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Hi!

I work in a large nursery and we have 38 children mornings only. 7 are early starters and the rest go to school in September. We are finding it impossible to fit in phonics every day. We have 18 on WellComm interventions as they came up as red, which is six different activities to be done twice a week. Also our own next steps for prime areas, and IEP target work. Also adult activities! We do two phonics teaching sessions a week, and two maths ones and the fifth day children go into school for music lesson, so it's not fair to have a teaching session on top of this. We incorporate phonics into provision as much as possible, and also sing rhymes daily, incorporating it here too.

How do you all manage?! Also, we have been told not to teach any letter sounds by the Reception teacher who is phase leader as this is phase 2 work. We were showing letters incidentally to push more able e.g. if playing silly soup and all the toys started with the sound s we would show the letter s and teach the action. Do you teach letter sounds? Am I doing the wrong thing? Help!

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The thing most children don't have when they come up to reception is enough oral blending and segmenting experience. This is the thing I would focus on once they have the tuning in to sounds skills. If they cannot orally blend and segment, hearing sounds throughout a word, they will ultimately come unstuck when strating to read and write.

However if they were talking about PGCs informally in their work I wouldn't stop doing that, nor would I hold children back but the main thing is to be secure in the oral blending etc.

Fitting it in can be tricky, but lots of using the oral blending e.g. in instructions - can you go and get the b/a/g for me? etc can build the listening skills over time. Use story times to do tuning in to sounds activities or outdoors for sound walks as focus activities...

Cx

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Hi,

I'm also in a morning only school Nursery. I made a decision a couple of years ago NOT to do small group phonics everyday. I felt that the children were getting enough from what we were doing daily and through the Ci session. So, we now do 2 x phonics and 2x finger gym sessions a week, this changes to 3x phonics later in the year when we often have a small group that start phase 2.

Any child starting phase 2 will be very competent at blending and segmenting orally. We do singing at least once every day. We have storytime everyday and many of our core books are rhyming. We also do singing phonics on a Friday and a phonics warm-up during P.E. (I know we don't have to do P.E but the children wouldn't miss it!). We also introduce the letter sounds and shapes - started after Christmas this year.

I got the letters and sounds document and went through the phase 1 activities and marked off the ones that are covered through activities that I already did. You'll be surprised how much you do!

Green Hippo xxx

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We are a very small setting and have a child who reads from 12 months (!). This child was on our list of gifted and talented and to show that he/she not 'stuck' with us but making a progress plus not excluded from the rest of the group we needed to incorporate phonics in our daily activities. I was very sceptical but now our 3 year olds started to read. I'm not an expert and cannot explain how it happened but I think due to my scepticism I do not plan phonics but we do it daily and ocasionally record it in our daily evaluation in spontaneous adult led activities field. I do not record it daily as I do not think eithet Ofsted or reception teachers will like it. The child who reads from 12 months is outperforming in all areas of learning and has recently did a mock phonics screening test at the age of 44 months. We do lots of daily singing, mimicking sounds, jolly phonics actions, oral blending, recognising in which words we can hear a particular sound, etc. OMG! I cannot believe I am replying something related to phonics. It is like a ballet dancer is giving an advice to an electrician about wires and sockets. ...and I am Russian and my pronunciation is :-(

Edited by Oksana1975
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The thing most children don't have when they come up to reception is enough oral blending and segmenting experience. This is the thing I would focus on once they have the tuning in to sounds skills. If they cannot orally blend and segment, hearing sounds throughout a word, they will ultimately come unstuck when strating to read and write.

However if they were talking about PGCs informally in their work I wouldn't stop doing that, nor would I hold children back but the main thing is to be secure in the oral blending etc.

Fitting it in can be tricky, but lots of using the oral blending e.g. in instructions - can you go and get the b/a/g for me? etc can build the listening skills over time. Use story times to do tuning in to sounds activities or outdoors for sound walks as focus activities...

