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Vowel Digraphs?

(15 Posts)
ihearttc Thu 24-Mar-16 19:45:07

Ive posted about DS2 a few weeks ago. He was struggling to see digraphs in words and was just sounding out each word individually. I got some fantastic help and we've been spotting them in words and he has been highlighting them.

They have apparently done a reading test on him at school and he didn't do very well so they've put him back down a couple of levels to red. Im absolutely fine with that as thats clearly where he needs to be. We've worked out that he seems to be able to read absolutely fine when the words are in context but not when they are on their own. For example he read "They went to London on an underground train. The escalator went down and down deep underground. In London they went to visit a museum. In the museum there were very big dinosaurs that roared and made mummy jump" or words to that effect. Yet if I showed him underground or museum on its own he wouldn't be able to read it...and according to school he needs to be able to.

We've been doing lots of practise and it seems to be all the vowel digraphs that he can't do:air, ear, ur, er, ure. Im wondering if he almost can't hear them sound differently...Going to try to get his hearing tested but can't get into GP to get a referral. Ive just ordered some Songbirds books to practise but to get the sounds he can't do Ive had to go up to Level 6 but school are saying he is only level 2?

Secondly any ideas why he can't read the words on their own?

mrz Fri 25-Mar-16 07:26:27

If I remember correctly he's in reception and taught using Jolly Phonics?

My first thought is has he actually been taught the vowel digraphs and their alternative spellings at this point. I suspect not. So expecting him to recognise them in words isn't realistic. It's why schools teaching phonics well don't send home books containing spellings beyond the child's currently phonic knowledge to read independently.

It sounds very much as if he's memorising texts but not connecting the spoken words to the visual representation and while he can recite what he's heard he isn't actually reading the words.

ihearttc Fri 25-Mar-16 08:56:52

Thanks Mrz, I assume he has been taught them as we get the flashcards with the sounds on sent home as they are taught them in class and we got those one's about mid January. Unless they haven't covered them a huge amount in class though.

Do you mean memorising a book he has already read before? The book he read like that was a new one Id just got which he has never seen before. He would have got some clues from the cover of the book I suppose though.

I feel as though Im floundering trying to help him. They have put so much emphasis on this test and not taken into account that he can read better than what they give him credit for. Its like they want him to read phonetically and break down the words but not giving him the tools to do that so he is doing it his own way and thats wrong too. The level 2 books he has got now are the same ones he had in September.

mrz Fri 25-Mar-16 09:09:18

English is complex. We have a 26 letter alphabet and 44 ish (depending on accent) sounds so we use combinations of letters to represent sounds.
A sound can be represented by one, two, three or four letters
A sound can be represented by more than one spelling eg- the sound /ae/ baby, rain, name, great, they, day, straight, eight, sundae, ballet
A spelling can represent more than one sound eg- the spelling <ea>
meat, steak, bread

So you can see why it's unlikely he's been taught all this after two terms in reception.

ihearttc Fri 25-Mar-16 09:15:38

So why on earth are they expecting him to read something that he hasn't been taught? Or providing him with the tools to actually read it like books with those digraphs in rather than endless non decidable ones.

Feel like just starting from the very beginning at home and doing it myself because he is getting more and more confused.

mrz Fri 25-Mar-16 09:31:06

That's a really good question and One I can't answer ... Really poor understanding of teaching phonics

catkind Fri 25-Mar-16 09:46:42

They're sending non-decodable level 2 books? And ones he's read before too? Yep, sounds like you're on your own.

I would assume he's been at least nominally been taught stuff they're sending home on flashcards though. It may just not be sticking yet, or as you say maybe he's actually not hearing. Can he hear rhymes?

We found the songbirds books very helpful for this sort of thing. I wouldn't worry about the levels, songbirds are relatively simple in terms of book length, sentence structure etc. I'd start at the beginning for confidence and keep going until/unless you hit problems.

The other thing DS found helpful was a printout of one of the phonics international charts. That may be just him being odd though.

ihearttc Fri 25-Mar-16 10:25:55

He had non decodeable level 4 ones since February which he was doing absolutely fine with. I'd say he was reading about 95% of it with no problem. They then decided he wasn't recognising digraphs in the middle of the words so we've been practising that and I thought he was doing really well. No issues mentioned at parents evening other than he sounds out single letters to read a word for example he read toad T/O/A/D and then say toad rather than T/OA/D which is how they wanted him to do it.
They did a reading test a week or so ago and they've said he didn't do very well and was just guessing rather than sounding out and wasn't using the vowel digraphs at all. So they have put him back down to level 2 books which is the level they put him at when he started in September.
The Songbirds level 6 ones don't actually look too bad in terms of content so will give them a go.

ihearttc Fri 25-Mar-16 10:27:37

Oh and yes he can hear rhymes ok...he has had multiple ear infections though (about 1 a month usually) so I wondered if there was something going on where he can hear the differences in the vowel sounds.

mrz Fri 25-Mar-16 10:55:14

Moving him down to stage 2 isn't the answer. If he's struggling with vowel digraphs he needs to focusing on what he doesn't know and they need to provide him with appropriate texts.
I like Songbirds but they don't provide the type o practise he needs at this point - a single book with all the alternative spellings for the sound including those he has been taught yet will confuse him.

ihearttc Fri 25-Mar-16 11:11:06

Would the dandelion ones be better Mrz? I was torn between those and the songbirds ones but saw a set of level 5 & 6 Songbirds on eBay for £5 so just ordered them. More than happy to get Dandelion ones if it would help him.
I think once he has worked out the ones he can't do he will absolutely fly...he is so desperate to read unlike my older son who read really well but still isn't bothered about it!

mrz Fri 25-Mar-16 12:05:51

Personally I would leave the Songbirds until he is more confident with the sounds. You need stage 4 and 4+ for vowel digraphs.

If you decide on the Dadelion books I'd suggest Level 1 of the extended code (first spellings of the digraphs)

ihearttc Fri 25-Mar-16 12:15:05

Fab thank you so much.

Fletcherl Fri 25-Mar-16 12:19:38

You could also try the 'Jelly and Bean' series.

mrz Fri 25-Mar-16 12:45:33

I would have the same problem with Jelly and Bean as with Songbirds not a clear focus on the sound.

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