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Little ‘monsters’ help Shropshire children to read and write
21 Apr 2016
by Rhea Alton

All over Shropshire children are learning to read and write but the key to their success is down to the help of a few little ‘monsters’.
Parents with children in primary school education will no doubt be familiar with words such as phonemes, graphemes, blending and segmentation.
The vocabulary comes hand in hand with the phonics system of learning which was introduced by the Department for Skills and Education in 2007 – a strategy which concentrates on activities which promote speaking and listening skills, phonological awareness and oral blending.
And it is within this primary national strategy where all the little ‘monsters’ are hiding.
From as early as reception year, children are introduced to ‘monster’ words as part of their phonics learning.
Also known as alien words, these are meaningless words such as geck, chom, tord and thazz which are used to gauge a child’s knowledge and ability of phonics, which teaches children to recognise the sound of each letter in the alphabet.
By the time children reach the end of Year 1 they undergo a Phonics Screening Check to measure how much they have learned.
The check consists of 40 words and ‘monster’ words and each child is asked to read them one-on-one with a teacher.
Former primary school teacher Adele Conlon, owner of family-run tutoring business Shropshire Tutor, believes phonics and the use of monster and alien words is significantly improving the way children in Shropshire are learning to read and write.
She said: “It is a much simpler and more logical way for children to learn how to read and write and the use of monster words is both fun and educational.
“If a child is very good at recognising and reading words the monster words are a great way to encourage them to use phonics. Because they are not real words, they have to sound the letters out in order to read what the word is.
“Children know they are not real words because they have a little picture of a monster or alien next to them.
“It’s a great visual tool and children love seeing the little monsters. It’s surprising how such a simple technique can aid learning so much.”
In July Year one pupils across the country will be undergo a Phonics Screening Check.
Miss Conlon said with this check coming up it was a great time for parents to do some extra reading and writing at home with their child.
She said: “Reading new books and stories with children is a great way to aid phonics learning because it means they are introduced to new words which they have to sound out.
“There are also lots of free phonics worksheets which can be downloaded from the internet and lots of apps. Doing these together with your child can really help to reinforce their confidence and ability.
Ms Conlon, who set up her business three years ago, teaches phonics to children as young as three as part of the Little Learner packages she delivers in nurseries and preschools across Shropshire.
She said: “It’s hugely rewarding to see such young children learning to read and write simple words at such a young age. The sessions are all about making learning fun and engaging and a lot of what I do is about teaching the basics of phonics through singing songs and using fun props.“
“The children do not even know they are learning but those that take part in the sessions are often very capable of writing their own name before they even start school.
“The majority of the children are secure on their phase one sounds and are blending and segmenting Consonant Vowel Consonant words such as cat., due to a range of fun and engaging hands-on activities, which is an amazing achievement.”
For more information on the Little Learner sessions run by Shropshire Tutor visit the website at www.shropshiretutor.co.uk or contact Adele Conlon on 0800 689 0193.