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what would you do - advice please to a parent

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by mystery10, May 3, 2011.

  1. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    One of my children is in reception. She could blend and read some simple sentences in nursery as they made a good start on Jolly Phonics at nursery.
    The school is, in my view, progressing through new sounds at a very slow pace in reception class. This is not the case just for my daughter but for all of them. She is in the top group for phonics ( a few of them in reception join up with some of the children from year 1 for phonics). They use some Read Write Inc materials and children from reception, year 1 and year 2 are split up into phonics groups. It doesn't happen daily - if a member of staff is away it does not happen.
    I can see from my daughter's "sound book" which new sounds she has been taught at school since January when she started going to the phonics group with some year 1 children. These sounds are ay, igh, ow (as in blow the snow), oo, and or - five sounds in total since January.
    A decodable reading scheme book comes home once a week (from a different reading scheme) and this book is behind where she is in the sounds learned at school.
    I think that in the first term of reception she covered at school what she had already done in JP at nursery ( all the single letter sounds, and sh, th, ng,nk, ch, and qu).
    I'm not bothered about my daughter's ability to read as I am filling in the gaps at home .... thanks to help from this website I've purchased good phonics material and have pressed on at home with new sounds, more complex words, multisyllable words etc, and have got to the point where she can (slowly but enjoyably) read some interesting decodable fiction and non-fiction (approx bookband 5 - green). We need to practise high frequency words now.
    But it does concern me that I have had to go so far away from what is happening at school. But my child wants to be able to read properly - she keeps asking me how long it will take before she can read well enough to read a Roald Dahl book she particularly wants to read. If I kept along with the school method I cannot see when it would come to an end at the current pace. Also, I resent my child going to compulsory full-time and school but having to spend time on the basics at home.
    What would you advise (lots of different opinions welcome please, but don't shoot me down please!!). I have tried asking the teacher and the headteacher ...... tactfully along the lines of what can I do at home to help, is there a reason why my daughter can't progress a little faster at school etc, but have not got anywhere.
    If I knew it was just that the school like to take an extremely gentle ride in reception and enjoy books in general before focussing on really learning to read that would be fine - but via the phonics group I am getting a feel of the pace in year 1 too - and it's starting to concern me. There are plenty of able children in the class so pace shouldn't be a problem. Other parents do secret stuff at home too.
    Is this all normal, or am I right to feel a bit bothered about it?

  2. Yes, we mustn't start making judgements about leaving children out of our phonics teaching - but we need to improve the phonics teaching if necessary and learn better how to match it with reading and address children with advanced reading capacity -and advanced writing capacity.
    What I am trying to promote is the need for both a systematic, planned phonics programme and, alongside, an incidental approach to teaching phonics which addresses the quickest learners, which provides over-learning for those who need it - and which engages both adult supporters and the learners in the notion of matching speech sounds and alternative spellings (and alternative pronunciations for various spellings).
    This is why I so strongly advocate the use of alphabetic code charts on classroom walls and to provide learners in their clip-folders and parents at home.
    I also advocate that schools provide very informative, information evenings so that everyone is aware of what the school is teaching with regard to the alphabetic code and skills of blending, segmenting and handwriting.
    It is perfectly possible for teachers to provide comprehensive alphabetic code knowledge at a steady pace (this does not have to be breakneck speed if an incidental approach is also adopted).
    Then, ALL the class can get the same alphabetic code knowledge but access the core skills activities at their own stage of learning and at their own speed - with extension activities provided for the quicker to learn children and extra time allocated to the slower to learn children.
    This is a different approach from the homogenous grouping approach and it is different from the fastest pace of introducing letter/s-sound correspondences.
    Whilst you may not be able to change your school's approach, you can make sure that you are supporting your child well at home and politely point out your concerns between the mismatch of the phonics teaching and the reading practice.
    The sad thing is that whenever parents are left somewhat in the dark, at least some of those parents will be concerned, perhaps rightly, and others will be unconcerned, perhaps wrongly - but also imaginations will run riot as to the reality in the classroom.
  3. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    Why? My nephew was reading Famous Five when he was in nursery, and reading and interpreting the Radio Times when he was two. What possible use could phonics have been to him? Especially as it is a compromise at best and confusing to the good reader at worst. Some children just don't learn to read that way and it isn't helpful to insist they go through the hoops. It's a bit like my forcing my son to use tricks to remember the names of the music stave when he already knows what they are because someone told him and he remembered.
  4. Why wouldn't we teach our language's alphabetic code to our children - even those who have deduced it sufficiently themselves to read easily at young ages?
    And how do we, as teachers, know which children will hit a ceiling and at what age if we make such huge decisions as not teaching certain children?
    And how do we know how this will affect spelling and writing ability over a number of years - and thus life chances?
    It's not really an argument against teaching the alphabetic code that some children are reading before they have been taught the code per se.
    As teachers, many of us fall into that group who did self-deduce and who did find reading and writing easier than many of our peers in infant and primary schools - and that makes it difficult for some teachers to appreciate the full value of teaching the alphabetic code comprehensively or to all the children.
    I wouldn't want to take the responsibility of deciding which individuals, or groups, to preclude from phonics teaching.
    No-one is saying that children can't learn to read without phonics as clearly some children do, and clearly many of us didn't get phonics teaching and 'we managed'.
    But still it is an essential element of primary teaching and I suggest that every child is entitled to know about the code even if they are early readers.
  5. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    My son like your nephew was reading at a very young age. He would read the Finacial Times to his grandfather when he was picked up from nursery but when it came to spelling when he started school he really struggled because he didn't understand how the alphabetic code worked. Not learning phonics didn't have any effect on his reading but it had a huge impact on his writing for many years.
  6. Thanks debbie and Msz. Again you have pre-empted an issue for me. .............. And Msz so glad you have gone into flat shoes now in your picture; those high heels were killing me!
  7. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    It's just the summer uniform isn't it?
    Thanks everyone for your help. Sometimes I feel like I am crazy being bothered about it, but I am, so there we are.

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