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The Reading Revival method

Demystifying literacy learning

If your child is of school age, the chances are that they are learning phonics.  This is the main way of teaching literacy in schools currently and whilst many children thrive with this approach, some struggle.

What is phonics?

Phonics is rooted in the principle of recognizing, understanding and manipulating phonemes (the small units of sound which make up words).   You will see your child “sounding out” words in the phonics system, such as b-a-t to make ‘bat’. Needless to say, the English language is complex and has many phonetic exceptions, where the spelling and sounds are not directly or logically correlated.

Why are children taught phonics in schools?

Synthetic phonics (which has a focus on the blending of sounds) has been taught in schools for some years and in the current government’s 2010 white paper on education, synthetic phonics was still rated as the best way to teach literacy in schools.

How do Reading Revival and phonics work together?

Phonics equips children with valuable literacy skills, but we have recognized that it is not ideal for every child. The two systems (phonics at school and Reading Revival at home) can complement each other and it is our hope that schools will adopt the Reading Revival method for children who struggle with phonics, as it builds confidence quickly. Given the English language’s idiosyncratic rules, we see memory as being extremely important in learning to read, and Reading Revival aids this.

Dept of Education information for parents about phonics (February 2012)

Why might the Reading Revival help children where phonics can’t?

The phonics method involves breaking the words down into small ‘sounding’ chunks and then reassembling them to decipher the word, so it requires the child to mentally juggle multiple pieces of information at the same time. We do not claim at all to be experts in brain function and its literacy application but our experience has shown us countless times that while phonics is a successful method with many children, a surprising proportion of children simply don’t respond to learning with the phonics method, regardless of how long they spend trying.

Our method teaches children the whole word, which they memorise with much less effort than they can memorise and construct more abstract sounds. Not only that, but we introduce only a manageable amount of new words at a time, with plenty of practise of words already learned, in the context of a sentence. Many children we have helped have found this to be a much easier way to read.

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