Advanced search

How to start teaching a child to read with phonics?

(171 Posts)
Zimbah Mon 12-Nov-12 22:40:22

This is probably a really stupid question... I've read hundreds of threads on this forum about phonics and have got myself in a tangle about how to actually go about teaching DD to read. She's 4, knows the letter sounds for the alphabet, and has started being able to separate out sounds within words although this is still a bit ropey. What do I do now - I'm paranoid about getting it wrong and making things harder, I initially started by teaching the old "Letterland" style sounds e.g. Muh for M, and now despite months of me only saying MMM she sometimes still says Muh. Can I just jump in with some reading scheme books? I know there are 44 sounds, but presumably I need some actual books to teach them within a word context, once she's learnt more basic ones?

And yes I realise I can do what I like as I'm her mum but I would prefer to follow a synthetic phonics way of teaching if possible, as that's what she'll do at school next year, so I'd rather that was her starting point.

Zimbah Tue 13-Nov-12 21:56:38

Wow, so many replies! Thanks all, lots of good ideas for me to try. I gave the 'robot speak' a go today and DD seemed to get the hang of it immediately. Buoyed by her success, this afternoon I tried writing "at" on a piece of paper and encouraging DD to sound it out and blend it. With a lot of prompting, after she repeatedly said "a" "t" as separate letters, she guessed the word was Dinosaur grin. Think I'll stick with robot speak for the time being!

Tgger Tue 13-Nov-12 21:57:59

love the dinosaur, that gave me a good chuckle grin.

mrz Tue 13-Nov-12 22:03:30

I don't think being a precocious reader made me in anyway a genius just an only child in a house full of adults with lots books for company. My son was a much earlier reader and I actually thought that was quite normal until I had my daughter who didn't learn until she started school.

BertieBotts Tue 13-Nov-12 22:08:07

I love the robot speak! Will definitely try that with DS - seems a fun way of practising without sitting down and forcing it, but also helps them to understand. I worry sometimes that he wants to be able to read so much that he might be jumping ahead and doing more harm than good. He has some of those little square board books still (for babies really) but he loves looking through those and "reading" them, and he keeps noticing patterns in words which are the same, for example, writing a birthday card for his classmate Tommy, he noticed that the "mmy" was the same as in Mummy. And tonight he told me that tractor, train and truck all start with the same sound "T". (and tr, even, but he didn't pick up on that)

He tries to do blending, but I can tell he doesn't really understand it - and things like he'll look at the word under a picture and say "Sunflower. Look, Mummy, sunflower starts with the sound "F"", not realising that the caption just says "flower". So I think the robot voice might help and support what he's doing at nursery.

ReallyTired Tue 13-Nov-12 22:10:05

It sounds like your dd is doing well. When modelling blending it helps to say the first letter sound louder than the others and you have to say the letter sounds quite fast.

Its great that your lo said "a", "t" even if she didn't get it. If your dd doesn't get the word straight away it helps to model blending. (Ie you say the sounds with the "a" slightly louder than the "t") It links the robot speak to what is on the paper.

mrz Wed 14-Nov-12 09:25:59

I would suggest holding onto the first sound - so <a.....> -<t> (extending the first sound if possible rather than robot talk. It's much easier for the child to hear the word when they are first learning to blend.

SoundsWrite Wed 14-Nov-12 17:13:10

Hi mrz, I read 'How Horatio Held the Bridge' not long ago to my fifteen-year old daughter and she loved it. I thought at first she'd pull the usual teenage 'yeah whatever' line at first, but no, the more I read, the more absorbed she became. smile

mrz Wed 14-Nov-12 17:22:44

I've always loved narrative poems SoundsWrite, I'm pleased your daughter enjoyed it too smile

JackieLanaTurn Wed 14-Nov-12 17:34:50

I've accessed an app called Mr Thorne does phonics, but you can also access his videos on Youtube. They are really clear and quite funky...

BooksandaCuppa Wed 14-Nov-12 19:44:58

<refers back to halfway through thread> I didn't say I could necessarily read many of the words in those books, learnandsay, but they were definitely what made me want to read more/better...I particularly loved the maps of Europe in the encyclopaedia and remember trying to pronounce 'Kazhakhstan'...

I guess we're saying a love of books has an equal place with the mechanics of reading, as best taught it seems with phonics.

mrz Wed 14-Nov-12 19:53:47

and not always 100% accurate Jackie so be selective

JackieLanaTurn Wed 14-Nov-12 21:41:55

Point taken Mrz. Thanks.

