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DS and phonics are not getting along well!

(25 Posts)
notlisteningwithmother Thu 18-Feb-16 13:18:25

At school DS teacher is worried that he's not 'getting' phonics.

Phonics at school is taught in phases in ability groups, and the teacher won't move DS onto the next phase until he shows that he can do segmenting & blending. At the moment he just reads the words 'whole'. He's been in the same group with the same set of words coming around every month for what seems like years. Of course by now he can read the words by sight / memory so there is no need for him to blend, which makes it worse. He does well in the spelling tests grin

Clutching at straws here. Maybe he's doing the segmenting / blending in his head before he says something? Are there some children who just never get their heads around this but still manage to read, spell etc? Can we ever get off the start-line, or are we going to get the same spelling words home when he's 16??? sad

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Thu 18-Feb-16 13:24:12

Why won't she move him up a phase until he can segment and blend?

Is she keeping him on phase 2 sounds, or has she at least moved him on from that?

He will get off the start line, but it's going to take a lot longer if he's being given the same words to the point that he's memorised them and isn't having to use his segmenting and blending skills.

ihearttc Thu 18-Feb-16 13:24:57

DS1 who is now in Y6 never ever got phonics...the only difference is his teacher realised he would never learn that way. He learnt words by the shape of them (Pretty much how I did when I was at school). He is very capable now at literacy and never had any issue with spelling cause he used to just write the word how he saw it rather than how it sounded.

DS2 is in Reception and is already better at phonics than his brother ever was.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Thu 18-Feb-16 13:26:46

Best way to check if he's doing the blending in his head, would be to give him a couple of non-words that there's no chance of him having come across at all.

If he says them straight away, you can assume he's blending in his head. If he can't read them at all then he can't blend.

mrz Thu 18-Feb-16 13:54:56

What phase is he on? You say feels like years ...what school year is he in?

mudandmayhem01 Thu 18-Feb-16 14:01:15

My DD never got phonics at all, learnt by look and say, it happened very quickly so it was a bit hard to work out exactly how she did it!
DS loved phonics, might be just a coincidence but Ds has a great singing voice, can mimic accents very well.( dd has many talents but singing isn't one) A one size fits all education lets many kids down.

notlisteningwithmother Thu 18-Feb-16 14:26:06

The school colour-code the groups. We're blue. He thinks 'manure' is the funniest word ever, so phase 3?

mrz it has only been since September. He's in reception class. It seems like years might be a bit extreme.

He can pronounce the 'alien' words he gets given, and words that must seem a bit alien. For example we had a leaflet through the door yesterday about how our local council will be organising its waste collections from the summer. He read the word 'environmental', but then had to ask what it meant.

Maybe he can segment and blend then. And chooses to think rather than sound out? Or maybe he doesn't understand what it means to segment and blend if they didn't teach phase 1 and 2.

mrz Thu 18-Feb-16 14:58:20

If he's accurately decoding / reading "alien" words he's not seen before (please tell me the school haven't got him practising alien words!) then he's got blending.
I suggest trying him with some words you make up (lep- cug - moc- spab- olp) if he reads them accurately he's blending!
You could try giving him the spellings for the sounds written on scraps of paper (jumble them up - say the word - can he put the sounds in order to spell the word? If he can he's segmenting!

mrz Thu 18-Feb-16 14:59:37

Btw manure isn't a phase 3 word

notlisteningwithmother Thu 18-Feb-16 15:27:33

mrz that is really helpful. Thank you.

Is it not a good thing to practice alien words? A sheet comes home with a note of the sounds for each week, examples of real words using these sounds (and advice to think of others), and a list of alien words that use the same sounds. We're meant to ask him to read out all of these, and then see if he can spell them when we read them out. DS can do both.

I can see where the teacher is coming from a bit. If I ask him to spell manure then he writes each letter. Not sure how else he would do it. If I ask him to spell it orally, he tells me the letters in the word rather than the sounds. It seems that he needs to be able to think about sounds rather than single letters though and your idea of breaking the words into sounds would really help with that, so thank you.

Sorry, more manure. It is not a good guide to the phase that we are on, then?

mrz Thu 18-Feb-16 15:37:39

IMHO sending home lists of alien words is extremely poor practice showing little understanding of the purpose of such words for screening.

I would ask him what sounds he can hear when he says manure rather than asking him to spell the word (he should say /m/ /a/ /n/ /yoor/ rather than separate letter names) .

Flossiesmummy Thu 18-Feb-16 15:58:34

From what's been said I think your son is able to blend.

Confident readers don't look at the word computer, for example, and go /cuh/oh/mmm/puh/yoo/tuh/errr - "computer" - they're able to blend those sounds so effectively in their head that they just speak the word.

If he's in the reception and can read the word "environmental" that points towards him being able to decode rather than just knowing such a long word.

I say all this as an ex-primary teacher. While his teacher is undoubtedly well trained and an intelligent person, I think all parents know their child better in some respects.

Can he read simple stories?

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Thu 18-Feb-16 17:01:58

Alien words or non words are an extremely quic and useful way of assessing whether or not a child can blend. Particularly in cases where children can blend quickly and don't need to overtly sound out. But that really is all they are useful for. Spending time practising alien words is a waste of time that could be better spent teaching the skills needed for reading and writing.

