How do I avoid mixed methods reading.

(37 Posts)
Carla123 Thu 15-Nov-12 00:28:23

Having read through many posts on the benefits of systematic phonics, I am convinced. However, much to my disappointment, Dd's school uses the old ORT reading scheme books, with corresponding lists of sight words. I am trying to get around this by segmenting the sight words and explaining the sounds. This is mostly fine, though I am having to cover some sounds and graphemes that (reception) Dd hasn't been taught in school yet. It feels too soon to discuss the alternative spellings within some of the 'tricky' sight words, until Dd learns them in class. I am reluctant to simply let her learn the sight words as 'sight words'. What do I do? Should I go ahead and teach Dd the alternative spellings myself, as they come up, or give in to the mixed methods? I don't want to confuse Dd.

PerryCombover Thu 15-Nov-12 00:45:30

Our school does both
My d is five and free reading now. I am utterly amazed by how well it has worked. They are doing more phonics stuff now as they are preparing to spell. She has a good grasp but I am struggling to be honest as I didn't learn phonics at school.
Have you discussed it with the teacher?

noramum Thu 15-Nov-12 07:19:01

DD's school teaches Jolly Phonics but the books she brought home in Reception were a minx of everything. Clearly old Look and Say, to phonic books to any toddler book you would find in your bookshelf at home.

Yes, she couldn't read all the words but now a year later I am amazed how she is able to read very fluent, can decode a lot of difficult words and words, not necessarily straight forward phonic and reads whatever comes into her hand. We never got "tricky" words or other lists because these words are covered by the books provided.

I was very sceptical but now totally convinced that this is a very good method.

MrRected Thu 15-Nov-12 07:25:39

DS's school taught Jolly Phonics - years ago. He read like a champion but his spelling is dire!

DS2 - taught himself to read before starting reception. We moved to Australia between him being in prep and DS being in reception - at that time they didn't teach reading in the prep year. He is now in Y2, finished levelled reading in term one but still struggles with inferred meaning in text. He is very advanced when it comes to spelling (he has a grade four list).

DD - is in prep this year (she's 5y5m). They have bucked up a bit in Australia/QLD and introduced a national curriculum. She is taught in ORT style. She could also read prior to starting prep and is now nearly finished levelled reading (level 23) in her reception year, her comprehension is excellent but her spelling is dire. So it shows that every system is suited to different kids. You just have to work with whatever system you are given - or potentially choose a private school where they may be a choice. In my opinion, sight words should only be taught when the child shows an aptitude to doing so. To try and force a reception child to learn by rote if it's not their style, well, that' s a recipe for disaster.

learnandsay Thu 15-Nov-12 07:29:43

If the school uses mixed methods then you can't avoid it unless you remove your child from the school. Nobody said mixed methods don't work at all. They've mostly been accused of failing somewhere between a fifth and a quarter of school children. If you're very supportive of your daughter's reading at home then your child is much less likely to be in the failing cohort. (Scant comfort I know. But perhaps a reason not to panic.) If your daughter naturally sounds out words, knows and uses all her letter sounds, and you're teaching her digraphs and trigraphs at home then it looks as if you're doing fine. As long as you ensure that she knows all her sounds and combinations and is secure in using them then all will be fine. (I think the people who are really in trouble are the ones who have a reading difficulty and have no way of solving it.)

Hulababy Thu 15-Nov-12 07:35:44

I work in an infant school and we are in the process of a big change in our phonics provision. We have spent a lot of money, which is also fund matched by the government, on the Debbie Hepplewaite Floppy Phonics system, plus have access to the Phonics International site too.

However despite all this money we still only have limited resources. We have about 6-12 different guided reading sets per phase, some fiction and some non fiction. But we have no take home books for the children that a linked. Instead they take home a mix of colour banded books inc diff reading scheme books and some real books. Most are not phonic decodable books. I can't see that changing any time soon due to financial constraints.

Under the new system we send home no lists of tricky words, etc. though year 2 do have spelling tests each week - though we are looking at that system too.

sleeplessinsuburbia Thu 15-Nov-12 07:44:40

There's no one way to learn to read, it would be a failing of the school to only teach phonics. Don't stress about it.

Mashabell Thu 15-Nov-12 10:33:20

Not only that, Sleepless.

With English spelling being what it is (tough, because not thought, through), phonics alone cannot enable anyone to become a fluent reader, and even less a good speller of words like 'move groove, see /sea, me, ski, key'.

learnandsay Thu 15-Nov-12 10:47:53

It's a shame that people are human; humans make mistakes. It would have been nice to know if the strategy of teaching all children systematic synthetic phonics really would/can/did iron out the long tail of reading underachievement. But the problem is that phonics in school is delivered by people and some people aren't doing it right. So we'll never be able to tell if remaining underachievement in reading is down to the teachers, the children, the environment, the school, the resources, you name it. You pick your own factor to blame. So in the end this argument phonics versus any other method of learning to read will always come down to an element of faith because you can't conclusively prove anything one way or the other. All you can do is quote studies. If children were taught mechanically perhaps you could say more than that.

EdithWeston Thu 15-Nov-12 11:00:24

I think what you are doing is fine. Sound out the words she has not yet learned to decode. Where there is an unfamiliar grapheme just say 'that's another way you can write X' and move on. She might pick up the grapheme just by meeting it and having it explained. If she doesn't, she'll get it later when it is taught. But either way the message that there is a sound/grapheme correspondence is there.

