|’T was brillig, and the slithy toves|
|Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;|
|All mimsy were the borogoves,|
|And the mome raths outgrabe.|
Jabberwocky by Lewis Carrroll
I bet that there is a really good answer to this somewhere. But reading my Twitter feed this morning I am reminded that the BBC had an article yesterday called ‘ Reading test for six year olds to include non-words’ .
This to me is totally bonkers and reminds me of my early teaching of ITA … the Initial Teaching Alphabet … the idea that there was a carry over from this ‘quick start’ idea into real reading and spelling was not proven and so the initiative was abandoned. This is my hope for SSF … the supposed one-stop-shop for learning how to read.
But it is not learning how to read at all. It is a step towards being able to decode those things in our language that are phonetically based … and there is a great deal there that isn’t. Reading is something entirely different and goes deep into our psyche … it embraces a love of words and their shape and symbolism … of how writers have put them together to engage and entrance their readers. It is involved with the translation of ideas into information into pictures in our minds. If we get the early stages of this wonderful thing wrong by systematising it then all love and joy will be lost.
There is no one great way to learn anything … there are lots of useful tools to help on the way.
Children learning to phonetically sound out different things is a good game … but please don’t confuse that with reading and please don’t have test that suggest that those that can decode can read. Think back to the Intelligence tests that many of us took to get into out Grammar Schools and how we learned how to decode the symbols … think about how we learned how to use log tables …
But there is hope:
Schools minister Nick Gibb said: “We are clear that synthetic phonics will not be compulsory in schools but we do believe more schools should teach synthetic phonics because it is shown to have a major and long-lasting effect on children’s reading and spelling.
“We are supported in that view by high-quality academic evidence from across the world – from Scotland and Australia to the National Reading Panel in the US – which points to synthetic phonics being the most effective method for teaching literacy for all children, especially those aged five to seven.
“Too many children leave primary school unable to read and write properly – we are determined to raise standards and the new phonics-based reading check for six-year-olds will ensure that children who need extra help are given it before it is too late, and then can enjoy a lifetime’s love of reading.“
The bold underlined bits are mine! Let’s just get rid of the test … I have a great belief that sensible teachers will do what is sensible for their children.
Worth reading what the mums say on netmums.