Phonics is not working for DD1 - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 05-03-2012, 09:27 AM - Thread Starter
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At the beginning of the school year DD1 was really good at beginning reading - identifying letters and their sounds.  We began learning to read with phonics and have completed a phonics program for first grade.  We are now using Rookie Readers and Level 1 Readers with vocabulary words.  You would think that she new every word in the story when she reads it out loud to you.  However, when she takes the vocabulary oral test in the back of the book she knows very few of the words she seems to read so effortlessly in the text.  What she is doing is memorizing the text and using the pictures as clues to remind herself of what the word must say.  When I ask her to use her phonics to sound out a word, she cannot.  She know individual letter sounds, but can't combine them to make any sense out of a word.  Phonics seems to work for most of the folks I know, but it doesn't seem to have helped my daughter at all.  She should be in second grade next year, but her reading level is not there.  She will be 7 in August.  Does anyone have any suggestions on how to help her identify and read words instead of memorizing a text.  Thanks.

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#2 of 6 Old 05-03-2012, 11:57 AM
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The beauty of home schooling is what grade they should be in doesn't matter, you can teach to their level. In some education programs she wouldn't have even started reading lessons until next school year. Just back it up to basics and do it without pictures. My son gets distracted by pictures in his work pages and easy readers, but we don't do repetition much of reading assignments so he hasn't tried the memorizing trick. As she is that good at memorizing I'll bet she can pick up sight words well (let her just remember articles, pronouns, colors, and numbers, whatever common words she can pick up).


As for sounding out things, either try a curriculum without many pics or just sit down with paper and talking with her and review phonics from the start.


Have her tell you beginning, middle, and end sounds in CVC words that you say and that she sees spelled.

Practice showing, saying, and having her repeat just blends with short vowels like bă, lĕ, dĭ...

Practice finding 2 vowel words (like cake, rain, tea, feet, pie, pine, coat, bone, rude) and reading long vowel blends (rā, tē, pī, lō, mū, and so on).


To begin with, point to what sound she's to read, read it yourself and have her repeat it. Ask her to remember usually if she sees those letters it will sound like ___. Then give words with examples. Do the same with special sounds of every sort you come to. Say full words slowly but don't do the jerky phonics splitting it up thing, you want it to sound smooth together, you want her to read it so it makes sense to her and everyone else.

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#3 of 6 Old 05-03-2012, 01:31 PM
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I would be careful not to define reading as "word decoding."  Looking at pictures/context for help and memorizing words are also important parts of reading.  No one reads strictly phonetically, and it's not possible to do so even if you try, at least in the English language.  If you try to stop her from memorizing the shape/appearance of words and looking at pictures/context for help, you may be discouraging her from developing skills that are essential to fluent reading. 

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#4 of 6 Old 05-03-2012, 02:08 PM
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FWIW, my son learnt to read by recognizing words, not by decoding. The decoding came later-- after he was already a fluent sight reader. I think kids learn in a lot of different ways. I suspect my son learnt to read mostly by watching the pages as we read to him, but I'm not sure. He was an early reader but he was never willing to "sound out" words until well after he could easily recognize them. One thing that was fun was reading Dr. Seuss with him, because there are so many made-up words-- no matter how well you sight read, you need to use decoding skills to manage wockets and noothgrush and biggle-ball droppers. When I read to him, I sometimes stumbled over a particularly ridiculous word, so he could see how I sounded out. I think perfectionism can play a role too-- some kids just hate to be seen to make mistakes and don't like to guess if they aren't sure.

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#5 of 6 Old 05-03-2012, 03:15 PM
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My ds was always very resistant to phonics. He learned to read by building up his knowledge of sight words. He was a bit older when he started demonstrating real reading (more like 8 1/2) skills. Part of it was perfectionism, part was being selective about what he'd read. It's awkward with older new readers because easy readers are dull or babyish. Also, sight readers do better with more complicated sentences. Ones where all the words are the same length and all the words have the same vowels are actually harder for them to read because all the words look the same. Ds had more trouble reading "The cat sat on the mat," than more advanced sentences. But he never read in a stumbling, hesitant manner. When he'd read aloud, he'd read quickly and fluently because he wasn't trying to sound anything out. 

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#6 of 6 Old 05-03-2012, 07:01 PM
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As a strategy to help her, have her do a lot of writing. Write letters to loved ones, lists for the store, a story of what happend today, or what she knows about a topic. You encourage her to put down the sounds she hears, and help her break the words apart. Talk about how many sylables are in words.


Play sight word games. (there are lots of these availble in education catalogs, but you can make your own, especially if you see some of the examples in the catalogs).  And do lots of reading that she enjoys out loud.


I'd suggest that it may work to start over with phonics using a different program. You might have something available at the library, so as not to have to buy it.

Twin boys (2/05) and little sister (10/07)
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