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How do I help my daughter prepare for the yr 1 phonics check?

(244 Posts)
Churmy123 Tue 30-Apr-13 14:00:24

My dd is 5 (6 at the end of July) and is in year 1. She enjoys school, is well behaved and as far as I know doing well and progressing as she should be. The feedback from her teacher has always been positive. At the last parents evening I was told that she has a flair for creative writing and her writing skills and handwriting are at a year 3/4 level. She also said my dd was one of the 'better' readers and in on turqoise books. At home she is currently confidently reading Enid Blytons Famous Five books. Yesterday after school the teacher called me in to discuss my dds phonics skills. They had done a 'mock' test (last years test I believe) and my dd had only scored 29 out of 40 (32 being the 'pass' mark). She asked if I could do some extra work with my dd at home to try and get her up to the 32 mark before the 'test' in June. She gave me some sheets with words on to work through with my dd and also recommended the 'phonics play' website. We did some of this at home last night and my dd appeared to find it easy and didn't struggle with any of the words. Do I just continue doing this at home? Or could it be that she was having an 'off' day on the day of the 'mock' check? Or is it the 'alien' words that are confusing her? I'm a little confused!!!
Thanks. x

lougle Tue 30-Apr-13 18:56:54

This just goes back to principles, doesn't it? IF you want your child to succeed by passing the test at all costs, you can teach to test.

If you want your child to be secure in their phonic knowledge and to identify areas of weakness, let the test happen without coaching.

I know that DD2 isn't sure about the split e digraph (I think that's what they're called). She is inconsistent in the sounds she uses when a word has a vowel, consonant, e.

There are lots of other things she's inconsistent with also, although her fluency of reading has improved hugely and she is good at decoding in general.

If I had to place bets, I think she might fail the test.

learnandsay Tue 30-Apr-13 19:06:52

But so is English inconsistent with vowel consonant e


lougle Tue 30-Apr-13 19:11:34

Of course, L&S. But DD2 is inconsistent when reading the same words. So sometimes she uses one sound and sometimes another, with the same word.

mrz Tue 30-Apr-13 19:26:50

the vowel digraph words were the ones that tripped up some of our children last year lougle

lougle Tue 30-Apr-13 19:41:30

That's interesting, mrz. What I'm finding fascinating, about DD2, is that she knows all the terms. She knows the examples they work with ie. she will say 'or - shut the dooor' or 'ou - shout it out' 'oa -goat in the boat' but it's when she comes to generalise that to reading books or spelling, she hasn't got it. She's learned the sounds as a 'thing' in themself, not as a building block within words.

mrz Tue 30-Apr-13 20:07:01

It's why I'm not a fan of the "gimmicks" lougle ... I recall many years ago the children trying to read using Letterland characters rather than the sounds.

learnandsay Tue 30-Apr-13 20:22:13

But I think it's supposed to be an illustration. I don't think you ever do know precisely what the punctuation marks were meant to represent (unless some correctly placed letters remained among them) but because the format is so cliched the reader can guess pretty much what was said.

lougle Tue 30-Apr-13 20:25:08

Only because they are familiar with it, learnandsay.

learnandsay Tue 30-Apr-13 20:26:51

Yes, but in any representative system the reader needs to be familiar with it.

lougle Tue 30-Apr-13 20:28:00

Careful, learnandsay, you'll be advocating Biff, Chip and Kipper soon wink

mrz Tue 30-Apr-13 20:28:10

Do they need say or -shut the door or do they only need /or/

lougle Tue 30-Apr-13 20:33:23

I'm not sure. They use read, write, inc. I think they practice the sound /or/ but then they are given the rhyme 'shut the door' to reinforce?

DD2 is quirky and takes everything very literally. So it doesn't surprise me that she's learning it as a block, rather than just learning the sound and remembering that they were told that it's /or/ as in 'door'.

mrz Tue 30-Apr-13 20:36:09

It isn't unusual for children to do just that lougle

lougle Tue 30-Apr-13 20:37:00

That's reassuring.

