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Reading speed - question for the phonics experts

(6 Posts)
Walkingbkwrm Tue 09-Dec-14 13:45:46

Another reading one I'm afraid. After a promising start, it emerges that my sons school is still teaching reading via mixed methods (in Wales so phonics less statutory I think?) so I am trying to do phonics based reading at home to reinforce his phonics lessons.

I'm not sure how fast to move him on though, he has got to an accurate but slow plateau atm where he isn't making many mistakes at all (3/150 words in the last book - all of which still made sense in context plus a few he self corrected) but he still audibly sounds out a lot of words (31/150 in his last book) and it's making him quite slow. The books I'm using (BRI) say he should be "fluent" before moving on. Any idea what this means in context - wpm/ rough % of words sounded out? I'm tempted to say he could cope with a bit more but not sure so thought I'd ask and see what people on here thought. Don't want to overload him but (unfortunately) am aware that he is coming home with books with words he can't decode sometimes so don't want to delay the later phonics too much iykwim.

Thanks for any help!

maizieD Tue 09-Dec-14 17:06:30

How old is your son? 'Fluency' only becomes a real issue when it comes to exams, or reading/comprehension exercises, which have to be completed within a certain time. So long as he is reading with understanding of what he reads I wouldn't worry too much about 'fluency'.

Some children need to sound out and blend words many many times before they become secure in long term memory and are 'instantly' recognised. Some children only need one or two repetitions. This is a normal spread of pace of learning. If he 'needs' to still sound out some words just be patient and let him. On the other hand, he might be still sounding out from habit. Perhaps you could suggest that he does it under his breath, or in his head before saying the whole word; this often helps to increase word reading speed.

For advice about BRI I suggest that you contact the publisher through her web site. She is experienced in working with children with reading problems and she knows exactly how the books work. I would personally be inclined to move on, if he thoroughly knows the letter sound correspondences in the books he is reading, and not worry too much about the 'fluency. But she'll be better able to advise you .

Because of devolution the English Nationa Curriculum does not apply in Wales at all. I believe that they still happily teach mixed methods though Welsh standards of literacy are lower than English (and heaven knows, the English ones are poor enough)

catkind Tue 09-Dec-14 17:17:40

I think you just keep going with sounding out and at some point they "click" and start reading words at sight (without sounding out). For my DS that was at level 3 of the standard reading levels, and his teacher moved him up to level 4 when he did click. Since then he's been sounding out maybe 2-3 words per book.
It could be a bit slow going reading books with longer sentences still sounding out. But why not give it a go and see how it works? You can always go back again if it's too hard to make sense of the sentences/story.

Ferguson Tue 09-Dec-14 17:47:02

An inexpensive and easy to use book, that can encourage children with reading, spelling and writing, and really help them to understand Phonics, is reviewed in the MN Book Reviews section. Just search ‘Phonics’.

I was a primary TA / helper for over twenty years. Some children just feel 'safer' sounding out, even when they don't really need to.

Another technique I sometimes used to make reading more interesting, was to tackle a more difficult book, but share the reading. So pupil points to words as he reads them, and when he comes to a word he doesn't know, pauses his finger on it, and you say it for him. That way, quite difficult but more interesting books, particularly non fiction, can be read.

Walkingbkwrm Tue 09-Dec-14 18:02:10

Thanks for the thoughts. I may try the sounding out quietly idea to see if that helps - he is definitely a child who needs lots of repetition, a few weeks back he started not needing to sound out every word (and I mean every one) and I thought that it had clicked but since then he's stalled. My worry is partly about the speed with the longer sentences, yes catkind but could give it a go.

I didn't realise the publisher/ writer personally answered questions that's a good tip - will definitely try that too, thanks Maisie.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Tue 09-Dec-14 19:10:31

I'm not sure the link between fluency and comprehension is as strong as any people believe. I've met lots of KS1 children whose reading is not very fluent but whose comprehension of a text at least matches the comprehension of more fluent readers.

One of my nieces was like this right up to level 7/8 (turquoise/purple bookband). It didn't really affect her comprehension of what she was reading. If he knows the sounds in the level, can blend, and understands what he is reading I'd be tempted to move him on because that way you are not holding back his phonics knowledge just because of a lack of fluency.

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