Cx

We have been told not to do aspects 6 and 7 until the Summer term unless a child is G&T.

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Hi,

I'm also in a morning only school Nursery. I made a decision a couple of years ago NOT to do small group phonics everyday. I felt that the children were getting enough from what we were doing daily and through the Ci session. So, we now do 2 x phonics and 2x finger gym sessions a week, this changes to 3x phonics later in the year when we often have a small group that start phase 2.

Any child starting phase 2 will be very competent at blending and segmenting orally. We do singing at least once every day. We have storytime everyday and many of our core books are rhyming. We also do singing phonics on a Friday and a phonics warm-up during P.E. (I know we don't have to do P.E but the children wouldn't miss it!). We also introduce the letter sounds and shapes - started after Christmas this year.

I got the letters and sounds document and went through the phase 1 activities and marked off the ones that are covered through activities that I already did. You'll be surprised how much you do!

Green Hippo xxx

I feel that they would get bored doing it daily in small group time, and I too feel that we do enough, but we are now discussing phonics since, crime of crimes I am teaching letter sounds/shapes. I feel that often the best learning is incidentally through CI play, playing alongside children and being playful, e.g. making up rhyming strings for their names; dolly, polly, zolly ....Molly!

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Hi

we are also a school nursery and have 52 at the beginning of the week and 52 at end. We use Singing Phonics which is a great little book that covers Phase 1 with some lovely activity ideas (I must admit that the Letters and Sounds activities are little bit boring and not practical for larger groups - my opinion only)

 

We also do WellComm and have a great deal on the intervention program. Do you or have you thought about grouping children on the same stage? Combining them in this way helps to get through all children by the time there 'week' ends. We do have the 'luxury' of a T.A to organise and deliver the intervention - something that I requested as a priority two years ago as we were getting so many children needing intervention and we had not enough time without something significant being lost from the timetable/curriculum.

 

Now that we have a dedicated TA for this the results by the end of the year are extremely satisfying in that by the time they head into Reception most no longer require intervention. Do you send the activities home for parents? We get them involved from the start so they understand what are the gaps in their child's understanding and so are better places to support them at home. We see a marked difference with those children that are supported at home and they subsequently come off the program fairly quickly which means that we can dedicated more time to those that are significantly behind.

Hope that helps... just remember to try and not do everything! I am sure you are doing a brilliant job and your children and their families will thank you for it :-)

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The advise that I was given is:

1. Phase 1 is not hierarchical apart from aspects 6&7

2. It is best to work through the strands I.e do activities from aspects 1-5 from strand 1, then strand 2, then strand 3.

 

I find it quite baffling that you have been told not to do something until a certain point - what about planning from assessment?

Many of my children are naturally interested in learning how to read and write. Usually when I start introducing the letters (we do Read Write Inc), I'll do 2 or 3 a week. Well, this year the children will not go for lunch without doing a new letter and then we're starting to get observations from home on Tapestry about the children pointing out letters, saying the ditties that help them to write.

In CI time, many children are writing for a purpose and using letter shapes in this. If we're working with them then we'll be talking about initial sounds and letter shapes - it's so natural and I certainly couldn't not do it if the opportunity to teach is there!

Finger gym: I have a book called Finger Gym which we use for 2 groups who already have shoulder stability. For the group that doesn't (stereotypically all boys this year!) we go outside and do big arm movements, wall press-ups, walking on all fours, drawing rainbows, snakes, circles, sweeping races etc.

 

In addition to what I said we do in our earlier posts, I play games e.g. "you can get your coat if your name begins with...", clapping names, saying sounds in name. I also have bubbles on the wall for staff/helpers to read with prompts about how to incorporate phonics into daily interactions.

 

With regards to the phonics games being boring, I went through and picked my favourites and also highlighted the ones that were most suited to large groups in one colour and small groups in another colour. The children will soon show which are they're favourites!

