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Part 3 – Parental support and understanding

Parents are able to closely watch their children’s reading progress. This section provides guidance about looking out for potential problems and doing something about it.

Part 3: Parental support and understanding

Parents’ experiences

Parents listen a great deal to their children reading their schoolbooks, far more than teachers possibly can in a busy classroom. Parents with children who are struggling are usually aware that their children are guessing many of the words. That is usually a sign that the children are grasping at straws because they are expected to read non-decodable books and do not really know how to work the words out properly. Guessing words is a difficult habit to stop and basically it is the children’s poor phonic knowledge and poor blending skills that are causing the major problems. It can help if children are shown the alphabetic code.

The English alphabetic code is discussed in Understanding the Alphabetic Code, Part 3 (which can be found in the Phonic Knowledge section on the home page) and two charts are available to download by scrolling down to the bottom of the screen in the section Guidance for Parents, Part 3. (It does not matter which chart is used.) Now, if a child were expected to read the sentence The elephant felt very hot and had not been taught that the letters ‹ph› have a /f/ sound, then blending the word elephant would be difficult. At this point you might like to use an alphabetic code chart to show that the usual way to represent the /f/ sound is ‹f›, but sometimes ‹ph› is used instead [demonstration]. Now, this word and the rest of the sentence becomes decodable. (Children should know that the ‹y› at the end of very has an /ee/ sound but, if not, you can use the chart again to remind them.) A chart showing the alphabetic code makes it much clearer for children, as they can see where they are going.

Parental understanding

Parents who are lucky to have children who find it easy to read and write often think that all the bedtime stories and good parental support they have provided have ensured their children’s success; that is until they have a child who struggles. Only then do they realise how hard it can be for some children and that much more teaching and support is needed for these children than for the others.  Frequently, they realise that it has little to do with intelligence. Their struggling child seems just as bright as his or her siblings. Also there are many parents who do all the correct things and are at a loss as to why their children find it so difficult. Hopefully, this website will give parents a much better understanding of the alphabetic code, of how to teach reading and writing, and of the reasons why some children struggle. It is best when teachers and parents work together to ensure that all the children master reading and writing in their primary years, so that they can go on and take full advantage of their secondary education.

We know it is possible (as the section Preventing Reading and Writing Problems explains) and that the so-called disadvantaged children (such as boys, children from low-income families, those who have English as a second language or a summer birthday, or children with special educational needs) are also able to be very successful, so long as they are taught with synthetic phonics and decodable readers. The reason why those who have English as a second language are able to do well is because they are being taught all the time in English. This enables young children to pick up spoken English naturally, in a similar way to their mother tongue. It also gives those children the necessary understanding to make sense of the books and texts they read once they have been taught with synthetic phonics. As for learning how to decode, we know that these children are just as able to learn this skill as native language speakers.

Teaching in non English-speaking countries

In non English-speaking countries, it is a different situation. There the children are being taught English as a foreign language. They can learn decoding just as well, but they need much more attention on the listening and speaking of English in order to understand the language. The most effective solution seems to be working well in countries where they teach the children in English for 40% of the time from a young age. At the same time, they teach the children to read English words using synthetic phonics. This approach seems to be extremely successful. The two elements needed for reading – namely decoding and comprehension – come together very effectively.

 

 

  • Part 1 – Preparing children for school

    In this section there is parental guidance for helping pre-school children develop skills…

  • Part 2 – Choosing a school

    In this section parents are encouraged to find out how reading and writing…

  • Part 4 – Conclusion

    The conclusion in this section offers guidance to parents who wish to support…

  • TCRW - English Alphabetic-Code Chart

    Alphabetic-Code Charts are extremely useful for developing an understanding of how our complex alphabetic code works.

  • Debbie Hepplewhite's English Alphabetic-Code Chart

    Alphabetic-Code Charts are extremely useful for developing an understanding of how our complex, alphabetic code works. Debbie Hepplewhite has made an excellent chart. There are several other charts available on her website - a link has been provided to her website www.phonicsinternational.co

  • TCRW - English Alphabetic-Code Chart

    Alphabetic-Code Charts are extremely useful for developing an understanding of how our complex alphabetic code works.

  • Debbie Hepplewhite's English Alphabetic-Code Chart

    Alphabetic-Code Charts are extremely useful for developing an understanding of how our complex, alphabetic code works. Debbie Hepplewhite has made an excellent chart. There are several other charts available on her website - a link has been provided to her website www.phonicsinternational.co