Any child who has those skills will be able to tackle non words without any difficulty.
If you think he can read an alien word you are certain he has never seen before (rather than ones he may have been given before), then either he isn't showing his skills at school or the teacher isn't quite sure about the purpose of alien words.

notlisteningwithmother Fri 19-Feb-16 16:29:18

Armed with your advice and encouragment I've done some alien words, sounds cards etc and DS can clearly do the segmenting and blending thing. And he can read.
And at lunchtime I got him to do the sounds rather than the letters in spelling words. Panic over, a bit at least.
Now I have to persuade him to do this at school. 'Yes I know you can just read the word but your teacher needs to see you to do it as if you cannot' may not work but his teacher will not want to give him a rice-cake every time he does it grin blush

mrz Fri 19-Feb-16 16:45:32

To be fair his teacher doesn't need to see him do it. Being able to do it automatically is the aim

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 19-Feb-16 16:53:20

Yes. She doesn't need to see him do it every time. She just needs to know that he is able to do it and so won't need any additional help.

At least you now know that he can do it and it doesn't look like he has any underlying issue. A

stonecircle Fri 19-Feb-16 17:15:39

Notlistening - stumbled on this thread by accident. I find it so sad when parents stress over their young child's reading. They all learn in different ways and at different rates and schools have the same expectations for all of them. I have 3 children - almost all adults now.

DS1 - started reading aged 5 in reception

DS2 - didn't start to read until he was 6. I can remember saying to his year one teacher that he just wasn't getting reading at all. Couldn't (or wouldn't?) read much beyond his name. He's a September birthday so he was 6 at that point. He did catch up though - and even managed an A* in Eng Lang and Eng Lit GCSEs and an A in A Level Eng Lit ....

DS2 effectively taught himself to read from the age of 2. Whenever I read to him he made me follow the words with my finger and he just learnt them whole. He went into nursery reading Kipper/Percy Park Keeper type books fluently - just Bs for him in English at GCSE though!

Try not to worry - I'm sure he won't still be doing his spellings at 16!

notlisteningwithmother Mon 22-Feb-16 10:24:08

I would agree stonecircle and it does make me a bit angry that I got in such a worry about this. They are 5, if that.

I got stressy because the teacher made such a thing of it. She thinks DS needs extra support in class and maybe assessment for dyslexia / language problems. I know lots of parents would love their DCs to be getting extra help and I might be that parent one day. But will it help at all.

Like rafa I think I am reassured that there is no underlying issue if DS can do this stuff at home. If there is an issue, maybe it is compliance grin

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Mon 22-Feb-16 10:36:31

She thinks he needs assessment for dyslexia? On what basis? Nothing you have written here suggests that is likely to be an issue.

Far too early to suggest that IMHO. There will be a handful of children not blending and segmenting by this point in reception and most of them will go on to have no issues at all. Usually having cracked it, by the end of the school year.

maizieD Mon 22-Feb-16 11:30:36

She thinks he needs an assessment for dyslexia? That's crackers. Just because he isn't sounding out and blending out loud? At the very least dyslexia is about having difficulties with reading and spelling. He is clearly not having difficulties with either. Where do some teachers get their ideas? [shakes head sorrowfully]

(Actually, I think it is very, very worrying if a teacher thinks 'dyslexia' is indicated by a child not sounding out aloud...that'll be a new accretion to an already very nebulous list of 'symptoms' sad)

notlisteningwithmother Mon 22-Feb-16 11:44:27

rafa thank you.
When DS got the same phonics words home again I asked the teacher what it was that was holding him back. This where the not segmenting & blending thing came from. The teacher said that she wondered about dyslexia or other problems with language that mean that DS cannot understand the basic idea of phonics. Would dyslexia would show up in this way? Especially if DS seems able to read and spell.

notlisteningwithmother Mon 22-Feb-16 11:53:16

maizie maybe the teacher just said dyslexia or problems with language without thinking what was being said. DS not blending = problems with language is not the same as DS not blending = dyslexia. The dyslexia thing does seem off. Problems with language could translate as not making the effort to try / listen / do what he's asked which would be a different thing. Being a PITA is not the same as dyslexia grin

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Mon 22-Feb-16 12:05:01

It's a new accreditation to a long list of daft things that parents have been told by schools.

This is all a bit odd. On the one hand, early identification of children of children at risk of falling behind is a good thing. On the other her identification doesn't appear to be very accurate and the best solution is additional help over and above whole class teaching, rather than holding him back.

I'd forget the dyslexia, I don't think it's relevant. I'd be more worried he's being held back on the basis of an assessment that might not be entirely accurate. Although if he can decode 'environmental' this might be less of an issue than it could be.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Mon 22-Feb-16 13:01:21

Tbh, you probably need to go back and have another word with the teacher. I think you need to find out what it is that makes her think that he can't blend and segment. Particularly if you now think that he can.

If it's as simple as the fact that he isn't sounding out overtly and she thinks he should be, then the problem may not be with your DS but with the expectations of his teacher.

If he was generally a PITA and had form for not listening and doing what was asked, I suspect she would have mentioned that and wouldn't be looking for another cause.

howabout Mon 22-Feb-16 15:26:08

Phonics is a stepping stone surely and not an end in itself. If your DS has a confident reading and spelling vocabulary and can decode 5 syllable words he doesn't sound like he needs reading support.

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