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Interesting article re. synthetic phonics

(123 Posts)
Biscuitsneeded Tue 28-Jan-14 08:31:58

bruffin Tue 28-Jan-14 08:45:27

Its pretty much nonsense. My dd was similar to the children Andrew Davis describes and she was not damaged by being taken back to basic phonics.

bruffin Tue 28-Jan-14 08:49:56

a proper link to the article

columngollum Tue 28-Jan-14 09:14:22

Anything can damage anybody if you do it in a damaging way! Flowers are damaging if you stick them in your nose.

DaffodilShoots Tue 28-Jan-14 09:15:11

My early reader was ok with synthetic phonics, he still says he doesn't learn anything at school as he "knew it all already" but it's not a complaint and I can see he's learning plenty.

LittleMissGreen Tue 28-Jan-14 09:31:18

He argues those well on their way to reading could be put off by reading books featuring only words for which they have been taught the phonetic rules in class.
Isn't that why differentiated learning is required? Surely a child who already knows how to read should be learning their phonics at a 'higher level' than a child with no knowledge at all.

ReallyTired Tue 28-Jan-14 09:38:31

Learning phonics is as much about learning to write as learning to read. Just because a child can read simple sentences on starting school doesn't necessarily mean that they spell any word in the English language.

In the past decodable books were pretty boring, but there is much better material now. Children benefit from being read to as much as practising reading. A high quality early years classroom has lots of beautiful books that children can borrow to be used as bed time stories.

Retropear Tue 28-Jan-14 09:48:04

I think he is spot on and I know several parents complaining about this.

I have 3 very early readers(all could read paperbacks by the end of rec),1 is G&T and taught himself to read at 3. I was a teacher with a literacy focus and the same ie an early reading.

My 3 just missed out on sp thankfully(my sister is currently going through this very issue herself) but I think how a school handles the issue is the actual issue.If a school is going to restrict books to just those that have been covered in phonics regardless then clearly there will be a problem.If there is flexibility then surely there won't be.

My dc would died of boredom if restricted to phonic books and would have been switched off from reading the huge variety they did at 4,5 and 6.To be frank I would have ignored the school books and let them read the books they chose to read themselves anyway.Lucky me,I knew what they needed and had access to masses.The kids with less access and confident parents will miss out.My sister now has me and our huge library to harness her voracious readers.

I am a huge fan of phonics but the fact remains when reading clicks you have to harness it and go with it,encouraging kids to read masses of what they want.This then sets them up with a priceless love of reading and exposure to masses of print.If you ignore it when it happens and stifle it it's a huge wasted opportunity imvho. Will they lose that ripple of reading excitement and momentum which happens when it clicks which can then carry them forward over the next few years forever?

Retropear Tue 28-Jan-14 09:49:50

Surely spelling and reading should be dealt with separately.

All of my dc are top at reading,all are good spellers but only one has always been in the top group for spelling too.

Basketofchocolate Tue 28-Jan-14 10:05:34

I think DS is suffering with this. He reads well but the school books are off-putting. Perhaps they are the older style as not seen anything come home yet that was printed after 1995 so far (year R).

He was always happy to attempt words and learn them before school. Now, he seems scared of trying them as he tries to use the way to sound it out he's learned at school instead of using the knowledge he's picked up from reading other words, that he used before - and many of us used for years at school.

I get quite wound up when he starts talking about how 'the' and 'was' are 'tricky' words....but then when he's not paying attention he can read far trickier words than that. Why do we tell children that 'the' is tricky...

Oh God, who got me started???!?!?!?! Am sat here with a cold and now I am feeling quite ranty.

Basketofchocolate Tue 28-Jan-14 10:09:31

Michael Rosen rocks and he hates phonics.
Good enough for me wink

Biscuitsneeded Tue 28-Jan-14 10:20:44

Interestingly, my DS2's class, which contains comparatively able children in a school that consistently achieves very high Sats results, only got a 40% pass rate on the phonics test in 2013. My DS passed but I would say he was still at that stage of reading where the phonics were helpful. Some really able children who were reading Roald Dahl and Harry Potter at the time, flunked it. I do think the school, knowing they were good readers, probably hadn't really prepared them well enough for the somewhat idiosyncratic nature of the test. I can see how synthetic phonics can be very helpful, but I also think that dragging fluent readers back to phonics is bound to be counter-productive.

columngollum Tue 28-Jan-14 10:32:30

Dragging anyone anywhere is bound to be counter-productive. I'm no fan of phonics but I believe it has its uses. (I'm no fan of cesspits either but they have their uses too.) There is no harm in teaching children that some English words are made up of repetitive patterns even if the children can already read. Just as there is no harm in teaching them grammar if they can already read and write. But I can see how you could mess a child up by insisting that he or she continuously searches for phoneme/grapheme correspondences in words which don't have common or sensible ones, like the words one, two, yacht, sugar and so on. Some fanatics insist that there are common correspondences everywhere, when there clearly aren't. And that phonics is useful for English spelling, when in the main the opposite is true. Of course such wilful blindness is of course damaging. But, if an ordinary, common sense view of the uses of phonics is adopted, then it's useful.

LittleMissGreen Tue 28-Jan-14 12:06:31

It never ceases to amaze me the number of children who can apparently read Roald Dahl which is full of made up words, but can't pass the phonics test.
However, I digress. If a school teacher would only let a child who could read well on entry to reception read 'look and say' books that were where the entire class had got to, then the child would be as equally bored reading a simple look and say book as they would be on a simple phonics book.

