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Phonics versus Biff, Chip and Kipper

(406 Posts)
Lukethe3 Thu 31-Jan-13 14:09:57

I find it slightly irritating that at DS school he is taught phonics but then sent home to read the old ORT stuff which has tricky words at even the easiest level. Is this purely because the school has no money to buy new books or is there actually an advantage to be taught like this?
I have bought some Songbirds books for DS and these seem to make far more sense to me as they include the sounds that DS is learning.

mrz Thu 31-Jan-13 20:46:09

Actually the child on red level wasn't a bit bothered by the school reading books

teacherwith2kids Thu 31-Jan-13 20:48:44

I don't know how 'popular' a policy it is. I have not previously encountered it as a teacher or as a parent - this friend of my daughter's (who attends supposedly the 'best' school in town) was the first time I had come across it personally, though i know of it through scattered 'computer acquaintances'.

learnandsay Thu 31-Jan-13 20:50:10

If I get the impression from the other mums that the policy is holding the other children back I'll argue the case properly, teacher. To be honest I just struck it lucky with the non decodable books. Soon after some random member of staff asked for my daughter to be moved up I wrote in the diary asking for non decodable books. And since then that's all I've ever got. So an argument, as such, was never needed. A couple of parents have spoken to me about how my daughter learned to read. But none of them has "complained" about the books as yet. So I'm taking it as if it means that they're happy.

mrz Thu 31-Jan-13 20:52:41

I think it was more common 20 years ago but I don't personally know any schools that work that way now.

GinGirl Thu 31-Jan-13 20:58:45

simpson from my limited experience, I'd understood that decoding using pictures was not a problem, especially if the child can then read the word again without using the picture.

I started my DD reading the year before she started school (old for her year and needed to be challenged) and used 'look and say' as that is how I was taught. She now does phonics as school (she is in Reception) and seems to be using both systems to read Level 4 books (ORT and Ginn 360), she seems to use word recognition mostly which gives her reading fluency. If she gets stuck on a word and I know it can be decoded phonetically I suggest she sounds it out, if I know it is 'irregular' I'll tell her what it is, eg 'sometimes' - a word she now recognises without help.

On a practical level OP, DD's school doesn't really mind at this stage if they read their school reading book or a book from home, as long as they are reading/being read to. Maybe use your Songbird books and write those into your DS's reading record as well as/instead of the school ones? May provide your DS's teacher with a better idea of the grasp your DS has of his phonics.

mrz Thu 31-Jan-13 21:00:01

decoding using pictures is a big problem I'm afraid

simpson Thu 31-Jan-13 21:16:10

I agree with mrz - I would not want my child using a picture to work out a word. IMO that is guessing.

The pictures are there to help with the comprehension ie how is X character feeling ( child can look at X's face in the picture)...

birdbrain17 Thu 31-Jan-13 21:56:32

mrz she could just read phonics books with sounding everything out but then it takes longer for the child to learn to blend....sight words also help with spelling!

simpson Thu 31-Jan-13 22:20:42

How do sight words help with spelling?? <<baffled>>

IMO fluency comes from a child having gone through the stage of sounding words out so a child will have sounded the word c a t out quite a few times and then will recognise it on sight and not need to anymore iyswim.

PeppermintCreams Thu 31-Jan-13 22:53:08

At my son's school they start giving out reading books and HFW to learn as soon as they can sound out 19 sounds.

The majority of the books he's brought home have been Biff and Chip. (Although I do know that they have the Songbird books) After reading about the look and say method on here I was a bit horrified and brought some Project X and Songbird books. (Not to many) But after a year of being on the reading scheme he's now on ORT Level 8 and he can sound out pretty much any decodable word.

He's now learnt all 300 high frequency words. He started off memorising them (I know) but by the time he'd got to the end of the list he could decode them all.

So I don't know what happened there. I've not done much phonic work at home with him other than the initial sounds, and what ever has come up in conversation. Do they do so much phonic work at school that they don't need to send decodable ones home and send the old Biff and Chip ones just to get parents reading with their child? (Possible knowing some of the parents)

Any suggestions?

learnandsay Fri 01-Feb-13 06:26:16

It would appear that sight reading helps my daughter to spell because she both knows some words and how to spell them automatically. But, to be honest I'm not sure if she's using only sight reading in some cases. (There's no way of telling, unless she has an MRI scan and somebody watches her brain patterns.) Words like Asia, off, knee, knight and so on she just recognises and can reproduce. She can spell duck properly but I suspect this word, unlike the others, comes from her phonic knowledge because I think she would be tempted to spell it as it sounds but for the fact that she is well aware of the ck word ending convention and uses it to spell that word. But she's also familiar with the word duck. So which method she's actually using is anybody's guess.

mrz Fri 01-Feb-13 07:03:15

birdbrain but surely if as you say the child is learning to read by sight she can learn the words in a phonics book the same way ... hmm why do you think she has to blend them in a phonics book and conversely why do you think that a child with good phonics knowledge can't blend words in a look & say book

