How to Beat Exam Blues the Fast Phonics Way

August 18, 2016 3:50 pm Published by

”Come one, come all!” the barkers yell and crowds flock, drowned in the colour, the noise and the pizazz of the fair. What a shame we can’t do that with reading and yet the final rewards are not just hoop-la prizes or cheap fluffy toys, they are life-changing skills and, for small children, will establish a happy, confident and secure childhood and future.

Let us proceed with the next step. Following the sound alphabet and those few sight words, your child can easily read:

‘ ”It is a beautiful little pup,” she told Jed. ”Can you let it come to my house? I can be kind to him and let him nap in the sun on your old rug.” ‘

and :

‘ Fran and Tom did hand-stands for Fran’s mum and they ran and ran in the hot sun. Fran and Mum had a beautiful visit.’

Now we look at double letters and ‘y’ on the end of a word. At first double letters present a small puzzle. I call them the twins and say the twins look the same and say the same thing. If we see ‘pp’ we just say ”p”, ‘tt’ is just ”t”. And before the twin faction screams that twins are individuals, I am there before you, twins must always be themselves. This is merely a ploy to simplify a sometimes difficult sound. Besides, twins usually feel special to be singled out.

‘y’ at the end of a word is super fast and super easy. Use a bit of personification and say, ”This funny letter changes his sound when he sits on the end of a word. Instead of being ‘y’ he becomes ‘ee’.

With the above rules in place your child can now read: happy, silly, funny gritty, sunny, brolly, Molly, pretty. Your ‘stories’ will extend to:

‘Benny clapped hands happily. ”Did you find the very pretty little bud on the beautiful grass, or did your Mummy get it for you?” ”Yes Mummy got it for me from your sunny house,” Betty told him.’

Never omit punctuation and always explain it if asked. Tiny children do not need colons and semi-colons explained too deeply, but older children do. If you don’t understand punctuation yourself, Google it or ask your child to ask his teacher. Above all, don’t be put off. Both grammar and punctuation skipped a generation or two, don’t let that happen to your children. But even without in depth punctuation if you have come this far you have done more for her/him than most teachers. The more ‘stories’ (a sentence can be a story) you make up, the better, but a golden rule is that words must be read absolutely correctly. Keep reading across, looking at the sounds and putting them together until the word is perfect. If you are a stickler for precision so your children will be – always. The reason children fear Key Stage exams, GCSE and A-levels, is they have trouble reading the information and questions correctly. If they don’t know a word they can’t read it. Phonics allows a child (or adult) to sound across any word at all. Teaching your child this way will take all the nightmares out of the years ahead.

Once again never be tempted to stray beyond the sounds I give you, e.g. mo(th)(er), c(aught), pl(ea)se. All sounds will follow in a logical sequence.

As promised in my last posting, I should like to discuss which children are likely to excel or to be slow. If you think your baby will be bright because both parents are professionals and high fliers, think again. The dux of my secondary school, the girl who scooped every prize in her epic trip through our incredibly challenging and demanding grammar school had an academically unimpressive background. Dad was a labourer, Mum a cleaner. Pretty well all of their large family achieved PhDs and this family is no exception. It is your involvement and encouragement which will allow your children to scale the heights of Mount Olympus.

Early childhood is a road filled with chicanes. To begin with, this is the time when young parents are busily establishing homes and jobs as well as financially cementing the future. It is also the time when hearing, speech, sight, coordination, memory and so many other childhood problems strike. Unlike colds, fevers and those usual trip-to-the-doctor flare ups that hit most children, these are long term and can affect learning, often for two to three years or more. For example, children who have glue-ear, or middle ear infections, in addition to not hearing clearly, suffer terrible pain. Very little in their tiny years makes much sense and so the normal early building blocks of learning are rarely firmly established.

When these children start school they are frequently confused, frequently noted as ‘low ability’ and frequently sidelined. Even by Years Six and Seven (11 and 12 year olds) they are still leaving the class for ‘special needs’ reading which means they miss great gulps of science, geography, maths and other important subjects. They may be extremely popular but are regarded by staff and peer group alike as ‘thick’.

I have devoted my life to these children. Given sound reading skills, in every single case they will acquit themselves beyond their own wildest dreams. One of these incredible children rang in recently when I was speaking on BBC 1. He rang of his own volition – from University. I am so proud of him and every single one of my children from over fifty seven years.

So, which children are likely to achieve? All children can, but only if they have the correct and unending input and support from the most important people in their lives – you, their parents.

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This post was written by Alonah Reading Cambridge

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