I am so confused and desperate about my children's......

This forum has been created to provide a non-challenging environment for teachers and parents new to using synthetic phonics.
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I am so confused and desperate about my children's......

Post by arin »


Hi everyone,
Before I start I should thank you all for this very informative site.

I am a mother of two; my daughter is in Y2, son is in Y4.
They go to a reputable state school in North London.
I am not a native English speaker (I start learning it when I was at university and I am still learning it.)
We speak English as a second language, our main language belongs to a different language group. This makes things difficult in language learning, but this is not what exactly my trouble with my children in literacy lessons.

Their reading is up to standards, but their spelling is disastrous!
Whatever I have done for it, I could not improve it!
We came to point of instant war when we try to study together! I gave up! :(

My daughter is not as keen as my son about writing, reading but her spelling is much better than my son. She sometimes writes difficult words correctly if she is asked from her brother' spelling homeworks.

When I thought about it thoroughly, I found that my daughter’s sound knowledge is clearly better than my son's. This enables her to spell out words more accurately.
They learnt reading and writing with Jolly Phonics.

My sons used to love writing untill Y4. Even though he was not correct on his spellings, he used to do pages of creative writing at school and home. Now he is ashamed of his spelling mistakes that he could not put on the right track for Y4 pupil and he put off writing altogether!

He is a very bright child and I want to take action this year before it becomes too late for his academic achievement.

I have first heard about Synthetic Phonics from my friend who says her daughter learnt reading and writing much easier and quicker with Synthetic Phonics comparing to her son who learnt with Jolly Phonics years ago in the same school.

Jumping from site to site in internet to find out what I can do about my children's spelling, I found here.
I have already developed the idea of finding a private teacher who can teach them phonics and spelling strategies only; but now I am thinking that instead of someone teaches Jolly Phonics, I need to find a teacher (North London) who uses Synthetic Phonics approach for teaching
or alternatively an effective PC CD-ROM in the market (tested and approved by the professionals here).
But where can I find these teachers or PC programs?

Oh, I am so confused and desperate!
Please help! :(
Thank you for your time.
Last edited by arin on Thu Jan 28, 2010 4:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by chew8 »

Just one very quick point, Arin: 'Jolly Phonics' is a synthetic phonics programme, and when it's well taught the results are very good. Do you happen to know what other synthetic phonics programme your friend was comparing it with?

Jenny C.

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Post by arin »

OMG! :oops:
See how confused I am! ( The parents are always confused about how the lessons are given in schools anyway, let alone ESL parents!) :(
I will ask my friend if not Jolly Phonics what it was!

In a way I am relieved that I can find a solution nearby. It is not going to be all over again!

In this case, could you help me how to identify the right teacher if I want my children to take private lessons for phonics and spelling rules, please?

What questions should I ask to her?

Is there an internet site that I can contact them?

Another question is: Can I ask a teacher that I know she is good in my children's school to give private lessons to my children?
Is this legal /or ethical in UK?

Thank you again.


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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Post by Debbie Hepplewhite »

Welcome to the RRF message forum, arin!

Many of us actually became aware of synthetic phonics teaching through use of the Jolly Phonics programme.

Like all programmes, however, a school 'doing' Jolly Phonics doesn't mean that the school teaches it well, or that the teaches stick strictly to the synthetic phonics teaching principles (in other words, teachers might 'mix' their methods and materials) - and often schools don't know how to continue with the SP teaching principles.

In many cases, teachers are not even fully aware of the synthetic phonics teaching prinicples per se - and merely dabble in phonics teaching.

The situation has changed latterly since we have lobbied government for a change of its guidance and now the 'synthetic phonics teaching principles' are the official method that schools should be using.

However, our government continued to promote a programme called Reading Recovery for intervention for slower-to-learn pupils and this programme is not underpinned by the SP teaching principles but many of the reading strategies which have been rejected by Jim Rose who undertook a national review of teaching children to read!

Please don't worry about not yet understanding all these issues. Many of us, including me as a qualified teacher, took many years to unpick what was wrong and why so many children have weak basic literacy knowledge and skills.

I have written a programme which, in effect, builds on Jolly Phonics and as it progresses it becomes a spelling programme (which also continues to consolidate good reading). I have designed it to be used by anyone (teachers, tutors and/or parents) because a variety of people need systematic resources and not just schools. It is also designed to readily inform parents or to share the teaching and learning with parents when children attend school.

My suggestion to parents is to evaluate the programme and if they like its format, they can actually use it themselves to teach their children. Really, children could do with 'drip drip' type teaching several times a week and not just 'once a week' with a tutor - or at least share the teaching with a tutor. See www.phonicsinternational.com where there are explanatory video clips and all the material in unit 1 is free. The free material is possible to use with other synthetic phonics programmes in any event so well worth a look.

There are a few free SP type programmes on the web and the best place to look for practical information about a range of programmes - commercial or free - is Susan Godsland's site www.dyslexics.org.uk .

Susan Godsland

Post by Susan Godsland »

arin, I hope you find the following helpful.

Choosing a remedial reading tutor:

If you plan to use an independent tutor to help your child, then check the CONTENT and the TIME FRAME of the programme that the tutor will provide, extremely carefully. A good programme will usually take between 15 - 30, one hour, one-to-one sessions to remediate effectively. A few children, who have been left very confused and damaged by whole-word reading practices, may take a little longer, as may those with additional learning difficulties. Some specialist programmes for 'dyslexia' take years to complete and leave children still unable to read properly. They should be avoided for your child's (and your wallet's!) sake.

Make sure that the tutor uses a evidence-based, highly structured, intensive, synthetic / linguistic phonic programme as the basis for their teaching. Avoid any tutor who claims to 'tailor the lessons to a child's individual learning style' or uses a 'mixture of methods'. See- What Not to do: http://www.dyslexics.org.uk/resources_a ... her_18.htm

The chosen programme must work rapidly with positive advances to the child's reading and writing skills being perceptible to all involved - parent, child and tutor - within a short time. Furthermore, the tutor should, 'Involve the parent... directly in homework so that she has a positive role and can maintain gains between sessions and after sessions have ended.' (D. McGuinness Why Children Can't Read p320)

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Post by arin »

Thank you very much for your replies: Extensively useful and very friendly! :)

Then I will devise a plan for my children after I checked the links you have given.
Last week I have ordered this "holly book" of WHY CHILDREN CAN'T READ? from internet, it is coming all the way from Canada. :)

If and when I have a question I will write to you.
You are in my favorites now anyway, even if I don't write I will be reading posts here.

:) Thanks.