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Different ways to learn to read...

(67 Posts)
allyfe Thu 03-Apr-14 10:12:59

My reception DD (5.1) is doing well with her reading (not compared to the free readers, but I'm still impressed smile). But, she must also be one of the only children in the country (based on my reading of MN anyway) who actually likes Biff & Chip. In fact, she much prefers Biff and Chip compared to phonics books at the same level. I think that partly she simply doesn't like the stories/way of writing in phonics books. She never has. She loved the Read at Home ORT, but wouldn't touch the Read, Write Inc ones. But I think it is also because she recognises a lot of words, and tends to work things out based on the form and the meaning of the text (so sometimes she will say the wrong thing because it makes sense in the context of the sentence, and it has the same first letter as the word she should be reading). She does still sound words out if she doesn't know them, but she seems to need to have the satisfaction of having a lot of the high frequency words that she already knows.

She does also read other things than Biff & Chip (she will have a go at a lot of stuff - she has tried a simple Horrid Henry Early reader, and some I can read books (which she read all of).

So, my question is, is this a problem? And, she has been moved up a level recently, and whilst she still flies through the Biff and Chip, she doesn't like the phonics books she gets and won't try with them. Typical pushy mum, I think she could easily move up another level because it takes her five minutes to read the Biff & chips we get home. And, again, as with so many children, she reads higher level books at home. We only get two school books so I'd like them to be appropriate. But I did just wonder about her lack of interest in phonics texts, and if it is something we should try to work on more, or if I should just let her read in what seems to be a ORT way!

allyfe Sat 05-Apr-14 12:55:00

bauhausfan I know. I don't blame the teachers at all.

I did try DD with the oxford owl e-books, but she wasn't keen on reading them on my computer. I think she would have had more fun if we had an ipad. But we don't currently. One thing I do think the school should and could do would be to give us more than 2 books a week. The school is a very middle class school (surprise) and there are tons or parent who go in to help, and so if they can give two books once a week, for any child who wanted them, they could do two books twice a week. They used to but stopped doing it. That would make reading at home easier.

mrz Sat 05-Apr-14 13:41:39

Well, a teacher's job is worrying about the overall performance of the group. no columngollum the teacher's job is to even sure every individual child learns to the best of their ability so they reach their individual potential.

maizieD Sat 05-Apr-14 13:52:17

I do totally agree that phonics is a crucial part of learning to read. I just do not think that it is the only part.

I agree, phonics is not the only part of learning to read, but it is the only effective way for word identification. And word identification is the first step in the actual process of reading. The next part is making meaning; initially recognising what the word that has just been decoded and blended 'means' (which will be dependent on the child's expressive and receptive vocabulary) and then how it works with the rest of the sentence so as to understand the idea that is being conveyed in writing. Clearly if the child doesn't get the first bit (decoding etc.) right they are going to struggle with the next bit.

So, a child comes to any form of learning and applies strategies.

So they may well do, but it is up to the teacher and parents to ensure that the correct strategies, those that will lead to effective, problem free reading, are learned and incorrect strategies not allowed to develop.

No-one is attempting to straitjacket your child into a one size fits all mould; children can all be taught the same way without losing their individuality. With reading, the aim is to make it so 'natural' feeling and so automatic that children have the ability to access a whole worlld of ideas and information through text, which they can use to help inform their individual views and character, without having to worry about the mechanical process behind word identification. And, as with learning any skill, practising the correct method to automaticity is the way to achieve this, even though it might feel a bit tiresome at times.

allyfe Sat 05-Apr-14 13:52:57

mrz - I know that is a teachers job, but do you think that teachers are actually able to do that with so many children in a class? It is a genuine question. I know that teaching is NOT the same as parenting, and I am not a teacher, but if I had to keep 30 children behaving acceptably, coordinating the many activities they have to do, I find it hard to imagine how it would be possible to teach all children based on their individual learning styles. I just can't imagine how it can be possible. But as I said, I'm not a teacher.

maizieD Sat 05-Apr-14 14:00:09

The school is a very middle class school (surprise) and there are tons or parent who go in to help, and so if they can give two books once a week, for any child who wanted them, they could do two books twice a week. They used to but stopped doing it. That would make reading at home easier.

My children learned to read in the dark ages of 30 years ago without a single book ever being sent home from school.

Feenie Sat 05-Apr-14 14:01:38

Competent teachers can, yes. It's much easier with a smaller class, but good teachers make sure that all 30 make the best progress they can.

mrz Sat 05-Apr-14 14:02:06

Yes allyfe I think teachers are able to do that

maizieD Sat 05-Apr-14 14:07:04

I find it hard to imagine how it would be possible to teach all children based on their individual learning styles.

I'm not mrz!

