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Phonics blah blah blah

(83 Posts)
expansivegirth Sat 20-Oct-12 23:14:02

This link is interesting from the bbc today ... a 'viewpoint' with various contributors questioning the supremacy of phonics (hurray).

RiversideMum Sun 21-Oct-12 08:49:03

What these people fail to understand (and have been failing to understand for years now) is that nobody is saying that teaching phonics is the be-all and end-all for encouraging children to enjoy literature and reading. It is just the best way of teaching them the mechanics of reading and writing. Just because schools teach phonics, it doesn't mean the children are not getting to enjoy wonderful literature at the same time.

The problem with the reading strategies imported from the US in the late 60s is that they were based on teaching children a whole bunch of different strategies used by competent readers - there were no solid building blocks at all. Its a bit like looking at how Lewis Hamilton drives and using that as a basis for driving lessons.

mam29 Sun 21-Oct-12 09:05:06

I must admit I do worry sometimes

phonics is trendy
phoncs is politically in fashion.

I remember looking round schools 3half years ago and 1infant teacher prouldy saying we use jolly phonics-was out 1st child starting school and despite being quite intelligant people who read to our children at time we had no idea what jolly phonics was,

Hubby grew up in 7,s his mam taught him to read before he started primary.

I grew up early 80s, cant remember phonics was all flash cards and distant memories of dad helping me to read and take me to bookshop to buy a book. I cant rememebr the exact point I learnt to read but when we moved at age 7 to new area and junior school I could read a chapter book and often read for fun, maybe its fact computer consoles ere not about then and so many tv channels.
I went to fairly rubbish primary so was behind in maths but some how did ok maybe it was part parental input.

DD prior to starting reception loved being read to.
she she used top pretend she could read, memorised some of the stories. They did some letters and words in preschool.

From 1st term of reception they were straight into
homework was 2sounds a week starting single letters
2fastwords with pictures
then abook came home same words without pictures
sliding sounds.

Last parents evening rceeption i did tell teacher i was worried she hates reading and couldent read when some other kids could at end reception.

The same issues in year 1 really-she as selected for smaller phonics session with ta about blending words for 8weeks which helped.

It does not help she mostly hated the school reading books which were all ort in rception and r1-no other reading schemes.

she passed the phonics test with 36/40 yet shes a a weak reader. she ended year one on level 3ort which nic equivilant to 1c yet got 1b last year.

This year 2-shes not getting extra phonics as only the ones who failed phonics test get it yet shes not a confident fluent reader and below a lot of her peers in her class.

I do think she has gaps in phonics just not sure where?
But she has got better and now reading the very old fashioned ginn 360 original books-they look very vintage.

As a parent I find phonics confusing as on mumsnet I hear

jolly phonics
phenonomes .
synthetics better-how do you know what type schools teaching?

I do think in anything educational its mistake to put all eggs into one basket as kids learn different ways.

its widly accepted that boys and girls learn different ways and boys can fall behind girls in terms of results.

Im not anti phonics but can see from a commercial point its money making venture as schools have to buy specific programmes like jolly phonics, ruth miskin readwrite..

The bbc piece said phonics in addition with extra staff

wheres the budget to do that year 1 and 2 had shared ta.

investment in new books-in our schools case they still using the battered ort-which my child hates and ginn 360.
Only recently have I seen the julia donaldson songbirds programme.

My freinds primary and uses something called reading recovery.

Im not sure if theres much point of national framework if everyones using completly different resources.

We looked around another school recently and the head said we find different schemes suit different children.

Thats my point -we need to access child as individual and use the correct resources maybe phonics maybe something else.
If phonics worked why are kids still starting secondary unable to read?

Those who learnt before school maybe did learn no phonics.
some people are more visual or photographic memory.

Im able to use specific example.

dd freind just started september spent 2years canada,
so really only done one school year as started year later,
shes not canadian they moved over their for job contract.
shes oldest in year so should be split year 2/3 but they kept her down in year 2class i imagine to access as she had never done phonics.

Her mum old me she had been picked for special phonics group help with the ones who failed year 1 phonics test last year-I initially said that can be a positive thing.
Then last week dd said her freinds on higher reading level so she can clearly read.

Even teachers slate the phonics test either saying that

persons weak reader -no surprise
but in some cases the fluent readers failed.

The help needs to be focussed on the weaker readers,

There was the childrens lauriet not sure michael rosen or different one who was anti phonics.

As long as kids read why should it matter?

I worry we taking fun out of reading.

if we so hot at reading why is uk lagging behind?

AuntieStella Sun 21-Oct-12 09:14:02

"As long as kids read why should it matter?"

This is the key argument in favour of phonics, as it produced the highest number of readers, compared to any other method or mix of methods.

If you are dealing in the classroom with a 95+% success rate, you have far more time to think about and intervene with your struggling readers than if the success rate is only 80% (best for non phonic methods or a mixed approach).

