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Phonic problem with older child

Discussion in 'Primary' started by maizie, Nov 10, 2011.

  1. She sounds to me like a lot of the children I work with at KS3!
    In your judgement do you think that she is unable to sound out and blend words because she doesn't know the letter/sound correspondences (for example, if you showed her 'ea' would she be able to tell you that it could be /ee/ , sea, /ai/, great or /e/, head?) or because she hasn't been required to to it in the past and is lacking in practice?
    If it is the first she will need do to some work on learning the correspondences that she doesn't know and using them to sound out and blend words, starting with single syllables and working up to multi-syllables (you may have to use nonsense words if she can 'sight read' most of the single syllable words)
    If it is the second she will need lots of practice, once again, starting simple and moving to complex. She may well be accustomed to being 'told' words she doesn't know. Don't do it! She has to work them out herself.
    I, personally, have not yet encountered a child who cannot blend at all (though I am always open to the idea that I might in the future), but if it is not their habitual strategy it takes quite a long time to break the 'guessing' or 'skipping' habit; both of these strategies are much easier and children can slip back into them if not closely monitored.

  2. U could see how she gets on with decoding some of the regularly spelt words on the Learning to Read page at www.EnglishSpellingProblems.co.uk , especially some of the longer ones.
    Getting her to read words out of context would be an easy way to find out what phonics skills she has or lacks.
  3. Thank you. Our Senco has a slot with her booked in next week and she is going to run the phonics testing with her to see what the extent of the problem is. I suspect she knows the more common phoneme-grapheme correspondences, but lacks knowledge of the rarer alternatives (from my own observations of her reading).
    I am more concerned about what to do about it though. We have other children who take up most of our reading resource time (extra reading practise etc). I am going to find it hard to justify giving that time to a child reading at a 3a level!
  4. languageisheartosay

    languageisheartosay Occasional commenter

    I have met kids who appear to be reading well up to about RA of 7-8y but actually they are just retaining all the words in memory. If there is no 1-1 time to start again, can you whiz through how many syllables there are using words that feature 1 vowel letter per syllable? Then how to split simple words (Nessy has a nice list if you have that program) by recognising open and closed syllables. The two Reading Carefully resources I've uploaded were for children who sped along going by the first syllable and not reading through the whole word.
    It's strange she's a good speller - one would think the spelling vocabulary in Y5 must be quite demanding and require a bit of breaking down words.

  5. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    You could see if the school or the parents could purchase a copy of Toe by Toe (look it up on Amazon). If a parent or friend is willing to do a little bit of this with her 4 - 5 times a week it should make a huge difference relatively fast if the child is keen.
  6. Thanks so much or the suggestions. I will definitely have a look. We have some remedial phonics stuff at school too, so I might just have to keep her out of assemblies for a bit and work with her myself.
  7. From my observation, most reading difficulties are due to the graphemes with variable sounds.
    The best remedy for that by Yr 5, especially with a child who has a grasp of basic phonics, is to reading the words at
    <font color="#0000ff">www.englishspellingproblems.co.uk/html/sight_words</font>
    10 to 20 at a time, as often as possible.
    They all contain one or more graphemes with variable sounds.
    The first thing I would do is identify which of the tricky words among the 300 most HF ones she can still not read by sight, if any, and work on those to start with
    She is probably fine with the tricky ones in the first 100:
    want, was, are, have, all, call, said, the, he, she, we, me, be been, here, see, they, their, new, there, were, well, will, little her, first, right,of, off, to, into, do, one, two, come, some, down, look, now, only, other,before, more,you, your, could, what, when, where, which, who. In the next 200 there are:
    <font><font><font size="3">after, another, any, asked, bear, book, can&rsquo;t, coming, couldn&rsquo;t, don&rsquo;t, each, eat, ever, every, everyone, eyes, fast, find, four, friends, gone, good, great, grow, he&rsquo;s, head, I, I&rsquo;ll, I&rsquo;m, key, know, last, laughed, live, lived, looked, looking, looks, magic, many, most, mother, Mr, Mrs, never, oh, once, people, plants, please, pulled, put, ready, river, small, snow, some, something, there&rsquo;s, thought, through, took, town, very, wanted, water, work, would. </font></font></font>

