Help Needed Desparate Mum of 7 Year old boy

This forum has been created to provide a non-challenging environment for teachers and parents new to using synthetic phonics.

Post Reply
Jordibird
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 10:26 pm

Help Needed Desparate Mum of 7 Year old boy

Post by Jordibird » Sun Apr 11, 2010 1:12 am

Hi,
Firstly I apologise if this is the wrong forum to post this in, I am at the end of my tether and desparately need some advice. I live in the North East and my son who has just turned 7 has been diagnosed via a member of the SENTASS/SpLD Team as being a Dyslexic Profile (E). I'll try to give some background and to keep this brief. Between the ages of 2 and 3 he attended an early years centre where as far as I can remember he was introduced to Jolly Phonics, there were no problems at that stage I sat with him and we would sound out the letters/words together nor was there any when he started school in reception where the Jolly Phonics method was still in force. However in year 1 he brought home as homework the Biff and Kipper books (he is still bringing these colour banded Oxford Learning Tree books home to read at present), and I was advised via his homework books to sit and help him read through these together with a list of words that he must learn. My son then went down hill fast, his teacher asked to sign him up for extra lessons for reading and writing (he was 5 at the time) and for me to sign a "development plan" which stated what level he was at and what level the school would like to help him to achieve.
Every night I sat with him helping him to read through the OLT books and trying my best with his spelling, he had problems with the b,d and s letters. When he started year 2 his interest in anything to do with writing and reading (OLT books only) went completely. Homework (he has a spelling test every friday) became a nightmare, it often ended up with both of us in tears. At the parents evening his teachers (there are 2 who job share) mentioned that they thought it was highly likely that he had dyslexia and that they would like to put him forward for screening, I had my doubts about this (reasons being his maths, memory, alphabet, days of the week too many to go into here), but gave my verbal consent. I heard nothing more until my son informed me he had done some tests at school, when I enquired the school said the assessor was at the school and had a vacant slot so they put my son into it otherwise he would have had to wait 6 month or more.

I was then called to the school 2 weeks later for a meeting with his teachers and the SENCO and was given a copy of the report based on the screening together with a leaflet on dyslexia. I was also given an appointment to discuss the findings with the person who did the test as they would know more about the condition and be able to answer any queries I have. That's when I did some research of my own taking the findings in the report to hand. I have via the internet and especially dyslexics.org.uk become very alarmed indeed as to the teaching methods employed and although I am no where near an expert I feel that my son has not had nor will have the correct method (synthetic phonics) to enable him to read and write. The recommendations of the report have only frightened me further they are and I quote:-

Write from the Start to develop fine motor skills or school's own programme
ICT programmes to consolodate literacy skills - Nessy, Lexia or Wordshark
Phonological awareness programme Sound Linkage by Hatcher or Launch into Reading
Individual bank of high frequency word bank/alphabet arc for written work
Increased opportunities to read aloud
Action Words programme to develop sight vocabulary
Activities to develop sequencing and working memory skills

The screener used was the GL assessment together with WRAT4 reading and spelling. My son scored above average on Missing Pieces, Visual Search and Vocabulary, average on Word Sounds, just below the average on spelling and below average on reading.

As I have already said before I am in no way an expert on these things, before all this I did not know there were different methods of teaching reading and writing, but I now believe that he should receive the synthetic phonics method and that if he does then this will improve his reading and writing capabilities. I have a meeting with the assessor on the 21st of April and would be so grateful if you could offer me any advice on what I should do to get the education I want for my son. I feel that I have been railroaded by all concerned and very let down by the education authorities and this is starting to turn into anger. Please if you cannot help me could you point me in the right direction of anyone who can.

Thank You so much

Lesley

JAC
Posts: 517
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2005 1:51 am

Re: Help Needed Desparate Mum of 7 Year old boy

Post by JAC » Sun Apr 11, 2010 4:15 am

What a sorry tale and one that I hear often as a tutor. Lesley, you can go down two paths, inform yourself and push the school, or inform yourself and do the job yourself.