Mashabell Tue 28-Jan-14 12:33:41

I am hoping that at long last we might begin to have a more sensible debate about how best to help children cope with the words in which some letters have irregular sounds (man, many; sound, soup) and sounds have irregular spellings (see/sea), and perhaps even get round to talking about eliminating some of the inconsistencies which make learning to read and write English exceptionally difficult and time-consuming.

Phonics is of limited use, because English spelling is phonically inconsistent. It has few totally reliable rules for decoding, and even less for spelling.

Over 4,000 common words contain unpredictable quirks like 'blUE, shOE, flEW' and half of those, like 'Only, Once, Other' pose reading difficulties as well. We need research and honest debate about how best to teach children to read and write those words.

To claim that u simply need more phonics, in the sense of teaching relationships between sounds and letters, is just a smoke screen. It does tell anyone what to do in practice.

There are some fairly reliable patterns. [Ai] has an irregular sound only in 'said'. The short /a/ sound of 'cat, mat, sat' is spelt differently only in 'plaid, plait, have, meringue', but the pronunciation of [a] is trickier (man, many, able, father). In other words, some relationships between letters and sounds, as well as sounds and letters, are quite teachable, but lots have to be learned word by word.

Starting from this reality, there could be useful debate about how best to teach children to read and write.

maizieD Tue 28-Jan-14 14:17:34

Starting from this reality, there could be useful debate about how best to teach children to read and write.

You are so behind the times, marsha. The debate about teaching reading has been raging since at least the latter part of the 19th century; many ways of teaching reading have been tried and, as far as research evidence goes, 'phonics' has won hands down.

I note that the 'educational philospher' (who hasn't taught for 20 years and who refused to go and watch good phonics teaching in a local school) has no real ideas himself about how to improve current dire standards of literacy; I asked him if he did on another forum and he replied that he wished he knewshock.

Also, he is confusing anecdote with evidence. Which doesn't really give one much confidence in his academic credentials or the validty of his argument.

Bonsoir Tue 28-Jan-14 14:21:30

"Surely spelling and reading should be dealt with separately."

No they shouldn't. Decoding (reading) and encoding (spelling) should be taught simultaneously.

Retropear Tue 28-Jan-14 15:55:21

But that is ridiculous.

Many,many children learn to read far quicker than they learn to spell and to actually use the words they can spell.Some kids take a while to get going with writing for a variety of reasons.

Treading water with reading whilst you learn to spell would turn many kids off reading for ever and some would be treading water for years.

My dd voraciously reads very complex books,her spelling is nowhere near at that level(partly due to laziness).She needs to learn completely different things in her spelling lessons than she does in her guided reading lessons.

columngollum Tue 28-Jan-14 15:57:21

No they shouldn't. Decoding (reading) and encoding (spelling) should be taught simultaneously.

Learning to read can be a relatively quick process. But learning to spell depends mainly on the pupil's capacity to memorise. Teaching them together does no harm. But expecting equal progress is silly. In effect the realist teaches them separately, eventually.

Retropear Tue 28-Jan-14 15:59:24

And she needs a rocket up her arse re her writing but that is a whole different thread.

The books she reads will help her creative writing too.

Why on earth would you hold kids back in reading and creative writing just for spelling which they will be able to do further down the line anyway if they have daily lessons?


columngollum Tue 28-Jan-14 16:05:28

I don't believe in the encoding/decoding argument, but I don't think holding children back, etc... is what people who use it have in mind.

I think what they're saying is that spelling is (mainly) reading in reverse.

But, of course, most of us who live in the real world know that that is not the case. A whole chunk of the population is able to read words that it cannot spell. This is because spelling is memory based, almost entirely.

Retropear Tue 28-Jan-14 16:06:16

That is what I thought Column,our school has separate groups for reading and spelling - thankfully.

Back when my dc were in rec/y1 and reading fluently my left hander day dreamer boy would have turned off reader and literacy completely if he was restricted to reading books at the level he was using his spelling.He is a voracious reader now at 10 and a good speller,both boys are.1 is a phenomenal speller but he was reading books way,way ahead of what he was doing in spelling in rec as being only 5 he couldn't quite spell at Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton's level.grin

Retropear Tue 28-Jan-14 16:10:16

Column I agree,said son can look at any complex word and spell it 5 mins later,he has an amazing memory,sickenly his grammar and punctuation are just as good but that is due to all the reading he has done from a very early age I'm sure.

I don't think many teachers would do what said author fears surely,most can judge best what their individual kids need and act accordingly.

MrsKCastle Tue 28-Jan-14 16:20:24

I think that article is really misleading. No decent teacher would look at a child who can read well and go 'well we've only covered the first 26 phonics sounds in class so far, so you'll have to stay on the simple books for a few more weeks.'

My DD1 is in Y1, at a school that have only just (ie this term) moved on to a proper phonics scheme rather than mixed methods. DD1 already reads fairly fluently (not Harry Potter yet, more like Rainbow Fairies!) But I still think the phonics lessons will be of enormous benefit to her. Mostly for spelling, where her confidence is growing daily, but I'm also pleased that she's going back over the sounds for reading. She still needs reminders to use her phonics knowledge for new words. I can't see how it can do her any harm whatsoever.

columngollum Tue 28-Jan-14 16:30:14

retropear, unfortunately lots of people both for and against phonics argue ideologically rather than according to what actually happens either in life or in language. In the end as long as our children can read and write, the arguments for us, as individual parents, don't much matter.

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