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do kids vary in the way / style they pick up reading in the early stages?

98 replies

imaginaryfriend · 21/03/2008 22:21

Not a great thread title.

I'm just curious about this. Dd's in Reception, not a child genius by any standards but I'm pleased with how she's getting on with her reading and writing.

So far I've mostly stuck with reading the books she brings home from school but I've had a huge batch of ORT books given to me buy a mum friend whose ds is a year ahead of dd at school. With the 'ordinary' ORT books she can pretty easily read a stage 5 story but with the Songbirds phonics books although there are less words per page she really struggles through a stage 4 book but isn't too bad with a stage 3 book.

Which raises a question about teaching by phonics or sight words ... I think.

Any experts around to enlighten me?

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wheresthehamster · 26/03/2008 19:57

at £27000

Does that include all the resources? We made everything ourselves.

Would we have had to pay to use Letters and Sounds? I know it's the PNS's own phonics programme but I don't know how these things work

mrz · 26/03/2008 20:07

Letters and Sounds is free but you would need to make or buy resources to use with it although there are lots of free materials available on line.

The Ruth Miskin scheme has an initial cost of £1800 for one days training then many schools opt for two days training from Ruth Miskin at £450 per day. The resources cost another £4200 but the bulk of the expense was in paying teaching assistants to deliver the scheme.

I can't feeling that any scheme would have succeeded with that level of input and commitment.

maverick · 26/03/2008 21:35

How very cynical, mrz. The Ruth Miskin materials can be purchased by a school and used without the training. The problem is, that from experience, Ruth M. and the other synthetic experts know that the majority of primary teachers are unable to teach synthetic phonics correctly WITHOUT a great deal of expert training -and they are very unlikely to get it from LEA advisors and trainers.

If the materials are used incorrectly due to lack of proper training then, unfortunately, it's the scheme that gets blamed when the excellent results don't materialise.

Certainly, upfront training for the Miskin scheme, sounds expensive but getting EVERY child reading in a school is priceless and not just from the school's point of view.
Try putting a cost on illiteracy and attempting to rectify it further down the line. The appalling Reading Recovery programme costs at least £1,500 PER CHILD.

Blueblob · 26/03/2008 22:16

My son started to bring back the Ruth Miskin Read Write books half way through year 2 and it's really helped the accuracy and speed of his reading. I don't know what other associated activities he's done alongside at school but he's quite enjoyed the books and working through them.

Before he knew all the phonic sounds and could read perfectly well for his age but I think the books have really helped make some aspects of reading click. He still does things like decode words backward,read words that aren't there at all, see letters in a word out of sequence. But he's much much better than before and has more confidence and fluency decoding new words.

imaginaryfriend · 26/03/2008 23:26

That's interesting Bluebob that your ds still does that reverse decoding. My dd almost always reads 'saw' and 'was' the wrong way round! And she reads words that aren't there. And misses words out too.

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mrz · 27/03/2008 08:09

maverick I am merely quoting the information regarding the cost to the school featured in the channel 4 documentary and answering a question regarding the cost of Letters & Sounds and I stand by my belief that if the same amount of effort was given to delivering Letters and Sounds or Jolly Phonics the results would be comparable.

Blueblob · 27/03/2008 11:04

Imaginaryfriend, he does similar with numbers also. It's a bit odd because he was one of those 2 year olds who picked up letters and numbers pretty easily and even sight words. Some members of my family expected him to be one of those children reading fluently before school. Many in my family have beeb diagnosed with dyspraxia and dyslexia, I don't know if that's anything to do with it.

He enjoys books and goes to sleep with a pile of them on his bed but he gets frustrated sometimes. It's annoying if you can't make sense of a paragraph because you've read a word wrong and can't "see" where you've gone wrong. I try to buy him short chapter books that we read to him as bedtime stories. That way at least he knows what the story is and what's meant to be happening!

Reallytired · 27/03/2008 11:14

There are school that get very good results with Jolly phonics. What gets the good results is getting rid of the mixed methods and replacing the earlier stages of the Oxford Reading Tree books.

