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Do you teach/suuport your child reading using sight recognition only?

(13 Posts)
HappyAsEyeAm Sun 14-Oct-12 23:43:51

If so, please would you give me some advice.

DS1 started reception in September. He's at a small, quite academic, private school, with another 9 children in his class. He loves it and has settled in very quickly and made friends.

He brings a reading book (Oxford Learning Tree most basic level) home every night, and I have been given the 100 high frequency words on flashcards. He recognises I, me, my, he, look, can, see, all, we, went, her, at, is and a few more words.

He has been memorising the sentences in the books, and he doesn't recognise each of the words that he has memorised, so teh teacher has asked that we do more woprk on flashcards at home, rather than the reading book (I am still reading 3 or 4 other books to him every night - he loves books and always has). The teacher tells me that they do not teach phonics at school, and when I asked how I teach him new words on the high frequency word flashcards, she told me that I should let him guess, and if he doesn't know the word, to give him the first letter of the word only, and not sound the word out.

So that is what I have been doing. But DS1 doesn't retain the words at all. So eg we can be looking at 'was' and he will guess that it is 'we' or 'when' or whatever (sometimes he will guess any wprd at all, even if it doesn't begin with w), and I will say no, and say that it begins with 'w' and he won't know what it is, so I will say that it is 'was'. But he won't remember that, and we go through the same process on different occasions and different days and he just doesn't retain that the word is 'was'.

So, my question is, how do I try and help him understand these new words? I have been trying to make short sentences using a few of the words to make it more fun eg "I can see them" when I know that he knows "I" "can" and "see", but it isn't making much of an impression.

EBDTeacher Mon 15-Oct-12 08:28:22

I very much doubt you will find anyone who is also using purely sight recognition. No phonics at all?? Are you in the UK?

I would be tempted to use something like Reading Eggs to fill the gaps with phonics at home but you have to bear in mind that would not fit in particularly well with what the school is doing.

learnandsay Mon 15-Oct-12 11:13:16

I'd say hang the school!

If it was my child and he didn't respond to whole word recognition then I'd stop doing it with him and start doing phonics. If he didn't respond to that either then I'd start looking for professional help. When my daughter was younger she didn't respond to blending, even though she knew all her letter sounds. She only responded to whole words. Now she doesn't respond to whole words she only sounds out/blends. The switch happened before she started school. I go with whatever she responds best to. If she switched again so too would I. Being flexible might not sit well with purists and advocates of one kind or another. But I'm only interested in my child's reading. If that comes along well then I'm happy.

HappyAsEyeAm Mon 15-Oct-12 11:27:33

Yes I am in the UK. The school is small, with a fantastic academic record, and the children who leave there go on to do very well (top independent schools and state grammars). I will talk to the teacher again to see whether/how much phonics is being taught.

Noqontrol Mon 15-Oct-12 11:37:31

I can't see how its possible without using some phonics. I bought dd the jolly phonics book and I read her a bit every night as the sections are very short. We've read the book a few times and she has a good grasp on phonics and sounding out phonics. With the sight words, I have written the first 100 out on small bits of paper and stuck them on the door. She is starting to remember them now, I think repetition is the key, you just have to stick at it.

Noqontrol Mon 15-Oct-12 11:38:27

Yes I would talk to the teachers. It sounds a little odd.

EBDTeacher Mon 15-Oct-12 11:41:53

I'm not against sight recognition. After all, not all words are decodeable so even purist phonics nuts are going to have to teach some sight recognition.

However, I agree with Learnandsay that both methods can (and should) be used so children can decode words they don't recognise and vice versa. I think it is a good idea to go a quiz the teacher.

TBH memorising sentences out of ORT books does not sound like great practise. I imagine it is a very traditional school? Do they still have blackboards? joke

learnandsay Mon 15-Oct-12 11:54:03

Well, the purists phonics nuts cheat a little by simply defining the rules of phonics to cover everything!!, even letter combinations which occur very rarely. So according to them everything can be "decoded". (Well, nearly everything. I still haven't heard a proper explanation for decoding the word Wymondham.) (They have other cheats too. But let's not go there.)

EdithWeston Mon 15-Oct-12 12:02:27

If you're in Leicestershire (not Norfolk) then yes you can sound out Wymondham! Eccentrically rregular place names are rather beside the point in teaching early reading though.

And phonics isn't fudged beyond usefulness - it teaches homophones from the off, and includes rarer ones. And if you can soundly decode the consonant scaffolding of a word, then experiment with possible vowel sounds, you are way ahead of someone who grinds to a halt totally because the whole word hasn't been taught.

EBDTeacher Mon 15-Oct-12 12:15:22

I still think it's useful to feel that you are allowed to just teach a child that if they see s a i d together it says 'said' though.

Anyway, this is not supposed to be a phonics debate. The OP is happy with her school and it doesn't sound like she'd have any joy at all with telling them they ought to be doing synthetic phonics. Choices to me seem to be a) plug away with sight vocabulary and hope it clicks b) do phonics at home. I would choose b.

HappyAsEyeAm Mon 15-Oct-12 13:07:27

Thanks. I think I will plug away for now (he has learned the words he has - in my opening post - using sight recognition) and then change to phonics if it still isn't working. I will still talk to the teacher though.

catinhat Mon 15-Oct-12 13:55:18

It could be that your child is not learning to read quickly because they are still quite young. In many schools, reception children aren't given books with words or word tins until after Christmas.

Children in reception learn to read at very different rates, regardless of how reading is taught. Phonics is currently preferred, but my two dds definitely - after using the phonics to get started - have really progressed because they've got older and their own vocab has increased.

The important thing at this age is to be reading with your child (bedtime stories etc.).

As reassurance, my dd2 who is now in year 1 only appeared to be able to read two words by Easter of reception. Now, in autumn of year 1, she is about to become a 'free reader'.

So, I wouldn't be 'plugging' away or even doing phonics - I would just carry on reading bedtime stories and start doing reading books and word tins at a later stage of the year.

CecilyP Mon 15-Oct-12 16:50:12

Whatever method is being used to teach reading, I don't think trying to rote learn 100 different words by sight (words that look similar, sound similar and don't actually mean very much on their own) would be particularly easy for anyone. So I don't think the problem is with your DS, or the fact that he is very young. When the use of sight words was more common for the teaching of reading, new words were introduced more gradually by way of a reading scheme. I would speak to the school and see what they are doing because, at the moment, it looks like they are putting all the responsibility on you.

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