According to surveys conducted by the American Management Association (AMA), 41% of employers test applicants for basic literacy and math skills and the number is increasing.

That’s a very significant figure.

That’s close to around one in two employers testing for literacy.

So here’s something to consider.

Nearly two million kids will leave school this year (and every year) unable to read even simple text, or read with difficulty. They will then apply for the jobs where the Employers use a literacy test, which will screen out most of the kids applying.

To be fair, if you were an Employer, would you employ a kid who couldn’t read? In a survey not so long ago, 80% of Employers said that they wouldn’t because of workplace safety and other issues. 

Well, that’s the system that Parents are stuck with. If you have a kid who is aged 9 and older, you can’t expect the schools to help you. By that age your kid will be labelled a slow learner or something similar, which is an excuse to blame something other than either the School, the teachers or the method used for the reading failure rate. 

Many Parents with kids who are falling further and further behind will finally realise that all the comments in successive Parent Teacher consults about ‘catching up’ are just not accurate. And if you’re one of them you might just think there’s nothing you can do.

But there is!

If your child is around Grade 4 or older, and is still struggling to learn to read, the questions to ask yourself are:

  • Has my child learned to read using just the Phonics method?

  • Will more Phonics help or will a combination of methods be better?

  • Is there any point in trying to force more Phonics on him/her if Phonics alone hasn’t worked so far?

  • What can I do about the situation?

If this is the situation you’re faced with, where to turn is your big problem.

Your first question needs to be “What is the reason my child can’t learn to read by the Phonics method?”

This may explain it.

Children who think logically and are good at Math and Music, who like to take things apart and do puzzles are usually good at learning to read using Phonics, because Phonics is a logic-based system.

On the other hand, some children find learning to read using Phonics difficult or almost impossible. They see a word simply as an object and not something to be taken apart letter by letter. These children simply can’t take apart a word and re-construct it so that it has meaning for them.

They’re stuck and can’t move forward.

Phonics does play an important part in learning to read, but it isn’t, and can’t be, the complete answer because there are hundreds – yes hundreds of words, which can’t be deciphered using phonics.

Some Parents will know that beginning readers need to learn 100 basic ‘sight words’. These are words that your child needs to know whenever they’re seen, so they’re called ‘sight words’.

They form the essential basis of all further reading. However, the real problem for the beginning reader is that around thirty percent of these essential ‘sight words’ can’t be sounded out using Phonics.

 These words are taken from a 100 basic sight word list found on the internet which can’t easily be deciphered phonetically –  

said, who, your, was, where, all, when, one, could, would, their, what, out, put, other, because, are, come, here, you, two, have, some, they, their, saw, away, our, of, other.

 All are commonly used words.

 Using Phonics alone to teach early reading, when 30% of those sight words are not decipherable using Phonics, and a further 20% can only be deciphered with difficulty, is frankly incredible. But parents aren’t told that, only that Phonics is the modern day answer to all reading problems.

 The 30% failure rate of Phonics alone today shows that it’s not.

 Is there an answer to your problem?

 Yes!  – and in my next blog I’ll tell you what it is and how you can deal with it.

Alan Gee