From what you say about the school, it does not sound like they carry out a systematic synthetic phonics programme supprted by appropriate decodable texts. Word Shark and Nessy and no substitute for systematic instruction from a knowledgeable teacher.

To be blunt, you are probably better off to do the job yourself as this will be quicker and less frustrating. A way that will give your son a much-needed confidence boost, and an easy way for a novice to teach is to use the BRI/ARI readers, available from http://www.piperbooks.co.uk. A placement test on the website will help you find out where to start, although it sounds to me like your boy is a beginner. This is easier to deal with than an older child who has entrenched guessing. There is also a user group for these books which you can join for advice and any further help you require.

There are many excellent evidence-based programmes should you decide to use something else, or to find a tutor who will teach such a programme.

The BRI/ARI books will very quickly let you and your son see progress.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Beginning ... struction/
http://www.piperbooks.co.uk

Jordibird
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 10:26 pm

Re: Help Needed Desparate Mum of 7 Year old boy

Post by Jordibird » Sun Apr 11, 2010 5:20 pm

Thank you so much for the advice, I will definately get the books and join the website and by hook or by crook teach my son using the synthetic phonics method.

I hope you don't mind if I ask another question, to do with the meeting I have about my son's screening. What approach should I take? Should I inform them of my objections to their proposed teaching methods, also would these hinder the work that I will be doing with him? I am quite prepared to decline the extra help offered if it is not wholly based on synthetic phonics and would further damage my son's learning. I will be going to the meeting as prepared as I can (I already have 4 folders full of information on the subject) and I am in no way going to let them persuade me that the proposed recommemdations are the best and only way forward.

Thanks so much for your help and advice I don't feel isolated and not half as stressed as I was.

Kind regards
Lesley

kenm
Posts: 1495
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2005 5:19 pm
Location: Berkshire

Re: Help Needed Desparate Mum of 7 Year old boy

Post by kenm » Sun Apr 11, 2010 9:29 pm

Jordibird wrote: I hope you don't mind if I ask another question, to do with the meeting I have about my son's screening. What approach should I take?[..]I am in no way going to let them persuade me that the proposed recommemdations are the best and only way forward.
Quite right. If they start putting pressure on you, you might hint that you are considering home education. If you are seriously considering that, send me a PM. I can send you some useful information about it, and put you in touch with successful home educators.
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

JAC
Posts: 517
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2005 1:51 am

Re: Help Needed Desparate Mum of 7 Year old boy

Post by JAC » Mon Apr 12, 2010 1:13 am

Lesley - dealing with school will be harder than teaching your son. On the one hand it is pleasanter to keep up friendly relations, on the other you don't want further damage to your son's confidence.

One approach is simply to use the meeting as an information gathering exercise, where you will have your list of questions ready to ask, and a pen to write down the answers! Maybe you have a partner or friend who can accompany you, if you feel it necessary.

It is likely that any criticism of the school's method will be readily deflected by telling you that they already 'do' whatever! They have pinpointed
Write from the Start to develop fine motor skills or school's own programme
ICT programmes to consolodate literacy skills - Nessy, Lexia or Wordshark
Phonological awareness programme Sound Linkage by Hatcher or Launch into Reading
Individual bank of high frequency word bank/alphabet arc for written work
Increased opportunities to read aloud
Action Words programme to develop sight vocabulary
Activities to develop sequencing and working memory skills


The harmful part of this (in my opinion) is the emphasis on 'sight words'. The activities to develop sequencing and working memory are probaby a waste of time unless it is some specific programme with good evidence (I don't know of one in regular use). ICT programmes - ask for specifics here as children can get more interested in the game aspects. Used as part of a systematic instruction they can provide added imotivation. Opportunities to read aloud - yes but the texts must be chosen that require no guessing - ask what texts they plan to use, and how will they measure their suitability. Ask how much reading-aloud will be done at school, has the school got a volunteer programme or a specialist teacher for instance. This is where the little books will be best used. I have had some success as a tutor with schools, but most schools blithely go on using their own books. I know things are changing in the UK in this regard (I am Australian) so this may or may not be contentious. 'Write from the Start' for his fine motor skills - Do ask how it will be supervised as if your son is not watched carefully he may end up practising any poor writing habits he already has. There may be other views on this but mine is to concentrate on the specific hand-writing skills, and an outside opinion from an occupational therapist with an interest in children's handwriiting may be worth investigating. Many children have odd pencil grips which they are reluctant to change, and which are uncomfortable and unproductive in terms of developing automaticity. He is 7 so habits will be entrenched and difficult to change. 'Write from the Start' does not address specific letter formation. 'Sound Linkage' deals with 'sounding out' - you need to know how often and how long, on his own or as part of a group. I think that will be ok. I have not used this myself but my local Dyslexia Speld has it in the library and some tutors might use it.