All well informed teachers are aware that 'learning styles' is a completely unproven concept. If it worries you, good phonics instruction is multi-sensory (except that children aren't expected to 'taste' anything; though I have seen an account of a teaching method from that 19th century where letters were made of gingerbread and children did, indeed, eat them as they learned them grin)

Hear the sounds : auditory
See the letters : visual
Say the sounds : oral
Write the letters : kinaesthetic

Teachers manage very well...

mrz Sat 05-Apr-14 14:12:26

Sorry maizieD I wasn't very clear what I was saying teachers can teach individuals so they reach their individual potential (not that the teaching is based on learning styles)

allyfe Sat 05-Apr-14 14:15:35

MaisieD I learnt to read 30 odd years ago. But I have clear memories of it partly because I think I was at the stage my DD is rather later. I do think that is partly thanks to phonics as a method for learning reading, and partly due to governmental pressures/societal expectations. Expectations for reading and progress are very different now. And many local schools do allow at least a book a day.

Feenie and mrz I am genuinely reassured. However, based on my experience at the moment, I don't think it is always the case. My DD is perhaps not a typical case because she is a little bit scared by her teacher, and so doesn't communicate as effectively with her and the TA's as she does with adults outside school. But it is nice to know that some teachers will be able to identify individual needs and learning.

mrz Sat 05-Apr-14 14:24:45

Phonics has been the main method of teaching reading for centuries except for a relatively brief (in the grand scheme of things) when Look & Say arrived bringing with it a decline in literacy

maizieD Sat 05-Apr-14 14:25:09


You & your dd sound lovely. I'm sorry if I seem to have given you a bit of a hard time on this thread, but I spent the last 10 years working with struggling readers at KS3 and I know the damage that it does to children. It is so difficult for them to 'unlearn' faulty strategies. That's why I am really keen for children to learn properly from the start to save them unneccessary problems.

allyfe Mon 07-Apr-14 10:02:36

Ah, thanks MaizieD. I am probably a bit more obsessed with reading than I ought to be. I'm dyslexic and I am very much hoping that my DD isn't. She seems to be doing really well, but at the same time I am aware that she isn't just relying on phonics. I know that it is much too early to tell one way or the other, but good reading skills now are a good start in the non-dyslexic direction!!

bluewisteria Mon 07-Apr-14 10:36:17

Hi allyfe,
Have you tried using a different medium to do phonics based work? EG a computer app or a game?? Maybe something that is new and removes any kind of (possible) psychological 'block' or turn off that she has when she sees a book with longer words. I just thought it may be a way of encouraging her to extend her phonics knowledge without turning reading longer books into a fight or 'problem'.
There must be a character or animal or something she likes that could be linked to a computer app or game or something?? So pursuing your goal as a parent but in a less obvious book like manner I suppose.

It was just a thought. My DD is 4, and everything I research on reading comes back to 'make sure there is a breadth of reading material'. It doesn't need to be in book format - there are ZILLIONS of magazines/DVDs/games etc dedicated to interesting ways to learn phonics. It just sounds to me like she could do with having the method shaken up a little, then returning to more traditional longer books later on. Maybe that is a goal you can have come Year 1, but between now and then focus on inventive alternate ways to teach them.

allyfe Mon 07-Apr-14 10:46:36

bluewisteria I did think that she might enjoy reading the book on my laptop for that reason, but she wasn't impressed. I have wondered about getting an ipad because the interactive bit is more fun (she can't work the mouse on my computer - not that she has had much chance to try in fairness). I think she would enjoy the 'computer game' bit of it. I think the idea is great, but it is the cost that is holding me back at the moment. Although I do think there is a risk she would rather play the 'dress the disney princess' game she has played at a friends house!

bluewisteria Mon 07-Apr-14 11:04:04

We bought our daughters a 'KURIO', it IS great...
We download 'games' through their store for her to use. You can set up different users so she only has certain things loaded on to play with - you need to be strict with yourself about what you download for her....
Maybe have a treat at the end that ISN'T based on the computer - or she will ask nag incessantly if anything like mine throughout her 'educational time'.

There is a game on, story boarding, really that allows you to take pics and animate and load up stories - which involves writing/creative play etc. We use that now even though she is 4, as she sounds out how to spell words in chunks/phonics.

We did 'teach your monster to read' online for ages too, that really helped with phonics. It is very easy at the beginning so could really draw her in and give her a boost on doing well.

Or, A second hand iPad??

Ah, Kurio deal at JL www.johnlewis.com/kurio-7s-tablet-with-4gb-micro-sd-card/p569905

bauhausfan Mon 07-Apr-14 11:54:11

I think Songbirds is a seriously brilliant series. I am using it with my 4 year old and he loves it.

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