6..... hides and prepares to be shot down in flames....

simpson Sat 17-Nov-12 00:07:13

Tgger - actually I do agree with you. DD taught herself the word "like" on sight but once she knew the rule of how to decode it I remember her saying "that's why like is like!!" ie she knew the I/e sound. So I am not stressing if she seems to learn a word by sight as she will hopefully process it to the phonic rule when she learns it iyswim....

cornflakegirl Sat 17-Nov-12 00:14:27

mrz - I am aware that the supposed research was a fake, but it isn't fake that one can read that sentence at something approaching normal reading speed. I'm fairly good at anagrams, but I read the sentence faster than I solve anagrams - although obviously that's aided by the first and last letters being right. Context clearly plays a part in it as well.

maizieD - I agree that it's irrelevant to the idea of phonics being the best method for beginning readers - and I have never disagreed with that point. But Bonsoir claimed that advanced reading is just super-fast phonics, and I wanted to explore that idea further.

Tgger Sat 17-Nov-12 00:17:08

Hooray! smile.

I think if you see your child learning to read in all sorts of ways (phonics/sight/context (yes, context, oh my goodness...) it is a magical experience. And why shouldn't they.They do guess from previous experience at a particular stage in their reading journey but then they are happy to take on phonics knowledge too as part of the jigsaw that will then give them strong foundations for reading and writing. Just because they are guessing at this stage it doesn't mean they will keep on guessing.

So....teachers beware I say! See the wood from the trees. Of course you must teach phonics and encourage this but the little people around you will be using every bit of their brains and experience to crack that code! Restrict this at your peril!

Feenie Sat 17-Nov-12 00:24:52

No good teacher would ever stop a child who has worked the code out for themselves - never, ever. What would be the point? There is no ceiling on children's learning, nor have I seen any evidence of any decent phonics practioner trying to do so. The whole point is to get children to access the code, and of course some children will do this for themselves.

The point is that we shouldn't assume that children just will.

Tgger Sat 17-Nov-12 00:30:50

But a pp worries about "guessing", and other posters worry about learning by sight recognition. A while back when I posted about DS working words out by context I was slated (he no longer does this as he can read them). I don't think there's anything wrong with learnandsay's DD working "straight" out the way she did, all be it not the way it would be taught in a phonics lesson. So, I'm just sticking up for code cracking in all the other ways that children do if they are left to it.

Of course we shouldn't assume that children just will, I don't think anyone does anymore (apart from the schools that don't actually teach children how to read (ie don't teach phonics in YR and Y1 well), please burn those old ORT books....!!!).

Feenie Sat 17-Nov-12 00:40:11

Because guessing isn't reading - or working out the code. Reading is reading - actually reading the word. Sometimes children guess correctly using context - and sometimes they don't - because it isn't reading, it's guessing. Research shows that weaker readers rely heavily on by trying to guess by context or pictures - it isn't ever a strategy to rely on because it is just that - guessing. That's not code cracking, by any stretch of the imagination.

Mashabell Sat 17-Nov-12 06:52:36

Sometimes children guess correctly using context - and sometimes they don't
And sometimes they make the right choice with a variable spelling like 'o-e' (home, come) and sometimes they don't. That's why many of them need endless hours of someone listening to them read and helping them out when they make the wrong choice.

There would be no need for this, if spellings like 'o-e' always had the same sound (bone, stone, home, alone, phone...), i.e. English had a reliable code.
But it doesn't (gone, done, some...), and that why phonics alone does not enable anyone to become a fluent reader.

mrz Sat 17-Nov-12 08:49:43

Cornflakegirl then you will be aware that the actual research showed that even with simple words if the process of mixling the letters created a real word rather than just a jumble of letters readers were unable to work out the sentences quickly ...perhaps because our brains are looking for meaning.

mrz Sat 17-Nov-12 09:05:27

tgger perhaps I should explain my concern with what learnandsay said

Her daughter was sounding out a word containing a spelling for the sound "ay" that she didn't know ... the simplest solution would be to tell the child "this spelling is 'ay' " as the child knows <s> <t> <r> they can then work out the whole word, simple.