Once you have got some detailed information you can assess how much of your son's time is being gobbled up at school and will be in a position to decide what is the best way forward, in the short term as least. It does seem that the school's plan to carry out explicit instruction will require substantial adult supervision to be effective.

Good luck.

JAC
Posts: 517
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2005 1:51 am

Re: Help Needed Desparate Mum of 7 Year old boy

Post by JAC » Mon Apr 12, 2010 2:08 am

It has just occurred to me that the list of recommendations sounds as if it has come from an 'outside' the school source, and they are making suggestions for the school to carry out. It could be that the school itself s not familiar with any of the recommendations being made, either the programmes , or maybe they don't even have them or have anyone who knows how to use them, or a spare adult to carry it all out. (the poor class teacher maybe!)
This adds another layer of complexity and potential for defensiveness and misunderstanding to the situation. Just as well to be aware of it.

User avatar
Susan Godsland
Administrator
Posts: 4973
Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 11:10 pm
Location: Exeter UK
Contact:

Re: Help Needed Desparate Mum of 7 Year old boy

Post by Susan Godsland » Mon Apr 12, 2010 10:41 am

I already have 4 folders full of information on the subject
LOL :thumbup:

Sound Linkage is a 'phonological awareness' training programme designed to be used alongside a whole language reading scheme. ''In Hatcher's own work, he has incorporated Sound Linkage into the Marie Clay Reading Recovery framework'' (The Study of Dyslexia. p120)

kenm
Posts: 1495
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2005 5:19 pm
Location: Berkshire

Re: Help Needed Desparate Mum of 7 Year old boy

Post by kenm » Mon Apr 12, 2010 11:17 am

Although I quote Jordibird below, my questions are for JAC and the other experts.
Jordibird wrote:ICT programmes to consolodate literacy skills - Nessy, Lexia or Wordshark
What do these do? Are they all equally effective?
Phonological awareness programme Sound Linkage by Hatcher or Launch into Reading

Does that use text? PA without is ineffective
Individual bank of high frequency word bank/alphabet arc for written work

That sounds like harmful sight words again.
Jordibird wrote:Ask how much reading-aloud will be done at school, has the school got a volunteer programme or a specialist teacher for instance.[...]It does seem that the school's plan to carry out explicit instruction will require substantial adult supervision to be effective.

Who provides both the current and the extra instruction strikes me as an important question. What sort of training have they had? Are they familiar with the concept of the alphabetic code? Are they sympathetic to synthetic phonics or is it imposed upon a contrary entrenched view? Ideally I would like to meet these people and assess their competence and personality. The fact that the school still uses sight words suggests an old-fashioned approach and domination by SATS results rather than mastery of reading.
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

Jordibird
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 10:26 pm

Re: Help Needed Desparate Mum of 7 Year old boy

Post by Jordibird » Fri Apr 16, 2010 6:58 pm

Hi just a quick reply here as I'm using my mobile phone. Just to say thank you so much to you Jac and also Susan and Ken. I'm going online later tonight where I'll be able to post some more information in response to some of the queries raised. Just had to pass on my gratitude first and say sorry for not getting back in touch sooner (I've been away camping for the last part of the Easter holiday). Best Wishes
Lesley

User avatar
maizie
Administrator
Posts: 3120
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2004 10:38 pm
Location: N.E England

Re: Help Needed Desparate Mum of 7 Year old boy

Post by maizie » Thu Apr 22, 2010 9:30 am

I have sent you a Private Message, jordibird.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests