Phonics/learning by sight.. Think my child is doing both

(55 Posts)
Layl77 Sun 20-Oct-13 14:46:52

Just reading the thread about learning sight words and it getting quite heated and I'm now worried my ds has learned half blending and knows half by sight. Wondering if this sounds like a problem?
He reads a bit now (just started reception) this started about 4 months ago I noticed him reading words like the, and, fairy,said etc which were common in books and asking me what everything says so I would tell him. Was also learning phonics in nursery so started blending. They don't have books yet from school which is fine but he can read simple books we have at home with the odd word I have to help with. Don't really want to go and ask teacher as they're all still pretty new and he's enjoying himself regardless so it's just something we do at home.

WidowWadman Sun 20-Oct-13 14:52:12

That's how my daughter is doing it - some words are "tricky" and can't be decoded using phonics.

tumbletumble Sun 20-Oct-13 14:55:20

DS1 was like this - in fact I think he mainly learnt by memory, whereas DD used phonics much more. It's fine - different children find different methods work better for them.

FriendlyLadybird Sun 20-Oct-13 15:15:09

Well I read almost entirely by sight. It is very seldom indeed that I need to sound a word out! Phonics is a good way to decode unfamiliar words but children soon learn to recognise words they have already decoded (or non-sound-out-able words) by sight. This is progress and good!

Beccadugs Sun 20-Oct-13 15:22:18

This is a great way to learn to read, as someone mentioned phonic decoding eventually becomes sight reading anyway. (Hence we can all read those crazy mixed up word paragraphs that often crop up on FB etc).

IMO when learning to read children should use a variety of strategies. Phonics alone can lead to problems for non decodable "tricky" words.

mrz Sun 20-Oct-13 15:35:09

There isn't a problem with a child picking up words naturally ... the problem is when children are explicitly taught "sight" words as wholes because that leaves them without a strategy when they meet those tricky easily non decodable words

mrz Sun 20-Oct-13 15:36:35

I would be really interested to learn what all these words are that can't be decoded using phonics.

Beccadugs Sun 20-Oct-13 15:58:37

mrz google letters and sounds phonic scheme an look at the tricky words list from phase 3 onwards. While you could decide them "phonically" the sound the letter or group of letters make isn't taught as a rule, as it makes that sound in a few cases not many. This is what I meant by not phonically decodable.

mrz Sun 20-Oct-13 16:27:18

I don't need to google Letters & Sounds Beccadugs I'm very familiar with the content and I'm also familiar how the "tricky" words should be taught - which is NOT as "sight" words

Perhaps you missed how to teach tricky words in the L&S document

1. Explain that there are some words that have one, or sometimes two, tricky letters.

2. Read the caption, pointing to each word, then point to the word to be learned and read it again.

3. Write the word on the whiteboard.

4. Sound-talk the word and repeat putting sound lines and buttons under each phoneme and blending them to read the word.

5. Discuss the tricky bit of the word where the letters do not correspond to the sounds the children know (e.g. in go, the last letter does not represent the same sound as the children know in dog).

teacherwith2kids Sun 20-Oct-13 16:42:37

I would also say that some parents / schools get hung up on some 'temporarily tricky' words - which are in fact phonically regular but have grapheme - phoneme correspondances that the children haven't yet learned.

If the school has enough 'properly phonic' reading schemes, this problem is minimised, but if not, then children might be taught words as 'non decodeable' to enable access to reading scheme books, even though they are entirely phonically regular once all the correspondances are known.

It is obviously a problem of the school's own making, but it can blur the distinction between what is 'not yet known' and what is 'genuinely tricky' [e.g. yacht] - though of course in both cases the words contain many regular PARTS. y and t in yacht are absolutely regular and decodeable, as is the g in go.

mrz Sun 20-Oct-13 17:13:27

I agree, also just calling the words "tricky" or "red" sends a message that is easily misinterpreted.

strruglingoldteach Sun 20-Oct-13 17:32:11

OP the important thing is that your DS is able to sound put words that he hasn't met before, using his phonic knowledge. It's fine for him to naturally pick up words 'by sight' but do encourage him to sound out new words when he encounters them in his reading. If he is frequently meeting new words that he can't sound out at his current knowledge level, then I would say that indicates a problem with the reading books being sent home.

My DD learned to read through phonics, but when through a phase where she would 'guess' words using the context if she thought they looked difficult. I had to do a fair bit of work reminding her to use her phonics- I made it into a bit of a game. If we got to a difficult word I'd call it a 'sounding out' challenge and we'd break it down into chunks together.

strruglingoldteach Sun 20-Oct-13 17:33:48

Please excuse the typos!

Ferguson Sun 20-Oct-13 18:12:05

Hi again Layl77 -

I thought your name seemed familiar: I sent you a PM beginning of August. Did that not resolve your queries?

