Different ways to learn to read...

(67 Posts)
allyfe Thu 03-Apr-14 10:12:59

My reception DD (5.1) is doing well with her reading (not compared to the free readers, but I'm still impressed smile). But, she must also be one of the only children in the country (based on my reading of MN anyway) who actually likes Biff & Chip. In fact, she much prefers Biff and Chip compared to phonics books at the same level. I think that partly she simply doesn't like the stories/way of writing in phonics books. She never has. She loved the Read at Home ORT, but wouldn't touch the Read, Write Inc ones. But I think it is also because she recognises a lot of words, and tends to work things out based on the form and the meaning of the text (so sometimes she will say the wrong thing because it makes sense in the context of the sentence, and it has the same first letter as the word she should be reading). She does still sound words out if she doesn't know them, but she seems to need to have the satisfaction of having a lot of the high frequency words that she already knows.

She does also read other things than Biff & Chip (she will have a go at a lot of stuff - she has tried a simple Horrid Henry Early reader, and some I can read books (which she read all of).

So, my question is, is this a problem? And, she has been moved up a level recently, and whilst she still flies through the Biff and Chip, she doesn't like the phonics books she gets and won't try with them. Typical pushy mum, I think she could easily move up another level because it takes her five minutes to read the Biff & chips we get home. And, again, as with so many children, she reads higher level books at home. We only get two school books so I'd like them to be appropriate. But I did just wonder about her lack of interest in phonics texts, and if it is something we should try to work on more, or if I should just let her read in what seems to be a ORT way!

Seeline Thu 03-Apr-14 10:19:42

Not an expert, but I don't think it matters at all. As long she is getting lots of practice and is enjoying it, I don't think the type of bool is an issue. My DD learnt to read very quickly and didn't really do phonics at all. They didn't have a reading scheme at her school - they just chose what interested them.

PastSellByDate Thu 03-Apr-14 10:31:43

Hi Allyfe

I agree with Seeline: it really doesn't matter what she's reading

However...

It does matter that she understands when she's asked to read something for her teachers/ TAs - she does make the effort. Being picky about what you're willing to read may mean that the teachers aren't seeing your DC performing at their best. So it's important that they understand that if they're asked to read for a teacher, regardless of the book selected, they have to try their best.

My girls have very strong likes/ dislikes and there were stories sent home they both hated (or indeed I hated) but I think you have to trust that the book was chosen for a reason - to practice certain types of sounds/ decoding trickier words/ etc...

My solution to my DDs not liking to read the books sent home from school was to dangle the proverbial carrot. OK, I know you don't like X book, but if we work on this over the next few days so that you read this really well to me, then we can just focus on Sally Gardner princess Early Reader books/ Rainbow Magic Fairies/ Diary of Wimpy Kid/ etc... for the rest of the week and I'll read you X favourite story at the weekend.

HTH

columngollum Thu 03-Apr-14 16:33:08

I think it depends a lot on the temperament of the teacher and the school reading policy/how closely it's observed. If you and the teacher agree on what's required, when to do what and how to do it, then the books themselves probably don't make any difference.

If you disagree/don't or can't discuss it and she thinks your daughter is developing slower than you do and your daughter can't/won't read the school books the way that the teacher wants them read, I can forsee endless problems (which, in the long run may turn out to have bugger all to do with how well your daughter actually reads!)

Mashabell Fri 04-Apr-14 06:27:23

If your dd is making good progress with her reading and is also able to
sound words out if she doesn't know them, then there is no problem at all.

If she also
^ seems to need to have the satisfaction of having a lot of the high frequency words that she already knows^, then she has already grasped what learning to read is really all about:
being able to recognise all common words instantly, without needing to sound them out - as we all do on here - and reading with understanding, to get the meaning of a text.

Reading by sounding out or decoding is merely a stage towards this. What moving up through the levels means is no more than being able to read more and more words withouth decoding and needing to decode less and less.

columngollum Fri 04-Apr-14 08:44:20

Well, it depends, a child who has learned to read by using real books does not move up through the levels. There are no levels, although it must be admitted that some real books are more complicated than others.

Specifically levelled scheme reading books are an educational management tool. (A stupid one at that.)

nonicknameseemsavailable Fri 04-Apr-14 09:27:59

phonics books can seem a lot harder work for children because there are fewer words they will have learned to recognise already and they will have to slow down and decode the words given.

it is very important they read a wide variety of books, biff etc are very predictable with language and really are very simple to read once a child has learned the basics, the phonics books include much longer words and more varied language because if a child has learned their phonics correctly then they should be able to decode these words.

