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Peter and Jane books - How did you find them?

(53 Posts)
MonsterCar Mon 17-Aug-15 22:39:25

Just wondering if you found these books very beneficial?

Also, what would level would an average child who has just turned 6 be able to get to?

DS struggled with starting to learn to read so I'm trying to help him as much as I can so he keeps pace with the class.

He started school at age 5 (we are not in the uk).

DS started on book 1a about 4 weeks ago and will be moving on to 4a soon.

They are obviously very good for the common sight words - but do you think it's ok to stick with these books for now or should I be mixing it up with phonic based books.

I'm inclined to stick to these books as it's kind of amazing to see the progress

MMmomKK Mon 17-Aug-15 23:07:05

It's great that he is making progress. And learning a number of words by sight would surely give him a bit of a boost. However, in the long term, a solid knowledge of phonics would be a lot more useful - both for reading and for spelling.

You mentioned that she had struggled with reading at the beginning - what specifically did he find difficult? The best thing you can do for him is to find a way to explain and practice those challenging bits, so that he gets comfortable with phonics.

MonsterCar Mon 17-Aug-15 23:17:44

He started school not knowing a single letter and really struggled at the start just to recognise the letters and their sounds.

He knows the first 40 jolly
phonic sounds. In school they've only done about half of the phonic sounds. I've thought him some on the evenings. So he can sound overly of words out.

Now that we've started on the peter and jane books and it is satisfying to make progress press

MMmomKK Tue 18-Aug-15 02:51:21

It sounds like he didn't really struggle - he was just learning a new a difficult skill - reading! It takes time for most children to learn to recognise letters and to start putting them together. And it also sounds like he is doing quite well in his class!

You mention that it is nice to see progress. How much of it, do you think, is from these specific books vs. from the fact that you are doing some extra work with him on a regular basis?

If you can get a phonic based series of books and continue working with him regularly - the progress will continue. And phonics will help him read (and eventually spell) new and unfamiliar words - in a way that sight words never would.

I believe ORT now does some phonics based books. Personally, I prefer Dandelion Readers, and Jelly and Bean series - they worked great with both of my DDs.

anonymousforever Tue 18-Aug-15 04:26:51

P&J set...includes phonics doesn't it in the "c" volume for each level?

Huge fan...we did and finished this in the past but I'm still recommending it all over the place. I suggest you supplement with loads of non school type reading...magazines, comics, road signs, Reading Eggs web site is good at this stage too.

The confidence building thing is magic and I'm my humble opinion a massively important cornerstone of reading development. For this, Peter and Jane is fantastic as kids build on every ounce of effort they put in and can really feel their smarts developing.

Supplementing with other stuff will help them generalise this as a skill as the Peter and Jane vocab lacks diversity...Which is kinda the point and why it works so well.

Good luck

anonymousforever Tue 18-Aug-15 04:29:05

Also, keep close eye that development is not just decoding but also comprehension. If you look online there are activity sheets which go with each book / level to support this if you need.

mrz Tue 18-Aug-15 06:08:51

Peter and Jane are Look and Say books and really don't fit in with how reading is (should be ) taught in the English national curriculum. They rely on the child memorising words, which is an ineffective strategy.
Is your son in a school in England?

mrz Tue 18-Aug-15 06:29:32

Sorry see that you aren't in the UK ... Does he attend an international school that follows the national curriculum or another system.

softhedgehog Tue 18-Aug-15 09:20:00

They are very old fashioned and there are lots of better books around e.g. Songbirds, Read Write Inc, even the dreaded Biff, Chip and Kipper books. Peter and Jane do make me laugh though, lots of "Peter goes off with Dad to fix the car and Jane stays at home with Mum to make cakes" !

MonsterCar Tue 18-Aug-15 09:20:14

Not it's not a UK curriculum but similar.

I'm teaching him phonics and he can sound out words - but I wonder is there any harm in mainly focusing on the Peter & Jane books for a while.

If the 100 most common sight words make up at least 50% of what he will be reading would it not benefit him hugely to learn those words by sight through the peter & jane books?

I know he will be slower reading non-peter & jane books as he will need to pause to sound out words - whereas at the moment he is reading P&J books fluently.

softhedgehog Tue 18-Aug-15 10:15:17

No harm in them, but he might find them a bit old fashioned !

mrz Tue 18-Aug-15 10:32:44

If you're teaching him phonics why use books that conflict with the method and for some children can cause problems
Which books are used by school?

Mashabell Tue 18-Aug-15 12:29:30

There is no harm whatsoever in focusing on P&J books for while. If he is enjoying them and making good progress, then it's absolutely fine to use them at home, regardless of what school does.

Children who know lots of words by sight can be taught phonics with those - by having their attention drawn to their sounds and how they are spelt.

With English spelling being so variable, with different spellings for the identical sounds (e.g. blue, shoe, flew...) and identical letters having different pronunciations (eat, bread, break), teaching children to read and write is never really completely 'phonic', in the sense of how that term is used in other languages.

Being able to read fluently in the end comes down mainly to recognising all common words by sight anyway, although in English a bit more than in other languages.

My youngest grandchild who has been at school for a year and doing phonics (very well according to his report) made it all beautifully clear to me the other day. I was reading a new book of stories to him. Because it was new to him, he was not keen at having a go at sounding out himself, but he happily pointed to out to me that he could recognise quite a few of the words from his phonics lessons, e.g. he, had, and, all, you... .

So what teachers think children learn in their lessons and what they are actually learning is perhaps quite often not quite the same thing.

mrz Tue 18-Aug-15 12:31:04

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mrz Tue 18-Aug-15 12:35:04

You do realise those are words your grandchild will have been taught to decode and attain automaticity Masha ��

Mashabell Tue 18-Aug-15 12:45:25

Yes. But he can pick them out on a page by sight with lots of other words.

mrz Tue 18-Aug-15 13:04:49

So if he's been taught to decide the words to automaticity what exactly has he learnt that the teacher didn't intend Masha?

mrz Tue 18-Aug-15 13:14:20


BurningBright Tue 18-Aug-15 13:21:34

Hi OP. I'm not an expert by any means. I can only go by my experience with my own child, for whom phonics just did not work. By the end of her first year at school getting her to even try to read was a nightmare. She would sob that she just couldn't do it and that she was stupid. She failed her phonics test massively.

Over that summer holiday (three years ago) we worked our way through the Peter and Jane books. Something just seemed to click. By the time she went back to school her reading had improved enormously. As had her confidence. And her willingness to try to tackle new words without getting anxious that she would get them wrong. In her most recent report her scores and comments for reading were excellent.

I don't know if what we did was right, but DD did seem to be one of a small number of children for whom phonics was a teaching method that simply did not work.

DeeWe Tue 18-Aug-15 16:45:38

My dc all did P&J books when they were first learning to read at home. They all enjoyed them. I remember my not-very-good-at-concentrating ds reading the whole of 2a to me with great delight and determination. I was wriggling with boredom before he was. grin

Mine used them from about the ages of just before 2yo to 3.6yo. The one who was keenest got up to about 12b I think was the top one we had.

What was good about them was that they knew that if there was a word on the page they could read it. It gave them the encouragement to look at it and work it out. And then they'd pick out the words they knew in the paper and things I was reading to great excitement.

WHat I found when they started the Biff and Chip books is they went through a lazy time where if they didn't immediately recognise the word they would hope that it was too hard for them. "Salamander" I think appears at about level 2 for example.

And when they did phonics they just seemed to work it out without much teaching, all of them had no problems at all in adding phonics as an extra way of learning to read, and were all in the top groups for phonics.

