Meet Miss Emma, The Reading Whisperer
'The only way to successfully learn to read in English is to know the 'speech sound' values of the letters. We call them 'pictures of speech sounds' ie Speech Sound Pics. The written code was created to represent speech sounds, not the other way around. So a 'Speech to Print' approach is taken. Phonics is essential for ALL readers, but students will struggle to learn phonics without good phonemic awareness.
Children who are good readers have learnt the phonics code, even if the school does not explicitly and systematically teach it. They have good phonemic awareness. Children who can tell you that the word 'frog' without the 'r' (sound) is 'fog' have the skills to learn to read and spell in SPITE of the instruction they receive.
This is why I am currently so focused on my 'Steps to Reading and Spelling' playgroups and sessions with pre-schoolers in the UK; working with EY educators, parents and carers, we are protecting them from becoming instructional casualties. This is vital if they are dyslexic. We want to send them to school confident, curious and eager to read and spell, and to learn new words!
Around a third of children starting school may not develop those phonics skills, regardless of which phonics program the school is using, or explore the whole code; they will struggle to reach the stage of using 'orthographic mapping' ie to read without conscious thought (see Kilpatrick 2015) They may still be in the 'learning to read' phase in grade 3 and have poor spelling skills. Their struggles might put them off learning and they may doubt themselves. We love children and we love learning, and want to avoid that at all costs. '
I also run a range of Zoom and face-to-face training sessions for teachers interested in developing more advanced spelling skills, without teaching 'rules' or giving out spelling lists to learn! Contact me to ask about in-service training.
Thank you for your interest in taking a 'less teaching, more learning' approach.
If child-centred, playful, hands-on learning that excites and engages all children is in line with your beliefs about what a learning environment looks like, then you have come to the right place! Together we can change the education system so that we are educating hearts and minds, and feeling fulfilled as educators.
Miss Emma is a highly successful teacher and former OFSTED Inspector. She has a Masters Degree in Special Educational Needs (Dyslexia focus) and is undertaking doctoral study in the UK with the University of Reading.