If you think she is ready to go up a level but that is purely based on biff, chip and kipper and she struggles with others then I think she needs to practice the others more. To move up she needs to be confident with a whole range of texts.

Mashabell Fri 04-Apr-14 09:44:10

I agree with u re official levelling, CG,
but however children learn to read, they become more fluent as they are able to recognise more common words by sight, without the need for decoding.

I was merely trying to explain what the levels mean.
We know that children learn to read English at very different rates: some are quite fluent by 6, while others are still behind their 'level' at 11, and i am certain that this would be reflected in the number of the most common 3,000 or so words they can read without hesitation. - This could be a nice research project for someone.

The speed of reading progress depends largely on how well children are able to deal with the spellings with more than one sound (-y-: type - typical; - -y: daddy - apply).

Children with a good visual memory tend to learn to read English faster (just as they learn to spell more easily) than those who have to rely more heavily on decoding, because the spellings with several possible sounds are inevitably bigger impediments for later.

columngollum Fri 04-Apr-14 10:12:11

But surely that's the problem with a one-size-fits-all model of anything (which is what a reading scheme is.) Of course we can suppose that some children have a better visual memory than others or are shown books earlier or are encouraged to play word games or any of the ten thousand other things which make one child a better reader than another. But (and wild generalisations are the order of the day in this post) if we already know all this, and we do already know all this, then why are some schemes sometimes so heavily restricted? I can only suppose the reason is a heavy reliance on uniformity on behalf of the person running the scheme (partly suggested by the desire to purchase a scheme in the first place.)

Isn't one of the things you talk about so often the diversity in English words part of the problem, coupled with the diversity in children?

Aren't those two things perfect candidates for the production of chaos?

And aren't reading schemes to some extent a protection against chaos? (with reading being only a secondary consideration.)

Mashabell Fri 04-Apr-14 12:02:50

Yes, yes and yes, in reply to your 3 questions CG.

If it wasn't for the fact that the 43 English sounds are spelt with 205 graphemes, 69 of which have more than one pronunciation (e.g. an - any, apron), there would be no discussions / debates / arguments /reading wars about how best to teach reading.

As i've said before, some other languages (French, Portuguese) are quite tricky to spell too, BUT ONLY ENGLISH has many graphemes with more than one sound.

I can't resist quoting the phonics guru Diane McGuinness again:

"It’s difficult for us to imagine what it’s like to have a transparent (or nearly transparent) alphabet code, like those in Italy, Spain, Germany, Finland, Sweden, and Norway. Teaching a transparent alphabet is incredibly easy, because it’s transparent how the writing system works.

The sound /b/ is always spelled b, and the letter b is always decoded /b/, and so on through all the phonemes in the language. With only one spelling (or nearly) for each sound in the language, if a child can ‘sound out’ a word, he will always be able to spell it correctly. Learning this is so easy, that children start to read late (age 6 or older) and finish early, by the end of the school year. So easy, that no country with a transparent alphabet tests reading skill by decoding accuracy. Everybody can decode.

In English-speaking countries, tests of decoding accuracy (word recognition, word attack) are the major tests (often the only tests) that educators and researchers rely on to measure reading skill and to define ‘dyslexia.’"

allyfe Fri 04-Apr-14 14:55:24

Thanks all. I'm encouraged to know she seems to be doing okay as a fussy topic reader!
Pastthesellbydate we use encouragement for daily reading, but I will see if I can up the encouragement for the books she doesn't like. I'm going to go and get some of the sally gardner books from the library this weekend. They look fabulous. She would LOVE them! Thanks for the recommendation smile
nonickname I think you are right about why she finds them harder. In my (uninformed) opinion, the problem is also that they are quite unnatural. She goes from being able to read a fair bit and sounding out a few words, to having to sound out a lot. She gets bored and annoyed. I think she'd enjoy a longer phonics book that also had high frequency words so she still feels like she is 'reading'. She can read other things other than biff & chip, so I'm not so worried that she is restricted in what she can read, she just doesn't like to have to sound out every other word. She would attempt harder phonics words if she had the encouragement of a lot of high frequency words too. Nevertheless, since I'm not sure those exist, I think it would be good to try and plough through the phonics books.

Mashabell & Column I know that my DD enjoys the book more if there is a lot she can 'read'. She doesn't think sounding out is proper reading (her teachers told her to try and sound out some words in her head if she could). I'm not sure she is a natural at phonics. I was totally anti phonics before my DD started school, but I think that to a certain degree, they do help. Mind you, it would possibly help more if the school told us which sounds they are learning. I'm not sure what she is supposed to know and what she isn't. And I always get thrown when she initially sounds it out incorrectly, and then 'reads' it correctly.

