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What is Read, Write Inc. ?

(27 Posts)
CardyMow Tue 20-Sep-11 21:08:04

My DC's school has been doing ERP to teach the dc phonics for at least the last 7 years (have had various dc there for 7 years). Which had an abysmal record for teaching the children to read. Today it was DS2's 'meet the teacher' thingy, and the school said that ERP wasn't accredited by the government, so they weren't allowed to use it any more, so they are changing to 'Read, Write Inc'.

DS2 is in Y3. They said that anyone NOT at level 2b/2a (which they say is over 60% of the year group of 87) will be doing this 'Read, Write Inc' program.

For starters, why have they been allowed to use a phonics system that hasn't been accredited by the Government for 7 years? Especially when they have a high level of dc leaving in Y6 being unable to fluently read. And also, how good is this programme? I understand ERP, have been to numerous meetings about it etc. over the years, but this 'Read, Write Inc' is a new one on me, can anyone explain it to me.

And also explain to me how I can help DS2 (who is at a tenuous lvl 2c for reading, and a lvl 1c for writing at the end of Y2 in July) get the most out of this programme. His writing is abysmal mostly due to the fact that he has two different muscle problems (Hypotonia and Hypermobility Syndrome - he also has Dyspraxia)- how will this 'Read, Write Inc' help him?

I was going to book an appointment with the school SenCo to ask them to do 'write from the start' with him, DD had to do that, and it helped her massively, but if this 'Read, Write Inc' thingy will help him, then I'm all for that - but what is the difference, and how does it work?


CardyMow Tue 20-Sep-11 21:10:02

Oh - will add that when DS2 was bringing home ORT books, he was on ORT level 7. They now don't do ORT (YAY! No more Biff, Chip and farking Kipper - 9 years and 3 dc later I'm sick of the sight of them!) reading books, they are using these 'Read, Write Inc' books.

fairimum Tue 20-Sep-11 21:26:37

It is pretty new but seems to be the in thing the gov are recommending, as far as I know they never suggested one particular programme before - it seems to work really well from what i can see (teacher now mum) - info here
also videos on you tube about it, also a parents page

as you say if they are below a certain level they do a fast track version of read write inc - think it is called fresh start, which seems to be having great success at getting them to where they should be really quickly... they basically learn groups of sounds (pure sounds so 'c' not 'cuh' - hard to explain but there is a powerpoint on that parent site with all the sounds) and then learn to blend them, but to start with they want children to learn these tables of sounds inside out.

mrz Tue 20-Sep-11 21:34:29

Read Write Inc is a highly structured and very effective commercial phonics programme published by OUP
Fresh Start is for older children (9-11) who are struggling readers

littleducks Tue 20-Sep-11 21:39:53

DD's preschool used Read, Write inc. to teach the letters, it was really effective, the children learn to recognise the letters, the phonic sound and how to write them.

DD's school used Jolly Phonics and the other children seem to have learnt the phonics just as well as she did. They all seem to be missing out on writing letters skills.

I think 'Fresh Start' could work well in the school if it is as you described.

mrz Tue 20-Sep-11 21:42:55

Fresh Start is for Y5 + children as an intervention for children who are struggling which a child at 2b/a in Y3 certainly isn't!!

mrz Tue 20-Sep-11 21:48:23

Read Write Inc was formally called Ruth Miskin Literacy and has been around for many years

CardyMow Tue 20-Sep-11 22:26:59

OK. How does it help with writing? As that is what I am VERY worried about - DS2 won't take any instruction from me (You're not a teacher Mummy, my teacher went to university you didn't...). He still gets 'b' and 'd' mixed up - even though he has a 'd' in his name. He doesn't start from the right point with LOTS of his letters - 'a', (Which he tries to write like that, rather than the 'normal' way for dc to write it - and fails!), 'b' 'd' 'g' - he didn't even KNOW how to write a 'q' when I helped him with his first ever homework over the weekend. And plenty of others.

He will be 8 years old at the end of November, so one of the oldest ones in his year group.

How much are his medical problems holding him back? He used to be on SA+, then SA, but now he's academically where he should be, he's not on the SEN register at all. He has Hypermobility syndrome, and his thumb used to sublux (dislocate) when he held a pencil - that only stopped a term into Y2, before then writing was very difficult for him. It still causes him pain, despite me buying him both a Stabilo S'Moove pencil and big chunky triangular pencils designed for Left-handers.

