Tutors plus Phonics are a Brilliant Equation

August 20, 2018 1:20 pm Published by

On this occasion let me dispel some myths regarding tutors. Firstly that only the wealthy can afford them. Nonsense, for most of my sixty year career in tutoring I never charged a penny but succeeded in teaching, via the magical phonic sounds, numerous children to read.

Secondly, that tutors are used mainly to advance bright children beyond their peer groups. This, you are asked to believe, is to enable those already achieving children to scoop prizes by enhancing their results and to win places at top sixth form colleges and Russell Group universities. Wrong! My tutoring over all these years has never included bright children wanting to be brighter. I have, however, had extremely clever children who have missed out on a vital stage in one or more subjects. For example, I’ve lost count of the number who had not learned to read by age 8/9/10/11. Once we had gone back to the basics of the phonic alphabet and phonic sounds, reading was conquered and they strode forward and on to excellent sixth form colleges, universities and top degrees. The same held true for maths. A child loses its way in Year 3, is humiliated, erects a solid wall between himself and numbers and is unable to progress. As a tutor my job is to dismantle that wall brick by brick, make numbers fun, then meaningful, then a challenge. Many have then gone on to take maths through to A Level and beyond. Tutors, far from being a status symbol for the wealthy, are used by wise parents from all walks of life for the very prosaic reason of helping a child understand something he/she is finding difficult. When children are struggling – in any subject – a tutor will fix a light on those murky areas of misunderstanding. He or she will begin as far back as need be, if necessary as far as phonics or the times tables. The tutor will then, working forward, identify the problem/s and progress from that point.

The final myth is that a ‘lost’ child will survive without a tutor. Absolutely not! Anybody believing this is simply not examining the facts. Education has changed and to quote L. P. Hartley, ‘The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there.’ Gone is the classroom of the 3Rs, the rigid discipline and sadly, in many cases, the parent/teacher empathy. Today’s classroom reflects our multiculturalist society, our eco-awareness and our specific attention to health and safety. These wide subjects have, necessarily, leached time from the school day, bearing in mind the school day in 2018 is exactly the same length as its 1950’s counterpart. Something, or some things, had to go and those things were specific reading time, spelling as a lesson and handwriting, all of which must now be developed and expanded at home. And so, if you feel your child could benefit from the help of a tutor, go ahead. Find a qualified teacher who is experienced in teaching at your child’s level and ignore any adverse comments about tutoring. Most importantly, the tutor must be a qualified teacher.

And now for the next step in our reading tutorial.

The sounds:

ble, cle, dle, fle, gle, kle, ple, sle, tle, zle, as in dabble, uncle, candle, scuffle and so on can be tricky. As you say these words you’ll notice the sound is a simple ‘fl’, ‘bl’ etc. Don’t pronounce them ‘ful’, ‘bul’ and then words ending in these sounds will never be spelled incorrectly.

Finally for now we’ll look at:

aw: as in paw,caw, raw.

ew: as in few, pew, grew and new, but also as in, sew.

ow: as in bow, cow, brow, frown, clown, also snow, grow, blow, glow, stow.

Now your little reader should be able to read the following.

‘Then they rested and when everybody was about to move on, a crashing in the ferns stopped them in their tracks. Leo went to investigate. It was a line of small rabbits. Tied to each one was a bundle of food. The leader was a slightly larger ginger and white chap with impressive pink ears, white paws and long black whiskers. He hopped up to Lampy and sat before him nodding his head and flicking those long black whiskers in a sort of silent but animated conversation.

”Ah ha!” Lampy thanked the rabbits, then told the children that Queen Arianne had sent the food and now they’d be able to go on their way fully refreshed.

In air that almost stung their skin with its freshness, they picnicked on light, crusty dough rolls, crunchy salad, sliced brawn, new potatoes, ham and potted beef. There were tiny pies with tomato sauce, bramble jellies, strawberries, fruit pies, cup-cakes, biscuits, sweet honey from the royal bumble bees and ice cold water from the pools.’ From The Magic Caves of Alonah.

Keep reading every day. Good luck.

This is Teaching Post  16

Link to Teaching Post 17

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This post was written by Alonah Reading Cambridge

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