I've taken the very bold foolhardy move of asking the teachers to test her reading just to see if she does need to go up a level. I also tried to tell them that she doesn't like some of the factual books (she got one called how to make a road which she really hated). So we'll see. I'm sort of guessing she'll come back with the same level, but fingers crossed. Trip to the library is planned for weekend no matter!

RiversideMum Fri 04-Apr-14 18:31:01

Which version of Biff and Chip is she reading? Is it the old ORT or Floppy's Phonics?

maizieD Fri 04-Apr-14 18:50:11

She doesn't think sounding out is proper reading (her teachers told her to try and sound out some words in her head if she could).

I'm really sorry, allyfe, but at 5y 1m she is hardly in a position to judge what is or isn't 'proper reading'. Reading isn't about 'learning' a set of words, it is about being able to easily work out waht any word that one encounters 'says' (and that includes adults, too) as the first stage in identifying it.

I'm not sure she is a natural at phonics.

Nobody is a 'natural' at reading the written word because reading is an unnatural skill and, for all but the most exceptional children, it has to be taught. Phonics works in the same way that the written word was originally constructed. Written words consist of a series of speech sounds which have each been assigned a symbol (or symbols) to enable them to be written down. To read them you have to turn the symbols back into speech sounds (decode) and blend the sounds to produce the word. It is very simple.

Once she knows the letter/sound correspondences (i.e how the individual sounds in words are spelled) thoroughly she will find decoding and blending very easy and effortless, but she has to go through the learning stage. And it takes about 2 years for most children to become expert.

There is so much confusion over 'sight words'; all they are are words which can be read automatically 'on sight' without any conscious decoding and blending. Most children only have to sound out a word a few times (sometimes just once) to have it fixed in long term memory as a 'sight word', but the initial sounding out is vital.

bauhausfan Fri 04-Apr-14 22:53:41

I would say that the library is your friend. Reading for pleasure is really important.

RiversideMum Sat 05-Apr-14 07:17:25

I had a boy start my class a couple of years ago whose parents had bought copies of the entire reading schemes (probably £400 worth) that I had in my class. These were all decodable books and he could read all the words in all the books! I tried a few sentences and words out of context and yes, he really did know them. Wow. So I did a reading age test and he couldn't even get through the first sentence, which was odd. So I stepped back a bit and found he knew all his single letter sounds but no digraphs. He was unable to read unfamiliar CVC words. A meeting with parents revealed that "we read the books through with him a couple of times and then he remembers".

So using a real example to illustrate what Maizie is saying. Some children have amazing memories. But they still need to be taught the alphabetic code, or they can never be independent readers. Interestingly, although this child could "read" quite complex books, the only thing he could write was his name.

Reading and writing do go hand in hand.

RiversideMum Sat 05-Apr-14 07:21:43

Isn't it odd that some people think reading for pleasure is different from learning to read?

mrz Sat 05-Apr-14 07:55:24

But I think it is also because she recognises a lot of words, and tends to work things out based on the form and the meaning of the text (so sometimes she will say the wrong thing because it makes sense in the context of the sentence, and it has the same first letter as the word she should be reading).

So essentially she is guessing and doesn't have an effective strategy for reading accurately?

columngollum Sat 05-Apr-14 08:22:28

OP, do you have any idea where your daughter got that business about guessing what the word means from its place in a sentence and what its first letter is, from?

columngollum Sat 05-Apr-14 08:24:37

Incidentally, I think there is another nearby thread about a little boy who does much the same thing. There is an outside chance that this behaviour is the result of not being able to do "real phonics" properly, and "having a go".

allyfe Sat 05-Apr-14 08:56:06

Riversidemum they have a mixture of the ORT books. The certainly aren't all floppy's phonics. Mostly I think they are the old version. I think she would enjoy floppy's phonics more because she likes Biff and Chip stories. They have songbirds, and basically a lot of the ORT non Biff and Chip texts too.

Bauhausfan We went to the library yesterday but sadly, the library doesn't have very many books that are at her level. We did get some to try, and she read one last night. But our local library isn't massively well stocked for the early stages. She actually generally likes to read things once (I know it would be good if she read them again).

