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Jolly Phonics and Oxford Reading Tree

(52 Posts)
Issymum Tue 18-Oct-05 09:32:56

I suspect that this is quite a standard combination in schools and (pace Catflap) I've thought it's fine to mix phonics with books that encourage some guessing of words from the context of pictures. But, after nearly half a term of Jolly Phonics and books without words, DD1 proudly brought home her first ORT book with words last night. We snuggled up together and she started to sound out the first word of her first ever reading book:

"wer-her-o....wer-her-o....wer-her-o....I can't get it Mummy"

"It's a tricky one. You just have to know it. It's 'who'."

In a book with barely a dozen words there was 'spaceman' (not really even guessable from the picture), 'no', words that included sounds learnt at the very end of Jolly Phonics ("er" in "Kipper") or not at all (a soft "y" at the end of "Floppy" rather than the hard "y" at the start of "yoghurt" and words with tricky double constanants "Kipper", "Biff"). I'm not particularly bothered about DD1 as I think she'll probably learn to read come what may and I recognise how attractive the ORT books are, but it is rather odd that so many schools are using two schemes that simply don't mesh at all. An entirely phonics based scheme would be dull in the long term, but even a few weeks of pure phonics (perhaps with a handful of key sight words) would build on the base of Jolly Phonics so carefully acquired by Reception children.

Our plan is to go with ORT but also read the phonetic "Bob Books" with DD1 so that she has the experience of reading books that she can actually read.

BudaBabe Tue 18-Oct-05 09:35:40

What are the "Bob Books"??

DS is in Reception and they are using ORT and he is still on books with no words (i HATE them). I am trying Jolly Phonics but he is not that interested really. Looking for ways to generate some interest although he just turned 4 in August so I shouldn't push too hard.

Issymum Tue 18-Oct-05 09:42:04

You can get Bob Books on Amazon. They are a series of very small books, each of no more than 6 or 7 pages. They have black and white line drawings and almost entirely phonetic text. They have all the limitations of phonetic readers, but they are quick and fun and DD1 colours in the pictures when she's read the book! Catflap will probably be able to recommend some other phonetic readers.

Anchovy Tue 18-Oct-05 09:48:09

I think we are going to commit ourselves completely to Jolly Phonics, dull as it seems, so that we only have one "route" to follow. That certainly is what the school seems to want to do. I can't see that the ORT stuff meshes in with the JP stuff at all. My mother is a retired SEN teacher (I knew she would have a use one day!), and she thinks both are fine in themselves - she bought DS some Oxford Reading Tree books, but when I said we were doing JP, she said we should leave him at that for the time being.

We are just doing lots of reading of other books and looking for all our "favourite" letters a la JP. TBH, I think DS finds it all a bit tiring and I don't want to put him off: I bought a JP book from the ELC but the rest of the time we are just doing the usual reading of stories and his beloved encyclopaedia etc.

Two things Mum is very keen on (with her teaching to read hat on) is that reading remains a pleasure not a chore and secondly that it becomes an all day, everyday event - she makes DS look at cereal packets and strongly encourages comics at this age, just for the fun of it. (Another thing she is very keen on is discussions as to why the DCs never go to mass, but that is a different subject!)

BudaBabe Tue 18-Oct-05 09:51:57

Thanks for that Issymum - off to have a look.

I also can't see that the two systems mix particularly well but that seems to be they are doing in school.

Issymum Tue 18-Oct-05 10:01:37

Bob Books

Here you go. Although I suspect that there are probably other more available and cheaper phonetic readers.

singersgirl Tue 18-Oct-05 10:15:52

Issymum, the Ruth Miskin Literacy readers are very engaging phonics readers and are available in black and white at about 10 pounds (no pound sign on this keyboard!) for a pack of 12-14. Have bought some for reinforcement for DS2 who has been Jolly Phonicked at home. I've never tried the Bob books, but just another thought...
I agree absolutely about the ORT early stages - quite baffling for a beginning reader. Having said that, DS1 managed fine on the ORT/whole word approach, but I can't help but think that it made things more difficult than it needed to be.

frogs Tue 18-Oct-05 10:35:42

Yes -- my gripe exactly with the early ORT books. Stage 1 or 2 have words like 'headache', 'guitar' and 'chicken' fgs.