Phonics isn't new, BTW. It's the traditional method which was around for centuries before a brief vogue of experimentation in the last century.

Nor does it refer to only one particular set of publications.

Nor is it inherently dull, though if taught incompetently I can see it could be. Then again, an incompetent teacher would probably bog up all approaches to reading, and everything else in the classroom.

mrz Sun 21-Oct-12 09:16:15

mam you missed out the part about phonics being the main method of reading instruction for 400 years until we imported something called Look & Say from the USA...
if we so hot at reading why is uk lagging behind because we spent 3 decades using Look & Say following the US example down the road to high illiteracy levels?

mam29 Sun 21-Oct-12 09:19:48

Im not anti phonics by way-if its most successful quickest way- just think if not working with some kids try something different.

I dont think its everyone sayings its new its just maybe a diffrent wat to how parents and grandkids were taught so seems new to us.

A scheme is only as good as how its delivered ie

ta support
resources used.

would love to know how the most successful schools at reading in uk deliver it.

However in all fairness to schools some kids who dont go nursery /preschool can start at much lower tahne xpected levels when they start school so appreciate primary school sometimes have vbast range of abilities and some no engaged parents think parenst reading at home is key.

But i can see how phonics can confuse parents.

mrz Sun 21-Oct-12 09:24:14

I've just read the link ... it's hilarious! How on earth did someone so ill-informed get the position he has hmm

mam29 Sun 21-Oct-12 09:25:24

good article.

I think most agree phonics test is not good in all fairness that phonics is centrally driven.

Like i say lets access child and take indidual approach.
if 80-90%learn through phonics thats great.

mrz Sun 21-Oct-12 09:27:55

I think you are spot on with your summary mam and that's the problem. Teachers who have never been taught phonics are being asked to teach it using resources not designed for that purpose and explain to parents who have never been taught phonics ...
Personally I don't think you need TAs to deliver phonics successfully

AuntieStella Sun 21-Oct-12 09:30:45

The phonics test wouldn't't have ever been dreamt up if children were learning to read competently, an UK literacy rates not bern in the doldrums.

It doesn't matter if it tell teachers nothing they didn't know already. It is worrying if that is that fewer children than the high 90% (one would expect from competent phonics) have learned the building blocks of an alphabetic language which is the foundation for secure reading and literacy all-round.

mrz Sun 21-Oct-12 09:34:03

I think lots of teachers are worried that the test will show their lack of phonic knowledge and lots of heads are worried that they might have to get rid of ...dare I say it ...ORT and buy something written this century! It also means that they can't just dismiss all those children who are struggling by saying they will catch up so they are having to show that they are giving additional support.

Schools where phonics is taught well are managing 95-100% pass rate in the test [thinking]

mam29 Sun 21-Oct-12 10:16:47

Thanks mrz glad you can see where im coming from.

A lot of the phoics in dd school like said in past

year 1 and year 2 is delivered in smaller groups with 2tas.

1 ta is genral ta for that year
other ta is senco co-ordinator.

The actual class teacher focusses on the good readers and the top phonics group.

As for reading talking to other freinds who attend other schools.

The amount of times an actual teacher will read with child varies a lot.

The ta often reads with mine and seems to ignore the notes in reading diary.

Reading helpers-ie parents- I do wonder how much training they get especially if they learnt to read by different method too.

Its not that im anti phonics I can see the logic.
It may have existed 400years but wonder if way we delivering it has changed?

For me its not huge political issue as labour were as pro phonics as co-alition are now. Normally vote blue and agree with gove on some things|(runs for cover)but phonics tests call me cynical are not just about testing the child its about monitoring teaching and the schools.

if not so good readers are passing
and fluent resders are failing
and phonics extra help is then focussed at wrong child, what help is that?

reading levels in dd school not matching up with phonics group.
As ons who in special phonics groups on higher levels.

I do think theres too much testing too much pressure.

I do sypathise with the schoools its very tough with introdcition of league tables only matter of time before we get a phonics one!

I guess the new harder ofsted will aslo focus on phonics too.

I do think times have changed and we need to encourage a love of reading.

I agree with some comments on bbc site

smaller groups
well focussed help
culture of enjoying reading, making reading fun is whats key
and some investment and training

just saying phonics will solve it all and be cheaper not really the right soloution.

AuntieStella Sun 21-Oct-12 10:26:08

If a child is not passing, is s/he a truly good reader?

If teachers/TAs are dreadful at using reading records, or any other ways, to communicate with parents, why would this be different with a less efficient approach to teaching early reading?

And some 70 year old phonics books are still in use (The New Way series).

Encouraging a love of reading is in no way incompatible with a phonics approach to accessing the words on the page.

mrz Sun 21-Oct-12 10:36:35

I think the big thing is training ... as long as universities are failing to teach phonics to student teachers can standards improve?
The government has made up to £3000 funding available to every primary school in England for training and resources so I would call that investment but it needs to be matched by heads ...
I don't think smaller groups are needed, good effective phonic teaching can be whole class, 30 children and 1 teacher.
I do think children who are struggling need to be identified early and given structured support in addition to normal daily teaching not as a substitute for it.