MazieD I would actually have to disagree with you. I think she is well positioned to know what reading is. She has heard me read to her every night for longer than she can remember. She knows that reading fluently doesn't involve sounding out, and so reading like someone who can read is what she considers reading. Although I think perhaps what you meant was that she is in no position to know how to best learn to read, and there I would agree with you. Nevertheless, I can understand that it is her goal to be able to read without having to sound things out all the time. Doing so is quicker and it is easier to get meaning from that. So, I do think that for her, a combination of the Biff & Chip favorite words which she has read enough times to be able to read fluently, together with phonics words that practiced the phonics digraphs and trigraphs, would work best. Perhaps those are what Floppy's phonics are about. If so, it is just a shame her school doesn't give us those.

Mrz yes, she does just guess sometimes. Evidently it isn't an effective reading strategy. She does need to slow down sometimes and look at the words she is reading. I will normally gently prompt her to actually look at the word and sound it out. Although, I know you won't agree with this, but the school actually told us not to do this. Their view was that if the meaning was correct, comprehension was the most important thing.

Columngollum I think she guesses sometimes because she gets the meaning of the sentence. Sometimes she guesses and gets it right, which obviously reinforces the process. But she also guesses when she isn't really engaging with the reading.

mrz Sat 05-Apr-14 09:00:43

Meaning is important unfortunately meaning is lost if the text isn't read accurately.

columngollum Sat 05-Apr-14 09:04:01

Their view was that if the meaning was correct, comprehension was the most important thing.

Sorry, I don't know what you're saying here. Are you saying that the school specifically told you not to get your daughter to slow down and sound out words...

because [if she basically got the gist of the sentence] that was preferable to decoding the actual word correctly?

mrz Sat 05-Apr-14 09:06:10

The school is teaching whole word method.

meditrina Sat 05-Apr-14 09:06:18

The bottom line is that other methods and mixed ethos produce fewer competent readers than if you use the traditional phonics method which has been around for centuries.

I hope that the message from your teacher is actually that for 'reading together' (where books might contain words with bits of the code not yet learned) you simply tell the child the word (explaining they've not learned that bit yet), not that they attempt to teach by the 'look and say' rote method of barking back by whole word shape.

columngollum Sat 05-Apr-14 09:07:14

mrz, hypothetically, it is possible that a teacher is relying on parental judgement in the consideration of whether or not a child did basically understand the gist of any sentence.

columngollum Sat 05-Apr-14 09:08:55

school is teaching whole word? Sorry, I missed that bit.

columngollum Sat 05-Apr-14 09:13:05

I don't understand that the school is teaching whole word.

The way I understand it in the OP is that the school does teach phonics but a) the child doesn't seem to be getting on very well with phonics at the moment and b) the child is offered phonics scheme readers by her school, but she doesn't like them and prefers to read other things.

mrz Sat 05-Apr-14 09:16:03

In the Whole word method the child is encouraged to think of a word that would fit the sentence and it is acceptable for the child to substitute another word if it doesn't change the meaning.

So if the sentence was:

Goldilocks discovered a little house in the wood.

and the child read:

Goldilocks discovered a little home in the wood.

that would be praised/encouraged hmm

meditrina Sat 05-Apr-14 09:17:13

What one reception child professes to "like" is not a reliable indicator of what children need to become proficient readers.

columngollum Sat 05-Apr-14 09:20:37

Ah, I see what you mean. Yes. It is possible that these teachers are playing Kenneth Goodman's Psycholinguistic Guessing Game

or maybe we've just misunderstood what the OP is telling us and are running around screaming "ah! Kenneth!" unnecessarily.

mrz Sat 05-Apr-14 09:23:16

Kenneth Goodman is Whole language not whole word CG so good idea not to shout his name

columngollum Sat 05-Apr-14 09:25:59

The problem now is that because teachers have to teach phonics in school it is possible to have a teacher who believes passionately in Kenneth and says Kennethy type things from time to time (because that's what she believes in.)

But, she actually teaches phonics, or tries to teach it, anyway. Quite how anybody is supposed to tell what's actually going on in a case like that I don't know.

columngollum Sat 05-Apr-14 09:29:01

Well, yes indeed. But Look and Say people don't read

The sheep came into the garden and ate the grass

as

The goat came into the garden and ate the grass

because although they both make perfect sense in that context L&S people do like to distinguish between sheep and goats. (Kenneth might be delighted whichever way you read it.) Reading stuff wrongly isn't an L&S tradition.

mrz Sat 05-Apr-14 09:31:27

Kenneth Goodman is Whole language not whole word CG they are 2 different things!

columngollum Sat 05-Apr-14 09:32:56

* I KNOW THAT PERFECTLY WELL. WHOLE WORD/L&S INVOLVES RECOGNISING WORDS, NOT READING THEM INCORRECTLY.*

mrz Sat 05-Apr-14 09:33:24

Actually reading things inaccurately is very much a Look & Say tradition CG

CecilyP Sat 05-Apr-14 10:03:14

There is so much confusion over 'sight words'; all they are are words which can be read automatically 'on sight' without any conscious decoding and blending. Most children only have to sound out a word a few times (sometimes just once) to have it fixed in long term memory as a 'sight word', but the initial sounding out is vital.

