I wrote a post recently about my loquaciousness and use of intricate words, and the irony of the fact that I don’t always know how to replicate them appropriately in my writing at school. I sailed through my reading bo0ks and declared myself a ‘speed-reader’ to my year 1 teacher. Mummy hasn’t known how to read with me, because I prefer to read by myself, or to be read to while my brain switches off: so not up for a challenge before bed!

Last week Mummy was a school pupil herself when parents were invited in to discover the processes involved in young children learning to read and write. She was so bowled over by the complexity of the learning process that she immediately changed tack at home and decided it was too good to keep to herself. So if you have ever wondered how it feels to be a child learning to read and write at school, read on.

Learning to read


That made complete sense, right? No? Well that’s what I child sees when confronted with the written word. I remember how Mummy would show me a simple word, lets say ‘dog’, get me to repeat it, then get frustrated with me when I couldn’t recognise it further down in the text. As accomplished readers you already have an advantage in that you probably notice the punctuation marks, which helps you know where there is conversation, and you know that words are probably repeated. But do you have any idea what this is about?

Decoding how children learn to read

Put that code into this picture, and you can start to make some assumptions as to what the text might be saying. The baby bear looks frightened, there is a cuddle in here, it is dark. So when Mummy put her hand over the pictures in my first reading book, she was taking away all the cues that children use to make sense of the confusing code they see on the page! Children learn to read by associating text with the pictures around it.

Next I’m having a go at Daddy’s approach. Before children read a full word, they sound out the letters (or rather the phonemes – the individual sounds of the word). Here is how Daddy does it:

Bad phonics (mp3)

Those sounds are not in the words ‘plug’ and ‘chop’ but lots of adults sound letters in this way. For those of you who really want to know how you should be sounding out letters (or rather sounds) when reading with your children, take a look at this video, which shows all the sounds of the English language (and there are more than 26, believe it or not!):

Daddy still can’t get this sounding right, even though he tries so hard to be helpful with the Bug’s embryonic attempts at writing.

So, Mummy fail, and Daddy fail!

They failed again, once I had finally figured out how to decode texts and read any word I saw, whether I understood it or not. But that is a harder, and much more painful story to tell. Come back on Friday and I will try to explain…

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