If she knows cat by sight in a L&S book she knows cat by sight in a phonics book confused

learnandsay Fri 01-Feb-13 07:32:04

To be fair, mrz, you yourself have said that you'd teach the words one and who as sight words and I think maverick added "of" and perhaps a couple of other words. I don't think anybody, not even the biggest opponent of sight words says there should be none. The debate is about how many there should be.

yellowsubmarine53 Fri 01-Feb-13 07:37:51

I've heard of this 'read all on one level' policy before via Mumsnet and it is only now that I've watched my Y1 dd learn to read that I can see how unhelpful and unnecessary it is.

teacher is right - this is your real enemy, lands.

mrz Fri 01-Feb-13 07:50:19

No learnandsay you seem to have misunderstood what I am asking. I am asking birdbrain why he/she believes that a child who as he/she says reads words by sight can't read those same words by sight in phonic reading scheme books (as birdbrain seems to believe). There isn't any reason why a child who can read a word in one type of book can't transfer that ability to every other book containing that word, unless of course they can't really read the word by sight and have just memorised the whole text as some poor readers seem to do. It's quite surprising if you turn two pages by accident and discover they are reciting the missed page.

learnandsay Fri 01-Feb-13 07:59:28

I don't think birdbrain explicitly said the child couldn't recognise sight words in phonics books. He/she didn't refer to them in the phonics books (I don't think.) I think what was talked about was sounding out all the words in the phonics books. It's possible that there were no sight words in them. In order to get sight words I think birdbrain said ages ago the the school bought look & say books on purpose and used those as a source of sight words. The implication being that there were not enough sight words in the phonics books.

learnandsay Fri 01-Feb-13 08:15:04

teacher and yellow, I think what I might do, rather than kicking up a fuss, is just ask the literacy coordinator what she thinks of the policy. If it turns out to be her idea and not the teacher's then we know where the problem lies.

yellowsubmarine53 Fri 01-Feb-13 11:24:10

It's less about the difference between 'sight words' and 'phonic books' than if children have been taught phonics and are given books they can read, all words gradually become 'sight words' in any context because the child has been taught how to decode them and can do this rapidly, iyswim.

birdbrain17 Fri 01-Feb-13 11:26:24

learnandsay is right. the point I was making was that in phonics books the books are designed with decodable words. If phonics books would have a better mix of decodable and sight words then I agree they would be fine by themselves...
simpson when a child is know sight words such as 'because' 'said' 'there' etc when they do a piece of writing they also know how to spell them, as there are some words that you can not work out the spellings by sounding out.

Pozzled Fri 01-Feb-13 11:44:58

Birdbrain, I don't understand why you think it's a problem that the phonics books don't have many 'sight' words? Surely these sight words are introduced gradually as the children learn more spelling patterns and are able to decode them? The few words which are genuinely tricky to decode (like 'one') can be introduced later as well, once the child is quite comfortable with the idea that sounds can be represented in a number of different ways.

The only reason I can see to introduce sight words before they have encountered the spelling patterns is to enable them to read non-phonic texts. Which seems to be a circular argument.

learnandsay Fri 01-Feb-13 12:38:36

Right. But if birdbrain wants her children to have access to the tricky words at a more rapid rate than the phonics books are allowing then what choices does she have? People do give children lists of tricky words to remember which I think is daft because I know of a way of showing them lists of tricky words in a way they won't forget them. It's been done for years. It's called a book.

learnandsay Fri 01-Feb-13 12:43:19

It's not a circular argument to people who say there's no such thing as a non-phonic text. To those people it's not an argument at all. But they do say that the order in which you teach the sounds matters. Teacher laid the order out above. The other thing they disagree about is the speed with which you introduce the sounds. Some people say it can be done relatively quickly and others seem to take several years to do it. I don't agree with taking several years to teach children to read basic books and I'd call Elsie Marinarik's Little Bear and The Cat in the Hat very basic books indeed.

yellowsubmarine53 Fri 01-Feb-13 13:36:20

Phonic books don't 'allow' or 'disallow' children access to tricky words.

The idea is that as a child confidently learns more and more sounds, different combinations of letters that make the same sound etc they can read harder words and more complex sentences. see above how all words eventually become 'sight words' if you want to use that phrase.

Do you mind me commenting lands that I was really surprised to read up thread that your dd is currently reading yellow books? Given that you speak about her being able to read and how long you have been teaching her yourself, I wonder if there has been something possibly a little inefficient about your methods? A reflection, not a criticism, you'll understand.

learnandsay Fri 01-Feb-13 13:59:56

I think that's been the subject of our discussions here, yellowsub. She could probably read something else. The teacher did say something to me about being able to "rush her through the scheme" but not wanting to. If you look at what I've said the child is reading non decodable books only and ancient ones at that. So I'm not sure that she's really following the scheme at all really. I get the impression that the teacher can just say that she is. I have no idea why a teacher would want to do that. But there we are, I suppose.

At home she reads the Ladybird books that are meant for adults to read to their children. But the teacher wants it done the way that she wants it done. And that's that as far as I can see.

learnandsay Fri 01-Feb-13 14:03:44

I'm not sure what that allow disallow argument means. If the tricky words aren't in the book then the child has no access to them. And the whole point of easily decodable books is to have words in them that the child can decode.

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