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It's perfectly valid to tell 2.7yo DD that a Jolly Phonics song is inaccurate, isn't it?

(50 Posts)
vladthedisorganised Mon 07-Jan-13 10:02:23

To wit:
"Vowels are in every word, every word, every word,
Vowels are in every word/ That we read or write"

No, no, no! I'm not a fan of Jolly Phonics (on aesthetic grounds mainly), but prepared to put up with ants on the arm causing alarm and cracking the egg like this - e!; on the grounds that she quite enjoys it. I'm not keen on spelling her name as Vuh-Luh-Ah-Duh Juh-Oo-Nn-Ih-Oh-Ruh, but that's the way it's taught these days and she at least knows the 'alternative' ("V-L-A-D spells Vlad!") as well.

But this! Aside from having sinister overtones (you can sing 'Our Dear Leader Chairman Mau is our overlord" to the same tune.. coincidence?) it's just plain wrong! Cry? Why? Hymn? Pygmy?

Yes, yes, if I'd posted this in AIBU I'm sure everyone would tell me I was overreacting, but it's perfectly OK to get her to substitute "every word" with "many words", isn't it?
Please tell me I'm not alone in my irritation!

nickelbabe Wed 09-Jan-13 12:56:40

there's no harm at all knowign that letters have names as well as sounds.

my name is andrea, but I don't go round all day saying "andreaandreaandreaandreaanaread" do i!

HumphreyCobbler Wed 09-Jan-13 12:04:22

I think most children are introduced to the letter names by the Alphabet song anyway, and most can assimilate the two branches of knowledge. Just knowing the letter names wouldn't be damaging as such! I just wouldn't tend to use names when sounding out words as it is unhelpful.

CaseyShraeger Wed 09-Jan-13 00:15:08

Of course, Cecily requires you to introduce sooner rather than later the idea that the letter c usually makes the sound "c" but sometimes makes the sound "s".

Right now DD1 knows that sometimes it makes one and sometimes the other, but would approach decoding/blending by trying a "c" sound first and (probably only after prompting) moving to a "ss" sound afterwards. DS has a pretty good understanding of the rules governing whether the letter is pronounced one way or the other and would generally read it correctly first time.

CaseyShraeger Wed 09-Jan-13 00:06:12

Mine have always learned the names of the letters as well, but very much as a secondary attribute - so the letter "is" a, the sound is a, and by the way just as a matter of interest its name is "ay".

(a) it's pretty much impossible for them to be isolated from letter names, so acknowledging them and making it clear from the beginning how they relate to the (more important) sounds they are learning seems to avoid confusion.

(b) with vowels in particular I've found being able to refer to the longer form of the vowel as its "name" invaluable shorthand when teaching phonetic rules/guidelines such as "magic e" or "when two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking" that require using the longer form.

I have no idea whether or not that's an impeccably synthetic phonics-approved approach, though.

vladthedisorganised Tue 08-Jan-13 23:13:35

Interesting - so if synthetic phonics is taught in schools, then teaching the letter names as well (even very informally at home - "look, it's a C for Cecily!") may be problematic?
If so, it does rather put the kibosh on the blended approach, and might imply that a huge swathe of parents are, as my SIL said to me, 'damaging our children' (we have letters on our fridge, and DD has a passing familiarity with the 'trad' names of them. According to SIL I have already damaged her prospects at two and a half, but she is a bit mad)

I guess I want to read a lot more about the educational/ psychological theory before I buy into it or reject it fully. It seems initially to be a sort of swings and roundabouts thing - look-and-say might enable faster recognition of a smaller number of basic words seen frequently: "STOP", for instance. The phonics approach allows the 'decoding' methodology to be taught over a longer period of time, so the child might not be able to apply it as quickly, but would be able to apply it across a greater breadth of words more quickly at stage 2 where the memorising would kick in on look-and-say.