Lots of schools (ours included) have converted to the phonic thing but are too darn mean to throw out the existing reading books and build up a new collection that actually supports the children's phonic skills. Personally I ignored the ORT books until stage 4, when they have a secure grasp of phonic skills and can tackle the more interesting stories. After that ORT are good -- both my older two became confident readers after working their way through the magic key stories (stages 4 or 5 up to 9 or so).

Issymum Tue 18-Oct-05 10:53:29

"Lots of schools (ours included) have converted to the phonic thing but are too darn mean to throw out the existing reading books and build up a new collection that actually supports the children's phonic skills."

Yes Frogs. Exactly my suspicion. I'm not sure how I'm going to tackle this with the school. I probably won't. We'll just potter along with ORT in a low-key way and supplement with Ruth Miskin and Bob books. DD1 has a good memory and I suspect it won't take her long in the early stages just to 'learn' the ORT texts. I'm not sure how this is going to work out with our new nanny who is a NZ KS1 primary school teacher and quite an adherent of the mixed reading methods!

Issymum Tue 18-Oct-05 10:55:32

With daft non-complementary reading schemes, unfriendly and insensitive mothers and compulsory white hair accessories on Mass days(!), I'm finding the school a little hard-going at the moment. I'm sure I'll be brow-beaten into grateful admiration after a few terms.

Anchovy Tue 18-Oct-05 11:01:31

Issymum, do you want to elaborate on your last post? I was going to start a thread to see from the vantage point of half term how everyone who started this September thought things were going and whether the decisions they took about choosing the school etc were right/justified etc.

Hmm, maybe that is a new thread.

Issymum Tue 18-Oct-05 11:05:08

Anchovy: A new thread would be an excellent idea - I probably need to off-load some school gripes. I'm not really regretting the choice, well, only a little bit. As DH says, it's probably far too early to make that assessment.

frogs Tue 18-Oct-05 11:09:13

Love the white hair accessories on Mass days!

The whole reading thing seems like a huge insurmountable obstacle when you're at the beginning of reception. But as long as you're doing something vaguely phonically sensible and you practise a lot, they will probably pick it up quite quickly to the point where the actual reading 'method' becomes academic. Remember that most children learn whatever the method used, so as long as the messages aren't too mixed it's unlikely to cause any real probs. In the dim and distant days when I was reading with dd1 I read somewhere that the speed with which children learn to read is directly related to how much practice they get. Which I think is the single most important piece of advice I had.

But am cheered to find that it's clearly not just in the state sector where, despite all the school's high-minded guff, the person who actually teaches a child to read is the hapless and overworked mother. School is just for social skills and, in dd1's case, running a lucrative racket in the current issue of trading cards. (Helped by the fact that none of the other kids can multiply).

Anchovy Tue 18-Oct-05 13:08:48

Have started a new thread here about DS, his new vocabulary and his crowd of girls.

Gobbledispook Wed 26-Oct-05 11:55:32

Issymum, I've just ordered the BOB books level A, B and C. Are these packs of books or is it just one book in each level - it wasn't clear on Amazon.

annh Wed 26-Oct-05 12:45:10

Somehow missed this thread the first time around but am similarly being driven mad by the seemingly non-complementary and arbitrary mix of methods in place at ds2's school. Have done the first "level" of Jolly Phonics (s,a,t,i,p,n if I recollect correctly) plus a couple of other sounds. So far, so good. Have bought the Jolly Phonics workbooks as the ds's have two weeks of half-term and am attempting to stop the small bit of knowledge which has lodged in ds2's brain from leaking back out. But oh dear, the writing practice doesn't follow the cursive script which is being followed at school so have had to add lead-ins to all the lines of letters (not really enough space between letters but anyway ...). DS2 also following ORT so his first lots of words was Kipper, Chip, the, etc. Therefore, not really meshing with the sounds from Jolly Phonics. Suffered the same problems as Issymum with the first reading books containing words like "Who" - not following any rules and not sure how Jolly Phonics deals with the "w" sound so had to guess and now that we have received the second lot of words, these consist of things like "got", "went", "everyone" and "pulled". Still lots of sounds not yet covered by Jolly Phonics. At parent-teacher meeting, the teacher actually made a point of explaining that the first sounds of Jolly Phonics were chosen because so many words could be made up using those letters - so far, however, no sign of any words like pin, sat or nap! There really seems to be no synergy between all these different strategies and I can't understand why several have to be used simultaneously. It all seems to be part of the mad rush to turn out reading, writing, numerate 4 year olds which I don't buy into in the first place btu am being dragged along with unwillingly as I worry otherwise that ds2 will just be left behind.

singersgirl Wed 26-Oct-05 15:02:58

AnnH, that's exactly what happened when DS1 (now in y3) was in Reception. They taught Jolly Phonics sounds (though not as quickly as recommended) and then sent home completely undecodable reading books - one of my favourite early ones included the particularly useful word "petticoat" (which is actually phonetically regular but a bit long for a beginner....)So far DS2, who started in September, has not apparently received any reading teaching at school.