 

Green Hippo xxx

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Hi

we are also a school nursery and have 52 at the beginning of the week and 52 at end. We use Singing Phonics which is a great little book that covers Phase 1 with some lovely activity ideas (I must admit that the Letters and Sounds activities are little bit boring and not practical for larger groups - my opinion only)

 

We also do WellComm and have a great deal on the intervention program. Do you or have you thought about grouping children on the same stage? Combining them in this way helps to get through all children by the time there 'week' ends. We do have the 'luxury' of a T.A to organise and deliver the intervention - something that I requested as a priority two years ago as we were getting so many children needing intervention and we had not enough time without something significant being lost from the timetable/curriculum.

 

Now that we have a dedicated TA for this the results by the end of the year are extremely satisfying in that by the time they head into Reception most no longer require intervention. Do you send the activities home for parents? We get them involved from the start so they understand what are the gaps in their child's understanding and so are better places to support them at home. We see a marked difference with those children that are supported at home and they subsequently come off the program fairly quickly which means that we can dedicated more time to those that are significantly behind.

Hope that helps... just remember to try and not do everything! I am sure you are doing a brilliant job and your children and their families will thank you for it :-)

We do group but have 6 groups each working on a different pack! One is on 18 month pack despite being 38 months, so he has to do his individually as has fleeting attention! We have 3 staff for the 31 pre-schoolers and then the head put in a TA 1 for the new 7, but this is not enough with all the interventions. Feel we should have an extra TA for part of session to just do these interventions! We have very little time for shared sustained thinking and facilitating learning. It is what it is ..... That's a good idea about sending home. We have only started using it this year. Do you have to make all the resources? We do, so if we sent it home I'd have to make lots of resources.

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Someone please tell me that I am not the only one who thinks this all sounds like far too much phonics? As far as I'm concerned we already start formal education far too early, with a drastically over-weighted focus on literacy and mathematics, and so I really don't see the appeal to make it (in my opinion) worse :( I think an environment that immerses young children in language and mathematics, where all of the basic concepts are reinvented and explored through the medium of play, would have a significantly greater, positive impact on children's future learning and development than any taught phonics session ever will. But I digress ...

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Sooty most of the 'resources' for WellComm are things that are usually around in an early years setting anyway. We don't make things for home use... again much of what is in the intervention activities are things that can be found around the home. It might be that you are trying to do too much?

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Someone please tell me that I am not the only one who thinks this all sounds like far too much phonics? As far as I'm concerned we already start formal education far too early, with a drastically over-weighted focus on literacy and mathematics, and so I really don't see the appeal to make it (in my opinion) worse :( I think an environment that immerses young children in language and mathematics, where all of the basic concepts are reinvented and explored through the medium of play, would have a significantly greater, positive impact on children's future learning and development than any taught phonics session ever will. But I digress ...

Interesting point. Do you work in a school nursery? I can't see us being allowed to do less whatever we provide elsewhere!

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Sooty most of the 'resources' for WellComm are things that are usually around in an early years setting anyway. We don't make things for home use... again much of what is in the intervention activities are things that can be found around the home. It might be that you are trying to do too much?

This week I have had to make cause/effect pictures for why questions and action pictures for who isn't climbing etc. And my ICT skills leave a lot to be desired, so I'm very slow. At least I'll have them for next year .....

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Interesting point. Do you work in a school nursery? I can't see us being allowed to do less whatever we provide elsewhere!

I currently work part time for Sure Start Children's Centres whilst studying full time towards Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS); my current placement being in a reception class. I have previously worked in private and charity owned early years settings, but never a school one.

Therein lies my qualm with the recent push for more settings being based in schools: they tend to be pushed more towards formal educational approaches despite all current research pointing in the opposite direction. Although I'm afraid I can't give any solutions, and it would be foolish of me to blindly try to give advice

Edited by Rob6692
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Someone please tell me that I am not the only one who thinks this all sounds like far too much phonics?.

