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DD just started school and having trouble with her "homework"

(21 Posts)
pollyblue Thu 06-Oct-11 21:31:40

I'd be really glad of any advice please. My 4.9yo DD started school last month and has been given a "Word Building Book" to bring home, with - to start with - a list of ten 3 and 4 letter words inside for her to learn at home. A teacher will go through the words with her once a week, tick off the words she can recognise and say, then add a new word to the list.

She bought the book home at the end of last week, so each day we've sat down and had a ten minute or so look at the words and sounded them out etc. But she's still not able to recognise any of the letters or words consistently and often forgets what's just been said within moments. She's always been very keen on books and loves the idea of learning to read, but we're both starting to find this frustrating - I've tried every which way I can think of to help her remember but it just doesn't see to be 'sticking' in her mind.

Is this usual? Any suggestions how I can help her?

MollyintheMoon Thu 06-Oct-11 21:37:59

It is hard if a child is struggling to recognise words in a list. Could you write the words on separate pieces of card and even add drawings at first that you can then start covering up.

I wouldn't worry too much at this stage.

dearheart Thu 06-Oct-11 21:38:53

Ahhh, just sounds like she's not ready. If it were me, I'd forget learning the words and go back to enjoying books together for a bit.

LazyDaisy123 Thu 06-Oct-11 21:43:32

I think it's quite usual, my daughter started reading recently and still doesn't recognise letter sounds here and there - even on the same page!
Are they words that could be drawn ie cat, dog? If so write the words on a picture. Magnetic letters on a fridge to 'build the words'. Lots of 'help mummy read this letter, is it a (say several wrong sounds until she corrects you)'. Make the words in play dough, draw them in wet sand. Write her words up somewhere visible and ask her to point to the word beginning with d, s, c etc. Sound out each letter in the word, getting quicker each time until she can hear the word being blended together. I think the key is practise but in lots of different ways! Hope some of these help!
Good luck
x x x

pollyblue Thu 06-Oct-11 21:54:16

Thanks for your replies - yes some of the words are objects so I could draw them. All the words are made up from just 6 letters - t, p, s, n, a, and i - i tried writing these out on their own to see if it would help if she was able to isolate the letters but no go, even after several attempts she was still mistaking the p and t.

She loves school so far, I really don't want her getting disheartened so early on.

LazyDaisy123 Thu 06-Oct-11 22:14:01

satipn are the first 6 phonic sounds my ds was given, he covered these for nearly the first 3/4 of the term. Have you seen the Alpablocks videos on cbeebies web site?
Cute little game I played with ds here

Try to make it as fun and offer lots of praise when she gets something right, don't push it if she not interested one day!

LazyDaisy123 Thu 06-Oct-11 22:15:18
Just remembered this one too!

LazyDaisy123 Thu 06-Oct-11 22:15:29

Ferguson Thu 06-Oct-11 22:15:47


I assume she is in a Reception class?

I have worked with Primary children for twenty years, mostly as Teaching Assistant and mainly supporting reading. These are some of the first letter sounds used in Synthetic Phonics, which is the latest way of learning to read. But in my opinion they should be used in little, colourful, amusing books - of which there are several published 'schemes' - to engage and stimulate a child, not as boring words in a word book.

Does she know the correct sounds? Some schemes (Jolly Phonics I think) also use hand actions to illustrate the sound. Thus s the hand makes a wiggling, snake like movement. And the sound is ssss not 'suh' as in the 'old' days!

Have you seen what scheme books they use? Is she bringing books home? Has the teacher explained the system to you, either in person or via a newsletter?

I could almost suspect the school hasn't bought any suitable books yet.

I'll try and come back to you sometime, and also direct you to similar 'threads' if I can.
(but nearly bedtime now!)

LazyDaisy123 Thu 06-Oct-11 22:24:03

Do a search for Jolly Phonics, thats the scheme my dds school is using. Like Ferguson says, each letter has a sound, picture and action to match. I think there are songs too!
sss is a snake (wiggly hand)
t is for tennis ( move head side to side like watching a tennis match while saying t t t t)
nnnn - sound of an aeroplane, can't remember movement
a - ants, hand moves up arm like an ant scurrying
i - fingers become whiskers near mouth as they say i i i like a mouse
p - hld one finger up and pretend to blow out a candle with a 'puh' sound

pollyblue Thu 06-Oct-11 22:25:09

Ferguson, yes she's in reception and we (all the parents) did have a meeting with the teacher a couple of weeks back who explained how the phonics system works. I think I have got to grips with it, and am following that method when going through the words with DD. She can play Eye Spy using the sounds very well, and has done for a while, which is why I'm a bit surprised she's having trouble matching the sounds to the letters.

School are giving her books to bring home, but at the mo they are just picture books, no words, for her to explore the pictures and describe what she can see.