There's the read/write app too. That does the pronunciation of phonemes and the reproduction of graphemes. It's a bit harsh on the marking, but we've found it helpful.

legoballoon Wed 14-Nov-12 21:51:30

Why don't you contact the school she's going to, explain that she's showing an interest in letter-sound correspondences and ask if you could have a list of the phase 1 and 2 sounds that she'll be doing. That way, what you teach will 'join up' with what she goes on to do.

Otherwise, I found the ORT 'read at home' books good. Also 'Floppy's Phonics'.

Alternatively, focus on consonant sounds with fairly regular letter correspondences e.g. s,t,p,n and introduce the short vowel sounds, and make your own CVC flashcards, e.g. hen, cat with a very limited number of phonemes/letters. Use these to make up games, e.g. if you can sound it out, you get to keep it.

Make sheets with simple CVC words such as cat, dog etc. and draw 4 cartoons and ask her to link the cartoon with the word.

Check out the alphablocks game on the cbeebies website - although she would need help and some are quite complicated - it might give you some ideas and confidence.

At the end of the day, she will go at her own pace - playing eye spy, asking her to identify the 'F' on a car number plate, asking which two letters are written the same on a street sign etc., will all help her become aware of the subtle differences between letter shapes, and help her spot patterns, as well as reinforcing the important message that we live in a very literate society.

They will teach phonics at school, and there is always an element of whole word learning for most children, as the 'sight words' are not sounded out in the same word, but learn, as suggested, by word shape. You can buy old-style Peter & Jane books, which are dull, but which introduce the first 100 sight words too. If you read them, you could always ask her to point to a word beginning with 'h' etc.

Finally, don't underestimate the importance of reading to your child for pleasure. If you can inculcate a love of literature in the early years, you give your child the motivation to explore and own books of her own in the years to come. By reading more complex narratives than those you will find in the 'phonics' books, e.g. 'Fantastic Mr Fox', you will encourage her to think about how characters are developed, how books are divided into chapters, the structures of stories, as well as developing a much wider vocabulary and knowledge of the world which will help her become a more successful reader once she gets past the synthetic phonics stage.

Good luck!

legoballoon Wed 14-Nov-12 21:53:07

Oops! I meant "in the same way... but learnt"
Sorry, pushed for time.

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 18:30:39

"They will teach phonics at school, and there is always an element of whole word learning for most children, as the 'sight words' are not sounded out in the same word, but learn, as suggested, by word shape."

Sorry not true... children don't need to learn whole words by sight and all words can be sounded out in exactly the same way. The difference is that sounds in some words are written in different ways but if your child has been taught correctly and well they will know the alternative ways sounds are spelt.
Learning words by shape is a very inefficient method as so many words have the same shape.

legoballoon Thu 15-Nov-12 19:41:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bonsoir Thu 15-Nov-12 19:44:39

"Well, in my experience, children use a range of strategies."

Actually, what you really mean is my intuition tells me children use a range of strategies. Huge quantities of scientific research using MRI has now established that children do not use a range of strategies. They use phonics.

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 19:53:57

Perhaps you should qualify that a little Bonsoir. Scientific research using MRI has established that good readers use phonics.

legoballoon Thu 15-Nov-12 20:36:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 21:21:33

Have you ever stopped to question what makes Michael Rosen an expert on teaching children to read? Have you ever stopped to wonder how many young children he's actually taught to read?

learnandsay Thu 15-Nov-12 21:27:56

Well, mrz, we're never going to know for sure, but from the look of his poems he has a few children of his own. He may well have taught four. He may have taught more, or helped in his extended family and perhaps he did other things too. He's not claiming to be an early years primary school teacher. He happens to have strong opinions on how language works. That's not surprising. He's a poet. You don't have to be a civil engineer to have an opinion on the state of the roads.

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 21:31:08

Four children ...WOW then he must surely be very experienced and knowledgeable hmm

Yes I've watched Casualty once so I know I can advice doctors how best to teach their patients learnandsay .... or perhaps not!

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 21:31:45


learnandsay Thu 15-Nov-12 21:33:22

Well, I've only taught one and she seems to be doing well. Some people are just right the first time.

mrz Thu 15-Nov-12 21:38:08

only time will tell ...

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now