Churmy123 Wed 01-May-13 12:36:51

Thanks everyone for the replies

Just to make it clear, I was never planning on 'coaching' my daughter just to increase her chances of passing. I was generally worried that she wasn't meeting standards and therefore needed to practice her phonics more (as requested by her teacher). After reading all your replies and chatting to a friend who is a year 2 teacher my original panic has gone

I will continue to encourage her love of reading and writing through books and writing her short stories (that she loves to do) and lay off the actual 'teaching'. If she wants to have a go on the 'phonics play' website then she can.

Thanks again. x

lougle Wed 01-May-13 12:56:00

"I was never planning on 'coaching' my daughter just to increase her chances of passing."

What's the difference? smile

Churmy123 Wed 01-May-13 13:02:13

??? lougle
My understanding from the teacher was to get her to practice at home to increase her chances of passing. My personal take on it is (going my comments on here) that her ability to use phonics and decode new words will impact on her in later life. So I want her to improve her phonics as a long term aim not just a short term aim (passing the test).

Nicknamegrief Wed 01-May-13 13:17:40

If it helps my number 2, failed the phonics test last year (as I could have predicted) but by September this year he would have passed it-easily. Not due to any extra work (we just kept doing what we were already doing) but simply because he was a bit of a late bloomer (your daughter sounds like she is a better reader than he was at this age).

BlueChampagne Wed 01-May-13 13:33:38

Our head reckons the better readers do worse in the phonics test because they try and make sense of nonsense words. Given the regard the phonics test is generally held in, I wouldn't bother doing anything special for it at all! If she's reading Famous Five etc then she's probably gone beyond phonics anyway.

However, should you decide to, you could look for books with made-up words in them, or create your own things with silly words in eg Alien names, spells, invented sweets, recipes etc.

Elibean Wed 01-May-13 14:03:05

I'd be a tad hmm if dd2's Y1 teacher asked me to 'help' her for the test!

We don't even discuss it, as parents, with the teacher. And dd2 isn't aware of a test at all - just games, and tasks, involving sounding out.

I'm only aware of it because I happen to be a Gov at her school, and because I read MN...and as far as I understand it, it's not about testing the children as individuals. It's about testing the teaching of phonics within the school.

lougle Wed 01-May-13 14:10:42

My error, Churmy. My brain inserted a comma when I read that this morning, turning it into:

""I was never planning on 'coaching' my daughter, just to increase her chances of passing."

So I thought you were saying that you wanted to increase her chances of passing rather than coaching her.

I understand that you are concerned.

scaevola Wed 01-May-13 14:32:31

If ahead thinks the children are 'tryingto make sense' of something that is clearly indicated is the name of an alien, then I would not trust their word on what makes a 'good' reader, as that child is neither decoding accurately, nor understanding context (ie a name isn't a vocabulary word).

Elibean Wed 01-May-13 14:51:29

I'd agree with that.

Although I can imagine dd2 saying something along the lines of 'I know his name is 'Gowk', but I like 'Gook'!'

Though as mrz and someone else rightly said, kids behave in much straighter lines with teachers than they do with mums grin

TeenAndTween Wed 01-May-13 14:59:40

I wish the phonics check had been in place when my (A)DD1 had been in y1. She is now in year 9. She is an avid reader but struggles to read new words because her phonics is very poor. She also struggles with spellings because of this too.

imo A 'good' reader should be able to pass the test because it means they can sound out unfamiliar words. A whole word reader, like my DD1 can only read words they have come across before.

So for the OP, I would work with making sure your DD uses her phonics knowledge to read unfamiliar words. Perhaps look at some non fiction books together as they tend to use more unusual words. So if she uses her phonics (which is what you want) she will then pass the test (as a by-product).

Elibean Wed 01-May-13 15:00:39

Dr Seuss is good too.

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