A Blog by Alan Gee   June 2020

Continuing on From Blog 3


The secret?

There is no secret! Every kid, regardless of whether being taught to read by the Phonics or Whole method, creates a Memory Bank of words as they learn them. When they subsequently read something they draw on this Memory Bank and reading makes sense.

Every Parent and child right from early childhood communicates using the Whole Word method.

For example, when you ask your child to get a knife and fork from the drawer and put them on the table s/he goes and does it.

Your child knows what a knife is and what a fork is. S/he knows what a drawer is and what a table is. In other words, a Memory Bank of words has been created which allows your child to carry out these tasks.

When your child goes outside to play with friends they all use the Whole Word method to communicate and play the latest game, in spite of not using Phonics to do so!

So what’s the difference between your child recognizing an everyday object such as a ball, or a picture of a ball, and the written word for ‘ball’? There’s no difference because your child is using visual recognition to identify what the object is.

Whether it’s a picture of a ‘ball’ or the written word for ‘ball’, both will give your child a mental picture of what the object is.

This is why the Phonics-only method doesn’t work for all kids. It’s because the word is broken down into letters and blends, and the child has to try and put all the parts together to make a word.

This doesn’t give the child a mental picture of what the word represents.

So the difference between the two methods is that:

Whole Word will give the child a mental picture of what the word  represents, but Phonics-only gives them letters which are meaningless until they are joined up.

But it’s at this point that they stop because they’re unable to put the letters together to make the word which represents something. 

So for your child, that picture, or the recognition of the written word for ‘ball’, goes into your child’s Memory Bank.

You don’t teach your child how to create a Memory Bank because it’s done automatically. Then your child fills the Memory Bank with words that have been learned by the Whole Word method.

Your child already has hundreds of words in his/her Memory Bank to start off learning to read and write by the Whole Word method.

Try it. Get a picture of a bird and write the word ‘bird’ on a card. Then point to both and tell your child that both mean ‘bird’. Do this two or three times over a day or two then remove the picture of the bird and ask your child what the written word says. Your child will recognize the written word which says ‘bird’.

Phonics is a very difficult concept for many children to learn to use. They have to start to learn this strange process where each word has to be broken down into strange sounds to make the word.

The key to understanding why some kids simply can’t learn to read by the Phonics-only process is found here-

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, the reason children who find learning to read difficult using Phonics, is because they see a word simply as an object and not something to be taken apart letter by letter. These children simply can’t take a word apart and re-construct it so that it has meaning for them. They’re stuck and can’t move forward.

That’s it! That’s why Phonics-only doesn’t work for all children but a combination of alternative methods probably will.

For the kids who have hit the 8 – 12 age group and are still struggling to read using the current Phonics-only  method used in Schools, the combination of alternative methods is needed.

Jan’s Course is a combination of methods including Whole Word and Phonics. This combination together with Jan’s Course will get your child on the road to reading success. 

Once you realize that Phonics-only is one way of learning to read, but there are others that your child can use to create a Memory Bank, then, regardless of which method is used, the path to reading success becomes much clearer.

My next blog continues on from this.

Alan Gee