Phonics debate

Dyslexia and phonics

PHONICS: Even in England they have the same approach as here in Australia – and judging by the many teachers I have seen lately who complain that dyslexic kids still don’t seem to get it – they have the same small margin of success. According to the article, synthetic phonics leave a staggering 52 % of the children behind. How can they claim, that research shows very clearly that this method (systemic phonics) has the highest success rate?

Every single child I see, who has been objected to this approach got worse, got nauseous or got left behind. I don’t doubt that there are children who have benefitted from this method – but they were not visual learners! It is those who need our help, though. They are the ones labelled as dyslexic, SLD (Special learning difficulties) or some other label like auditory processing disordered etc.

In case you were wondering what “synthetic phonics” means…I found it for you, as this is definitely NOT the way we teach:

What is Synthetic Phonics?

Synthetic Phonics is a technical name that has nothing to do with being artificial! It is the synthesising, or blending of phonemes (sounds) to make a word, enabling children to read.

At a glance, Synthetic Phonics teaches children:

That spoken words are composed of phonemes (sounds)
The 44 phonemes of the English language
All the different ways each phoneme can be represented, e.g. the phoneme /a/ as in ‘apron’ can be spelled (‘ay’ like in ‘pay’, ‘ai’ like in ‘paid’, ‘a’ like in ‘apron’, ‘eigh’ like in ‘eight’ and so on…)
To blend phonemes in a word to read
To listen for phonemes in words to spell
Irregular, high frequency words (we call them camera words), which are essential to help children progress the quality of their writing and move onto reading full sentences
The phoneme first and then the letter name

WOW, that does my head in – no wonder they are confused!

You should see my current client – and the progress this 9-year-old has made after only three days, getting away from sounding out and reading nicely. This is still only the beginning, he will keep improving daily. He had been labelled too severely dyslexic to be taught, the mum had been asked if anything went wrong at birth and none of the intervention in the past few years (and they tried EVERYTHING) made any impact. His teachers all said that they had never taught anyone quite like him before – yet he turned out to be a real pleasure to teach, eager to learn, has great visual ability and remembers his words that way.