Why do you think it is vital? Would you now know which words you originally learned by sounding out and which you learned because someone told you what they said. The ability to sound out words is vital to making progress, and certainly independent progress, but I can't see how an intitial sounding out is necessary for every word.

Once she knows the letter/sound correspondences (i.e how the individual sounds in words are spelled) thoroughly she will find decoding and blending very easy and effortless, but she has to go through the learning stage. And it takes about 2 years for most children to become expert.

Isn't that more because, after 2 years, whatever she reads, there will be proportionately more words that she has already read before, and fewer words she is encountering for the first time. Even if you find decoding easy, if every other word is a new word, reading must be very tedious, whereas if there is only one new word in a paragraph, it won't detract from what you are reading much at all. Or when you get to my age and there is only one new word in an entire book, it can be quite a novelty!

Phonics works in the same way that the written word was originally constructed. Written words consist of a series of speech sounds which have each been assigned a symbol (or symbols) to enable them to be written down. To read them you have to turn the symbols back into speech sounds (decode) and blend the sounds to produce the word. It is very simple.

That is a good way of looking at it, but the fact that, when we become fluent readers, we don't have to do this every the time is how we can not just read big thick books, (even with English spelling) but actually get pleasure from doing so. Not forgetting the poor souls who read every word as if they were reading it for the first time and will never enjoy reading.

columngollum Sat 05-Apr-14 10:07:44

No, it isn't.

Saying that doesn't even make sense. How can you have a look and say method if you look and say something else instead? That's not look and say. That's look or maybe don't and then say some random stuff...

Reading things incorrectly is one of Kenneth's stated aims. He even goes to great lengths to explain why he wants people to read things wrongly in his guessing game.

CecilyP Sat 05-Apr-14 10:11:46

So using a real example to illustrate what Maizie is saying. Some children have amazing memories. But they still need to be taught the alphabetic code, or they can never be independent readers.

True, the thing with sight words is that you either know it or you don't. How did the boy get on when you filled in the gaps in his phonic knowledge and encouraged him to use it?

Interestingly, although this child could "read" quite complex books, the only thing he could write was his name. Reading and writing do go hand in hand.

That's what I thought until DS went to a school which used a system called Foundations of Writing' popular in Scottish primary schools at the time, which didn't teach writing until children had shown a certain expertise at drawing and observational skills. DS, young in year, forged ahead in reading but don't think he actually wrote anything till P3 with no ill effects.

allyfe Sat 05-Apr-14 10:36:03

The school is teaching mixed methods. They have done all of the jolly phonics songs/sounds, and they are (I believe) learning digraphs and trigraphs (I know this because my daughter tells me about them when she reads them sometimes). They do teach phonics, and they don't do whole word learning (possibly with floppy, biff, chip, kipper etc. which I do think the children were taught as whole words).

Meditrina Whilst non-phonics and mixed ethos may produce fewer competent readers, it does still produce a lot of competent readers. But there are children that it fails. At the same time, I honestly do not believe that phonics alone works brilliantly for every single child. One of the reasons I think that is quite simply from the fact that my daughter uses mixed methods quite naturally.

Honestly, I don't know what they have been taught in school. So, if there is a word she finds hard, I give her the phonics sounds and she puts them together. I very occasionally just read a word for her - but that is when it doesn't comply to any basic phonics rules (that I can see). But those obviously don't come up in her reading scheme books. Just in the other ones. If she sounds something out incorrectly, it is often because she is being impatient (except with harder words) - at least that is my interpretation. It is hard to know for sure.

meditrina Sat 05-Apr-14 10:42:10

If you aim is to have the majority reading well, then you use the approach that delivers this.

