As seen in the UK, where phonics teaching and testing has been mandatory for over a decade, at least 25% of children do not reach the 'self-teaching' phase, after 2 years of systematic synthetic phonics instruction. Book a session with Miss Emma, the Neurodivergent Learning Whisperer. Visible English Spelling Code is the perfect bridge to self-teaching.
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DIFFERENT Tutoring really is different. If your child has struggled to learn to read and spell, then you may already have tried 'tutoring', and they may have had 'learning support' in school.
Your child will not have experienced anything like the solution I will offer. Why? Because it will be designed specifically for your child. They won't be following a handbook, or 'programme' and nothing will feel difficult. They will quickly understand that I am interested in them, as an individual, and lessons designed as we go - for them. I create the next lesson based on what we did before - it's cumulative learning that builds, and they will know what to do between sessions. My goal is not just to ensure they can efficiently and independently read and spell, but that the feelings associated with written words are positive - they become a 'readie' - word mapping becomes one of their super powers.
Although I will need you to video them doing these activities, there is actually very little I will need from you - as parents. Just your support - and to send me the videos! - don't worry, I'll explain how. The videos will become evidence of their learning journey and, at the right time, it might be useful to share this with their school. When at the 'self-teaching' phase we can put the clips together. If their teacher sees this, they may understand how I would support your child in class. No-one has failed them on purpose. They think the programmes used by their school are ok, your child just needed more time, or to 'listen' more. 'Try harder'. They have the best intentions. But I have to prioritise the impact on your child, over teacher feelings. I wish it wasn’t an either/or choice. Your child's teacher may welcome new information and ideas. The vidoes will show why your child suddenly became engaged and is more confident with literacy related tasks. They received DIFFERENT instruction. Most teachers in the UK aren't getting this training - and want it. It is actually the system that is broken. we could make this so much easier for teachers too.
I start with an initial session to create a connection. When I then design their first video lesson they will therefore already recognise my voice and energy. To do the lessons they will ideally have a laptop/ computer and a tablet (eg an ipad) If they have both they can watch my lesson, and also use the ipad eg to use the Code Mapping Tool (to explore English orthography) Regardless of grade we use a white board a lot, to write and rub off quickly. Activities tend to be fast paced and a 15 minute video lesson would be considered a long one. There are quick activities they will do, often timed - so that they can 'see' their growth. They can often do the activities while waiting for something eg their sibling to finish a swimming lesson, or in the car on the way home. As they use headphones no-one will know what they are doing. Short and often is best. And they can message me at any time. I will respond!
The initial 'Connection Session' is conducted over Zoom and I would rather do this with them alone if possible. I record it and can show it to you later if that is also ok with your child. Children often find it much easier to let go of the past when it's just us. Listen from the kitchen:-)
I use the video to check everything - during the session I am assessing a few things and figuring out what they need. I'll then send them their lesson within 72 hours and give you a brief over-view of the 'big blocks' (the issues we need to deal with straight away).
So your initial GB175/ US$210/ AU$310 (ex GST) payment covers the 50 minute Connections Session, the 90 minutes or more it takes me to create the first lesson (and usually an activity pdf to download and print) and we take it from there. Video them watching the lesson (get them used to knowing they are being videoed and not judged) and if you would like me to continue you send it to me, and the next payment is to watch it and create their next lesson (and suggestions for you) This is GB75 / US$90 / AU$135 The lesson will have enough in it for them to keep them going for a week or so (they watch the lesson over and over until they have mastered the activities)
When ready I will also give them extras from the ICRWY Lessons app - which you will need to download and sign up to - it is US$5.50 a month. This is especially useful for mastery of the 400+ high frequency words, and to build reading fluency with the books I select. They will use it to Code Map words to improve orthographic awareness.
Between lessons you add clips of them doing the activities in a private group set up just for your family. These won't be shared. I would recommend the weekly plan, and (on average) need them for 8 weeks before they no longer need me. We can still do catch ups - of course- and they can always message me:-) I'm in their corner for as long as they need me.
If you would like to book the initial 'assessment and lesson' (our Connection Session) please complete the form below! If you want to book a full package upfront (Assessment and 10 bespoke lessons) there is a discount - let me know if you are interested in the comments section.