I am confident if you get the book I recommended then, DS and you will enjoy it, and will learn all you need to know about phonics, reading and spelling, to last him throughout primary school.

You can see sample pages from it HERE:

mrz Sun 20-Oct-13 19:08:19

much as I like the phonics spelling dictionary I don't think it alone is enough to learn all you need to know about phonics

Beccadugs Sun 20-Oct-13 19:19:42

Mrz I apologise and stand corrected. Was not particularly clear in my post (or my head) what I was talking about!!

simpson Sun 20-Oct-13 19:20:20

DD taught herself quite a few words that she recognised on sight: the, like, said, he and she (am sure there were more but I don't remember).

It did not hinder her in any way and once she was taught how to decode them properly phonetically then things just slotted into place iyswim.

DD learned some basic phonics by watching Alphablocks on CBeebies and has combined that with learning words by sight as well. She's now 4.3 and has the reading ability of a 6yo. Combining the approaches worked for her - she'd pretty much taught herself to read before we realised what she was doing!

I don't believe that there is only one right way for a child to learn to read, so if a combination is working for your child then that's great. smile

Layl77 Sun 20-Oct-13 19:27:25

Thanks everyone. I haven't got the book just yet but I will do. I thought it was ok to go along in this way but when reading the other thread I got worried about it becoming a problem later on. Teachers don't seem to be in touch with us about anything so it's hard to work out what they're doing just yet!

shebird Sun 20-Oct-13 21:01:51

I wouldn't worry as long as he is showing an interest in reading at this stage that is the main thing.

LittleSiouxieSue Sun 20-Oct-13 21:27:39

In my DD's reception class she had to practice 'breakthrough' words. These were learnt in small batches and there were about 120 or more in total. These were common words found in the first reading books. They were learnt in conjunction with phonics, bringing books home and simply recognising words. The breakthrough words accelerated reading and appeared to work well. The children were rewarded with a certificate when they got to significant milestones in the breakthrough words. Not sure if this technique is used these days but it meant she could read and enjoy books really quickly. I think all methods of learning to read can be employed so a child can enjoy books. I never understand why more schools do not have evenings where staff explain to parents about how they teach reading and what parents can do to help. Also DD had free choice of any library book in the school at the age of 4. One week she chose the Diary of Samuel Pepys, the Ladybird edition. I read sections of it to her but even though the text was beyond her, we had a discussion about the great fire of London!

Ferguson Sun 20-Oct-13 22:06:38

Sorry, mrz - I certainly didn't mean to imply the dictionary ALONE is sufficient to learn everything about phonics, but used at home to reinforce or supplement what is being taught in school, or to clarify things for parents - most of whom are at a disadvantage, not really knowing, in detail, what goes on in literacy lessons - it should make things clearer and more accessible.

And, Yes shebird I fully agree with your 'post'.

mrz Mon 21-Oct-13 06:54:57

I'm not being critical Ferguson (you are obviously very impressed by the book and I bought it on your recommendation) and I do think it shows clearly the different spellings for sounds within words but it doesn't really help with how to introduce new words to children which seems to be the OPs question.

FriendlyLadybird Wed 23-Oct-13 10:14:49

mrz -- How do you teach through, though, thorough, plough, cough, tough? With my children (parent, not teacher) I have always pointed these out as oddities and encouraged them to learn them by sight. How else would you do it?

maizieD Wed 23-Oct-13 12:42:22

I don't know how mrz does it but I found that my struggling KS3 pupils quite clearly deonstrated the danger of trying to teach these words as 'wholes' in that they found it very difficult, or impossible to tell the 3 most often encountered ones, through, though & thought, apart! In my opinion this was because they hadn't been taught to decode the words all through, from L to R; they'd been taught them as /'wholes' (which is one way that the teaching of 'sight words' is interpreted) They just seemed to notice the 'th' and the 'ough' in the words and then have a guess at which one it might be! And, they found it very difficult to break this habit, developed over 6 years.

So, these words must be taught by sounding out and blending, just as any other word; this way the detail within the word should alert the child as to which 'sound' of the 'ough' is needed. And, there has to be some word specific learning involved, too. Phonics (well)taught children are aware that aspelling can represent more than one sound, it's just that in these words one spelling is representing rather a lot of sounds, and in some cases, two sounds, so there's more to remember.

I ended up making a crib sheet for my pupils to keep in their files with the 'ough' words listed under the sound/s that the 'ough' in them represented. When they met one they weren't sure of they had to find it on their crib sheet; which meant looking at it properly in the first instance and recalling the letter order within the word.

I suspect that when teaching absolute beginners you'd teach one representation at a time but I'll wait for mrz's answer grin

P.S For all this, it only affects some 16 -20 words (plus their derivatives) in English.

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