CaseyShraeger Tue 08-Jan-13 22:31:03

The vast, vast majority of words ARE covered by the rules; the rules are just quite complex and it takes a long while to learn them all.

For example, DD1 (Reception, age 4) had "paper" in her reading book this afternoon. She sounded it out and tried to blend it first with a short "a" sound so I said "what other sounds can that letter make?" and she suggested the long "ay" then immediately realised that the word was "paper". She's starting to realise that an "e" at the end of the word will often make the vowel soind change from the sound of the letter to the name of the letter.

DS (Y3, age 7) further knows that generally in a word like this a short vowel would be followed by a double consonant and a long vowel by a single consonant, so would automatically recognise the difference between "paper" and "papper".

They gradually learn the different ways of writing each sound and the different sounds that each letter or group of letters can represent, and they gradually learn the rules and guidelines that help them narrow down which possibilities are likely to apply to a particular word they are trying to decode.

The sounds that are taught at the beginning of JP and similar programs give the best opportunity to start quickly decoding the most common simple words young children will encounter. Teaching letter names before sounds doesn't do that (if "uh" noises are tagged onto the end of the pure sounds this advantage in bending doesn't apply, which is why teaching "cuh" - "a" - "tuh" is a bad idea and schools (and parents) houldn't be doing it. "Cuhatuh" is clearly not the same as "cat".

nickelbabe Tue 08-Jan-13 22:00:42

it's 8 jolly.
ough has 8 ways of saying it.

JollyToddles Tue 08-Jan-13 18:05:34

And bough and rough.

Ough can be at least 4 different sounds.

HumphreyCobbler Tue 08-Jan-13 17:10:27

it is phonic knowledge that enables you to distinguish the rules of through and though.

HumphreyCobbler Tue 08-Jan-13 17:08:19

It is different when children have learned the phonic code.

Children who learn whole words by sight generally then pick up the phonic code and use this to sound out unfamiliar words.

Knowing that cee ay tee spells 'cat' doesn't help you to read 'can' unless you have worked out the cee makes a 'c' sound and the ay makes an 'a'. Only then can it help you.

So why not teach the phonic code explicitly? It makes sense.

Greythorne Tue 08-Jan-13 16:10:09


There is more than one way of writing sounds. Sometimes a sound can be represented by a single letter, sometimes by a group of letters.

For example, the sound "oo" can be written:

- oo as in moon
-ue as in blue
-u-e as in flute
-ew as in crew
-ui as in fruit
-ou as in soup
-o as in move
- oughas in through

Teaching a child phonics means teaching them all the different ways of writing down each sound.

This should help

vladthedisorganised Tue 08-Jan-13 15:40:07

Exactly, nickelbaby! This is what I mean about not having phonetic transcription on a keyboard grin

JollyToddles Tue 08-Jan-13 15:37:07

And I don't know multiplication because of not learning it well at school and I do miss it. My mental arithmetic is shockingly slow.

nickelbabylyinginamanger Tue 08-Jan-13 15:36:40

okay, read the thread.

i think the "uh" thing the OP is on about is just an approximation of how to write it down - she couldn't write "V-" without it looking like she's writing "V"
if you exaggerate it, it is an "uh" but we all know that it's only your mouth getting ready to say the next sound, rather than you actually saying that sound.

and no, the Y is not a vowel. It acts as a vowel when there are no vowels in the word, but it is still a consonant.

JollyToddles Tue 08-Jan-13 15:36:05

Vlad, I understand that words that don't conform are taught too. So you are taught however many sounds and you are taught that 'you' is pronounced ewe. It's no different from teaching children that b is said b and sh is said sh, it is just a longer group of letters that makes up that one sound.

I may be wrong though!

vladthedisorganised Tue 08-Jan-13 15:32:42

Sorry, cross-posted! Still interested though.
And there is indeed much more to maths than multiplication tables! (struggles to locate pearls, makes do with clutching a string of string instead)

nickelbabylyinginamanger Tue 08-Jan-13 15:31:32

oh, yes, i agree.

i'll read the rest of the thread in a sec.

there are words that don't have vowels in.

you can tell her " well, almost, but they'd be hard pressed to write about the rhythm of the song if that were actually true"

vladthedisorganised Tue 08-Jan-13 15:30:07

I'd be interested to know more about the educational / psychological background to using a phonics approach to spelling, Humphrey, as I guess my knee-jerk reaction to "what happens when a child runs out of words they know and are faced with one they have not been introduced to" is "would phonics necessarily help?"

Let me see if I can explain my thoughts here:
If I understand correctly (and I'm a bear of little brain), phonics encourages a child to sound out a learned 'sound' rather than a letter as such. So, instead of learning 'the ABCs', the child learns a group of sounds, like [ah]. This largely corresponds to the alphabet, but introduces additional sounds (e.g. [ay]/ [ah] rather than a single 'A'.
This is where I'm going to struggle without being able to use phonetic transcription, but bear with me.
So, a child might 'sound out' 'cat' as [k] [a] [t] - then there's an association with the written word 'cat' and the sound [kat].

If a child then encounters a word they don't know, say 'dog', they have learned the association between the sound and the letters [d] [oh] [g], so can run them together [dog] and recognise the written word as 'dog'.

So far I think I understand, but then what happens when a word breaks the 'rules'? I spent a long time explaining 'though' and 'through' as a TEFL teacher many moons ago, and I'm not sure how phonics would help any more with these sorts of words - is the idea that they can/should do?

I would imagine that with 'look and say' that the emphasis would be on the context of the word - "well, I don't know what that says, but it says the man went for a walk with the (word) and in the picture the man is walking along with a dog, so that must mean that (the word that looks like 'dog') means 'dog'."
Would this be any different if the child had learned the phonics 'sounds' rather than the alphabet?

More generally, is it now felt that phonics is 'better'/ more logical as a way of familiarising children with reading than look and say? Have there been any studies on this? Would be interested to read them if so, as it's not a field I'm familiar with.

HumphreyCobbler Tue 08-Jan-13 15:02:33

Phonics, not phones grin

HumphreyCobbler Tue 08-Jan-13 15:02:17

sorry, should have read all of the thread instead of most of it.

I have the rage because Julia Donaldson has just waded into the phonic debate and made a lot of inaccurate comments.

I just don't get it. In maths children are often tested on their multiplication tables. No one EVER clutches their pearls and says "But there is SO much more to maths than times tables! We are failing our children!" They just accept that it is very useful to know times tables in order to understand mathematical concepts.

The same goes for phones. No one teaches synthetic phonics in isolation, away from stories, poems, plays etc.

HumphreyCobbler Tue 08-Jan-13 14:58:51

there is no uh sound added on

If your child's school is adding -uh onto the end of everything no wonder she is confused.

What relevance has letter names to spelling? What happens when your DD runs out of words she 'knows' and is faced with one she has not been introduced to?

MirandaGoshawk Tue 08-Jan-13 14:50:00

It sounds awfully complicated.

MirandaGoshawk Tue 08-Jan-13 14:49:37

Jolly - OK, I didn't know that. I've never heard of the BODMAS mnemonic & am pretty sure that we were taught to do what's in the brackets separately, and otherwise just start on the left & work through.

JollyToddles Tue 08-Jan-13 07:10:34

Miranda, if a sum contains + signs and x signs you should always do the multiplication first, whether there are brackets or not.

BODMAS confuses people because they don't know what to do if there are no brackets. Using BODMAS (Brackets Order Division Multiplication Addition Subtraction) the two signs are Multiplication and Addition so you do Multiplication then Addition.

izzyishappilybusy Mon 07-Jan-13 22:39:15

I hate Jolly Phonics, but we are stuck with it - I think it is confusing the hell out of my 4 year old.

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