Carla123 Thu 15-Nov-12 18:36:04

Thank you for the reassuring replies. On reflection, I should have called the thread 'how do I make the most of mixed methods?'. I know that I need to go along with how the school do things (they are the teachers!). Edith the simple message about the sound/grapheme correspondence is exactly what I am aiming for. I will carry on, but keep explanations brief.

Minimaxkids Thu 15-Nov-12 20:54:57

I too got annoyed with mixed methods for Dd.
She is now y1 and really coming on.

There was a blip in reception about February when she had mastered all of Jolly Phonics and sounds just stopped. She wasn't taught any more. But she figured out the other sounds like ough augh ou ow from exposure from library books.
It was at this point I felt school should have done more phonics. But they just sent home more sight words.
But the library books were adding in even more sight words as I told her what they said.

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 21:26:44

Carla explain the tricky spelling of the sounds in the words ... you'll be surprised how easily your daughter takes it in her stride even if she hasn't been formally taught it yet.

learnandsay Thu 15-Nov-12 21:38:41

Maybe the child can either read, or work out the word herself. There's no need to expect that she can't just because it's spelt oddly. My daughter seems to have no problem with the word straight. She can sound out stra igh (eye) t

stra-eye-t (that makes no sense.) But she voluntarily translates that nonsense into the word straight. I have no idea how she does it. But she does it. She also does that type of thing with loads of other words too. My suspicion is it's because she knows how to speak and she's mapping the written words onto the language that she understands in speech.

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 21:42:11

"She can sound out stra igh (eye) t" oh I hope not! shock

learnandsay Thu 15-Nov-12 21:44:05

Meaning what?

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 21:48:25

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

learnandsay Thu 15-Nov-12 21:51:33

And she should have been doing what?

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 21:53:44

s-t-r-ay-t (aigh is a way to spell the sound "ay")

learnandsay Thu 15-Nov-12 22:00:36

There seem to be 44 words containing aigh, of which the overwhelming majority contain the entire word straight. The others:


I've never heard of.


I think, on that basis, I'll let her carry on with her home-made method. It works for her and she's unlikely to come across the other eight words.

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 22:04:08

It's a very straightforward process learnandsay .... the adult reading with the child notices that there is a word in the text containing a spelling the child won't know so they say <aigh> is how we spell the "ay" sound in this word and then the child can sound out the word first attempt.

learnandsay Thu 15-Nov-12 22:06:05

How many "aigh" words is the child (or the adult) likely to come across which don't contain the entire word "straight"?

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 22:08:19

more than they will encounter that are sounded out "igh"

learnandsay Thu 15-Nov-12 22:09:34

Please name them.

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 22:12:29

Well since there are none where <aigh> is "igh" you seem to be missing the point.

learnandsay Thu 15-Nov-12 22:37:45

Er, no. The point is that your ay is pretty useless if she's never going to need it.

Carla123 Fri 16-Nov-12 13:44:03

I have been using this as a guide.

maizieD Fri 16-Nov-12 13:56:59

Excellent, Carla123. You can't go wrong with one of Debbie's charts. What she doesn't know about phonics and teaching phonics would go on the back of a postage stamp!

CecilyP Fri 16-Nov-12 13:58:45

'aigh' seems to be missing - unless I am looking in the wroing place.

maizieD Fri 16-Nov-12 14:17:32

I suspect that 'aigh' is missing because it is not one of the common ways of spelling /ay/. The chart doesn't show every single letter/sound correspondence, just the most common ones.

However, if they have been taught good 'phonics', most children are quite happy to accept that it is a way of spelling the /ay/ sound when it is pointed out to them.

For the more rare correspondences this 'incidental' teaching is just fine.

CecilyP Fri 16-Nov-12 14:34:39

I think that rather takes us back to what learnandsay was saying.

SenClayDavis Fri 16-Nov-12 16:06:36

It not on that particular code chart, but it is on other PI code charts. 'Aigh' is taught as part unit 9 of PI.

mrz Fri 16-Nov-12 17:18:40

So you agree that it's more useful for a child to incorrectly sound out

<s> <t> <r> <a> <ie> <t> that to be told <aigh> in this word spells the sound "ay"? Unbelievable!

mrz Fri 16-Nov-12 17:19:10


CecilyP Fri 16-Nov-12 21:13:11

I don't think it is a matter of either agreeing or disagreeing. Learnandsay is simply reporting what actually happened. Her DD managed to work it out from the limited information she already had. No doubt if she had been formally taught (and remembered) that aigh made and an ay sound, she could have used that, but don't forget she is only in the first term of reception.

mrz Fri 16-Nov-12 21:23:33

also remember learnandsay has been teaching her daughter to read since she was two

Pozzled Sat 17-Nov-12 11:25:15

OP, I am in exactly the same position with my reception DD. I have basically decided that we will do the synthetic phonics at home, using our own books- Songbirds and ORT phonics. We're also using the Reading Eggs website which is mostly SP with a few 'sight words'.

When she has sight words to learn, I explain the tricky phonemes and then get her to practise sounding it as normal. I also make connections with other words. So the school sent home 'he' I taught her that the 'e' makes 'ee' and showed her that it's the same in me, we etc. So she can sound out around 5 New words instead of having learned one by rote.

We do read the school books together as well, and we look at and talk about the pictures. But I make it clear that she is to read the words by sounding, not guessing. If she doesn't know a phoneme I might either: a) tell her the word b) tell her the phoneme and just move on or c) sit down and teach her the grapheme- phoneme correspondance. It depends how common the grapheme is and how tired she is.

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