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phonics advice please... books seem to be too difficult

(150 Posts)
PourquoiTuGachesTaVie Tue 04-Nov-14 17:58:44

Ds is 4 and in reception. He's brought his second reading book home today and I've just gone through it with him. It's a level 1 "spiral starter" book (as was the first book he brought home) which focuses on the word "my" plus a range of other words, some of which he can have a go at decoding (such as bed and doll) and but most of the words are impossible for him to decode yet (bike, paints, flower, brother, shoes).
He's getting quite frustrated that he can't read these words and I don't blame him.

Is this normal? These books were published in 1995 so I'm not sure if they're entirely suited to phonics but that doesn't appear to be the case so far.

Are there any reading scheme books I could look into getting for personal use that could better support how ds is learning to read?

Also; can anyone link to a reliable resource for a list of "tricky" words so I can start practicing these with him.

Also, which are the best workbooks to get to practice phonics? I've only looked at jolly phonics so far but I'm open to suggestions.

hollie84 Tue 04-Nov-14 18:01:59

It's rubbish but it does seem quite common for schools to send home books children can't decode. I would get him to have a go at the words he can do and tell him the words he can't.

HaplessHousewife Tue 04-Nov-14 18:11:45

DS has those and I think they're just meant to expose them to some high frequency words and they work the others out from the pictures. I think DS will move on to books he can decode soon.

Hitabottomus Tue 04-Nov-14 18:18:36

DS is also 4 and we've had similar problems. I've been writing in his reading record book when he's struggled and commented that he gets very disheartened when the book is full of tricky words and the teacher seems to have taken this on board - the last few books sent home have all contained words that could be sounded out and blended.

The teachers should welcome feedback or whats the point of writing in the sodding books so it might be worth letting them know?

PourquoiTuGachesTaVie Tue 04-Nov-14 18:35:18

I will mention it in his reading record (in my second ever comment grin hope the teacher doesn't think I'm one of those parents!) And there's a parents evening next week so I can discuss it then and I'll ask if they will move on to ones he can decode eventually.

icanhaveadarksideifyouwantmeto Tue 04-Nov-14 18:37:20

do the pictures support the word.

is there a picture of a flower with the words MY FLOWER with it.

because we encourage the children to 'read the picture' and 'read the words'7

Ferguson Tue 04-Nov-14 18:42:31

This is TOTALLY not how reading should be taught today, though it IS how it was done thirty or more years ago. It seems many schools are ignoring DFE guidelines on teaching Phonics, either because their management do not understand how it should be taught, or they choose to ignore the guidelines. Either way, it is the children who suffer, and their early reading efforts may be frustrated.

There is a book that may help you:

An inexpensive and easy to use book, that can encourage children with reading, spelling and writing is mentioned in the MN Book Reviews section. In “Children’s educational books and courses”, the Oxford Phonics Spelling Dictionary presents words by their initial SOUND, unlike a ‘normal’ dictionary, which is always in alphabetical order. Thus, in the ‘S’ section are words like ‘cinema’ and ‘cycle’, which have a ‘S’ sound, even though they are spelt with ‘C’.

The Dictionary is colourful and amusingly illustrated, and can be used by children on their own, or with adult support, from Reception age right up to the start of secondary school.

The review has a link to view sample pages, and purchase if you so wish.

I will return sometime to see the reactions of teachers and TAs; I worked in primary schools for over twenty years.

hollie84 Tue 04-Nov-14 18:47:15

because we encourage the children to 'read the picture' and 'read the words'

Why?

CharlesRyder Tue 04-Nov-14 19:34:24

I would get your DS to read the word 'my' on each page and you read him the other word.

I think these books are primarily given to children who cannot blend at all yet. There is not much point presenting 'Bad Sam sat on the bed. Bad dog!' to a child who hasn't cracked the art of blending. Said child's parents may still want a book with words though (read multiple 'why no words?' threads).

If your DS can blend cvc words I would ask when he will get a decodeable book.

If you sign up to Reading Chest you can get books for home.

LittleMissGreen Tue 04-Nov-14 21:28:44

Sounds like a look and say book, which goes totally against the phonics teaching. Schools were meant to have replaced them - even given up to �3k by the government to buy phonics books.
I have seen the Dandelion Readers recommended on here.
Our school use Floppy's Phonics when they are first starting out.

MrsChocolateBrownie Tue 04-Nov-14 21:35:09

Some of the older ORT starter books my ds comes home with suggest you read the book first time (pointing at the words) then let your child read the book after you - again focusing on the repeated words rather than the harder words. I don't know if it's right but what I do is get him to look at the pictures while sounding out the first few letters of the hard words so he guesses the rest - I'm more interested in whether he's seeing the high frequency and decodeable words

RiversideMum Tue 04-Nov-14 21:37:51

FFS this is depressing.