Oh - He's a lefty too.

TBH I'm not over worried about his literacy - he hit 2c at the end of Y2, just, he CAN read - but possibly tests lower at school as he HATED ORT books (would rather read Beast Quest or Ben 10 books, or Non-fiction about animals). I really want to know how this will help him with his writing - it is basically at a 4yo's level, and is starting to really hold him back.

CardyMow Wed 21-Sep-11 00:07:59

I've looked at those links, fairimum, but the only info on the writing side of it (the area I'm most interested in) is aimed at teachers, not parents.

Which has a higher chance of success with getting dc writing legibly? 'Write from the start' or 'Read, Write Inc'? As this is the school's flagship 'new' phonics system, that they've spent £10,000 on, according to the teachers (!), I can see that, with this school, me asking for DS2 to do 'write from the start' would be met with the whole "Give this new method a chance, blah blah, blah", but I know 'Write from the start' works - DD started the programme at about DS2's age, and her writing has been beautiful (if mis-spelt) ever since.

'Read, Write Inc' is a new system for this school, how can I guarantee that it'll work for DS2 - or if the school will be confident in this working when DS2's year group is basically NOT the year group they are focussing on, his year group it is just 'catch up' work?


Just want DS2 to be able to write legibly. They've had 3 years to teach him already and haven't - is this going to be more of the same? Does it teach them HOW to form the letters? Does it follow the same principles as 'Write from the start'?

<<So many questions>> School can't answer the Q's either - their 2-day training session is on 29th & 30th September, so the dc have 2 extra days off school (on TOP of the normal 5 NPD's per year).

IndigoBell Wed 21-Sep-11 09:57:27

In Y3 they won't do fresh start, they'll just do the standard RWI.

RWI is a structured phonics program which has one of the best records of teaching kids to read.

They also teach writing in it, as in punctuation and spelling - but not handwriting. Which is a separate intervention that your child needs.

So RWI does not at all duplicate Write from the Start and it sounds like your child needs to do both.

angelpantser Wed 21-Sep-11 11:41:46

I don't know if this is too simplistic an approach as my DS only started Reception last week and my DDs are at senior school and never did phonics but...

At a meeting last night my DS's Reception teacher told us that she will be sending home sheets of letters for our children to practice forming them properly. The sheets will have the letters traced out in dots with a start point marked and arrows to show which way to go. They are designed for the children to trace over the dots in the direction of the arrows to assist in forming each individual letter.

Ask at school if they have something similar or PM me and I'll ask my school.

IndigoBell Wed 21-Sep-11 11:47:07

angel - that's too simplistic an approach for a child with physical problems causing his handwriting difficulties.

OP - did your DD have the same physical problems as your DS? Because while 'write from the start' is a good program, just because it helped your DD does not mean it will help your DS.

If there is any problem with school doing it, obviously you can buy it yourself and do it very easily at home....

'Speed Up' is another OT based handwriting intervention to consider for your DS.

sarahfreck Wed 21-Sep-11 12:46:24

Totally agree with Indigo on this one. Read Write inc is a great phonics programme and will help with reading and spelling but not with handwriting. I like the "Write from the Start" programme but would want to combine it with the physical exercises from "Speed Up"!

CardyMow Wed 21-Sep-11 14:19:43

DD has Dyspraxia and Hypermobility syndrome, but not hypotonia. So 2/3 problems the same?! Never heard of 'Speed Up'. So I will still need to ask the SenCo if they can find the time to do 'Write from the start' with him too.

Angelpantster - DD is now in Y9 and SHE did phonics. I am 30 and I did phonics. I'm sure you'll find that your older dc's did do some form of phonics.

DS2 won't do writing outside of school. I can't even get him to write a 'christmas list', he HATES writing because it hurts him, it causes him to cry and sulk if I try to get it at home - hence wanting school to help because he listens to his teachers!

CardyMow Wed 21-Sep-11 14:20:53

Of course, the SenCo has been telling me for 2 years that when he gets into the juniors, they would provide him with a laptop so his writing didn't hold him back - but now he's IN the juniors, there's no spare laptop for him...

IndigoBell Wed 21-Sep-11 14:40:41

If writing hurts him, I don't see how write from the start will help. sad

Because it will hurt him to do it. Besides it is mainly focussed on fixing visual processing problems.

