I could hardly believe the reactions of the early years teachers, along the lines of, "Rehana must be an exception; the majority of our children could not do it and it's too early to expect them to do it anyway." Not, "How fantastic! What can we do so that the majority of our children can achieve this?" The Government has just released its literacy targets for local education authorities, warning, "Poverty is not an excuse for failure." Nor are the other excuses mentioned in the article, like "upper respiratory tract infections" and "TV and video watching in the home".
I should like to tell you of the success we are having in some of my schools at nursery and reception level with Sue Lloyd's The Phonics Handbook, published by Jolly Phonics. We have evidence of the fun and excitement generated by this method and real achievements in terms of reading and writing and phonological awareness, not to mention the development of interactive language skills too.
So we are all concerned that children are arriving at school with poor language and listening skills. Agreed! But what do we do about it?
By using a system of teaching such as Jolly Phonics from the beginning with all children (not just the ones judged to be "ready"), a system which has auditory training and interactive teaching methods at its heart, you can develop listening skills and expressive language skills as well as independent literacy skills. Go on early-years teachers, think positively, raise your expectations and give it a try!
Dr MARLYNNE GRANT Chartered educational psychologist Bristol