I also think that Monteagle has a very dynamic head teacher. She had the determination to get her kids reading. I am sure she would have got good results with any of the synthetic phonics schemes out there. I also think the school would have done even better if they had followed their own gut instinct a little bit more and ignored some of Ruth Misken's advice

From what I remember of the documentary they had year 6 boys being made to do phonics with reception kids. I felt that was unspeakably cruel as the boys must have felt really humilated. I did not understand why they could not have had a group for junior school children on stage 1 of Ruth Miskin.

I think that mixed teaching can work for example having year 1 children with reception children. Especially as an August born year 1 child may not be developmentally different to a September born reception child. However its important to consider the feelings of the older slower learners.

Reallytired · 27/03/2008 11:23

Just thinking the only problem with Jolly Phonics and probably why Monteagle did not pick the "Jolly Phonics" scheme is that a year 6 child with reading difficulties would probably tell the teacher to stick "Inky the Mouse" where the sun doesn't shine. Jolly phonics is great for the early years.

I don't think the governant's scheme letters and sounds existed when the documentary was made.

Blueblob · 27/03/2008 11:35

Reallytired I agree that taking a few 6 year old boys and putting them back with reception kids for sessions isn't tht kind.

I've no experience of JollyPhonics but it looks good for young kids. My youngest son is at pre-school and they'll do Jolly Phonics during the foundation year. I think they focus on the sounds and actions and children don't have to join in.

I did buy the JP's DVD a couple of terms back when I figured my year 2 child could do with a bit of phonics reinforcement. It was far too babyish and slow for him but the youngst loves it! I was expecting it to be a bit more fast paced and in your face. I was looking for something you could put on for 5 mins and he wouldn't feel like he was being taught.

The Ruth Miskin books he's been bringing home seem "older" to me and it wasn't long until they progressed to more interesting stories.

Blueblob · 27/03/2008 11:38

I forgot to say that the Ruth Miskin books have the sight words in red. So a child who's lacking in confidence knows they're not meant to decode and less likely to get flustered trying. I know what my son was like with the early ORT books! So whilst they're phonic based they don't ignore sight words.

wheresthehamster · 27/03/2008 11:41

We thought about this with a group of yr2s who really needed to start at phase 2. The R children would be learning this as something new and could easily overtake the yr2s who were needing to reinforce old learning. We decided to have another phase 2 group consisting of yr1 and 2s. The yr2s enjoyed being the clever ones of the group and helping the others and I used to ask them the 'hard' questions. They soon went up to the next phase.

imaginaryfriend · 27/03/2008 13:14

Gosh, this is all getting very complicated and I have no idea what method dd is learning by! Can anyone help?

She seems to come home with little printed lists of first letters, then some sounds like 'ss', 'ch' and 'th', then some digraphs and phonemes. However she does guided reading with the teacher with ORT books (they're the Magic Key ones so are they the 'older' ones people say aren't that hot?) and she brings home a variety of different books to read at home, a level lower than she gets in guided reading. They seem to be mostly this range called Storyworlds which are decidedly not phonic-based.

Do you think that a lot of schools aren't fully introducing the Letters and Sounds curriculum yet?

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aintnomountainhighenough · 27/03/2008 13:25

I agree it is all a bit confusing. My DD started Reception knowing her Jolly phonics sounds which they redid at 1 per day which I was very pleased about. These were completed very quickly, but October half term, and they only just seem to have started doing other sounds (this week they did 'ck' for example). We too are getting the old ORT books which I have complained once to the school about and will be complaining about again next week at parents evening.

I just can't work out how they are doing it and now why it is going so slowly. I am doing loads with her at home (she is very keen) and tbh it just seems they are delaying doing more sounds, not sure why. Could it be that they are only supposed to do a certain amount in reception and then they stop or just keep consolidating? Whilst I appreciate that the books needs to have some tricky words in I can't understand why they say they are teaching phonics and then use materials that don't support this approach at all. My DD is fine at sounding as well as doing tricky words. She often sounds a tricky word out and then somehow magically (!) knows how it is pronounced.

