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Is this how children learn to read these days?

(485 Posts)
Bananaketchup Sat 08-Feb-14 20:10:40

Am genuinely asking. DD is in reception. She started late at the school and has only been in full-time since xmas, so they don't really know her too well. She loves being read to, she can sound out words when she's in the mood, but is also one for the easy life. She reads once a week 1-1 with a TA at school, and brings the book home afterwards until it's swapped a week later. The books are of the 'this is a house, this is a garden' level. In her reading record it will say 'DD read the book and enjoyed it'. But when she reads it at home she rattles off the sentence on each page and has clearly just memorised it, and isn't actually reading. If I mix the page order up, she can't read it. If I hide the picture, she can't read it. She will make wild guesses without even trying to sound out the word e.g. she will guess 'the' for 'house', just pure guesses. This weekend she got in a strop because I wouldn't let her see the picture (as she was just guessing from this and not reading the words at all). She then said 'but Mrs X (The TA she reads with) says look at the picture, then read it'. So my question is (if you've got this far without dying of boredom), is this how children are taught to read - to look at the picture to know what the words say? Because DD isn't paying any attention to the words, just gabbling off what's in the picture, and I can't really see how this is teaching her to read. I am minded to speak to school, but don't want to be 'that' mum if this is genuinely a method children learn to read by, which I'm unaware of. Can anyone advise please?

Bananaketchup Sat 08-Feb-14 21:31:39

Sorry got distracted by Facebook important stuff. DD has no extra support to catch up. She was being sent home those Oxford books without words, then the teacher set some homework of ticking which of a list of words the child can sound out, the result of which was she started coming home with these books which are called 'PM starters' and seem to be from New Zealand? The current one is called 'A house' and each page is 'here is a' window/chimney/roof etc. There isn't a story as such. The more I think about it the more I think this is part of DDs efforts to conform to what she thinks adults want her to do (which is a whole other thread) and I need to speak to the teacher about it. Thanks all.

columngollum Sat 08-Feb-14 21:33:31

But that's not true


Feenie Sat 08-Feb-14 21:37:00

but looking at shape of words is necessary for some words which do not follow phonics

Another guessing strategy which is now outmoded since it is next to useless. Good teachers just teach children to read - and phonics is not used 'mostly', it is supposed to be the only strategy used.

LucyBabs Sat 08-Feb-14 21:38:32

Thanks column

tinytalker Sat 08-Feb-14 21:40:53

Feenie - You are very wrong!
English children will never learn to read through phonics alone, it's just not possible. Yes there are rules to learn but as soon as you learn a phonic rule a word comes along that is an exception to that rule!! The most effective method for learning to read is a mixed method and using picture clues is just as valid to get meaning from the text. For instance, I heard a child read this week in Yr 1 and the text said, "Biff wanted to do gymnastics". The child managed to read this sentence via a range of skills, phonics, loo-and-say and picture clues. She was successful, she read for meaning and she used contextual clues. Basically she enjoyed the text and became a 'real reader'. Who are you to say that I should have covered the pictures, rendered her a failure and ruined her enthusiasm for reading?
There needs to be a balance of methods and skills teaching and the child needs to be at the centre of this otherwise they will lose their enthusiasm. I would never expect a Yr 1 child to read 'gymnastics' but she did and I applauded her for that. Do I expect her to be able to read that word again next week on a 'flashcard'? NO but by the time she is in Yr 2/3 then she will, by seeing it frequently and by associating this pattern of letters with the picture of Biff doing gymnastics!

columngollum Sat 08-Feb-14 21:43:09

Well, if phonics is the only strategy used then there will be lots of words that children can't read, lik:e women, cello, one, two, the, endless place and Christian names and so on.

tinytalker Sat 08-Feb-14 21:47:22

Totally agree Column, me thinks Feenie has either been brainwashed or is on a career break! I challenge her to substantiate her claims that phonics should be the only way to learn to read.

Feenie Sat 08-Feb-14 21:47:41

I didn't say that you should cover the pictures - I said you shouldn't encourage a child to use a picture cue to guess a word.

What you describe is the searchlights method of teaching children to read. It has been ditched because it failed 20% of children. We now know from research that weaker readers over rely on context and/or picture cues.

I wish I could be there for you to do your 'Who are you to...' speech to an Ofsted inspector. Because it isn't only me who says this - it's the DFE, the new curriculum and Ofsted. From September you will be statutorily obliged to drop your mixed methods. I can see you will need some retraining before you do that - or you will be in RI with lessons like the one you describe.

Feenie Sat 08-Feb-14 21:49:13

Read the new curriculum or go and see an HMI inspector talk about what will happen to schools who cling to mixed methods. The challenge will come from those.

tinytalker Sat 08-Feb-14 21:53:11

No worries, I work in the private sector! We are not bound by the latest trend and we can teach the way each and every child learns best! So don't worry Feenie most of our children are +2yrs above chronological reading age. Every child deserves to be a reader despite what 'current research' is the favourite of the season!