Phonics won't solve anything unless it's well taught by people who are committed to ensuring every child will be able to enjoy books.

mam29 Sun 21-Oct-12 10:50:42

£3000 seems a pitifully low number.Heads moaning budgets cut and out lea worst funded per pupil in uk.

Also I maybe wrong but a lot of student teachers I have spoke to last few years struggling to find full time post and doing supply so in dds school all the teachers trained many years ago before phonics was back in again.

Im not doubting phonics can work but worried personally about dds approach to it.

How do we make reading fun again? kids want to read at home for pleasure. dd finding ort a turn off and bored of gin no now.

dds teacher keeps going on about understanding the story and limiting how many pages we can read a night. someone said its because schools short of books.

I remember in juniors reguarly least once a year going to see a play linked to book we had been reading, maybe more drama and production making the story come alive be good one.

Last year dd had only 1school trip to a castle.

I do hold my hands up as parent and say im not confident with phonics. as parent we been told very little about it by school anyway.
Im cautious what i do at home as dont want to confuse dd.

noblegiraffe Sun 21-Oct-12 10:54:51

My DS hasn't started reception yet, but looking around primary schools we are hearing about phonics, and also hearing that we should be talking about letter sounds and not just teaching DS the alphabet that we grew up with.

What I don't understand is how a phonetic approach can be used to learn to read a language which isn't phonetic. The article suggests that 20% of words don't fit the scheme. A poster up thread says that phonetics is more successful than a 'mixed approach', but if you don't use a mixed approach (e.g. sight recognition of tricky words) then how on earth do you teach the child to read (or even identify) words which are phonetically nonsense?

AuntieStella Sun 21-Oct-12 11:03:25

Phonics isn't an interchangeable term for phonetic.

The phonics approach is not based on the phonetics of the language (no written language is), but on its phonemes (ie what sounds change the meaning of words, rather than phonetic variation between speakers and their accents). The regularity of correspondence between the phonemes of a language and the graphemes (symbols used to write them) varies between languages.

The are vanishingly few non-decodeable words (and they are usually foreign imports). But even when tackling these, a reader who has cracked the phonic code will make a better stab at it (as they can read the consonant scaffolding) than an "other methods" pupil, who would come to a standstill at that point.

mam29 Sun 21-Oct-12 11:05:01

im very confused as 20%dont learn just through phomics in this blog is huge number.

I think its nonsense words that throw some people

Another important point

in englad whats reading results like soctalnd or wales as they dont have have sats to test reading levels in year 2 or 6.

noblegiraffe Sun 21-Oct-12 11:07:59

Ok, so it's a bit more complicated than phonetics. How would phonics distinguish between though, trough and through, for example?

AuntieStella Sun 21-Oct-12 11:17:10

It's simpler than phonetics.

You teach the phonemes (ie the meaningful sounds) and the graphemes (ways of writing them) which can be used for those sounds, not the other way round. Sight-readers have difficulty with graphemes which produce different phonemes and just have to learn each one or guess wildly. Phonic readers apply the code, and are taught that if there is more than one possibility, they stick with the sound and try only the few possibles to find the right match.

mrz Sun 21-Oct-12 11:21:35

Also I maybe wrong but a lot of student teachers I have spoke to last few years struggling to find full time post and doing supply so in dds school all the teachers trained many years ago before phonics was back in again.

I would say that may be a positive thing. The new teachers fresh out of university are often the ones with least phonics training. Often they have had one or two sessions on Letters & Sounds at best and at worst they have been given a copy of Letters & Sounds and told that's it!

alcofrolic Sun 21-Oct-12 11:53:13

35 years ago, I clearly remember drawing big phonic pictures for my mum's classroom. Some 30+ years ago the Initial Teaching Alphabet was introduced to teach early phonic reading skills. 15 years ago I was teaching 'phonics' in the guise of Violet Brand's 'Spelling Made Easy'. 10 years ago, I was teaching 'phonics' (as letter patterns) using 'rime and analogy'. Children have always learnt the 'sounds' that combinations of letters produce (often in tandem with 'look and say' flashcards.)

In 10 years time I imagine the methodology for teaching phonics will have changed again.

AuntieStella Sun 21-Oct-12 12:00:57

ITA was dreadful, wasn't it, as it used a separate "alphabet".

But I agree it's important to recognise that the scheme/competency is not the same issue as phonics in itself.

EdsRedeemingQualities Sun 21-Oct-12 12:03:01

I hate phonics. They just don't work properly.

Ds2 is clever but cannot read a word like 'you' using phonics. He tries, it makes no sense.

It's so counterproductive imo. He's 5 btw

mrz Sun 21-Oct-12 12:04:04

mam29 I'm afraid Mr Rosen while being a successful author and poet knows very little about phonics as evidenced in his blog.

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