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My son started in reception last September, and by half term when I ask the lovely question "what did you do at school today?" He'd reply "Played with water, did some drawing, practiced numbers and did RML." So having never heard of RML I asked his teacher which is when I was introduced to the Ruth Miskin Literacy (RML) scheme. Primary schools around the country now teach out children to read using phonics, and the RML scheme is certainly used by most schools in my immediate area.
So let me give you an overview to Ruth Miskin Literacy.
BACKGROUND Ruth Miskin is a trained teacher and has be teaching for 25 years, twelve of which she was a headteacher at schools in Plymouth, Leeds and Tower Hamlets in London. During her time as a headteacher she developed this literacy scheme, which has been adopted by over 900 schools around the country and is easily integrated in the National Literacy scheme.
HOW DOES IT WORK This is a very easy, systematic and lively method of teaching reading and writing to young children. The teachers in the schools are very well trained and supported by the Ruth Miskin Literacy team. In my sons's school our teachers held two reading mornings where they taught the parents themselves how to use the RML scheme and be able to encourage and support their children as they learn to read.
The scheme works on the basis of the children spending 1 hour a day (two 20 minute sessions for reception children) working on their literacy. The class tends to be split into two groups depending on the child's reading ability, they are also placed with a partner to work together on what they have been taught in the lesson.
In reception they start by learning the 26 phonic sounds of the the alphabet, plus other special sounds like sh, ch, oo, th and ng. When the children start to recognise these sounds quickly they are encouraged to sound out words i.e. m a t - mat. At which stage my son was sent home with flash cards with the letters on so he could practice at home. After they have started to sound blend words they start on the ditty books. These books encourage them to practise sound blending and helps them to identify "green" words (words that are easily sounded out r e d - red) and "red" words (words that aren't easy to sound out th e - the). The children practice one ditty a day, at the end of the week they will have completed the ditty book, at which stage a black and white paper version of the ditty book is sent home for the parents to practice with their children.
Once the child has become confident in speed sound blending they move on to the green story books which they read at school and then at the end of the week bring home to practice. The stories are short and easy to read and my son can now complete the first stage story books in five minutes. He has now booked on to the next level of story books (purple) which have more words to and take a little longer. In total there are seven level of reading books, levels 1 to 3 contain ten books and are accompanied by speed sounds set 2, level four contains 12 books, level 5 and 6 have 10 books and level 7 has 13 books, these levels are accompanied by speed sounds set 3.
WHERE CAN YOU GET THE MATERIALS The materials can be obtained from the Ruth Miskin website (www.ruthmiskinliteracy.com) and Amazon also stock a selection of the Ruth Miskin books. The website is incredibly easy to navigate and welll structured so anything you need to find can be done so quickly.
The Storybook and Get Writing Hanbook costs £20 and the Phonic Handbook costs £25, but I find that talking to my son's teachers works just as well. The speed sound cards cost £5 a set, the set of "green" word and "red" word cards cost £5 and £4 respectively, the ditty books for the set of 5 cost £4, and then the individual reading books (colour version) cost £2.50 each. I haven't actually purchased any of these myself as my school provided me the phonics sounds cards, the ditty books and the reading books.
VERDICT To start off with I was concerned that my son wasn't taking to the scheme at all well, I had constant reports that he made excuses everytime it was RML, but after a term and a half of hard work from the teachers and myself I am happy so say he is reading really well and actually enjoys sitting down with a book to read. He is even reading to his 18 month old brother. With the support of the schools teachers and the material that the RML scheme provide I'm confident that my son's reading ability will now go from strength to strength. Would I recommend this scheme to anyone absolutely, after worrying about how do you teach a child to read this scheme has taken all my worries away and I'm looking forward to when my youngest has to start his progression through RML.
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