Alternatively, if your child is 6.5+ in the UK, having had explicit phonics instruction throughout KS1, then try MAPPED Word Recognition Intervention first. It's a unique approach designed for those failed by DfE validated programmes, so let me know how you get on! Your data could help us bring about changes in the UK.
I can't wait to get your child excited about reading and spelling - they will, forever, be one of my "readies" and part of the SSP family.
Miss Emma MA SEN BEd Hons
Even in the wealthiest countries at least 1 in 4 children are failed, and they start high school unable read, write and spell at minimum expected levels. The so-called 'Reading Wars' have been ongoing since I graduated as a primary school teacher, when I was told to scrap 'reading schemes' and 'immerse children in a literacy-rich environment'. I ignored the former, and couldn't ever imagine not doing the latter. Only 3 in the class weren't reading independently (for pleasure) when I sent them up to Year 1. I know why now, but back then - at 23 - I still had so much to learn. My Mum, and my Gran, had taught me so much - AMAZING teachers! - I can't remember learning anything about teaching reading at Uni (despite being there for 4 years) So 18 out of 21 wasn't bad. But not good enough.
While I was learning, children were being failed - by me. No amount of love and passion can make up for that - but this is what happens within our education system. To improve it, we need teachers to see fabulous teachers, while they are training, and have ongoing support when they have their own classes. It is an ongoing learning journey, but easier when those newly qualified teachers can connect and collaborate with those who fail fewer children. I was lucky to have had years watching my Mum and Gran - I saw how they 'managed' behaviour by ensuring every child felt heard, was given opportunities to PLAY. So my classroom was always noisy - children on task but talking and questioning - and when I needed them to be quiet I employed the 'clapping' technique - clap a rhythm and children stop and copy, until all children are clapping together. Children didnt do things for extrinsic rewards (stickers, marbles in a jar etc) and no child was 'shamed' eg with a name on the board. It's just not what I was taught. But we had the time to spend with children, and to play with them, and hardly any paperwork. Other than hiding the readers from my boss, I didn't feel like I was being 'watched' or judged. But I also didn't have opportunities to learn from others. I was 'qualified' and yet there was so much I needed to learn; could have learned from others.
Despite what folks might want you to think, many of us who used The Village with Three Corners and taught sight words using flashcards (yes, I grimmace when I say that - when you know more you do more, but at the time this was what I knew) also taught a lot of phonics. What we did back then was try to figure out what the reception children needed, and every day we ended the day with a story on the carpet, after a day spent singing, playing, building, exploring...and parents would come in and help me 'listen to children reading'. The reason I chose the Village with Three Corners (1,2,3 and Away!) was because I could integrate all aspects of literacy, maths, art and science with the characters and stories. Imaginitive play wasn't something I tried to 'fit' in once a week, it was a part of daily life.
I can understand why these reading schemes and 'levelled readers' (and books by Enid Blyton?!) were questioned, but there was so much that we could do when using these 'series' books.
Sheila McCullagh had a wonderful imagination, and to this day there are adults who will still remember how they FELT while reading her books. Of course there were others (10 - 20%) that hated them as they couldn't read, and felt stupid trying - and this is why they were removed. They were initially replaced with 'real books' (which failed even more children) and then 'phonics books'. I admit I am a little confused about what is used in the UK. However, I have found that finding the books that 'fit' with the child - not only with regards to their existing knowledge, but their interests, is what is most important. So I am again using the books, but differently!
The more I understood over the years, about what is needed for children to read, the more interested in 'phonics' I became - understanding the importance of using a code to record language on paper. With 44+ speech sounds, 'mapped' on paper using the 26 letters of the alphabet to create the 'graphemes' in different combinations, we can kitck-start the process and introduce reading and spelling skills to children in easy (if they can hear those speech sounds) cummulative steps. I have a fairly mathematical brain and love puzzles - I like things to 'fit'. So teaching children to 'map' speech sounds and 'pictures of speech sounds' to read and write words, and keep building their 'code knowledge', made sense. When I shifted my perspective towards 'speech to print' phonics - linguistic - rather than 'print to speech' - analytic and synthetic - the way I taught became far easier for children to understand. I always embraced phonics, but not how phonics was being taught - again, because children are all so different.