But you can get a very long way without phonics. I remember phonics clicking for me-half way through the second book of Lord of the Rings when I was 6yo. It wasn't the bulk of the book that gave me issues, it was some of the names that I struggled with working out. And suddenly realising how phonics worked.

mrz Tue 18-Aug-15 17:25:44

You're right some children do work out phonics for themselves with little or no teaching but many don't and the problem we face is that until they begin to struggle it's very difficult to know who will succeed and who won't.
It's unusual for a child to get to the stage that they can read Lord of the Rings without having worked out how our written language system relates to the sounds of our spoken language but it's also unusual for them to realise so you are doubly lucky.

Unless a child us taught (or works it out) how written symbols relate to spoken sounds they are limited. A child taught to read one (or a hundred) word/s as wholes by sight can read one (or a hundred) word/s. If they are taught the 44 sounds of English and how those sounds are represented in writing they can apply that
Knowledge to read any word they may encounter in the future.
Learning words as wholes by memory may often give the impression of a fast fix but there comes a point that memorising more is a problem.

CB2009 Tue 18-Aug-15 19:57:13

Just a parent here, to be very clear, not a teacher. At the end of Reception, my son (end June birthday) had started to read a little (ORT level 2 maybe). My son (per his report and teacher) was doing well with Phonics (Phase 3 I think). But we found he was memorising the 1-2 lines per page ORT books and not really reading them at all. I knew that Peter and Jane were highly traditional but my Mum recommended them as she had used them to get her own three children reading 30-40 years before. I felt that the school was using an exclusive Phonics approach and wanted to balance with other reading strategies. I am sure that schools use just Phonics in line with EY curriculum and to prepare children for the Phonics screen at the end of Y1. We decided to start Peter and Jane at 1A last summer holiday. It really helped my son that each book repeated the same words over and over. I know that you need other tools to support "Look & See" but this seemed like a useful additional tool. We also changed and started to have him read each morning rather than at bedtime. We read to him then other books when he was tired at the end of the day. He would just come in our bed each morning and he would read for say 15 minutes. When he went into Y1 post summer then they moved him to L4 ORT straight away. We kept reading the ORT books from school but kept reading Peter and Jane too each morning. Can see from my notes that he was reading Ladybird 6B by mid October. We started I know on 4th August. School moved him to L5 ORT and then he jumped to L8 ORT around Xmas time from memory. He also read all the Ladybird equivalent fairy stories at each level. Enormous Turnip. Jack & Beanstalk etc etc. He read the old style versions of each book which have much more text per page. He loved it that he felt like he was then reading 'real' books/stories. We persisted and read all the way through to 12B. I would say that took us some six months and the only day we did not read was Xmas day. It is true to say at that juncture, he was good at reading Ladybird but less able on other books. So then we started looking at many other styles of writing/books. We always read what was sent from school as well - ORT scheme books. Think he moved to L9/Gold level at school around Easter and then finally Lime/L11 at end of Y1. I understand that children are all very different. But I am absolutely sure that Ladybird Jane & Peter was brilliant for my son. It also really helped him with spelling too. Some of the children (their parents comment not mine) seem to spell very phonically. Clearly just "look and see" is not the right approach. But we found alongside the teachers expertly teaching phonics then my son made really good progress with reading. We now read a lot together. Could be anything. Picture books for fun. He will look at the newspaper with his Dad. May be other approaches would have worked too but Ladybird for me and my son seemed to unlock reading and really helped his love of reading now that he actually finds that he can do it. Good luck with creating a love of reading which I honestly believe is one of the most crucial ways in which a parent can support their child

mrz Tue 18-Aug-15 20:12:25

Sorry but the expectation is that by the end of reception children have completed phases 2-4 and some will have begun phase 5! To still be working on phase 3 means the teacher hasn't taught all the sounds which is crazy!

CB2009 Tue 18-Aug-15 20:54:14

Mrz - sorry I may have got the Phonics phases wrong. Just doing from memory and not a teacher. Probably my mistake to even include a Phonics level. Or may be he was actually behind but we were not told?

mrz Tue 18-Aug-15 21:32:01

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