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Another Oxford Reading Tree whinge

(34 Posts)
LurcioLovesFrankie Mon 15-Oct-12 13:44:12

I was already a bit worried about this, as so far DS (5 weeks into reception) seems to have got it into his head that what's required is memorising the books by rote, and really doesn't seem to get the idea of words sounded out connecting with words on page - not surprising since they have words like "frightened" and "their" which require quite advanced decoding skills (I have been trying to use even these crap books to build on what his very good pre-school did in the way of introductory phonics by getting him to recognise individual letters). But this morning, we had a (for me) heart-breaking moment, when DS said very sadly "I'm no good at reading". School have managed to get him into this state in 5 weeks! I am so cross.

My immediate response was "reading is difficult, I found it difficult, but you will get there, just as I did, with work, don't worry, all your classmates will find it difficult too, you're not bad at it, everyone has to work, you'll be really good with practice". And I've just ordered a Jolly Phonics home kit from Amazon. Also planning to raise the issue at parents' evening next week (I've also mentioned in his homebook that he seems to just be learning by rote rather than reading). Any other suggestions?

Apologies, won't be back to the thread till this evening (posting in my lunch hour).

Tgger Mon 15-Oct-12 14:08:24

Ditch those books with "frightened" and "their" in and just use decodeable ones. Of course this is very hard if the school gives out those books, but I like to think I would stick to my guns on this if it happened to me. I really think those books should be burned and I know I'm not alone on MN with this!
Luckily DS was given decodeables (songbirds/other phonic series) in Reception. However, he found a couple of the old ORT books on our shelves that my sister had given me and when he tried to read them and couldn't I had the same experience as you- actually it wasn't so bad as he just said, "Mummy, these look like reading books, but they aren't (sounding very upset) I can't read them! Enough said..... and reading doesn't have to be difficult, not in those first stages anyway.

SpringierSpaniel Mon 15-Oct-12 15:03:18

Read the ORT from school to him, letting him sound out easy words to share the reading experience but for actual reading books invest in a set of Songbirds Phonics (also part of the ORT empire) and just watch him build up his reading ability and confidence as he progresses through the various stages.

LurcioLovesFrankie Mon 15-Oct-12 18:47:50

Thanks for the suggestions so far. I'll follow up the Songbirds suggestion. I want to make sure that whatever I do, reading is fun rather than a chore.

Rosebud05 Mon 15-Oct-12 19:34:50

Another vote for Songbird phonics here. I remember dd having an hysterical tantrum as 6.30 one morning because she couldn't decoded 'sausages' in a book sent home from school.

After I mentioned this to the teacher, she only got decodable ones and we also used Songbirds at home.

Worked a treat.

Ferguson Mon 15-Oct-12 19:51:53

Hi - (20 years a TA here)

Tgger - my last enlightened school DID scrap all their old ORTs!

As SS suggests, read TO him, following the words with your finger (or guiding his finger) pausing on words that CAN be sounded out, and give him time to sound them, or help him out if necessary. I've boosted children's reading confidence with this approach (many years before 'Phonics' came in) though of course much early reading WAS decode-able even then. I might do a book like Cinderella, pausing on the word Cinderella for the child to say it, which they enjoyed as it seemed to them a very long word.

I fail to understand why the government spent millions researching and implementing Phonics, yet still allow so many schools to continue to use reading schemes from the 'dark ages'!

mrz Mon 15-Oct-12 20:00:04

If I was reading "Cinderella" I would tell the child that the letter <C> is one way of writing the sound "s" and get them to sound it out ... you don't need to tell them the whole word just the part they don't know yet.

QueenofLouisiana Mon 15-Oct-12 20:13:19

The first ORT books need you to talk about each page, looking at the pictures and asking questions such as "how does Floppy look when he sees the monster?" child says frightened (hopefully!!) and you can point to this in the text and read together Floppy was frightened. They are quite labour intensive at this stage! However, that is not always made clear to parents, which doesn't help anyone much as it isn't something you can guess! Hope that helps a bit.

mrz Mon 15-Oct-12 20:17:52

Why can't you do that with any well illustrated children's book?

Tgger Mon 15-Oct-12 22:11:02

and it's not a way to encourage reading if you want them to learn by sounding out, which we do, don't we.....!

Tgger Mon 15-Oct-12 22:11:49

Yes, Ferguson, there should be a big burn, how about a sponsored one to raise money for new phonics books grin.

birdseed Mon 15-Oct-12 22:18:02

LLF, I totally get where you are coming from. We get one of these books home 4 times a week and it makes me so cross as they seem destructive rather than constructive in terms of encouraging sounding out. And we too have had lots of tears of frustration and fury and tantrums about reading school books, and 'I hate reading ' from a previously book loving boy. So frustrating.

I would love to ignore them and just send them back untouched, but am then at a loss as to what to write in reading diary. I don't want to lie and say have read it but when we just didn't do it they made him promise to read it to me the next night. Anyone got any good suggestions on what to write?

Tgger Mon 15-Oct-12 22:26:00

Ga! Tears of frustration and fury= do not pursue this line of activity

I haven't been in your position (luckily), but I think I would want to talk to the teacher about it and certainly would not want my child to attempt reading books that are not decodeables.

