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Today I have had the pleasure of reading a blog post from a wonderful writer and fab twitter friend @Sue_Cowley. She has taken the time and trouble to talk to us about the combination of letters in words making shapes on a page. We then recognise these shapes as words and hence we read them. Sue speaks beautifully about how she weaves her shapes in to words and relates it to dance and art as a child. I love this analogy and firmly agree with Sue’s thoughts.

I have also read many articles about phonics. Sounding out words. Blending sounds together to make words. There are of course a few difficulties with this method as some words just will not sound out. Many children are successful with phonics and go on to become confident readers. I also firmly agree with this method.

So i can see advantages and disadvantages of both methods. When attempting to teach a child with profound learning difficulties to read I use neither of these methods. I use a combination of both and more. For these children there are no hard and fast rules. With one child it may be phonics all the way. With the next child it may be Sue’s shapes. For another child it will be a combination of both, plus picture clues and lots of prompting. For another child, reading in the true sense of the word will never be possible. For those children I will use symbols. I will adapt their world to suit their needs.

The point I am trying to make is that there should be no set way to teach reading. Children are individuals and perhaps shouldn’t be taught in the same way. Personalisation is the way forward I believe. If we can’t take the time to tailor the teaching of reading to individuals in Reception Year we have education for our very young children wrong.

Surely our children deserve to be taught in the way they learn. Surely as teachers we can all agree on this.

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