Would you rather see 1 or 2 children per class who need extra help, or 6? Especially when there is no way of predicting if it's going to be your child who is one of the additional 4 or 5 who struggle if phonics are not properly taught?

maizieD Sat 05-Apr-14 10:44:42

That is a good way of looking at it, but the fact that, when we become fluent readers, we don't have to do this every the time is how we can not just read big thick books,

No, we don't have to do it every time because by the time we get to the stage of reading 'thick books' we have got a very large number of words into long term memory through the sounding out and blending route. Once a word is 'there' we don't have to sound it out and blend it again when we encounter it. Children who haven't done this never progress to 'thick books' because they find reading too difficult.

As to the sounding out and blending route being vital, do I really have to yet again link to the Stuart and Masterton research in which after multiple exposures to a number of focus words (without any teaching of phonics and decoding and blending) children could remember very few of them, if any?

All the serious research into the reading process has, by a process of replication of results over several decades, led researchers to conclude that knowledge of letter/sound correspondences and the ability to decode and blend to 'produce' the word is the way to produce skilled readers. Unfortunately teacher educators have, in the main, steadfastly refused to take on board these findings, preferring to hold on to disproved theories of reading and to continue to pass those theories on to their students. Who, in turn, use them to inform their teaching of reading and to inform parents. So the myths and misconceptions continue to be perpetrated.

Reading scientists have known since the 1990s at least how the process works and the most effective way to teach it. It is amazing that a quarter of a century later we're still arguing the toss.

A couple of times recently I have heard academics say that the Reading Wars are Over and that Phonics has Won. Nobody seems to have told the troops though...

allyfe Sat 05-Apr-14 10:45:22

Missed the second page of this.

Just to add - I don't think that the school is necessarily teaching whole word reading. But what I think the school is trying to encourage is comprehension in reading and enjoyment of reading.

My DD does use phonics. She does sound out words, she does get impatient, she does get satisfaction from reading the words that she now knows from sight. She does want to be a fluent reader and she does find learning to read hard work.

Honestly, I think that none of the above is particularly unnatural, nor particularly unreasonable.

I do think that some children find phonics more 'natural' than others. Some children will have a good auditory memory, others will have a better visual memory. Some will have great comprehension and stamina in listening to stories, others less so. My guess is that all of these things impact on the way a child learns to read. It doesn't make sense to me to say there is only one 'right' way to learn to read. There might be a better way to teach reading (which suits the majority of children), but surely all is fair in Love and reading learning? And I will just specify that I mean learning to read (such that a child can pick up a new text and read it, not just remembering where they pick up a book they have read before and recite).

maizieD Sat 05-Apr-14 10:55:02

^ At the same time, I honestly do not believe that phonics alone works brilliantly for every single child.^

Honest belief doesn't override evidence. And I'm afraid that the evidence shows that classes of exclusively phonics taught children perform better than 'mixed methods' classes.

One of the reasons I think that is quite simply from the fact that my daughter uses mixed methods quite naturally.

No, she uses them because she has been taught them, whatever you might say about the school teaching phonics. There is nothing natural about reading.

At the early learning to read stage looking and guessing is much, much easier than decoding and blending. That's why your dd prefers it. Though it is heartening to know that she still tries to decode & blend unfamiliar words. Encourage that and knock the guessing on the head...

allyfe Sat 05-Apr-14 10:55:19

Just to add one more thing, DD loves to write. She sounds things out, but what she puts down for what she is sounding is generally a long way from the actual phonetic sound. But remembering phonemes is not the same as recognising phonemes. Two different skills. The words that she writes correctly are the ones that she can read without now having to sound them out. But she loves writing. Again, we were told not to correct spelling so that the child didn't loose the interest and enthusiasm for writing.

bauhausfan Sat 05-Apr-14 10:58:56

allyfe - I joined this site (it's free) and you get access to loads of different level ORT books. I home ed and it has been a real money saver. You can switch the audio off so the child reads it or keep it on and the child and listen to the words. It's great. www.oxfordowl.co.uk/

allyfe Sat 05-Apr-14 11:02:29

But MasieD research that shows that a class of children perform better if they are using phonics is NOT the same thing as it working brilliantly for every single child. It is showing that overall, a group performs better. But, there may well be individual children within that group who would perform better if they were doing mixed methods (and in that I do believe phonics is a crucial part).

No, she uses them because she has been taught them, whatever you might say about the school teaching phonics. There is nothing natural about reading

Again, I don't agree. There may not be anything natural about reading, but learning is natural. We are naturally programmed to seek information and learn. Children are learning from the day they are born, learning to move to sit, to walk, to speak (which again, you could argue is unnatural - it was for our ancestors). So, a child comes to any form of learning and applies strategies. Some will be effective and others not so effective. I do totally agree that phonics is a crucial part of learning to read. I just do not think that it is the only part.

columngollum Sat 05-Apr-14 11:07:28

Well, a teacher's job is worrying about the overall performance of the group. We don't yet know if phonics is going to remove the long tail of underachievement in reading. But there are some indications that it might. Or at least it will have a damn good go at removing it.