There is a HUGE distance to travel between 'reading' decodable texts with a restricted number of graphemes (that align with the instruction) and reading 'real' (authentic) texts however. The grapheme to phoneme correspondences taught within DfE validated 'systematic, synthetic phonics programmes' are only around 1/3 of what I call 'the whole code' (as seen on our Speech Sound Walls, in the Spelling Clouds) Those using these programmes do not seem clear about how the children explore the 'whole code'.
We need children to move out of the 'explicit teaching' phase (when the teacher plays such a vital role) and into the 'implicit learning' phase (where children know what they are doing - blending graphemes and have strategies to use when they face unfamiliar correspondences) as quickly and easily as possible. Unfortunately most children who struggle have stayed in the 'explicit teaching' phase of synthetic phonics far too long and, because the instruction isn't effective for them, they are no longer engaged, and many are exibiting avoidance tactics. Instead of getting something different, in reception, they were given more of the same. Schools are told not to use something else (See Note 9)
Ironically it is the approach to instruction schools using Systematic, Synthetic Phonics are forced to use. This 'explicit' teaching part should be over well before the UK Phonics Screener Check as it is just the 'kick-start' and so much else is needed. Some children are not able to recognise and blend more than 32 out of 40 simple 'regular' words, with only the 100 or so taught correspondences, after 2 whole years of instruction - with daily 'explicit' synthetic phonics instruction. Not because they are not capable of learning phonics, but because they are not capable of learning it in this way. They need DIFFERENT orthographic learning opportunities.
There are a relatively small number of words that make up a high percentage of the words children need to read and write. (See notes 2 and 6) It is why they are called 'high frequency' words! However children learning with these systematic, synthetic phonics programmes can often only know about 40 even after a whole year of school. When taught differertly over 85% will be able to read and spell - through word mapping - over 400. This would be impossible for most reception classes in the UK because of the restrictions put in teachers in KS1.
According to the DfE 'A complete programme is one that provides all that is essential to teach SSP to children in reception and key stage 1 years of mainstream primary schools, up to or beyond the standards expected by the national curriculum, and provides sufficient support for them to become fluent readers'
How can we expect the 95+% of children who are dapable of becoming fluent readers, become fluent readers when so much is missing?
Most parents should not need to book tutoring - their child should learn to read and spell at school.
The system creates huge issues to families, that are costly - emotionally and financially.
I am working with some amazing people to launch EDSLiP in the UK
(Early Dyslexia Screening & Literacy Intervention Project)
If we can identify children early, we can involve parents and carers, and step in and help in school and at home - before the end of KS1.
There will be around 1 in 25 children in any mainstream class who face real challenges learning to read and spell, and may never comprehend complex texts, but most who fail do not need to struggle at all; they become instructional casualties because no-one could see they learn differently, and because teachers are forced to use synthetic phonics. Your child, if you are reading this, is likely a child who has not yet connected with our amazing written language and developed their identity as a 'readie'. I would love to help them feel heard, accepted, successful, independent and FABULOUS - while also working to prevent these issues for others. When they come home from school they should be thinking about nothing other than to eat play, read for pleasure and sleep. No tutoring, no homework. Until then I will make their lives as easy as possible - by teaching them to read.
Miss Emma X
The children learn to read restricted texts in the first term of reception. Think of how much is needed to read a sentence of similar length, Same number of words, but a fairly advanced understanding of English orthography needed to read them aloud, and explain what they mean.
Children need to understand 'how English words work' on paper, and to do this they need a good understanding of spoken language. I like this graphic as it includes more of the 'whole picture'. It also shows how limiting the 'systematic synthetic phonics' part is - word recognition is only one part, and we cannot presume it (sequentially) leads to reading comprehension, even if they master it reasonably well.
'DIFFERENT Tutoring' embraces the Active View of Reading, and all of these elements are woven into the activities your child will be doing. I am also as interested in your child loving to spell, as I am that they can (and do) read! I find that understanding the Spelling Code helps children become much more confident 'readies'.
Another autistic reception aged child getting obsessed with the Written and Spelling Code - using his Spelling Cloud Keyring
This was in around 2015. Miss Emma has been supporting NeuroReadies for some time!
Reading Ready Brains
The I Can Read Without You Project