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Phonics problems?

(55 Posts)
ihearttc Sun 06-Mar-16 15:24:21

DS2 is nearly 5.5 (November birthday) and in Reception. He started in september knowing some of the JP sounds but could not blend at all. He has progressed quite well well and is currently on yellow ORT with some stage 4 PM Starter books.

He is reading well and quite fluently but is really struggling with phonics. He was fine with the single sounds and is ok with some of the digraphs and trigraphs such as ch, sh, ee, oo, th but struggling with some of the vowel ones such as oi, ai, ear, air etc. He can't seem to see them in the word if that makes sense? I think the only reason he is reading as well as he is, is due to the fact that he has a very logical way of thinking so he guesses what word is likely to be there. For example he read "chair" this afternoon in a book yet if I show him the trigraph "air" on its own he wouldn't know what it is despite them practicising every day at school and we do it lots at home as well. His brother was exactly the same and never ever got phonics but was always a fantastic reading so Im not overly concerned but DS1 is 11 so they didn't have the phonics test when he was in Y1.

Ive got a load of the ORT phonics books to see if that helps but it is painful listening him to read them...one is called Toads in the Road (they are 2 levels below cause Ive gone backwards to get his basic phonic knowledge better) and he litererally sounds out toad T O A D rather than T OA D yet on the next page he knew straight away it was toad even though he has never encountered the word before.

I don't suppose Im explaining myself very well at all but I suspect he sees the word as a whole rather than one to be segmented which I know isn't a great way of learning to read and Im struggling how to help him.

mrz Sun 06-Mar-16 16:38:15

Is school teaching guessing as a reading strategy? Books they are using suggest the possibility

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sun 06-Mar-16 16:41:55

Part of the problem might be that h just isn't familiar enough with the digraphs involved and 'looking' for digraphs in words.

It's a skill that needs to be developed, but might be missing if the school are teaching mixed methods and allowing him to get away with guessing rather than reading.

ihearttc Sun 06-Mar-16 17:26:00

Mrz-They are using all sorts of reading schemes to be honest. We have had loads of ORT, some ORT Phonics ones, Rigby Star and then these PM books.

I don't think the Phonic's Teaching is great tbh but Im unsure of how to help him at home. We have been playing on Phonics Play every day after school plus doing his reading.

He is quite happy to sound the word out but sounds it out as single letters...he then sometimes reads it completely out of the blue for example he read climbing the other day by sounding it out C L I M B I N G then just said Climbing but I can't work out how he knew thats what it said.

Apologies for the rambling post!

mrz Sun 06-Mar-16 17:55:17

Most of the books you've mentioned are written for mixed method instruction and will contain words beyond his current phonic knowledge/ability so it's not surprising if he is having to guess. The books are written in a way to support guessing.

I know many people complain about the phonics screening check but the pseudo words are the best method of checking whether this is what a child is doing.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sun 06-Mar-16 17:57:17

It's unorthodox, and I wouldn't encourage it, but I have met a couple of children who do this.

Is there any chance his phonics might be slightly better than you think? I'd be interested to see what he did with a couple on non-words given out of context.

ihearttc Sun 06-Mar-16 18:11:09

Rafa-do you mean ask him to read some made up words with the digraphs/trigraphs in them like on the phonics test that Mrz mentioned?

I will have a go and see what he does with them. I have a feeling he will struggle hugely. It's almost like he only reads the word in context if that makes sense so I assume he knew that it was "climbing" because it was the next appropriate word in the story which like Mrz said is just total guesswork on his part.

He was getting quite upset reading the ORT phonics ones for some reason even though they are much easier than what he is currently reading and kept saying it was too hard.

mrz Sun 06-Mar-16 18:35:08

Is he able to decode the phonic books?

If he's learning through mixed methods he may find accurately reading the words harder work. The other books have repetitive predictable text and picture clues. With the phonic books he will have to make more effort.

ihearttc Sun 06-Mar-16 18:48:15

He can but it takes a huge amount of effort for him and I have to remind him what each digraph is most of the time. He can do ch, sh, th, ee, oo and ai but struggles with oa, ear, air, ue, ou and some more. Actually thinking about it those ones all sound quite similar when you say them out loud...Im wondering if he is having an issue with hearing the sounds of them as well so is therefore struggling to read them.

