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This Letters and Sounds is just baffling me.

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by mrszzz, Dec 20, 2011.

  1. thanks msz a very interesting link.
     
  2. Would you be able to give us some examples of things that get thrown by the wayside by the insertion of 15 -20 minutes phonics teaching into the day and some incidental teaching as the opportunity arises?
    I could suggest that all these things have come about as a result of many children not learning to read competently and so being unable to progress in their learning.
     
  3. yes. If you read the comments of teachers on here it seems that what has been lost is an approach to teaching young children that gives importance to theirt age and stage of development: the drive from the government, from OFSTED and from many schools SIPS seems to be directed at phonics teaching, not at the wider issues of reflective practice in the early years age group. I feel very much for the teachers on here who are being assessed on their planning for ´lessons´, for their assessment according to levels attained, to measureable progress and to the emphasis on a style of teaching which is much more instructional than I understand to be necessary, relevant or effective. You might disagree. If you don't feel that pressure in your own situation then you are perhaps lucky as it does seem to be a predominant theme in the early years posts on here (also primary)
    To insist on the primacy of phonics is to skew the whole emphasis, When this is what is loooked for in planning, observations and assessments and value judgements are placed on teachers and schools the result is the climate of uncertainty that I would argue is very strong at the moment.
    I tried to say in the same post that I am not advocating anything but the best teaching for the early years, but I say that in all sincerity it is a not a diluted down version of the teaching style for older children. We don't for example have on here the same impassioned debates about how to ensure small groups for talking or about how to build on the principles of representation from regio emilia, or the indepndence and problem solving of high scope. or any other extremely interesting issues in the early years, or even how to have a more democratic, pàrticipative teaching force with professional development that involves people in the best ideas from around the early years world, that marries an incraasing understanding of child development with teachers own observations as they spend years doing their job and develop questions as they seek further..
    You may have useful highlighted a flaw in primary school in the past years (yet we did have the famous literacy hour imposed uniformly during those years) but saying that teaching in the early years has not been effective because it didn't children to read is not fair. That never has been the objective of early years education. It is an incidental part and one for which we prepare children as we prepare any next step from the step we are taking in the present. Remember that 80 percent of children did learn to read well. Actually I don't want to disagree on the importance of learning to read but I do want to keep the space open for early years teachers to debate, at them moment OFSTED is like a lockdown on philosophical reflection and it is defining the parameters of debate too narrowly
    So it isn´t that the 20 minutes phonic teaching is such a problem, it is the way it is now being laid down as the preeminent consideration. Worries about 'doing' it properly, completing plans that now have to detail it, assessing against it and with last but not least the increasing pressure of external tests- whose results will in no doubt be used in some way to inform/compare schools and in our market orientated times ,-will skew the direction of heads as they attempt to get the results that shows them in best light.


     
  4. Bravo Yohana :)
     



  5. Brilliant post!
     
  6. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I'm not sure if I'm older or have been teaching reception longer but I recall the days when reception was very much part of KS1 with children sitting and working all day and every day and the only play they got was 15 mins at morning and afternoon break times in the playground. It seems to me spending 10- 15 mins doing phonics or singing number rhymes is much more child centred than it was in the good old days.
     
  7. I remember those days too, Msz, and how frustrating they were. Then I worked for a year in a nursery school.
     
  8. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I recall being overjoyed when we got a curriculum for reception because up to that point we didn't belong anywhere but were dragged along by KS1.In my first reception class I was expected to teach about the Romans/Italy/Earth in Space because these were whole school topic (nursery included in the expectation) ... it seems to me people have short memories.
     
  9. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Yes I'm feeling old too I think, not that I ever did teach reception or infants. But I went to school in the days when learning to read in reception and year 1 was an expectation not just of parents, but of children, and younger relatives of mine who passed through reception between 12 and 20 years ago have similar expectations of reception, and the pre-school I sent my children to had the same expectation. So I was pretty surprised when I asked the reception teacher around November time if books the children could attempt to read themselves were going to come home, and the answer was "there's plenty of time for that" ..... I waited until the following June to ask again.
    I really was not particularly impressed. Taking 15 mins to 1 hour per day to learn to read whilst at compulsory full-time school does not sound too dreadful to me. My first daughter was quite disappointed that learning to read did not really seem to figure much at all in reception.
    My second child who I pretty much taught to read myself (still 5) loves reading far more than my older child who had the impossibly long drawn out start.
    The younger one reads and reads and reads in bed each evening. Only a sample of two, but it certainly has not told me that teaching a child to read is a bad thing.
    Sure Yohana 80% nationally learn to read to some kind of OK standard, but what about the 20%? I'm wondering if you don't get the 20% issue in your school - if not, what is the secret?
    I work with some of them and they are certainly not lacking brains, and most of them have a literate through to extremely literate home background, and I don't come across any big barriers to learning to read when I work with them one to one. One school I work at has under 3% FSM. These are not children with significant learning difficulties, physical disabilities, severe behavioural problems, or from socially disadvantaged backgrounds - just children who for some reason or other haven't learn to read properly and need more thorough teaching and more practice than average. They are not going to become super-duper readers just by being explosed to fantastic children's literature all day and all night. That is just not going to happen for them. But with the right work from them and a teacher they will turn out to be good readers.

     
  10. I would agree that that is what I find, too, at KS3. Many of the children I work with would clearly not have been incapable of learning to read competently at an earlier stage in their education.
    I also find a significant number of that '80%' (i.e achieving L4+ at the end of KS2) are not confident, accurate or fluent readers; particularly when they encounter unfamiliar multi-syllable words. This does not augur well for their ability to access the secondary curriculum or their future lives in a society in which reading is a vital skill.
     