IF it sounds good that your DD is coming home with lists of sounds etc. My DD is getting nothing other than reading books.

imaginaryfriend · 27/03/2008 14:25

When did she start in Reception anmh? My dd started last September and she was doing the ck combination well before Christmas.

I can't answer any of your questions though because I have them myself! It is indeed strange that they are reading ORT books and in dd's case other reading books which doesn't clearly practise what they're learning in phonics.

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imaginaryfriend · 27/03/2008 14:27

Sorry, just re-read your post and obviously your dd started Reception last September too!

Do you know what level ORT book she brings home? Does what reading level they're put into have any effect on how they are taught phonics?!

Totally baffled.

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mrz · 27/03/2008 19:21

phonics should be taught before any reading scheme books are introduced.

Find it very odd that ck is just being introduced as it is usually taught in the second set of letters whichever phonics programme is being followed.

imaginaryfriend · 27/03/2008 22:08

mrz so at what stage are reading books introduced if the phonics teaching is being done 'properly'? Dd didn't start bringing reading books home until about 2 months into the term. Is that too soon? And then when they do start getting reading books are there specific ones they should be getting?

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aintnomountainhighenough · 27/03/2008 22:09

Sorry for not responding earlier, have been working, cooking tea, putting DCs to bed, working, having a glass of wine!

Anyway yes my DD did start in September and is currently bringing level 3 home. We had weeks and weeks of no words and weeks and weeks of 1+. All children have to go through every book to move up. I am finding that she is reading the books easily, the odd word is challenging but then many of them can't be sounded out. I just can't see a pattern for learning, however it is difficult to get info out of my DD. We have parents evening next week and I am going to ask the teacher how they are teaching them because it will help me help my DD if I know.

Another thing that amazes me is that how differently things are taught from school to school. Perhaps some teachers can help us understand why this is?

imaginaryfriend · 27/03/2008 22:10

In the January intake Reception class with a different teacher (who'd been around a while) the children were bringing home level 1 & 2 reading books from the start. My friend's dd is already bringing level 3 books even though she can't read many of the words.

I am so confused!!! What's meant to be happening?

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imaginaryfriend · 27/03/2008 22:13

anmhe, I feel as confused as you and communication from the school to home is very minimal. Dd's teacher didn't give them reading books at all for the first 2 months then started them on level 1 so we never had those books with no words. As I said in my post a minute or so ago I feel even more flummoxed when I see how differently dd's class is being taught to the class next door.

I've looked at all the links suggested by people on here as to the curriculum but they're so complicated for a layperson to follow. I'd just like to know in a few sentences how things are supposed to work.

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aintnomountainhighenough · 27/03/2008 22:24

IF on the one hand I am pleased she is moving up the levels. However since I don't really understand what these levels mean and the books do not seem to support phonics and I assume therefore the literacy strategy I cannot work out how they can be a good indicator. I am just getting lots of different books for my DD (most of which support phonics and concentrate on certain sounds/blends). I would prefer however to follow and support what they are doing at school.

It must be very confusing for you if the classes are being taught differently and I can't understand why they would do this. Like your school, ours is very short on communication, infact the letter I received from the head when I complained about the books was very defensive and very unimpressive. It begs the question what have they got to hide.....

imaginaryfriend · 27/03/2008 22:51

Do you think it's because the 'Letters and Sounds' scheme (or whatever mysterious scheme they're following) is so new they are unclear as to how to implement it?

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mrz · 28/03/2008 16:54

There really isn't any point in sending home a reading book until children have begun to blend sounds to read words. Some schools send reading books home early because they think that is what parents want.

mrz · 28/03/2008 17:16

imaginaryfriend phonics Schemes have been around a very long time (1890s) just they are receiving a lot of publicity with the Rose report and parents are more aware. I've been teaching with Jolly Phonics since 1993 and have using Letters & Sounds for 2 years

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