Friday, 7 February 2014

Cracking Phonics

Over the last week S has made a real breakthrough with her reading. She seemed to be really struggling with phonics and going over her reading books and flashcards was starting to become a very frustrating experience. She could sound out all the individual letters but seemed unable to put them together. Then she would just guess at the word and inevitably get it wrong which would stress me out because I felt she wasn't trying and then she would be stressed out because I was stressed out! We were on the precipice of a downward spiral. It was so upsetting because she loves books and stories so much and I was worried that this was going to put her off reading.

I worried that I should have started practicing phonics with her before she started school - I hadn't because I wanted to focus on instilling a love of books and not run the risk of doing anything wrong that would then cause problems at school.

I worried that we weren't spending enough time practicing her reading with her - challenging because S has a long day at breakfast club, school and after-school club and I'm out of the house from 8.00am to 7.00pm.

I worried that maybe phonics wasn't the right learning to read method for S - there's a whole debate on that of course - she did seem to be doing ok with look and say.

We spoke to the teacher about it who had also noticed that S was not progressing as she should. She didn't really have any advice other than to get her eyes tested as a first step. We're doing that on Sunday just to be thorough but I feel sure that there's nothing wrong with her eyesight.

So what has happened to cause the breakthrough then? Well, with plenty of patience and role-modelling from dad, S finally just clicked with putting the sounds together. I'm not sure exactly how but the difference now when she doesn't know a word is astounding - she sounds out all the letters and then puts them together - 95% of the time she gets it right.

The second thing was we started to play games with the flashcards. Rather than just putting a card in front of her and asking her to say the word, we laid out all the cards on the floor or table and took turns putting sentences together. She has found this really fun and even though at first her sentences were just strings of words rather than meaningful sentences she is making better sentences every day. She now wants to play this game all the time!

We bought the Songbirds books and flashcards to mix it up a bit with the Biff and Kipper books she brings home from school and she has been enjoying those too.

I'm so relieved we're now making progress and reading is becoming enjoyable. S only seems to do 1-2-1 reading once a week at school so it does make me worry about those children who for whatever reason can't get any extra support at home like S.

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