Issymum Tue 01-Nov-05 15:59:49

Just thought I'd mention that this is still driving me crazy, although it doesn't seem to bother DD1. Over half-term DD1 was sent home with an envelope containing about 12 letters she'd learnt through Jolly Phonics and we had lots of fun taking three letters and changing them one letter at a time to make new words ("sit" to "hit" to "pit" and then DD1's personal favourite "spit" etc. ). Then on the first day of the new half term DD1 brought home her homework book with the comment "DD1 must point at each word carefully." Why would she do that when most of words in the bl**dy book are undecipherable and her native wit and cunning it prompting her to "read" through guessing and rote learning?

DH and I are going to raise this at DD1's first parent-teacher meeting but I'm not expecting 10 minutes of cogent argument from Issymum and Issydad on the relative merits of synthetic phonics and whole word reading theories and the perceived importance of complementary reading schemes to make the slightest bit of difference.

I hate school.

singersgirl Tue 01-Nov-05 16:29:43

Issymum... . We have our curriculum meeting tonight so will find out how they teach reading. DS2 did 'a' yesterday, apparently. I asked again today if he did any reading at school and he said "We don't do stuff like that at school". Mmmm... Fills me with confidence....

OldieMum Tue 01-Nov-05 16:39:53

I don't know much about all this yet (DD is 2), but a friend of mine has been involved in developing some 'read at home books', designed to complement the ORT. She has just given us some copies and they look quite good. here

LIZS Tue 01-Nov-05 17:01:01

We're also getting a mixture - Rigby Star are the latest. Just a few words per book, some of which are phonetic, some suggest looking for picture clues, others to get a concept of beginning middle end of story (in 6 pages !)etc .

dd's tin words have now gone way beyond her abilities so dh may have to have a word at Parent Evening tomorrow. Unfortunately haven't been able to spend much time reviewing the JP recently due to illness but she is still keen as mustard and has picked those sounds up ok but is not yet blending.

NoPearls Tue 01-Nov-05 17:02:09

DD started reception in Sept and goes full time this week. I have been following the reading/phonics threads and waiting for the joy of reading schemes, only to be told that the school has given up on reading schemes because they stifle the children's imagination and often leave them unable to identify words out of context. In particular, the children are unable to write imaginative stories of their own, they just churn out the same old ORT phrases.

Instead, the school has boxes of books graded by difficulty and the teacher said they don't expect the children to be able to read a whole book necessarily, but that they are able to read some words in each one and gradually build up their vocabulary. They also follow the phonics route.

So, buying some of the home reading ORT books wasn't that good an investment, then!

Issymum Tue 01-Nov-05 17:23:38

I keep telling myself that none of this matters, as in all probability DD1 will learn to read (evidenced by the fact that her non-selective school gets great results) but I keep wondering why they are throwing obstacles in her way.

I should be grateful as it gives my natural school-subversiveness a nice hard theoretical justification as opposed to a pathetic whinge about the white-ribbon-requirement.

fennel Wed 02-Nov-05 08:50:12

I think learning to read just IS hard for many children, even bright children. and easy for others. my dd1, age 5, struggled with phonics all last year in reception. she was really not inspired. at the end of the year she started on the ORT books and her reading just took off exponentially from that point - she loves the books and is really engaged with them.
(I realise I am the only person on mumsnet to like ORT, judging by the recent threads, but it worked for dd1).

meanwhile dd2, just 4 and starting reception, has taken to reading like a duck to water, and would with any scheme, or without any, i suspect.

but loads of the yr 1 children I know are only just getting the hang of reading now. the beginning of reception is really quite young.

Enid Wed 02-Nov-05 08:57:11

maybe she just misses words out and needs to focus more carefully on them issymum - dd1 still races through sometimes and could do with pointing at words really although she is too old at 6!

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