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Yr 1 reading/phonics

(285 Posts)
RunsWithScissors Wed 20-May-15 10:10:35


DD (5.5) seems to be doing pretty well. Nearer the top end of reading in her class (on orange band, I know not stunning based on MN standards ;-) but she's moved up leaps and bounds from the beginning of the year.

The phonics test is this week, and her teacher caught me yesterday to say she doesn't think she'll pass it. I know it's for the school to see how she's doing, etc. she's moved her into a different phonics group to help her out.

I'd noticed she doesn't tend to sound things out much, I think she remembers words/word recognition?

I didn't learn phonics growing up, but can't recall the learning process of reading that I went through. I've always loved reading, as does DD.

So, my questions are:

Is the lack of ability/knowledge going to make it harder for her? She seems to be progressing really well with her reading, and has wonderful comprehension of what she reads. Very expressive when she reads a book for the first time, so I know she is understanding it. I'm just wondering if a better grasp of phonics would make it easier for her, or do some children naturally read in a different way?

Secondly, although her spelling is also progressing really well I do notice that some misspelled words reflect her speech (which we are having assessed) eg. 'Wiv' for 'with'. Her hearing test was fine last year, she has a great vocabulary and can explain things really well.

I am a bit confused tjough, as she seems to use sounding out to spell. Is this not a similar skill to reading by sounding out?

I know the school will do a great job to support her, and we are thrilled with her progress this year. I just want to ensure we are doing what we can to support her, and that we aren't missing out on things that might make it easier for her/be a more natural fit for her style of learning.

Thanks if you've read this far!

Itshouldntmatter Wed 20-May-15 10:46:16

I'm not a teacher, so feel free to ignore me, but I'd just say she's young in the year, and if she doesn't pass the phonics test, as far as I understand, it just means she will get a little extra attention next year.

It sounds like she is doing well, and if she is happy and confident in school, then that is the most important thing. I was talking to my daughter last night about books, and was suggesting she read the worst witch. I commented that I read it when I was much older than her. She asked why, and I told her that I couldn't read when I was her age - simply because we were taught differently and later. I wasn't every top of the class in school (I was a june baby), but I still managed to get my PhD, so don't worry. There is so much stress on levels and stages in the education system, and in the course of an entire childhood of learning, it is crazy. But that is just my opinion smile

RunsWithScissors Wed 20-May-15 13:30:33

Well, I like your opinion. grin.

She is August born, so when I think that two weeks later and she would be in reception it does help with the perspective.

She loves school, and learning in general. I think the emphasis on levels etc is a bit blinding sometimes.

Thanks for that!

BikeRunSki Wed 20-May-15 13:40:31

Ds is also in Year 1, but 6.5 (born first week of Sept). He also reads by recognition (as do I ) and sounds words out only as a second choice if he doesn't recognise them.

He is the most advanced reader in his class, so his teacher has put him on a different set of reading books to work on his phonics. I think the idea is that a good grounding in phonics will support other types of reading if it's not their natural way of reading. But having said that, ds is s year older than your Dd!

RunsWithScissors Wed 20-May-15 16:37:48

That's great to hear bike. Thanks for sharing your DS's experience. Hopefully DD's school will have a similar approach.

MMmomKK Wed 20-May-15 16:52:58

You can easily check if she is able to sound things out - just write a couple of nonsense words --- fent, mrain, croof, etc and see what she does with them.

You may be surprised. Just because she is not sounding out the words in her reading books, doesn't mean that she can't do phonics. It just means that at her reading over she is reading like we adults do - without sounding out familiar words. It's normal to do it when you see a harder, unfamiliar word - try reading otolaryngologist w/o sounding it out!

mrz Wed 20-May-15 17:04:02

Firstly the phonics screening check isn't until week beginning June 15th (assume the school is doing their own check ahead of the real thing if happening this week) and it most definitely isn't a check on the school but on the child's ability to decode using phonics. Any child not achieving the expected standard will be given additional phonics support.

mrz Wed 20-May-15 17:04:51

Except don't use mrain because no words in English begin mr.

Ferguson Wed 20-May-15 22:05:32

If you both want to learn more about Phonics, you may find this useful:

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’.

maizieD Wed 20-May-15 22:29:46

Please! There isn't a 'natural way of reading' because reading is not a 'natural' activity.

mrz Thu 21-May-15 07:48:50

I think it's a common (mis) belief that reading is "natural" when in fact it is an artificial process using symbols devised to represent spoken language

Itshouldntmatter Thu 21-May-15 09:51:38

Maizie not sure berrating the OP for the language she used is the most helpful thing. She is a just a parent seeking advice/reassurance. Most parents haven't ever had anything to do with teaching a child to read, and are just trying to do the best for their child. My DD reads very well but phonics is not her favourite thing. I think phonics is a very important method for teaching children to read, but most parents learnt using a different method, so it seems unfair to judge them for not having a complete understanding of the mechanisms of reading, and the best methods for teaching, not least when even the experts in other anglophone countries (e.g. US) think differently about reading methods.

