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another phonics / sight reading question for YR please

(5 Posts)
DestinationUnknown Wed 19-Oct-11 11:13:00

Hoping someone will give me a steer on this please. ds is using Jolly Phonics & enjoying it, school use only this method for teaching reading.

When he brought home his first reading book (First Words) it was clear that he "knows" the words - ie he sight reads. He was reluctant to sound out a word that he already knows, eg box, sun, hat, man. Is this ok?

I absolutely understand that if you mix sight reading with phonics you start to undermine the principle of phonics, ie knowing your phonemes, graphemes etc in order to sound out pretty much any word, rather than memorising or guessing at the words. ds will, when tired or bored, often then just guess at a simple word rather than sound it out which is why I'm wondering if on principle he should sound out every word in his book.

But once you've sounded out "b-o-x" a few times then you are bound to just "know" that "box" is said "box" without having to work through the letters - is this the basis of free reading? That you don't sound out each word once you know that word, just for the sake of it, but when you reach a word you don't know instantly you can sound it out?

Sorry this is a bit garbled, hopefully someone will understand what I'm asking!

redskyatnight Wed 19-Oct-11 11:29:47

Absolutely fine to "remember" the word. Especially in those first readers the same word is repeated over and over and you would go mad getting him to sound it every time!

However, you should encourage him to sound out words he doesn't know (rather than guessing). It woudl be if you were just "telling" him uknown words and then expecting him to remember them, that you would be undermining the phonics teaching iyswim.

IndigoBell Wed 19-Oct-11 11:57:12

Exactly, you use phonics until you've learnt what a word is. Once you know it you don't continue to sound it out smile

If I was concerned whether he'd memorised man (etc) rather than learning it via phonics I'd show it to him together with similar words:


If he can read all of them, he is actually reading using phonics and not memorising words......

DestinationUnknown Wed 19-Oct-11 17:29:07

Great thank you. He is really keen but also so tired at the end of the school day that it's hard to do much before he's getting bored / cross and just starts obviously guessing at things. I will give the man / map / mat idea a go.

(Am not trying to do much btw, one lot of questions on mathletics, or one go through his reader if he's brought one home.)

Ferguson Wed 19-Oct-11 20:06:14


As a (male) TA working with slower children we used a kit of resources called SoundWorks, which does exactly was IndigoBell was describing. Flat wooden blocks with letters on were used to build CVC words, and the middle vowel was stuck onto a board. The child then placed the first and third letters either side of the vowel. Next he would be asked to change man into pan, then into pat. The very surprising thing, I thought, was that many less able children could BUILD words in this way but might be unable to read the same words in a book!

Using Jolly Phonics, children may get 'hooked' on sounding out, but will probably will drop it once they start to recognise the 'shape' of words. Once they start to read more fluently, the next problem is saying each word in a 'robotic' way. This, again, is something they will grow out of, some quicker than others (obviously). When the 'robot' persists, I read the passage in a Dalek voice, then ask them to say it 'Just like talking'.

When our own DS was in Reception he went through a stage of 'teaching' Mum and Dad when he got home from school, making a mock register himself and marking us 'in' with his own pre-writing symbols! But, yes they can be very tired and fragile after a day at school, so you are very sensible in not 'pushing' it too much. It is a fascinating stage, as they acquire academic and other skills (but then ALL stages are fascinating really!) (our DS is now 28 and recently went to San Francisco for a computer programming conference!).

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