Lazy thanks for the links - DD has said they've watched Alphablocks at school, although I've not seen it, so I'll look at the website. I think our appraoch needs jazzing up a bit to keep DD interested.

blackeyedsusan Thu 06-Oct-11 22:34:40

if she is having trouble, concentrate on one letter at a time. ask her to go on a letter hunt to find s all sorts of places, practise writing it in as many ways you can. (coloured paper/paints/water/chalk/crayons in sand/flour/sugar etc)

when she is secure on one letter, introduce the next. have both on lots of cards and practise sorting them into 2 groups.

sarahfreck Fri 07-Oct-11 11:42:09

It sounds as if she is still having difficulties identifying which letter makes which sound.

Play I spy but instead of saying the sound, write the letter on paper or whiteboard.

Make flashcards of the individual letters and blutack to wall, one next to each stair. Get in the habit of saying each sound with her as you go up and down stairs. Change the order so she has to keep looking at them.

Make a little book with a letter on each page. Let her cut out pictures from magazines/catalogues etc that start with each of the sounds and help her stick them on the right page. "Read" her book often to each other, siblings, teddies etc.

Play schools and teach her dolls and teddies the letter/sound correspondences.

Do noughts and crosses, but make use s and p (or whatever) for the players. You have to say the sound as you write your letter in the grid.

Play letter snap with pairs of letters on cards. Instead of saying snap when 2 come up the same you have to say the sound of the letter in question.

pollyblue Fri 07-Oct-11 14:18:31

Yes, that does seem to be the trouble, or part of it, she can't match the letter to the sound.

I was a bit surprised that they start to get homework so early on - i thought she would have mastered the very basics in school, before being given words to learn or books to read at home, so we're really starting from scratch and i feel a bit at a loss how to help her.

There are some fantastic ideas here, thankyou very much.

LazyDaisy123 Fri 07-Oct-11 19:13:11

Children don't learn at school alone, reinforcing and practising at home is vital at all stages. I wouldn't call it homework though - simply reading. My dd has to read every night for 10 minutes and she's only just turned 4!

MissBetsyTrotwood Fri 07-Oct-11 20:22:06

I agree with deerheart. DS1's school gives no hw at all in reception at the moment, except one reading book a week with the strict instruction to enjoy it together. Maybe ease off a bit for a while, then introduce some of the lovely games suggested.

howtocalmachild Fri 07-Oct-11 20:33:41

My little boy learnt a lot of his letters through the Jolly Phonics colouring books you can get on amazon

He just got quicker at C-A-T etc. You can really only go at her pace but don't be afraid to come up with your own games. The other thing I used to do if DS was struggling with something in reception was to just make a note and then we tried again a few weeks down the line. He wasn't ready to do all the sight words at the start on the term so at Xmas I tried with him again and he learnt more in 1 week than he did the previous term because he was just ready. I probably didn't worry quite so much with him but with number 1 I was worrying she would fall behind.

Good luck.

MissBetsyTrotwood Fri 07-Oct-11 21:28:20

Yes, about the Jolly Phonics thing - maybe writing would help too? DS1 does those colouring books at home. I leave them strategically lying around he 'finds' them in his own time and we start on the next page together, followed by a huuuge fuss and a sticker for each letter/sound completed.

2kidsintow Sun 09-Oct-11 19:05:12

My daughter's school send home a little book with these sounds in for homework. Each page has a single sound on it, no words. Sounds were added as they were covered in school and they were ticked off as the children could identify them. I would take it back to this stage with your daughter, and also send a note/have word with the teacher to feedback that she is having difficulty with these words as she does not know her sounds reliably yet.

clutteredup Sun 09-Oct-11 19:41:53

You can play matching games with the sounds and letters - make cards with two of all the letters and then later 2 of all the words - put them face up abd get her to find the ones that match - then you can do it face down and make it a memory game if she's ready but make it fun- when you have two that match you can say the sounds for her to start off with then see if she'll join in with you ultimately leading her to say the on her own when she's ready - she needs to hear them a lot so she can remember them and if you make it fun it all helps. feel free to let her make up her own games too they always come up with quite bizarre ones but so long as it encourages the use of language it's all good stuff.

AndiMac Mon 10-Oct-11 11:27:08

I think you should be concentrating on the letter sounds. Until she knows all the letter sounds consistently, it'll be hard for her to form words with them if she forgets them before she reaches the last sound.

Here's the website I recommend to everyone for reading. This links directly to the page with all the phonetic alphabet sounds. It's American-based, but pronounce everything correctly for phonics. It's an easy and fun way to practice. The website has other fun little activities and also goes on to more challenging games for readers as well. And it's all FREE, to my astonishment. The ABCs is also available as a paid iPad/iPhone app, which I bought since my kids use the site so much.

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