  8. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Milliebear, if you your school is like my children's school the SENCO will unfortunately be unlikely to test this child's phonic knowledge in any systematic way.
    Are the parents happy to work at home with the child? If so, and if I were you, I would be equipping the parents to do so.
    Who coordinates the phonics teaching in your school? Can't they check this child's phonic knowledge, or when she was lower down the school was phonics not taught?
    If it wasn't, and you think this is the stumbling block, the parents could play games at home with, for example, the Read Write Inc sound cards that can be purchased for home use. And exercises from Toe by Toe could be chosen that will reinforce knowledge of her weaker GPCs and syllabic division in longer words.
    But you will need to work with the parents as otherwise they could make things worse if they don't understand the purpose or nature of the practice exercises you give, or mispronounce things.
    The other thing is to consider how much time per day this child is actually reading - both in school and out of school. If it is minimal, her reading is not going to improve much, phonics or not.
  9. Indeed.
    I am beginning to think that not coping with phonics is probably not her problem at all - because acc to the OP she is a good speller.
    After R and Y1, reading proficiency becomes more and more a matter of recognising all common words by sight - instantly, without the need for decoding. Copious reading is the best way of achieving this.
    I suggested identifying and then concentrating on the words for which she cannot yet do this as a short cut.
    This is probably because of my language learning background. The best way to learn a language is to be immersed in it. But I know from learning 7 languages that it's equally possible to achieve a very respectable command of any language with a simple textbook and concentrating mainly on just learning vocabulary.
    I would never recommend learning to read words by sight as the first approach - although quite a few children learn mainly that way. I think it's worth trying it as a remedial approach in unusual cases, given the peculiarities of English spelling.

  10. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    But also look at the other side of the coin - how to increase the amount of time this child reads both in school and out of school. In so doing, you will also benefit all your other pupils.
    I have this hunch that some school "homework policies" do not help. They place a requirement for parents to hear their children read x times per week for y minutes. As well as being in the policy (which most do not read) it is in the child's homework record weekly, and the teachers check the reading records. Some children get "ticked off" off it their parents do not hear them read. I have heard this happen in year 6 classes with very proficient readers.
    OK in an ideal world the parents would hear them read sometimes but I think the policy can be counterproductive.
    Providing incentives for lots of reading to take place outside school would be better, whether or not it was heard by a parent. Appropriate guidance, support, personal reading plans, incentives etc could make it fun but also ensure that the worries that some teachers have (child will not progress, skip too many words etc etc) do not come to fruition. The benefits of high "reading mileage" should outweigh the negatives.
    Also look at how much reading is done at school - both compulsory reading of texts to complete lesson tasks, and free reading time at school - if it's low all those hours at school are going to have little benefit to improving reading.
  11. The vast majority of even adult, proficient readers apply their phonics knowledge to read new, longer and more challenging words - such as Latin plant names, names which are unusual, technical terminology.
    Children who have good visual memories and who have learnt to read largely through remembering words as whole shapes - often plus lots of common sense (their oral comprehension) may well hit a ceiling as texts become more advanced.
    This pupil may well be someone who has a sort of 'photographic' memory and thus never needed to rely on blending - and perhaps she has also not been taught the alphabetic code well enough.
    No amount of reading texts is going to teach her the code if she is stalling with new and more challenging words.
    It's always difficult to make suggestions without knowing a pupil fully - but is the missing link one of not knowing the letter/s-sound correspondences well enough along with knowing how to blend new words - automatically as a 'reading reflex'?
    If this is the case, teach the advanced alphabetic code (or 'complex' or 'extended') and teach the skill of blending.
    Toe-by-toe ensures that children learn to blend because it is underpinned by non-words which pupils have to decode to be able to read.
    Also, there are free alphabetic code charts to download which can be used in the home and at school at www.phonicsinternational.com .
    Many pupils can self-teach once they get the notions of letter/s-sound correspondences and blending.
  12. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I think Toe by Toe is great, and so is your stuff. But there is always this dilemma (the OP has it) about what to do with a child who is already reading pretty well (and 3a is pretty well if it's a "correct" assessment").
    And yes I agree, if phonic decoding is her problem it's unlikely (but not impossible) that more reading will solve it. But more reading is still essential.
    Toe by Toe is designed to be done right from the start of the book, 4 to 5 times per week. Indeed if a child who is already reasonably proficient does this they will soon get to the point in the book which is appropriate for them. However, I use it in schools (voluntarily) where it is only done once a week or so. Put a year 5 child in at the beginning of the book and they are not going to get to the stuff that this year 5 child needs to do. So either the parents need to be enlisted to do it with her on a daily basis, or the teacher needs to pick and choose a bit so that the child gets to where they need to be sooner rather than later. It is rather a sterile way to learn, but some children like it, and the beauty of it is that anyone who has familiarised themselves with the instructions and can pronounce the sounds correctly can be the child's mentor. And it's cheapish ( about &pound;20 per copy now?)
  13. Debbie, your assessment of the situation is pretty much exactly as I assess it. I have spoken with our SENCo - who is only a SENCo, with no teaching responsibilities and luckily, extremely on the ball. She will comprehensively test for signs of dyslexia - we have systems in place for this which are well used. It turns out that she already uses the 'Toe to Toe' system, and is a big fan of it.
    I am happy to do twenty minutes each day with her in assembly time, and mum, although busy, is very willing also. We are lucky to have extremely supportive(!) parents and so it shouldn't be a problem to get her some daily input.
    Yes, she is a good speller, but she can spell all the high and medium frequency words with no probs because she has memorised them! She will struggle to spell an unfamiliar word correctly, unless it can be 'chunked' into words she already knows. I really do think a very good memory is what has got her this far, and I'm confident her reading level is correct, having reassessed it recently.
    I feel better knowing that 'more reading' isn't the key, but rather, some specific input into her phonics is likely to be required. Will try and let you know the outcome after next week's assessment.
  14. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    If she can get that much Toe by Toe input each day, and that frequently per week, she will fly through the book and you will see rapid improvement. Fantastic. Wish that happened at the schools I volunteer at. It really is depressing. You have cheered me up!![​IMG]
    I sometimes do a tiny bit of Toe by Toe from time to time with my own children. It pays off almost instantly as it helps them to remember to look accurately right the way through a word.