Mashabell Thu 21-May-15 10:12:23

If u are happy with your dd's reading, don't worry about the silly phonics test. It is mainly a check on schools rather than children.

It serves no educational purpose whatsoever. Teachers know which children in their class are making below average progress. Their only problem is getting those children the help they need.

For good readers, who by that stage have moved past the phonic decoding stage, who can already recognise many HF words instantly and have learned to read for meaning, it is utterly pointless.

When the test was first tried out, many of the best readers failed it. But because it is a check on schools rather than children, teachers have since started preparing their best readers for the test by giving them more practice with nonsense words. For good readers, this is an utterly nonsensical waste of their time. - Far better to do some real reading instead of preparing for and taking the silly test.

So be happy that your dd is a good reader and just chillax.

Feenie Thu 21-May-15 12:49:19

However, Masha isn't a primary school teacher and has never taught a class of children to read.

mrz Thu 21-May-15 16:29:31

And she obviously hasn't looked at the data

mrz Thu 21-May-15 17:08:40

As a Y1 teacher and SENCO I would be concerned if a child was unable to decode the words in the Phonics Screening Check

maizieD Thu 21-May-15 17:26:13


I'm not berating anyone. Just pointing out that there is nothing 'natural' about reading. Didn't even mention phonics so really not sure why it got dragged in confused

mrz Thu 21-May-15 17:53:19

mrz Thu 21-May-15 17:57:32

From the U.S. Dept of education
Systematic and explicit phonics instruction is more effective than non-systematic or no phonics instruction.
Systematic and explicit phonics instruction significantly improves kindergarten and first-grade children's word recognition and spelling.
Systematic and explicit phonics instruction significantly improves children's reading comprehension.

mrz Thu 21-May-15 20:40:51

Good readers don't fail the phonics check - good guessers do!

It's a great excuse!

Itshouldntmatter Thu 21-May-15 22:02:10

Mazie the Please! came across to me as a little bit of a telling off. And you are obviously correct, you didn't mention phonics. But you did express exasperation at the suggestion that there may be other 'natural' ways to learn to read. Apologies if I read more into it than was intended.

mrz Fri 22-May-15 07:07:18

Surely "please" is a plea not a telling off

Mashabell Fri 22-May-15 08:05:40

I have said nothing against the teaching of phonics, only the stupid test.

And on the US site which u quote from there is also quite a bit about the importance of fluency and how to achieve it:
Why Fluency is Important
More fluent readers focus their attention on making connections among the ideas in a text and between these ideas and their background knowledge. Therefore, they are able to focus on comprehension.
Less fluent readers must focus their attention primarily on decoding and accessing the meaning of individual words. Therefore, they have little attention left for comprehending the text.
Improving Fluency
Model fluent reading, then have students reread the text on their own.
Have students repeatedly read passages aloud with guidance.
Have students reread text that is reasonably easy (at their independent reading level).
Have students practice orally rereading text using methods such as student-adult reading, choral reading, partner reading, tape-assisted reading, or readers' theatre.

- This is just reading practice. Phonics is just the mere beginning.
What is totally silly is that children who have clearly moved past basic phonics and can already read quite fluently still have to take the phonics test which is supposed to identify weak readers.

And many of the brightest children who teach themselves to read before starting school, learn to read without any formal phonics instruction. So while the use of phonics is good for the majority, it's by no means essential for all.

MakeItACider Fri 22-May-15 08:27:55

Phonics isn't the only method of reading. So far, data supports it as one of the ones that works with the largest proportion of children.

Not all children will click with phonics but the MAJORITY will. And schools need to aim to put in programs in place that will catch the majority of the children. Good schools will then scoop up the remaining children - hopefully few in number - with additional support and styles.

I'm in exactly the same position as you, OP. DS is an August baby, and in discussions with the teacher we suspect he may not pass his phonics test. He's not BAD, but as was mentioned above, he's a 'guesser' with reading. And given the pictures in the books, and his comprehension of the text, his guesses aren't too bad.

We also have a real problem with identifying different consonant sounds. In our case it was because he was partially deaf for the first few years of his life. Speech therapist set activities done in the classroom setting have dealt with the majority of the sounding issues and he now has 'age appropriate speech'. But what is becoming abundantly clear, as we progress to more complicated words, is that he is not brilliant at identifying the sound of the letters in a word, especially if they fall in the middle of the word.

He genuinely heard 'sgirt' when we were doing 'skirt'. And guessing leads to a muddle between words like 'spot' and 'stop' because he's seen all the letters and quickly guesses instead of taking the time to read them out in order.

Pick yourself up a Jolly Phonics (or something similar) book, or just google for something, and you will find lists of individual words that your DD can practice on. There's lots of resources on the internet for teachers that everyone can access. If you want to help her practice with nonsense words google 'alien phonics words' and you'll find loads. But let your DD KNOW that they are nonsense or 'alien' words so that she doesn't think she should recognise the word.

Itshouldntmatter Fri 22-May-15 09:34:01

Mrz, I think you being disengenuous to suggest that "Please!" followed by a statement pointing out someone has said something wrong is anything other than exasperation or frustration.

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