No, you're not alone, but i've also been in schools where there is such pressure to do more earlier, it's often difficult to fight your corner especially if you are a lone teacher. In reality, I left my last job because of exactly this, in the end I couldn't find a compromise between what I completely believe and what I was expected to do.

I always remember Nancy Stewart saying we CAN teach children pretty much anything, but just because we can doesn't mean we should. So children CAN learn to read and write at 3, but time spent doing lots of phonic activities (or other group activities) is time not spent doing something else, which in my view would be far more important. It's all about valuing good periods of self chosen play, but sadly I know I have worked in a few Schools where the SLT just don't 'get it'. As I left my last job, I recall my head saying 'I've always thought having your ta playing with children was a waste of an adult'.

 

Having said that there are also equally fantastic SLTS who really get early years and really support and value play and put a lot of resources into their Foundation stage because they know how important it is.

 

Yes I digress too, ooops

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I always remember Nancy Stewart saying we CAN teach children pretty much anything, but just because we can doesn't mean we should. So children CAN learn to read and write at 3, but time spent doing lots of phonic activities (or other group activities) is time not spent doing something else, which in my view would be far more important.

Yes I totally agree! It's like those videos that pop of every so often of 12-month-olds or similar reciting the alphabet or picking up word cards ... it's a lovely party trick don't get me wrong, but grievously unproductive.

I'm sorry to hear you had to leave your job over it and your ex head needs a damn good telling off if you ask me! haha but yes it does seem to be rather common in school-based settings and it sadly does not seem to be getting better.

That's true, there are many wonderful settings out there and so I don't mean to generalise!

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The reality in school nurseries is that phonics is a non negotiable. Everything we do is at the right level for each child and is fun and not pressured. At our last Ofsted the inspector wanted to see our phonics. It's frustrating to see none schoolnsettings in our area being " Outstanding " with no phonics at all when it seems to be a stick to beat school settings with!

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Often data in my Reception schools shows that the children from the school nursery are more ready for the phase 2 and 3 work when they get to reception. Without it children often have to spend far longer getting upto speed with oral blending and segmenting and they start to fall behind.

CX

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Often data in my Reception schools shows that the children from the school nursery are more ready for the phase 2 and 3 work when they get to reception. Without it children often have to spend far longer getting upto speed with oral blending and segmenting and they start to fall behind.

CX

Catma do you think this is because the other children are less able or are still settling in to school, or are the settings sending to you not teaching phonics?

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Just they are often not exposed to the skills of oral blending and segmenting sounds throughout words enough to make sense of the phase 2 and 3 skills you would do in Reception - this means they need a lot of catchup to be at the same starting point the school nursery children often are at because they do. There can be a heavy focus on the letters and sounds but not the other necessary skills. They are not less capable, just less experienced. Some attendance patterns might also impact - a school nursery doesn't have varied attendance patterns as standard??

CX

Edited by catma
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  • 2 weeks later...

Often data in my Reception schools shows that the children from the school nursery are more ready for the phase 2 and 3 work when they get to reception. Without it children often have to spend far longer getting upto speed with oral blending and segmenting and they start to fall behind.

CX

I was just wondering how they fare in other areas of L&D? Presumably they've had more phonics but less 'other' experiences?

To be more truthful I don't fully support the extent to which reception classes use phonics, and I am wholeheartedly oppose the 'school readiness' idea - schools should be ready for children, not the other way round. I would prefer a later start to formal education, as can be seen in other countries, with less focus on literacy and maths. But that's another story!

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I was just wondering how they fare in other areas of L&D? Presumably they've had more phonics but less 'other' experiences?

Not necessarily so in my day to day experience - just children without a wide exposure to tuning into sounds in spoken words, tend not to have the security in the phase 1 skills which means when you do start to teach letter sounds in different positions they struggle to isolate the sounds vs children who have played around with sounds in Nursery.

Cx

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