Children are all different, so why not use a mix of approaches to teaching reading?

It is true that the majority of children will learn to read whatever method of teaching is used. The question of whether or not to use a range of strategies is one that causes the most disagreement when the subject of teaching early reading is discussed. Many teachers teach phonics as a main early reading skill, but also encourage children to develop a range of other skills.

The first argument for using a range of strategies can be summed up by the phrase often heard to describe children using phonics alone – that they are ‘barking at print’ (i.e. correctly sounding out words, but deriving no meaning from them). As the point of reading is to understand what has been written, why reduce reading to a technical exercise and impose one strategy to the exclusion of others?

Secondly, there is no ‘one size fits all’. if children are all different, why not just offer them all the methods of teaching reading from the outset, so that if they are one of the very small minority who find learning to read with phonics difficult, then they will pick up words by sight memory and will be able to work out the rest by looking at the pictures and making a good stab at the meaning of them.

On the face of it, these arguments both seem to be based on rational and sensible points of view.

There is a flaw in these arguments however, and that is the problems that can emerge further down the line in a significant minority of children. In the early stages of learning to read, remembering words by sight and guessing from pictures, initial letters and context are all easier and quicker than sounding out and blending the sounds to read the words. These therefore become the default methods and children can go on quite quickly to be independent readers.

It is, however, very sad to come across so many children – often around the age of about seven – who are otherwise very bright and able, but who have literacy problems. This is often because they have become reliant on the other methods and have not developed a strong phonic knowledge to enable them to work out new words.  Even if reading is not perceived to be a problem (by this stage children are usually reading silently and the fact that they be reading many words incorrectly can go unnoticed), poor spelling may be causing concern.

This is therefore the reason that phonics advocates believe strongly that phonics should be used ‘first and fast’ – so that children develop good decoding strategies from the very beginning of learning to read. Once a firm foundation is laid, they can go on to develop higher order skills – comprehension, reading for meaning, and using context to help decide on which spelling alternatives to use.

There are very strong beliefs held by people both for and against using a mix of methods, and the debates are often very heated. This is just one of those arguments that will run and run……

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Dandelion Launchers and Dandelion Readers

Dandelion Launchers and Dandelion Readers are designed to launch children into reading. They introduce new sounds very gradually and provide plenty of opportunity for practising reading the sounds in words.

Dandelion Launchers are ideal for children who are at the very early stages of learning to read and need extra support when blending sounds to read words. Each page has just one line of text with simple CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words to read, enabling children to gain confidence and build self-esteem.

Dandelion Readers follow the same phonic progression as the Launchers, but offer more text to a page as the series progresses. The length of text in the stories increases very gradually to keep pace with the child’s developing reading skills. The Readers go on to cover more complex parts of the English phonic code.

Dandelion Readers Levels 1, 2 and 3 and the Split Vowel series cover the vowel sounds and introduce the concept that the same sound can have alternative spellings:

 

Book

 

Level  1 Level  2 Level  3 Split Vowel Set
1

 

ai ai, ay, a ai, ay, a, a-e, ea a – e
2

 

ee ee, e, ea ee, e, ea, y e – e
3

 

oa oa, o, ow oa, o, ow, oe, o-e i – i
4

 

ur ur, er, ir ur, er, ir, or, ear o- e
5

 

ea ea, e, ai ea’ as, ae, ee or e u – e
6

 

ow ow, ou ow’ as ow or oe All spellings
7

 

oo oo, ew, ue oo, ew, ue, u-e  
8

 

igh igh, i, y igh, I, y, ie, i-e  
9

 

oo oo, oul, u oo’ as in boot or look  
10

 

or or, a, aw or, a, aw, au, al  
         

Dandelion Readers Level 1, 2 and 3 books can be used in two ways:

  • Children can read all ten books in Level 1, which will introduce them to one spelling of each vowel sound. They can then read Level 2, followed by Level 3, which will offer alternative spellings of the sounds learnt in Level 1.
  • Alternatively, children can read Book 1 from Levels 1, 2 and 3, followed by Book 2 in all three levels etc. This will introduce children to alternate spellings for each sound before moving on to the next sound.

The Workbooks that accompany the Launchers and Readers provide fun multisensory activities linked to the stories and characters in the books.

For more information on the sounds covered in the books and discounts available, these books can be found on the website here.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS