This week the school has been running something unusual – the chance to go in for the first twenty minutes of class in year two and sit in on their phonics session.

I should point out at this point that my husband’s company makes E-Learning and in particular made the Big Cat Phonics package for Collins. This is THE ONLY reason I had any clue what phonics was when Tilly first started school. Obviously “they didn’t teach it like that in my day” so even some letter sounds I found baffling. Isn’t it “n” for nest rather than a nasal grunting sound? Apparently not.

Then in reception they did an assembly where the kids demonstrated the first level of phonics and some fairly crackers actions that seemingly go with the sounds. They gave us a list of them which I glanced at, thought I ought to learn, then forgot about entirely.

In the meantime Tilly learnt to read very quickly and it’s hard to tell whether turning her head from side to side while making the “t” sound had any part in her progress. And I suppose it doesn’t actually matter – it’s the end result that counts.

Watching the year two lesson was fascinating though. It’s weird to think that you have literally no idea what a lesson looks like. No idea how their school day begins.

But it wasn’t so much what they were being taught that fascinated me of course – I’m much more interested in people really.

I liked the fact that the children read the graphemes  aloud in unison from the screen (ignore the fact that I have no clue what a grapheme is). But I liked even better the fact that at the end of the slide show they all chanted “Slide show is over. Click to exit.” It’s clearly something a bright wag mentioned several weeks ago and now they do it as a matter of routine.

It was also hilarious, and I suppose a little unsettling, to watch many of the kids blatantly copying each other as they wrote words on their whiteboard. When asked to write a word that began with the sound “z” the word “ziply” appeared on more than one board. And despite poor Xander’s protests that his name actually starts with an “X” once the idea was circulated the kids all wrote it down anyway. Kids will be kids I guess.

The whole thing has left me wondering though, does it matter that I couldn’t actually have read the graphemes in unison like they did? Obviously I read words not sounds and the teachers teach it broken down so do I need to know? Does it matter that I have no idea what a phoneme or a grapheme is? I hope not because I’m going to be too busy learning how to do long multiplication and division. They don’t tell you any of this when you sign up to be a parent.  I wonder if Paul can make me an e-learning package about that…

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