Instead the child said "s" "t" "r" "a" "ie" "t" which fortunately produces a word very close to the actual word (*this won't always be the case*)

CecilyP Sat 17-Nov-12 09:44:53

Maybe learnandsay was just not quick enough off the mark, not quite so on the ball that when her DD came to the word straight, she was able to timeously intercept and provide that snippet of extra of extra phonic theory for her daughter to decode the word in the approved way. Of course it won't always be the case that a child will be able to adjust the pronunciation to get the correct word, but in this case she did. So now learnandsay could tell her dd that the aigh spelling is pronounced ay in straight, but as she now knows the word straight, it is actually redundant information that can't be applied to anything else.

mrz, did you have to have extra phonics lessons in order to read the girls' names Roisin and Siobhain?

mrz Sat 17-Nov-12 10:01:49

Unfortunately CecilyP it is often when misconceptions aren't caught they cause problems.

I can't imagine either you or learnandsay not correcting a child who read 47 as four - seven and pointing out that the number is forty - seven, yet you seem to believe that spellings for sounds don't matter hmm

mrz Sat 17-Nov-12 10:09:18

Since both Roisin and Siobhain are Gaelic words they don't use the same code as English words. However having a number of children who were born in Ireland in school (including Roisin, Tiernan, Brogan, Seighin, Niamh ) we do discuss how the letters have accents (MN won't allow me to add accents) and that the letters represent different sounds ...

Cat98 Sat 17-Nov-12 10:36:36

Maizied - wow that's a bit harsh! Accepted though - but I disagree, sorry.
I dont think it's a daft statement and i don't dispute the rest of your post.
But when we are talking about posters worrying about the 'method' when their child is clearly a very able reader its a bit like trying to fix something that's not broken.
As I said it was not 'one size fits all' for me - I learned with this so calle dubious mixed method and it worked very well. I don't know if you read the part of my post that supports phonics being the method used in schools?

Cat98 Sat 17-Nov-12 10:37:31

Also several posters on this thread have said similar.

maizieD Sat 17-Nov-12 14:28:40

Cat98, just because you learned to read with mixed methods doesn't mean to say that it is an optimal teaching method. If you are a conscientious teacher with 30 children to teach you go for the method which will benefit the largest number of children. Or, conversely, the method which does the least harm!

I don't think that children in general actually do learn so differently as to make it necessary to use a variety of approaches.

Having spent a number of years working at KS3 with primary schools' 'failures', and sometimes having to think very carefully about what would be the best approach for a few of these children who find reading very difficult to learn, I can't find any method other than phonics for simplicity, effectiveness and avoidance of cognitive overload.

In fact, when I was first trained, many years ago, on a 'dyslexia' programme I found it very difficult to understand why the children who found it very difficult to learn were expected to remember all sorts of 'rules' and two different ways to recognise words. (Traditional dyslexia programmes are really not very good)

CecilyP Sat 17-Nov-12 15:28:17

^Unfortunately CecilyP it is often when misconceptions aren't caught they cause problems.

I can't imagine either you or learnandsay not correcting a child who read 47 as four - seven and pointing out that the number is forty - seven, yet you seem to believe that spellings for sounds don't matter^

I am not sure what misconception you are really referring to. Also learnandsay's dd managed to work out the word correctly (though perhaps not in the most direct way) so didn't actually need correcting.

Since both Roisin and Siobhain are Gaelic words they don't use the same code as English words. However having a number of children who were born in Ireland in school (including Roisin, Tiernan, Brogan, Seighin, Niamh ) we do discuss how the letters have accents (MN won't allow me to add accents) and that the letters represent different sounds ...

The point I was making is that you are able to do that despite not having had lessons in it yourself, in much the same way as learnandsay's DD was able to work out the word straight for herself.

mrz Sat 17-Nov-12 15:37:04

the misconception was that the letters <aigh> represent two separate sounds "a" & "igh" just as the numerals 47 represent one number - forty seven so the letters represent one sound.

Sorry CecilyP how did you reach the conclusion that I could work out the names even though I hadn't had lessons in it myself?

CecilyP Sat 17-Nov-12 15:44:09

Sorry mrz, I assumed you could because I could when I first read them not long after having first heard them.

In the case of aigh it is not so big a deal, in that now she has read the word straight, there are no new words that she can now apply the correct knowledge to. If it was a more common correspondence, no doubt learnandsay could have corrected her and given some examples of other words that use that particular spelling.

mrz Sat 17-Nov-12 15:50:54

You also assumed I hadn't had any lessons in Gaelic smile

Will she be able to read straight the next time she meets it in another text? hmm Very few children assign a word to memory the first time they read it so it would be unusual ....
the other misconception is that English words contain two vowel sounds together as in "a" "igh"

CecilyP Sat 17-Nov-12 16:20:44

She might remember straight the next time or, as she has been able to work it out once, she should have no difficulty next time.

