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Appalling reading advice for parents and TAs

(275 Posts)
Feenie Tue 30-Aug-16 09:22:59

This document is being flagged up in lots of the teaching pages i've liked on Facebook:

It's terrible, full of recommendations to encourage children to guess. Really depressed at the number of teachers tagging others to flag it as 'useful'. It really, really isn't.

If you're starting as a reading volunteer in September, I hope you're not given anything like this. Any advice encouraging children to guess words is really poor and awful practice.

If a child is 'stuck', encourage them to look at the sounds and blend - or if they're really stuck, give them the word and come back to it later. Feedback to the teacher on the sound they couldn't recognise is fabulous.

And thank you for volunteering in the first place - your help is invaluable and much appreciated.

lit4pleasure Tue 30-Aug-16 11:03:49

As one of the authors of this text, I can safely say this isn't appalling advice. Both My co-author and I hold a degree in Education as well as Masters degrees in linguistics. We also have a combined experience of teaching at primary level of over 55 years.

The advice given here is based on educational research in the field. To find out more about this, you are welcome to read our breakdown here:

Of course to suggest that we are simply asking children to 'guess' is completely false. I'm sure we can all remember a time when a child will repeatedly make guesses by sounding out a word and trying to blend it. This is fine for them to do (to an extent) and is a recommendation in our guide but allowing children to use their other tools to inform their guessing is the caring thing to do. It's called 'informed guessing' because they are using what they know to figure the things they don't know - like we all do, everyday.

I think people can make up their own minds on this, but certainly when I read our guide it seems to me to be perfectly reasonable and based on common sense. I hope it will to you too.

Lets not turn bedtime reading into a phonics lesson. Our guide will provide your child with a rich experience of reading - which they will remember with fondness. Repeat this experience up over time and children will associate reading with pleasure. It is this pleasure that ultimately creates life-long readers and will make them want to learn how to read even more.

bloodyteenagers Tue 30-Aug-16 11:21:35

I think I must have read a different document. It's not full of guessing. It mentions prediction and gives examples for context.
Looking at this, it's how I have taught children to read for 20 years, including my own.

sharkinthedark Tue 30-Aug-16 11:46:42

Are you reading recovery teachers?

Prediction based on the opening sound of the word (as advised in the guide) is guessing.
Using the pictures is another ineffective strategy which also encourages guessing.

The second article that you have linked to is just nonsense.

Ditsy4 Tue 30-Aug-16 11:47:30

It mentions it twice hardly " full of recommendations" considering it is among other strategies for reading.
When all else fails I encourage my readers to 'have a go' as 'you might be right' before telling them. It gives them confidence to try and I would rather that than for them to sit and say nothing in case it is wrong.
I having been listening to children read for 25 plus years. Longer for my own.
We have our own sheet but I will have a good look at it lit4 smile

RandomDent Tue 30-Aug-16 11:52:47

I've read it. I'm a teacher. Asking children to have a go based on the first letter or sound is pointless, not to mention irritating. Also not being too fussed about accuracy? No thanks. Please let them get it right by using phonics.

Feenie Tue 30-Aug-16 11:55:11

These are the bits that horrify me - they're also things that hinder weaker KS2 readers because they have been encouraged to do EXACTLY what is described here.

using what they know about the story to guess what the word might be

Sometimes children will misread a word. That's ok; sometimes they will self-correct. You do not need to tackle every misread word, particularly if their choice makes sense in the context of the story

Always remember, children are allowed to skip a word or two; come back to it; they can guess what a word is if they want to

Ignoring your disingenuous making bedtime reading into a phonics lesson comment, this is also advice you are touting for TAs. Why deskill any TA/volunteer/parent like this by pretending guessing/misreading/skipping words is okay? Why not explain to them how to actually teach reading instead, which is actually easier than the skipping/guessing strategies you describe?

Meeep Tue 30-Aug-16 11:55:13

Phonics fiiiiight!

