Sunday, 21 November 2010

Phonetic politics

Interesting blog from Teacher Talks on phonics - or rather how naive Gove and Cameron are to blindly suggest synthetic phonics are the solution to teaching children to read.

My better half - who has taught phonics to 2 1/2 to 5 year olds for more years than is healthy writes:

No single method works by itself. Many four year olds leave my nursery being able to read words and sentences using phonic methods. This is a mechanical and a useful starting point for children who respond well to and enjoy this method. With only twenty six basic letter sounds to begin with, children can read, spell and write hundreds of three letter words. Its like a logical starting kit. Children sound out the three letters and if capable, blend the sounds into a word. However, this method has its limitations. The logical sequence of moving from one word to a phrase or sentence is limited by the lack of range inherent in only twenty six letters - or their sounds. We vary this and make it more interesting by matching words and pictures, objects and words, and creating 'secret' and 'magic' words to engender enthusiasm and encourage them to want to read in the true sense. We make individual reading books for each child based on their own interests. These could be about Batman or a dragon - and anything in between.

Some children are not ready or interested. No method works well by itself and it is the job of the teacher to match different types of learners with tools to suit. Teachers also need to introduce children to the pleasures of stories - for depth, emotion and sheer interest - and poetry - for rhyme, metre and rhythm - all of which stretch their imaginations, vocabulary and the child's longing to read by themselves.

I think it unlikely a teacher would stick to just one method of learning to read. Pretty much common sense really.