Do English words not contain two vowel sounds together?

What about boa, seance, fiance, violin, beautiful, meander? Or do you just mean those 2 particular vowel sounds

mrz Sat 17-Nov-12 16:31:23

Wouldn't it be nice if learning was that predictable ... I'm sure you've met children who read a word on one page in a book and there is the same word when they turn the page and it's as if they have never seen it before ...I know I've met quite a few in reception classes over the last two decades.

interestingly none contain "a" "igh" together

Cat98 Sat 17-Nov-12 16:35:31

Maizied - I'm don't really understand what you're arguing with me about as the first paragraph in your last post is pretty much exactly what I said in my initial post! I have not once said it's an optimal method, just that clearly some children are actually ok with it.
There is another thread running at the moment which I think is what I am referring to, rather than debating phonics.

mrz Sat 17-Nov-12 16:35:32

I've just realised from your response I had missed the word the from my previous post I apologise.

learnandsay Sat 17-Nov-12 18:00:18

I choose when to tell my daughter how to pronounce and or sound out a word and when not to. If she was going to use the aigh spelling often in words other than straight then I'd point it out to her. But she isn't so I wont. Next time my daughter works out an unusual word we can argue more about it. Phonics guessing can tell you what the alternative sounds are but it can't tell you which one is the right one. Wriggle as much as you like, phonicsy people. But your theory still includes guessing as a core method, whether you like it or not. (The simplest answer is just not to criticise guessing so much, since is so necessary to your own method.)

mrz Sat 17-Nov-12 18:18:55


maizieD Sat 17-Nov-12 19:48:38

Cat98. It is the 'one size fits all' comment that I am 'arguing' with!

Wrong of me, maybe, but it is a bit of a 'red rag' comment to me as it is usually trotted out in defence of mixed methods, or 'other (unspecifed) methods' and as a triumphant 'clincher' to a debate about whether synthetic phonics should be the only method used in the initial teaching of reading. "Well, that's settled her hash" hangs unspoken, but implied, in the air "because, of course, all children learn differently..."

I would agree that in many areas there could be different ways to teach the same skills, but as far as teaching reading is concerned the 'other methods' either don't teach the same skills for reading or don't teach them adequately. This is a vital point that a lot of people don't understand; they see all the methods as being much of a muchness, having the same ultimate result, and can't see what the fuss is about.

Knowledge of the alphabetic code and decoding and blending are vital reading skills. If people have been lucky enough to have discovered them for themselves (and many, many people do) that is fine for them, but they generally haven't been taught them and it is very hard on the people who haven't been able to discover them for themselves. They end up believing that they are 'dyslexic' or just plain 'thick'. Which, in most cases, is just not true. They just aint been taught.

Mashabell Sun 18-Nov-12 07:25:13

If people have been lucky enough to have discovered them for themselves (and many, many people do) that is fine for them

And I can assure posters and readers of these threads that nearly all their children (unlike the children whom Maizie teaches) will be in the lucky position of needing very little phonics. They'l grasp the basic idea very quickly, but also realise that lots of words cannot be completely sounded out, that they have to be worked out with help of context, and that the best strategy for coping with those, in order to become a fluent reader as quckly as possible, is to learn them as whole words as quickly as possible.

As for the others, all children are taught phonics when they are taught to write. So nobody goes entirely without. There would be no lengthy discussions about how best to teach reading, if it wasn't for the irregularities of English spelling - if phonics really worked, as with 'stop not on hot spot' or 'a fat cat sat on a mat' or 'make, bake and take cake'.

The people who become dyslexic are invariably ones who have above average difficulties coping with spelling inconsistencies like 'man - many - men', 'on - only - lonely'. They are less able to suspend logical thinking and just memorise them all, no matter how stupid. They are less able to cope with the stupidities of English spelling.

It's a great shame that there is so much need for it in English.
Masha Bell

mrz Sun 18-Nov-12 08:09:28

masha once again can I ask you how many young children you have taught to read? How many reception classes have you taught in? How many KS1 classes have you taught? How many primary schools have you visited?

You are now making unfounded statements about SEN ...people don't become dyslexic, you don't catch it like a cold ... but children are failed by poor teaching.

