Many key stage 1 teachers deal with similar demands frequently, recognising that the first steps along the road to meaningful reading, writing and mastery of phonics is to reconcile child-speak (often a reflection of home-speak), with the printed words and sounds in the school "reading" books.
Laying foundations from these personal starting points involves time, patience and understanding with sometimes little to show after a year or more, but then foundations are not visible but vital. As Sue Palmer states, "schools often start from a lower base-line at pre-school experience". The pundits, so ready to condemn reading standards, should realise that schools often have to cope with home-speak well beyond pre-school - old habits die hard.
JULIA MATTHEWS 50 Sydney Road Bexleyheath, Kent