Where it comes down to an individual child, especially one with a mother who is able to examine the reading teaching methods herself and pick and choose accordingly the whys and wherefores are probably beside the point.

allyfe Sat 05-Apr-14 11:51:05

It is important to teach what is going to make the majority learn - i.e. phonics. That is what the school do. But it does feel to me like there is no scope in the system for looking at the individual child after the majority method has been employed.

I wish that teachers had time to have proper parents evenings, where they could spend more than 10 minutes with parents, talking about where the child is at, and what that INDIVIDUAL child needs to do to progress.

bauhausfan Sat 05-Apr-14 12:32:56

I don't know about primary but I know as a secondary school teacher (a bit different as there are far more children to deal with) that it is so hard to give each child the attention that they need and tailor learning to their need too. I suppose that is why more and more parents are hiring tutors.

allyfe Sat 05-Apr-14 12:55:00

bauhausfan I know. I don't blame the teachers at all.

I did try DD with the oxford owl e-books, but she wasn't keen on reading them on my computer. I think she would have had more fun if we had an ipad. But we don't currently. One thing I do think the school should and could do would be to give us more than 2 books a week. The school is a very middle class school (surprise) and there are tons or parent who go in to help, and so if they can give two books once a week, for any child who wanted them, they could do two books twice a week. They used to but stopped doing it. That would make reading at home easier.

mrz Sat 05-Apr-14 13:41:39

Well, a teacher's job is worrying about the overall performance of the group. no columngollum the teacher's job is to even sure every individual child learns to the best of their ability so they reach their individual potential.

maizieD Sat 05-Apr-14 13:52:17

I do totally agree that phonics is a crucial part of learning to read. I just do not think that it is the only part.

I agree, phonics is not the only part of learning to read, but it is the only effective way for word identification. And word identification is the first step in the actual process of reading. The next part is making meaning; initially recognising what the word that has just been decoded and blended 'means' (which will be dependent on the child's expressive and receptive vocabulary) and then how it works with the rest of the sentence so as to understand the idea that is being conveyed in writing. Clearly if the child doesn't get the first bit (decoding etc.) right they are going to struggle with the next bit.

So, a child comes to any form of learning and applies strategies.

So they may well do, but it is up to the teacher and parents to ensure that the correct strategies, those that will lead to effective, problem free reading, are learned and incorrect strategies not allowed to develop.

No-one is attempting to straitjacket your child into a one size fits all mould; children can all be taught the same way without losing their individuality. With reading, the aim is to make it so 'natural' feeling and so automatic that children have the ability to access a whole worlld of ideas and information through text, which they can use to help inform their individual views and character, without having to worry about the mechanical process behind word identification. And, as with learning any skill, practising the correct method to automaticity is the way to achieve this, even though it might feel a bit tiresome at times.

allyfe Sat 05-Apr-14 13:52:57

mrz - I know that is a teachers job, but do you think that teachers are actually able to do that with so many children in a class? It is a genuine question. I know that teaching is NOT the same as parenting, and I am not a teacher, but if I had to keep 30 children behaving acceptably, coordinating the many activities they have to do, I find it hard to imagine how it would be possible to teach all children based on their individual learning styles. I just can't imagine how it can be possible. But as I said, I'm not a teacher.

maizieD Sat 05-Apr-14 14:00:09

The school is a very middle class school (surprise) and there are tons or parent who go in to help, and so if they can give two books once a week, for any child who wanted them, they could do two books twice a week. They used to but stopped doing it. That would make reading at home easier.

My children learned to read in the dark ages of 30 years ago without a single book ever being sent home from school.

Feenie Sat 05-Apr-14 14:01:38

Competent teachers can, yes. It's much easier with a smaller class, but good teachers make sure that all 30 make the best progress they can.

mrz Sat 05-Apr-14 14:02:06

Yes allyfe I think teachers are able to do that

maizieD Sat 05-Apr-14 14:07:04

I find it hard to imagine how it would be possible to teach all children based on their individual learning styles.

I'm not mrz!

