How Neat Writing Helps Fast Phonics on its Way

February 20, 2017 4:44 pm Published by

Recently it was reported that parents are going back to school, not to begin or complete degrees, but for an even better reason. They want to catch up with their children.

Education has changed, it has leapt forward dramatically in an effort to repair the damage of past years. During those years I taught English to Italian and Spanish teenagers who could spot an adverbial, define a gerund, write a perfect complex sentence and parse it with ease. Their knowledge of our language was astounding while our teenagers had barely progressed beyond the very basic nouns and verbs. As we move forward to catch up, parents are feeling left behind.

Well done those mums and dads who, instead of complaining bitterly about their children’s difficult homework, are taking themselves back to school to help their kids. Gold star for these people.

One of my pet grouches as I try to decipher children’s work is handwriting. I have children who write the letter ‘d’ like a twisted bow – from the bottom up! No letter in our alphabet should ever be written from the bottom up, it is sloppy workmanship and is barely decipherable. There is currently no uniformity expected and no height requirement. Half line letters like a, e, i, o, u, m, n, etc are usually barely above the base line while tall letters are only marginally larger. As for the letter ‘f’, it now resembles a twisted hook sitting squarely on the line.

Our entire printed alphabet is made up of bats and balls o o o, l l l – both half line and full line height. When muscle control has perfected these, then the child can move comfortably to a written script. I would love to see bats and balls the only ‘writing’ done in the Reception year. Expecting tiny children to write their names and even sentences with those jelly finger-muscles is, I believe, wrong and results in long lasting bad habits. Children find their illegible work is acceptable to frustrated teachers, many of whom no longer have time to conduct proper handwriting lessons.

Now, according to a recent BBC news programme it has been noted children’s handwriting is in an appalling state. At long last! Let’s hope handwriting lessons return, from bats and balls onward.

Back to our reading programme and the next group of fast phonics – which may look difficult but are not. They do, however, provide quite a big leap forward in your child’s reading.

ight, pronounced ‘ite’

tion, sion, cean, cien, all pronounced ‘shun.’

tious, cious, pronounced ‘shus.’

ous, pronounced ‘us.’

cial, sial, tial, all pronounced ‘shall.’

Printed in red felt pen on white cards and set out as a game they are easy to learn. None of my pupils has ever had problems learning these ”difficult-looking” phonics – even pre-schoolers and any child from Reception upward can simply learn them by rote from the list I am providing.

Once they are firmly in place your child can now read the following:

‘What a commotion at the station! Bright lights flicker and there is a bang, banging everywhere as the Smiths arrive. A great, ancient, ocean-going liner has called at the port, which is next to the station and the anxious family is conscious that it is getting late. Will their friends disembark in time for the social occasion they have planned? This occasion will be a big, magical party.’

Explain the meanings of difficult words and help your reader to sound across each one.

Keep faith, your child will thank you as his or her reading becomes better and better. Good luck.

This is Teaching Post 11

Link to Teaching Post 12

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This post was written by Alonah Reading Cambridge

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