Speed Up is an occupational therapy program, so closer to what he needs.

You can buy 'Speed Up' from amazon. It takes 8 weeks to do. 1 hour a week, plus 10 mins every day.

But to be honest, if writing actually hurts him, I think he needs to be seen by an OT. He must have already seen one? What did they suggest?

mrz Wed 21-Sep-11 18:58:42

I agree if it's physically painful / difficult he needs to be referred to an OT who can recommend a motor programme

CardyMow Wed 21-Sep-11 22:29:33

OT discharged him to the care of the school - who no longer do his exercises with him as he isn't on SA/SA+ any more. I never got a copy of the exercises. GP won't refer back to OT as OT so overstretched that they automatically discharge any child that can walk at 5yo. <<Tears hair out>> How much is Speed Up then - I will have to get it and try to get him to do it at home with me.

Spoke to SenCo today - or tried to. Response : I don't need to see you, your son isn't even on SA anymore, I'm too busy with children that need my help. Because, obviously, a child with painful muscle problems whose writing is 3-4 years behind where it should be doesn't NEED any help.

Downnotout Wed 21-Sep-11 23:05:29

Can I just ask as some of you seem to know about visual processing problems?

DD was picked up by our optometrist as having difficulties with this. Her handwriting is slow, she presses very hard on the page, writes in Tiny handwriting and puts her face very close to the paper.

They have advised us to get assessed by a private learning difficulties specialist. Cost £600.

She wears glasses. Has coloured overlays (is not dyslexic by the way) but finds it difficult to concentrate for long periods of time- after which she becomes almost hyper.

I have posted on here about her sleep problems( or lack of it!)
We are waiting for an appointment but it's a lot of money to spend. The school, by the way, have not picked up anything. She is 2 years above age in reading - spelling. 6 months up in Maths but really struggles with tables still.

Would this Write from the start be something to look at while we are waiting?

IndigoBell Thu 22-Sep-11 12:26:00

DownNotOut - Write from the start can help with visual processing problems, if the child is under 8 or so.

You could also try something like this

Costs of vision therapy differ. I only paid £250, so maybe you can find somewhere cheaper? PM me if you want and I'll tell you who I went to. I would also be very interested in knowing which clinic you've been referred to.

It is important to fix vision problems as early as you can, as they're much harder to fix when the child is older.

Also, if she needs a coloured overlay, wouldn't she be better off getting coloured glasses?

HuntyCat - that sounds truly, truly awful. Can you move school? No SENCO should treat you like that. Plus your child should well and truly be on the SEN register from what you've told us.

Can you afford private OT?

Speed Up is only £10.

CardyMow Thu 22-Sep-11 18:35:19

Can't afford private OT. SenCo is awful. No alternative school - he is in a bulge class, only school in 30 miles with a place in Y3 - 87 in his yr group, normally only 60. I just love living in Essex.