    I'm going to get my own copy out again!!
  15. I wouldn't say Toe-by-toe is suitable for any child needing phonics, or a younger child needing phonics - I think the issue is that the pupil is an older child who can read and spell well but may have hit a ceiling for advanced reading.
    Nowadays, systematic phonics is taught for reading and spelling simultaneously and then the phonics learned is applied immediately to words, sentences and texts.
    We really should be seeing some significant improvement in reading, spelling and writing and we should be seeing a reduction in 'special needs' where this is related to literacy.
  16. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    No I don't think it's suitable for a younger child either - but little bits are fine. It's intruiging though if you read the reviews on Amazon - there are hundreds of them from all kinds of people including parents who claim to have taught young children to read using Toe by Toe. I can't see that they would find it interesting in any way. And the vocabulary towards the end of itis unrealistic for a young child.
    Yes what you say about systematic phonics teaching should be true. But, one of the schools I volunteer in only took on systematic phonics teaching fairly recently - and it's not that systematic even now - so children I volunteer with in top primary have not learned to read via phonics.
  17. When I've come across something similar, I've talked to the child (and parent) about what the difficulty might be (not being able to read some longer words, or to spell them) and whether the child would like to do something about it, to get the child to 'buy in' to doing something about it.
    It would depend how much of the code she is familiar with - she may well have some understanding of quite a bit, but not understand all the vowel variations.
    I wonder whether Toe by Toe might not put her off, if she has to wade through lots that she can read easily (though I've not looked at it recently, I admit, and someone else did mention that it includes non-words).
    I did 1:1 tuition with several children in lower KS2 who had plateaued (sp? - that's a weird-looking bunch of vowels) with their reading. Initially I assessed their grapheme recognition - they knew all the 'phase 2' and the early 'phase 3' graphemes from Letters and Sounds, but didn't have much idea of the trigraphs or the alternative vowel digraphs. What worked well was a mix of hearing them read, and picking up incidental problems, practising how to break words to solve them, plus focused work on lists of words including the specific graphemes that I knew they were unsure of. It worked well.
  18. I would agree wholeheartedly with this. I think systematic phonics is still not really happening fully in all schools. My own school teaches phonics in a completely systematic way, and has done since the early recommendations (and still this child was 'missed', but my children's school only adopted Letters and Sounds fully a couple of years ago, and still uses 'flashcards' alongside.
    Additionally, whereas some teachers (particularly newer teachers) are fully on board with systematic phonics, I meet lots of older teachers who are suspicious and prefer the old Searchlights approach.
  19. 'She's a good speller ....because she's memorised them'! Oh, the cheating ways of some children!
    Given all the ways there are to spell one sound (23 ways to write the 'oo' sound), how does a child choose (which rhymes with lose (not loose), booze, clues et cetera)? Children who are visual learners learn to know what a word should look like uthuwyz thair werk wood luk liek thiss wich eye hav kairfulee sbeld fonetikly and wich u can orl reed eesily.
    Furthermore, what about context? rain, rein or reign?I'm sure there will be another set of rules to learn and cross-check for that. I realise this is in no way helpful but, actually, neither is too much concentration on the wrongs when she is getting so much right. (Cue all hell breaking loose..)

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