All well informed teachers are aware that 'learning styles' is a completely unproven concept. If it worries you, good phonics instruction is multi-sensory (except that children aren't expected to 'taste' anything; though I have seen an account of a teaching method from that 19th century where letters were made of gingerbread and children did, indeed, eat them as they learned them grin)

Hear the sounds : auditory
See the letters : visual
Say the sounds : oral
Write the letters : kinaesthetic

Teachers manage very well...

mrz Sat 05-Apr-14 14:12:26

Sorry maizieD I wasn't very clear what I was saying teachers can teach individuals so they reach their individual potential (not that the teaching is based on learning styles)

allyfe Sat 05-Apr-14 14:15:35

MaisieD I learnt to read 30 odd years ago. But I have clear memories of it partly because I think I was at the stage my DD is rather later. I do think that is partly thanks to phonics as a method for learning reading, and partly due to governmental pressures/societal expectations. Expectations for reading and progress are very different now. And many local schools do allow at least a book a day.

Feenie and mrz I am genuinely reassured. However, based on my experience at the moment, I don't think it is always the case. My DD is perhaps not a typical case because she is a little bit scared by her teacher, and so doesn't communicate as effectively with her and the TA's as she does with adults outside school. But it is nice to know that some teachers will be able to identify individual needs and learning.

mrz Sat 05-Apr-14 14:24:45

Phonics has been the main method of teaching reading for centuries except for a relatively brief (in the grand scheme of things) when Look & Say arrived bringing with it a decline in literacy

maizieD Sat 05-Apr-14 14:25:09

allyfe,

You & your dd sound lovely. I'm sorry if I seem to have given you a bit of a hard time on this thread, but I spent the last 10 years working with struggling readers at KS3 and I know the damage that it does to children. It is so difficult for them to 'unlearn' faulty strategies. That's why I am really keen for children to learn properly from the start to save them unneccessary problems.

allyfe Mon 07-Apr-14 10:02:36

Ah, thanks MaizieD. I am probably a bit more obsessed with reading than I ought to be. I'm dyslexic and I am very much hoping that my DD isn't. She seems to be doing really well, but at the same time I am aware that she isn't just relying on phonics. I know that it is much too early to tell one way or the other, but good reading skills now are a good start in the non-dyslexic direction!!

bluewisteria Mon 07-Apr-14 10:36:17

Hi allyfe,
Have you tried using a different medium to do phonics based work? EG a computer app or a game?? Maybe something that is new and removes any kind of (possible) psychological 'block' or turn off that she has when she sees a book with longer words. I just thought it may be a way of encouraging her to extend her phonics knowledge without turning reading longer books into a fight or 'problem'.
There must be a character or animal or something she likes that could be linked to a computer app or game or something?? So pursuing your goal as a parent but in a less obvious book like manner I suppose.

It was just a thought. My DD is 4, and everything I research on reading comes back to 'make sure there is a breadth of reading material'. It doesn't need to be in book format - there are ZILLIONS of magazines/DVDs/games etc dedicated to interesting ways to learn phonics. It just sounds to me like she could do with having the method shaken up a little, then returning to more traditional longer books later on. Maybe that is a goal you can have come Year 1, but between now and then focus on inventive alternate ways to teach them.

allyfe Mon 07-Apr-14 10:46:36

bluewisteria I did think that she might enjoy reading the book on my laptop for that reason, but she wasn't impressed. I have wondered about getting an ipad because the interactive bit is more fun (she can't work the mouse on my computer - not that she has had much chance to try in fairness). I think she would enjoy the 'computer game' bit of it. I think the idea is great, but it is the cost that is holding me back at the moment. Although I do think there is a risk she would rather play the 'dress the disney princess' game she has played at a friends house!

bluewisteria Mon 07-Apr-14 11:04:04

We bought our daughters a 'KURIO', it IS great...
We download 'games' through their store for her to use. You can set up different users so she only has certain things loaded on to play with - you need to be strict with yourself about what you download for her....
Maybe have a treat at the end that ISN'T based on the computer - or she will ask nag incessantly if anything like mine throughout her 'educational time'.

There is a game on, story boarding, really that allows you to take pics and animate and load up stories - which involves writing/creative play etc. We use that now even though she is 4, as she sounds out how to spell words in chunks/phonics.

We did 'teach your monster to read' online for ages too, that really helped with phonics. It is very easy at the beginning so could really draw her in and give her a boost on doing well.

Or, A second hand iPad??

Ah, Kurio deal at JL www.johnlewis.com/kurio-7s-tablet-with-4gb-micro-sd-card/p569905

bauhausfan Mon 07-Apr-14 11:54:11

I think Songbirds is a seriously brilliant series. I am using it with my 4 year old and he loves it.

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