mrz Thu 22-Sep-11 18:53:42

Some ideas you can easily use that may help

Fine Motor Skills
Things to remember:
Upright working surfaces promote fine motor skills. Examples of these are: vertical
chalkboards; easels for painting; flannel boards; lite bright; magnet boards (or
fridge); windows and mirrors; white boards, etc. Children can also make sticker
pictures; do rubber ink-stamping; use reuseable stickers to make pictures; complete
puzzles with thick knobs; use magna-doodle and etch-a-sketch as well. The benefits
for these include: having the child's wrist positioned to develop good thumb
movements; they help develop good fine motor muscles; the child is using the arm
and shoulder muscles.
Fine Motor Activities
Moulding and rolling play dough into balls - using the palms of the
hands facing each other and with fingers curled slightly towards the palm.
Rolling play dough into tiny balls (peas) using only the finger tips.
Using pegs or toothpicks to make designs in play dough.
Cutting play dough with a plastic knife or with a pizza wheel by holding
the implement in a diagonal volar grasp.
Tearing newspaper into strips and then crumpling them into balls. Use
to stuff scarecrow or other art creation.
Scrunching up 1 sheet of newspaper in one hand. This is a super
strength builder.
Using a plant sprayer to spray plants, (indoors, outdoors) to spray snow
(mix food colouring with water so that the snow can be painted), or melt
"monsters". (Draw monster pictures with markers and the colours will run
when sprayed.)
Picking up objects using large tweezers such as those found in the
"Bedbugs" game. This can be adapted by picking up Cheerios, small cubes,
small marshmallows, pennies, etc., in counting games.
Shaking dice by cupping the hands together, forming an empty air space
between the palms.
Using small-sized screwdrivers like those found in an erector set.
Lacing and sewing activities such as stringing beads, Cheerios,
macaroni, etc.
Using eye droppers to "pick up" coloured water for colour mixing or
to make artistic designs on paper.
Rolling small balls out of tissue paper, then gluing the balls onto
construction paper to form pictures or designs.
Turning over cards, coins, checkers, or buttons, without bringing them to
the edge of the table.
Making pictures using stickers or self-sticking paper reinforcements.
Playing games with the "puppet fingers" -the thumb, index, and middle
fingers. At circle time have each child's puppet fingers tell about what
happened over the weekend, or use them in songs and finger plays.
Place a variety of forms (eg. blocks, felt, paper, string, yarn, cereal,
cotton) on outlines
Match shapes, colour, or pictures to a page and paste them within the
Self-Care Skills
Fastening Snaps
Using a screwdriver
Locking and unlocking a door
Winding a clock
Opening and closing jars
Rolling out dough or other simple cooking activities
Washing plastic dishes
Sweeping the floor
Scissor Activities
When scissors are held correctly, and when they fit a child's hand well, cutting
activities will exercise the very same muscles which are needed to manipulate a pencil
in a mature tripod grasp. The correct scissor position is with the thumb and middle
finger in the handles of the scissors, the index finger on the outside of the handle to
stabilize, with fingers four and five curled into the palm.
Cutting junk mail, particularly the kind of paper used in magazine
subscription cards.
Making fringe on the edge of a piece of construction paper.
Cutting play dough or clay with scissors.
Cutting straws or shredded paper.
Use a thick black line to guide cutting the following:
A fringe from a piece of paper
Cut off corners of a piece of paper
Cut along curved lines
Cut lines with a variety of angles
Cut figures with curves and angles
Sensory Activities
The following activities ought to be done frequently to increase postural muscle
strength and endurance. These activities also strengthen the child's awareness of
his/her hands.
Wheelbarrow walking, crab walking
Clapping games (loud/quiet, on knees together, etc.)
Catching (clapping) bubbles between hands
Pulling off pieces of thera-putty with individual fingers and thumb
Drawing in a tactile medium such as wet sand, salt, rice, or "goop".
Make "goop" by adding water to cornstarch until you have a mixture similar
in consistency to toothpaste. The "drag" of this mixture provides feedback to
the muscle and joint receptors, thus facilitating visual motor control.
Picking out small objects like pegs, beads, coins, etc., from a tray of salt,
sand, rice, or putty. Try it with eyes closed too. This helps develop sensory
awareness in the hands.
Midline Crossing
Establishment of hand dominance is still developing at this point. The following
activities will facilitate midline crossing:
Encourage reaching across the body for materials with each hand. It
may be necessary to engage the other hand in an activity to prevent
switching hands at midline.
Refrain specifically from discouraging a child from using the left hand
for any activity. Allow for the natural development of hand dominance by
presenting activities at midline, and allowing the child to choose freely.
Start making the child aware of the left and right sides of his body
through spontaneous comments like, "kick the ball with your right leg." Play
imitation posture games like "Simon Says" with across the body movements.
When painting at easel, encourage the child to paint a continuous line
across the entire paper- also from diagonal to diagonal.

mrz Thu 22-Sep-11 18:54:20

I use a Busy Finger Box in the classroom but you could easily find most things at home

1. Pegs –
You need pegs of different sizes, clothes pegs, small bulldog clips, stationery clips etc. Get the children to use one hand only at a time. I usually get them to peg about 10 pegs of different sizes onto the sides of a gift bag. They might put them on with their left hand and take them off with their right.
They can also try squeezing the pegs between the first finger and thumb (on each hand) then the middle finger and thumb and so on.

2. Elastic bands –
Elastic gymnastics! – Start by putting 2 elastic bands (the same size) around the thumb, first and middle fingers, ask the child to open and close the fingers. Then add another 2 elastic bands and so on. The more you have on, the harder it is to move your fingers. These exercises help to develop the muscles which make the web space when writing.

3. Beads –
Get beads of different sizes and thread. Ask the children to thread some beads onto their string. The smaller the hole obviously the harder it is to thread. Develops hand/eye coordination.