Blueuggboots Sat 08-Feb-14 21:54:17

When my stepdaughter was learning to read, she would memorise what it said or guess from the pictures.
We'd have tears if we tried to get her to read individual words etc
I bought a dr Seuss box set and started her on "hop on pop" so she could see that "op" would change dependent on the first letter IYSWIM?
This built her confidence and I believe really helped her reading.

Quangle Sat 08-Feb-14 21:55:59

But there's a difference between using phonics as the backbone for teaching and outlawing everything else. I'm sure the foundation of phonics makes huge sense - especially so the weaker 20pc don't lose their way. But children will differ and try different strategies at different times. The more able readers are definitely also memorising etc or they would never be able to read fluently. I'm not sure there's any real need to disagree. Phonics is the bedrock but other techniques will be used too.

Perhaps this argument is about making sure everyone has a foundation in phonics which makes sense.

columngollum Sat 08-Feb-14 21:58:32

In reality life is a mixed method. We had a discussion which proved that in certain cases even purely phonicsy people have to use the same contextual clues that the rest of us are using because the nature of the sentence determines it. Of course it is possible to make much of phonics and hide the fact that we all use contextual interpretation in reading. We can claim loudly that it's possible to teach reading by phonics alone, but of course that doesn't make it true. If the education system demands that teachers make those claims, then fine. Let teachers make them, just so long as they don't actually believe them!

Feenie Sat 08-Feb-14 21:59:58

Only 2 years? Last year 68% of our children achieved level 5 - that's average at 14 years old. None of our children leave our school unable to read, and 'most' are three years ahead or more.

Perhaps you could read around, update your knowledge of current research and raise your closed expectations a little. Can never understand teachers who refuse to do this. Experience goes a long way - but up to date knowledge of teaching and brain research is never unnecessary.

bigTillyMint Sat 08-Feb-14 22:03:29

I went to an RML sales training session last week. Ruth Miskin herself showed us the words which the children just have to "learn", ie look and say. So even in a pretty well thought of phonics scheme there are "tricky" words which they learn by look and sayconfused

Quangle Sat 08-Feb-14 22:05:25

Agree with columngollum. And I think the new curriculum is about ensuring access to phonics for all because we all do the other stuff instinctively anyway. I can see that poor readers might miss out if never given phonics as a bedrock but not that pupils must be banned from anything else in addition. Agree that it's better to start with phonics rather than start with other methods in formal teaching but no need to snear at them because they are obviously also useful especially as reading emerges.

columngollum Sat 08-Feb-14 22:06:38

The phonicsy fudge around "tricky" words is phonics half of the word and learn the other half. But in practice, if you have to learn any of the word you have to learn all of it because you have to remember where to use the memorised bit.

tinytalker Sat 08-Feb-14 22:07:13

Sorry I meant to say thats at 5yrs old.
Experience? I've been 20yrs in the profession state & private, pre-school and pre-prep, inner London & suburbs? My view is based on experience, an open approach and on each and every child whom I teach NOT on what Ofsted or DFE tells me! Best to learn from real life experiences rather than text books or current research!
Feenie read what other posters are saying too.

columngollum Sat 08-Feb-14 22:09:48

tinytalker, with the phonicsy people they believe info only goes one way, from them to the rest of us, I'm afraid.

tinytalker Sat 08-Feb-14 22:18:40

I know full well that I can adapt my teaching to any child to help them to learn in the way that suits them best. What would Feenie say about the Kinaesthetic approach! shock

Feenie Sat 08-Feb-14 22:23:11

What do you think Jolly Phonics uses? Ofsted say they will check each child has a decodable reading book closely matched to their phonic ability. Decodable books don't need the use of context or picture cues.

columngollum Sat 08-Feb-14 22:29:07

One argument says that all books are decodable

and another one says that (if decodable means phonetically regular, like the Oxford Phonics Dictionary) then lots of perfectly useful words are left out, which isn't learning to read normal English.

That isn't necessarily a criticism. Marinarik's books and Dr Seuss books contain a specially paired down version of English too.

tinytalker Sat 08-Feb-14 22:29:54

Ofsted schmofsted! Broaden your horizons!
Jolly phonics is not the be all and end all of kinaesthetics!

Feenie Sat 08-Feb-14 22:40:56

I've shown from our data how accomplished our children are, and how high our expectations are - compared to yours, despite a heightened adult to pupil ratio and higher funding. It's you who refuses to broaden your horizons, pshawing reading research because you know best.

I didn't say jolly phonics = the be all and end all of kinaesthetic learning, only that it involves it. You didn't seem to know that. You don't seem interested in knowing a lot of things, tbh.

tinytalker Sat 08-Feb-14 22:46:27

confused & hmm

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