RandomDent Tue 30-Aug-16 11:56:27


sharkinthedark Tue 30-Aug-16 11:57:49

'My favourite strategy is to read a paragraph and have the child read the same paragraph immediately after.'

That's not reading, that's copying.

Shockers Tue 30-Aug-16 12:00:42

If a child predicts a word which makes sense within the context of the text they're reading, then they are showing understanding. Simply decoding doesn't.

mrz Tue 30-Aug-16 12:02:09

Totally agree with Feenie the advice is based on discredited methods and don't meet national curriculum requirements

Feenie Tue 30-Aug-16 12:03:07

It's incredibly hard to unpick this kind of damage in a struggling older reader, but much more so when they have been explicitly taught to skip/guess.

Feenie Tue 30-Aug-16 12:06:47

If a child predicts a word which makes sense within the context of the text they're reading, then they are showing understanding

No, they're showing their prediction skills - which they could do just as easily with the word covered up!

sharkinthedark Tue 30-Aug-16 12:08:13

Good readers are able to construct words by sight very quickly. They can then concentrate on gaining meaning from the text as little effort is used to identify the words. The process is fluent.

Poor decoders tend to approach decoding and context as two distinct processes and rely more on context to read.

MrsKCastle Tue 30-Aug-16 12:31:01

I don't know, Feenie. I think that text could be quite useful for training TAs. Use it as a starting point for discussion, pick it apart and classify the advice into helpful vs harmful. Then analyse why and how the harmful advice can hold children back. Might use it myself....

Of course, most parents won't have that kind of discussion and may well see it as good advice, which is a very worrying thought.

mrz Tue 30-Aug-16 12:32:57

If a child predicts a word which makes sense within the context of the text they're reading, then they are showing understanding

If a child predicts a word that makes sense within the context of the text but that word isn't the actual word then they aren't reading they are guessing and changing the meaning if the text. They are showing they don't understand the purpose of writing. These are the children who don't have an effective strategy to tackle increasingly complex unfamiliar words they meet. They are the children who skip words when reading to themselves because the word isn't in their spoken vocabulary ...and they've learnt words don't really matter they? hmm

mrz Tue 30-Aug-16 12:34:57

I agree MrsC it's an extremely good text to analyse for what not to do when teaching reading.

Feenie Tue 30-Aug-16 12:42:06

That's a very good idea, may use it to train students in our cluster!

Still depressed to see teachers recommending it on Facebook. sad

MrsEvadneCake Tue 30-Aug-16 12:42:13

Reading a paragraph to the child then them reading it after is a form of pre tutoring and is highly effective with reluctant readers. It's used in Catch Up Literacy teaching which is extremely successful at helping children see themselves as readers and become confident. It improves their reading immensely over a twelve month period. It's one way of helping. As are phonics, picture cues, etc. Different children:different strategies.

mrz Tue 30-Aug-16 12:45:51

Reading Recovery?

mrz Tue 30-Aug-16 12:47:31

It's an extremely poor strategy in the long term. Reciting isn't reading

MrsEvadneCake Tue 30-Aug-16 12:55:41

I agree that just reciting isn't helpful long term. In catch up you are modelling reading. You read the passage to them. They identify words they don't know in context. You discuss them. They then read the passage. You spot miscues of the key words and correct. Go back over any context issues. Practice any miscues. It builds their confidence. Let's them tackle texts having heard them and had help with tricky words. It is an excellent programme. It also doesn't only support them while they are doing it and then they slip back when they no longer have it. They continue to progress because they are filling in the gaps in their learning.

mrz Tue 30-Aug-16 13:01:04

But they aren't catching up ...they are being set up for failure rather than supported to succeed.

MrsEvadneCake Tue 30-Aug-16 13:07:13

They succeed amazingly with catch up.

I see your point that just reciting always is not going to help them but as part of a structured approach it helps some children.

The document may not contain things that help all children but not all children learn the same was the point I was trying to make.

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