*challenge at the end, which you will love if you are a phonics nerd :)
I was talking to a really experienced primary teacher a while back. She has over 25 years in the classroom and we were talking phonics. She said it was her “Achilles’ heel”. It echoed something I’ve heard many times over the years - even the teachers and tutors getting good results for their children aren’t always as confident in their subject knowledge as they would like to be.
Phonics is something parents aren’t too familiar with either. I heard one parent joke that he first thought phonics was a new brand of headphones.
There’s definitely a need to know more about phonics and that need is there for teachers, private tutors and parents. One question that comes up all the time is: why is English just so hard? I was sent this article this weekend, where Séamas O’Reilly shares the wonder:
Taking millions of combinations of a few dozen hieroglyphs and translating them into meaning is such a bizarrely difficult task it’s hard to believe any of us have done it at all.
And since dyslexia awareness is on the calendar in October, it’s worth saying that about 20% of the population struggle with those millions of combinations.
Talking about his young son, he sums up the parent perspective:
Further impeding my ability to reckon with this task (learning to read) is the fact he’s learning phonics, a technique they standardised long after my primary education ended.
But he’s definitely learning best phonics practice of modelling pure sounds:
...and yet here I am … mispronouncing letters. I start out saying, ‘Ah, buh, cuh,’ before my son corrects me. It’s important not to give these phonemes a long tail, he says, finessing them to ‘a-, b-, k-’. I take heart from the fact he calls them ‘momeems’, but not much.
There’s a need to dive deeper into phonemes, graphemes, split digraphs, how to approach standard pronunciation, what phonemic awareness really tells us, how phonological awareness isn’t just one thing, why literacy is so difficult to learn in English compared to some other languages, how to save your sanity by ditching a rule-based approach to spelling … and about 40-odd other bits of phonics and literacy terminology. So that’s what we are doing here at Jigsaw Phonics. We are unpacking it in ways relevant to teachers and tutors. We want teachers and tutors to own their subject knowledge to increase their confidence in the classroom.
To do that, we are currently finishing 6 themed training sessions of 120 minutes each that go into phonics and literacy terminology in ways that are directly relatable to classroom practice. The result of our training for teachers and tutors will be a strong contribution to their knowledge and expertise in teaching phonics and delivering early literacy education.
I’m going to put my inner phonics nerd on the line here. If we haven’t got a word or term in our training courses and it should be, you’ll get a free pass to all 6 training courses once they’ve launched, either for you or a teacher or private tutor friend.
So I’m going to ask you: what bit of phonics jargon or literacy terminology should 100% be included in a training course for phonics and early literacy teachers and private tutors? Email me directly here with your suggestions!