PourquoiTuGachesTaVie Tue 04-Nov-14 21:49:41

What I've been doing with him is talking about the pictures, then reading the book with him - he sounds out all the letters (I figured it was at least good practice for learning the letter sounds) then he tries to decode the cvc words and I tell him what the harder words are. I'm not entirely happy about this as surely some of these words can be decoded by more experienced phonics learners, so I don't see the point in basically teaching him the look and say method because he hasn't got the skills to decode a word yet.

I was going to say that I don't blame the school if that's all they have in terms of resources but that may not be the case if what littlemissgreen has said is correct and the school should have replaced these kind of books. Can anyone link to some information about that government scheme to replace the look and say books (in case I need to raise this with the school so I can use it to back up my points)?

icanhaveadarksideifyouwantmeto Tue 04-Nov-14 21:52:00

hollie because there are always clues in the pictures... thats why they are there.

we have books without any text at all and we ask the children to tell the story.

when I'm reading with the little ones I hate the dinosaur books because those names are like double dutch to me! But i remind myslef that this is what faces our little ones each day when they are learning to read.

one of the tips that i find help is if they meet a word like......read.

this can be spoken as red or reed, depending on the context. so i always say... at vowel ea says...ee . then they can decode the rest r ee d. iyswim

Dont be scared to comiserate with your little one.... this is tricky isnt it?

good luck... dont give up!

PourquoiTuGachesTaVie Tue 04-Nov-14 22:02:40

And thank you for the book suggestions and tips on how to read with ds, I'm looking into all of these.

Reading was always one of my favourite parts of school and is very important to me, but I remember learning using the look and say method so phonics is all new to me. I've researched the basics and can see how it can work well, plus ds is responding well to it so far so I'm keen not to discourage his interest or confuse him with other methods.

Feenie Tue 04-Nov-14 22:07:01

Unfortunately, in Look and Say books, that IS why the pictures are there, to encourage children to guess words which are beyond their decoding abilities. Thankfully, the new curriculum demands that children may only be given reading books which match their decoding ability and OFSTED are very hot on enforcing this now.

I realise the fact that your dc's school will soon be in serious bother doesn't help you now, OP, can only echo advice to subscribe to Reading Chest, which sends your dc decodable books personally addressed to them, something my ds was very excited about, changing them as you need to.

And please ignore icanhaveadarkside's picture clue advice which only encourages guessing, not reading, and is as far from good practice as you can possibly get.

hollie84 Tue 04-Nov-14 22:07:12

ican - how does guessing based on a picture teach reading skills?

CharlesRyder Tue 04-Nov-14 22:11:54

The 3k was match funding- so the school would have had to put up 3K and then the government would have given them an additional 3k. This was the maximum match funding available. If the school put up £20 the government would have given them £20.

Books are incredibly expensive. Changing a whole reading scheme is no mean feat.

Hitabottomus Tue 04-Nov-14 22:13:43

Can I recommend the Songbird Phonics Collection found here?

They are very user-friendly and use easily decodable words, which makes them much more motivating and engaging (in my experience so far!).

They're also by Julia Donaldson, so aren't quite as inane as some of the others out there.

LittleMissGreen Tue 04-Nov-14 22:19:00

It was matched funding but schools had a lot of time to prepare. Even if the school could only put a few hundred pounds in then they would have been able to buy beginning books for the first few weeks of reception so that the first books would be decodable. A good start. Schools have budgets for resources. Learning to read is the most valuable skill a child can learn and therefore should be well resourced by the school.

OP - link to match funding

Feenie Tue 04-Nov-14 22:20:30

Agree Songbirds are excellent. Not sure which others you find inane - personally, the heavy repetition required in Look and Say books was always far more silly to read.

Match funding ran over two years - even the skintest school, who could only squeeze perhaps a paltry £500 pounds per year, would have received £2000 pounds worth of books.

CharlesRyder Tue 04-Nov-14 22:20:45

To be realistic though, kids learning to read will try out various strategies however you teach them.

DS is 4.2 and on yellow band. He has is learning via synthetic phonics. He regularly; guesses at random depending on where he thinks the story should go, guesses based on the initial sound, guesses based on the final sound, reads the word backwards (so was for saw).

A book that is entirely decodeable based on current phonic knowledge does not lead to errorless reading IME.

Feenie Tue 04-Nov-14 22:23:00

Bearing in mind only Reception and Year 1 books needed replacing, that would be easily enough to get started. As LittleMissGreen says, they'd had lots of notice.

Feenie Tue 04-Nov-14 22:24:32

Then you need to discourage his guessing - his teachers most certainly will not let him.

Research shows weaker readers rely on guessing.

PourquoiTuGachesTaVie Tue 04-Nov-14 22:27:01

I've found the section in the curriculum for ks1 which explains about not using other methods, but as ds is in reception (so under the EYFS curriculum as I understand it?) does this still apply? The EYFS information doesn't seem to be as specific.

I'm going to speak to the teacher first, but I just like to be prepared when addressing issues like this which are outside my expertise. smile

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