Im going to get some more phonics books and keep on working with him.

debbiehep Sun 06-Mar-16 18:49:50

If the school tends to use mini whiteboards for the children's phonics provision, this is a sound to print approach and is about spelling, not reading. Many schools only provide 20 minutes of phonics per lesson and they may not give children many new, cumulative words for 'grapheme searches' and blending independently. In other words, children don't necessarily get enough blending practice of brand new words to hone the decoding skill. Imagine being a teacher of 30 children following the routine of 'revisit and review' (and mostly this is of grapheme flash cards or similar, not word or text level review), then the children might be introduced to the next letter/s-sound correspondence, then they might get a bit of mini whiteboard practice or play a phonics game very briefly - neither type of phonics provision is adequate on its own.

debbiehep Sun 06-Mar-16 18:51:27

If the school provides something similar to the description above, and then uses non-cumulative reading books such as some described on this thread, then no wonder there are consequent reading difficulties and perhaps an aversion to sounding out and blending - the latter not being reinforced very much and reading books requiring multi-cueing and guessing.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sun 06-Mar-16 19:03:33

Yes. There's no way he could guess those. He'd have to rely on phonic skills, so if he sounded out the digraphs letter by letter by was still able to read the word then he must be using phonic skills even if it doesn't look like that's what he is doing.

I'd probably get him to search for particular digraphs in words or a list of words. It would at least get him used to tracking across the word and seeing digraphs in it rather than just individual letters. You can get him to circle or underline it if you want. Lots of experience of decoding words with the digraphs he's struggling with and you modelling how to blend them might help as well.

ihearttc Sun 06-Mar-16 19:42:07

Debbiehep...Yes that is exactly what they are doing in class. There are a group of children who I believe are having extra phonics practice but DS isn't I assume because compared to those children it is perceived he can read well but I don't think he can at all. He is struggling to spell out words even phonetically as well which I think proves he is seriously lacking in the phonic skills he needs.

Im torn between wanting him to enjoy reading which he is doing by reading the ORT books (I know they aren't great but he has a huge sense of achievement reading them for some reason) and other books which aren't decodeable and getting his phonics up to where I think they should be.

Thanks so much Rafa...will devise a game to play with him and see what he can and can't do. Im incredibly proud of whatever he has achieved since september considering he started school not being able to blend at all but I think once he grasps this he will just fly and I obviously want him to achieve the very best that he can.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sun 06-Mar-16 19:51:17

I do think it's easier to pick things up and deal with them at this stage.

If he's struggling with the decodable books because he's finding it hard, then I suspect that left to his own devices in KS2 he would just start to skip anything he couldn't just guess at. Which can be a big problem.

Checking his hearing might not be a bad idea though. Glue ear is very common in children of this age.

ihearttc Sun 06-Mar-16 19:56:13

Yes Im wondering if there is something going on with his hearing as well. He has already had his tonsils and adenoids out when he was 21 months old but they didn't do grommets as his hearing was ok when they tested it. He has had repeated ear infections though-averaging about one every 6 weeks so its a definite possibility that there is something going on there as well.

In terms of Phonic Reading Books...are the Dandelion Readers ones that get recommended on here a lot?

momtothree Sun 06-Mar-16 19:58:23

Look on letters and sounds

This gives a list of what order phonics are taught in - the ones you describe are level 4/5 I think

Ch sh etc are level 2/3

Depends on how far along they are at school - ask the teacher for his level

Keep playing phonics play

DD taught herself to read at 3 with no phonics knowledge at all - I didn't teacher her as I didn't want her to be so far ahead - but she persisted alone

Twistedheartache Sun 06-Mar-16 19:58:56

I don't know what the teaching method is (keep meaning to Google and print them off) but my dd 4.11 & reception is learning sayings to go with the 2 letters 1 sound.
E.g er er better letter & igh igh fly up high, ow ow blow the snow & ow ow ouch ouch ow or something.
I am trying to refer her to these (when I can remember them) if she gets stuck, but she guesses correctly a lot too I think.
Parents evening this week so waiting to see what the teacher says.

cupcakeyummum Sun 06-Mar-16 20:00:53

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RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sun 06-Mar-16 20:06:17

That's Read Write Inc twisted. Although I'm not sure how helpful those sayings actually are for developing the necessary skills and how much is down to other aspects of the scheme.

Dandelion readers are decodable. Mrz recommends them a lot. I don't have much experience of them. They align with Sounds-Write rather than letters and sounds, but I don't see that as being much of an issue if you are going to work through them at home.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sun 06-Mar-16 20:07:39

Ignore the spam. There's no need to pay anything for a non-word app. It's a waste of money.

cupcakeyummum Sun 06-Mar-16 20:09:34

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mrz Sun 06-Mar-16 20:10:35

The first set of Dandelion ibooks are free as is the Sounds Write initial code app which I would recommend highly to any parent of a child in reception (especially if there are concerns with school)

0hCrepe Sun 06-Mar-16 20:11:24

The phonics test is still a way off. If he's reading whole words well he may be able to read from a more top down method using word shape, some of the letters and the context and in time be able to pick out the phase 3/5 phonemes in order to read single non-words. If you type in phonics mat into google you'll be able to download a4 sheets that show the phoneme for each phase. If you want to work though them I would start with one- say it, find it, spell it etc, then add one more but keep going back to the first.

cupcakeyummum Sun 06-Mar-16 20:12:08

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mrz Sun 06-Mar-16 20:12:19

Agree with Rafa the sayings can get in the way of actually reading and spelling

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