4. Ball bearings and tweezers –
Put the ball bearings in one little box and ask the child to try and pick one ball bearing up at a time with the tweezers and place in a second small box. If this is too tricky try using Hama beads and tweezers.

5. Floam / Playdough –
These products are great for squeezing and rolling which provides necessary sensory feedback and helps to develop hand strength. Ask the children to squeeze the dough and roll it with the palm of their hand.

6. Doodle board –
The Doodleboard is just a way of children practising handwriting patterns or letters without having to commit them to paper. Provide some patterns and shapes to copy.

7. Gummed Shapes –
Give the children a sheet of plain paper and ask them to make patterns or pictures with the gummed shapes. Just picking up on shape at a time, licking it and then sticking it down all help to develop hand/eye coordination and the pincer grip.

8. Hama Beads –
Hama beads are good for pincer grip and hand/eye coordination. The children have patterned sheets to copy and peg boards to put them on.

9. Lacing cards –
Also good for hand/eye coordination. Just give each child one card to lace.

10. Bean bags –
Give a child 4-5 bean bags and place a container about 3 feet infront of them. Ask the child to try and get as many beanbags in the container as possible. (Hand/eye coordination)

11. Chalk and blackboard –
If you can, try and wedge the blackboard between two tables and provide the child with a piece of chalk in each hand. Ask them to draw the same pattern with both hands at the same time on both sides of the board. This helps develop bilateral movement.
Allow the children to draw patterns, shapes and letter shapes on the blackboard. The chalk gives sensory feedback and sound simultaneously.

12. Stencils –
Children can use the stencils to make a picture. Helps develop pencil control and special awareness among other things.

13. Feathers –
Ask the children to try and balance a feather on different parts of their body. This helps to develop balance and coordination.

14. Handhugger pens –
Hand hugger pens are the triangular shaped pens. These help the children to establish a better pencil grip.

15. Tissue paper strips –
Place the child’s palm (at the wrist) on the end of a strip of tissue paper. Ask them to only use their middle finger to get the paper to scrunch up under their hand.
Repeat, but this time place the side of the child’s hand on one end of the tissue strip and ask them to only use their thumb to scrunch up the paper and bring it under their hand.
These activities really help to develop the hand arch, web space and muscle tone of the hand.

16. Stickers –
Children love stickers. Just peeling them off provides an opportunity to develop fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination.

17. Peg boards –
These can be peg boards where the child has to place pegs in the holes, maybe copying patterns.
They can be the boards with plastic pegs already on where they have to stretch elastic bands between them to make patterns.

CardyMow Thu 22-Sep-11 19:01:23

Thank you for those exercises, MrZ.

BusterGut Thu 22-Sep-11 21:11:59

RWI does link with handwriting - I have just received a CD and there is a definite handwriting section!

RWI is great as long as it is followed properly and assessments are done regularly so children move groups when they need to . It is very staff-heavy - we have 9 KS1 staff (5 TAs and 4 teachers) running the scheme daily for 120 KS1 children.

As soon as children know the basic sounds they have continuous reinforcement of all 46 sounds throughout a series of 'ditty books', moving into a series of reading books throughout which more complex sounds are reinforced daily. In the books, children also learn how to comprehend text (through finding and proving answers to questions), they edit sentences (for punctuation), they 'hold a sentence' (write a sentence from memory) and learn a set of 'red words' (irregular spelling) and 'green words' (based on a spelling pattern in the book). In the early days of sounds and ditties, they learn to spell using 'Fred Fingers', allocating sounds (and later, names of sounds) to letters. One of the great things is the introduction of root words and syllables at an early stage, which really gives children the 'feel' for how words are built.

When they reach the book stage, they also learn new vocabulary each week and have a writing task, which concentrates on narrative elements (what characters see and hear, think and do).

When children have completed this set of books (about L2A) they move on to 'Get Writing' books if they still need the structure of the scheme. I tried this with Y2s, and the texts were a bit dry for them, but Y3 uses them at the start of the year. The Get Writing content is excellent - with lots of extension of sentences, different genres, etc.

Fresh Start is used in later years where the children really aren't getting it!

In our first year of using it last year, our spelling scores, particularly, showed remarkable improvement. (Reading was pretty much OK before and carried on being OK!)

I'm a convert!

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