  11. U are right to question the current gospel. SP is nothing but pseudo-science.
    What I find sad is that all the disputes about and changes in teaching methods are driven by the need to raise the reading and writing skills of the bottom 20%.
    But because of the inconsistencies of English spelling which I have detailed at <font color="#0000ff">www.EnglishSpellingProblems.co.uk</font><font face="Times New Roman"> and my blogs, no teaching method has yet managed to achieve it.</font>
    The majority have always learned, by any teaching method, and SP is not enabling all children to learn to read well enough for secondary needs by age 11 any more than any other. (Many secondary teachers are now complaining that pupils are less able to understand what they read and keep spelling too phonetically and blaming it on too much phonics.)
    The only thing that makes a difference is more teaching. As long as it happens daily and in a lively fashion, with stimulating materials, it works for most children, but the bottom 20 % will always have a very hard time with 'one/won, woman, women....', irrespective of the teaching method.

     
  12. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Merry Christmas Masha
     
  13. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Actually reception isn't compulsory but I do agree that 15 mins of whole class teaching isn't child cruelty and how many parents would let their child run around aimlessly for 5 hours at home .
    I think before we say I learnt to read without this or that we need to look at how childhood has changed and how lifestyles have changed and then think will these children learn as we did...
    I bought books for all my class this Christmas because some don't have a single book at home ...they do have XBoxes ans PS2s and Nintendo...
     
  14. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Buying them books sounds great. My DD was really chuffed when the teacher gave them each a book and a book bag on the trial morning before reception started.
    School is compulsory in the term following a child's fifth birthday. So it's only summer born children for whom reception is not compulsory. They have the problem though that if they tried to start school in year 1 they would be even less likely to get the school of their choice.
    Both mine had "compulsory" summer terms, but despite the law saying it was not necessary, I felt pretty much duty bound to send them all day every day for the Autumn and Spring terms. This shouldn't be a problem, but at times I did not feel what was on offer for a significant part of the time really met my expectations of good EYFS, my children were very young, and I was lucky not to be working full-time so I could have spent more time with them at home instead during the non-compulsory terms if I had been "brave".
    But back to the OP, if they had done Letters and Sounds and other literacy rich activities in an enjoyable way, as a parent I would have been chuffed. I read Letters and Sounds after the reception experience and thought it was a good start; it clearly still requires a lot of work to turn it into a classroom programme.
    Yohana your way sounds very appealing too; but I do wish you would explain it a little bit more for the likes of me. I can understand what it isn't, but I don't know what it is.

     
  15. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    School isn't compulsory Mystery although most parents choose to send their children to school ...education is compulsory from the term after a child's fifth birthday but that doesn't have to be in school. Parents could if they wished home ed or keep a child in a day nursery until Y1
    Parents are required to ensure that a child receives efficient full-time education suitable to his or her age, ability and aptitude and to ensure that any special educational needs are met by attendance at school or otherwise.
     
  16. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Oh you caught me out again Msz!! [​IMG] Yes I know that, but I do want school, certainly in the later stages, but the way school selection and friendships work round here you really need to be there from the very early start. Flexi-schooling is legal, but not that desirable or possible. I don't think I would have had any quandaries with your school Msz!!
    But what do you do instead of Letters and Sounds Msz. I know you have your own way of doing things. What is it?
     
  17. Mystery, perhaps your teacher's reluctance to send 'readable' books home was rooted in the fear that the parents would use other methods than the prescribed to support their children in reading them. Or could it have been that the school did not have a good stock of decodable books and did not want children exposed to non-decodable ones? I have never come across a reception class that did not have some sort of reading or library initiative for home/school. However, I come across more schools sending home flashcards for GPCs before starting to send home books. My children used to bring home words from their reading books that we used to read and talk about and build sentences with, which actually got them up and running quite effectively. I used to talk through the phonics of the words when they were new, but there was a lot of whole word recognition in the mix as well. No doubt if they were in reception class now this practice would be frowned upon.Maizie, you are clearly very experienced with KS3 children, but do you have experience of early years? I'm not convinced that the children you teach would have found it easy to pick up phonics in reception class, because I come across some children who do genuinely struggle. I think this is often because of immaturity. They are baffled by what phonics is and how it connects to reading words (they are bewildered by blending). I am not saying that these children will not eventually be able to learn to do these things, but that they get left behind in the race for reading. Going over and over the same ground their failure is constantly reinforced and they switch off. Coming to phonics at a slightly later stage might avoid this process. Just as when they have one to one with you in their new school environment you have a good chance of success. Although I wonder about a phonic approach to multi-syllabic words. A phonics-only approach is not effective in teaching children when and how to split words into syllables because the chunks you need to look out for are rarely isolated GPCs. I always find children are challenged by multisyllabic words because they try to work from left to right, right to the end and then blend all the sounds.
     
  18. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Three or four years ago my head released me to work with an independent literacy consultant (who is now on the matched funding list) to devise a programme tailored for our needs as a school based on what we knew worked for our children. We revised it last year after I left reception to lay down clear expectations for each teacher.
     
  19. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    We actually teach multi-syllabic and compound words in nursery before we begin teaching letter sound correspondences.
     
  20. I don't think that these children are so baffled by the reading process that teaching it has to be left until Y7!
    Quite frankly I think it is rather odd to say that they are baffled in YR and then appear to be comfortable with the fact that they have been 'left behind' after that. Why isn't proper instruction put in place during the 6 years between YR and Y7?
     

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