Ga! It makes me very cross......... I guess the teachers don't know any better, but they should.... ga, ga and Ga again! (sorry not very helpful).

beezmum Mon 15-Oct-12 23:09:35

Many parents only do their child's reading book sporadically. Maybe just do the school one every 3 days, or as someone else said mainly read it to the child and on the other two days do phonics ones... Or lie... I did a mix of all 3 of those and it was an enormous relief not to be worrying about what the school were providing anymore.

Malaleuca Tue 16-Oct-12 01:00:49

It seems so odd that since the UK has had the Rose Report, then the phonics screen, and matched funding, you still haveschools that just don't get it!

zebedeee Tue 16-Oct-12 02:04:45

This hysterical overemphasis on 'decodable' books, does not teach children how to read. For a child to fall to pieces when confronted with a word that they can't 'sound out', or have the impression that books are only reading books if they can 'decode' them, illustrates that they have not been taught how to become readers. It has allowed them to become the empty vessel model of learners waiting to be filled with the next phoneme/grapheme that they are allowed to know. It is also narrowing the books that they will engage with to restrictive contrived language lacking a good text driven story. The ability to recognise words on sight, use context and cross check information, using phonic knowledge, as well as sounding out and blending, are skills that need to be learnt and need to be taught 'in the round', with writing also being extremely important, with the emphasis on correct spellings rather than phonetically plausible. In this way children will become active readers rather than passive 'decoders'.

Bonsoir Tue 16-Oct-12 06:44:39

zebedee - your post is the hysterical, emotional one!

LurcioLovesFrankie Tue 16-Oct-12 07:47:20

Hi All, Thanks for the many constructive comments. And Birdseed, so sorry to hear your DS is going through this too. It's so sad when what you want is for them to enjoy school and learn to read for pleasure, and only a few weeks in they're starting to get miserable about it. Hopefully we can use this thread to do something about it - I think keeping the school quiet by doing the ort books a couple of times a week and reading Songbirds/Jolly Phonics at home the rest of the time as Beezum suggests is a good one. And I like Ferguson's suggestion of pausing at the decodable words when doing ORT. Zebedee - I don't think anyone's suggesting a hysterical emphasis on decoding to the exclusion of comprehension and enjoyment. I started this because my little boy, who seem to enjoy the early groundwork his nursery was doing, is now unhappy because whole word techniques aren't working. I want him back to seeing books as something for enjoyment. (We had fun last night turning reading "The Pirate Cruncher" into a cinema for his toys, so at least he's not off the idea that we can have fun with books).

simpson Tue 16-Oct-12 08:06:21

Our local library has some phonics books so it is worth checking this out.

DD is in reception too and if she comes across a word she really struggles with we sound it out together and point to the word as we break it down iyswim....

Rosebud05 Tue 16-Oct-12 09:29:38

zebedee, the point that people are making is that it's helpful for children to read books that they have the strategies and phonic knowledge to read ie decodeable ones when they're starting out. This builds confidence.

No-one has suggested that children continue to read decodeable books forever - they're a stepping stone.

GrannyAnne Tue 16-Oct-12 13:09:46

Pre Jolly Phonics when I didn't know any better I used ORT in reception class. Two years ago my Gs also read ORT with a tiny amount of phonics in the mix. Fortunately my daughter and I provided systematic synthetic phonics at home. Sadly schools that don't understand the importance and absolute necessity of SSP ie teaching 44 sounds, blending for reading and segmenting for spelling before expecting children to read independently are unlikely to change their methods. What do children gain at the end of struggling through the first 3 stages of ORT? Stage 1 9 keywords Stage 2 18 keywords Stage 3 27 keywords Tragically some forget many of the words over the summer holidays It is not unusual for children to recognise only the character names at the start of yr 1. It's much too high a price to pay in terms of underachievement and pupil, parent and teacher wasted time and frustration.
Time spent teaching little ones SSP and empowering them with the skills needed for reading would mean that most will effortlessly read and write thousands of words by the end of reception and be well on the way to becoming fluent readers.

So my advice is cooperate with the school but do the SSP teaching at home.
It might be worth asking in school about the extended story versions of ORT books. I included these along with the reading record and they do make the stories more interesting and might give you something to comment on.
Don't be surprised if after several readings your children say "I don't need to look at the page" while staring at the ceiling!

Other decodables are JP Read and See books, Jolly Readers especially the non fiction, Ruth Miskin and Piper Books

LurcioLovesFrankie Tue 16-Oct-12 16:57:23

Jolly phonics stuff arrived in the post today, and the computer games CD is a big hit! Hopefully armed with this, the workbooks (which have stickers - always good as far as DS is concerned) and the story book, we'll start having fun and getting somewhere.

Feenie Tue 16-Oct-12 17:46:42

zebedee, it's the Look and Say schemes which are filled with constrictive, contrived language - they have to be to ensure children are drilled in, as GrannyAnne points out, just a handful of key words after 3 stages!

However, if a child has been taught the 44 sounds early in Reception as they should, then they can read many, many, many more words and decodable readers allow them to do so.

Maybe you should actually look at the books before trotting out the same old line? There are lots and lots of good quality decodable books available now - and the same boring, limiting Look and Say ones.

mrz Tue 16-Oct-12 18:33:32

zebedee don't you consider giving children lists of words to memorise as the empty vessel method of education? I would say that teaching a child the skills to work things out for themselves is a much more valuable approach to any learning.

simpson Tue 16-Oct-12 18:38:06

DD is doing jolly phonics at school and is still getting lists of tricky words to learn ( she knows them so now needs to spell them).

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