Feenie Sun 18-Nov-12 09:12:37

And I can assure posters and readers of these threads that nearly all their children (unlike the children whom Maizie teaches) will be in the lucky position of needing very little phonics

How do you know that? That's an impressive crystal ball you have there, Masha.

learnandsay Sun 18-Nov-12 20:14:02

I didn't put the children to bed tonight, my other half did it, and apparently left them alone for a period, got back to listen to our daughter reading her baby sister a book in German. I guess if the language is phonetically regular then why not? (The other half of the family is German.)

Cat98 Mon 19-Nov-12 14:12:40

MaizieD - I get where you are coming from and I have a lot of respect for your posts generally (and Mrz and others) as you are clearly very knowledgeable about the subject. That's why I was a bit surprised at your "daft" comment as surely you know the best way to encourage people to come round to your way of thinking or accept the evidence is to engage with them rather than shout at them ;)
Anyway, I still don't think you understood what I meant as I was saying some children suit other methods (as I did) but that I fully support phonics being used in schools as they have to cater to the majority! I was referring more to parents worrying about things they don't really have to worry about, tbh. And there was a thread on here illustrating my point at the time (a parent worrying her DS was reading "too well") and the majority of the replies - including Mrz's - agreed that it sounded fine and that her ds was one of the lucky ones who just picked up reading well. Which is basically what I was saying.

I'll shut up now smile

branflimflam Mon 19-Nov-12 18:25:14

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Feenie Mon 19-Nov-12 18:38:50

Phonics books are good, but the aim is for your DD to be a fluent, happy, confident reader with a love of books.

What on earth does that mean? confused

It's practiSing, btw.


branflimflam Mon 19-Nov-12 18:52:40

Wow, first and probably last time on mumsnet with that type of feedback ! That is the aim of reading - happy, confident children who enjoy reading and understand what they have read Phonics are the building blocks of reading but what you want is the rest. Shame you disagree with that.

mrz Mon 19-Nov-12 18:53:24

I've just had a look at the APP and I'm not sure what the point of it is bran. Could you explain?

Feenie Mon 19-Nov-12 18:59:20

I asked what you meant - I didn't say I disagreed with you. I don't understand the 'but' in your post; it seems to imply that enjoyment isn't possible when learning with phonics books.

branflimflam Mon 19-Nov-12 19:07:42

Enjoyment is definitely possible with phonics, made even more so by great schemes etc. The point of the App is to get children really fluent before moving on to the next stage because often children are taught too quickly and don't retain the information. You don't need an App to do this, it's just another resource if needed. You would be amazed at how many KS2 children (or maybe you wouldn't!) actually don't have the basic phonic knowledge, but with a bit of support can pick it up.

Excuse my grammar in previous posts, finishing a bout of flu and still a bit wonky...

mrz Mon 19-Nov-12 19:08:55

I must be missing something with the APP. It seems to be alphabet flashcards ... is there more to it?

branflimflam Mon 19-Nov-12 19:15:36

I guess it is, but there is more to it - one new sound learned alongside known sounds (this increases retention) and the timed test, which ensures fluency - if they don't know them quickly they go back to be relearned. It's very simple, but effective. So many apps have American pronunciation and many don't really help teach sounds so this is just another one that people might like. However, I know there are others too so I'm not trying to sell this one - anyway it's free!

mrz Mon 19-Nov-12 19:24:17

Sorry but it only has the 26 letters of the alphabet and there are 44 sounds in English and 175 ways to write them ... it doesn't teach reading

Feenie Mon 19-Nov-12 20:57:27


Feenie Mon 19-Nov-12 21:02:18

Cambugs Apps have been developed by educational psychologists in partntership(sic) with the University of Cambridge

The rest of the advert sounds like your post, and some words and phrases which are exactly the same.

This wouldn't be your work, by any chance, would it, branflimflam? wink

mrz Mon 19-Nov-12 21:03:21

Having looked at it carefully I really wouldn't recommend it to parents.

Beckysmom Wed 05-Dec-12 05:25:18

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Mashabell Wed 05-Dec-12 17:02:43

With English spelling being as it is, there isn't a correct, foolproof way of teaching reading that is equally reliable with all children.

The basic idea of sounding out letters or letter strings and blending them into words is simple enough. What spoils this simplicity are the 69 spellings with more than one sound like ou in: sound/ soup/ sought/ should/ shoulder / touch...

maizieD Wed 05-Dec-12 19:13:57

With English spelling being as it is, there isn't a correct, foolproof way of teaching reading that is equally reliable with all children.

So you would like us to believe, masha hmm

Feenie Wed 05-Dec-12 19:23:03

Stealth advertising on your very first post, Beckysmom! - what are the odds, eh. wink

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