- Do the Fitzroy materials conform to the National Curriculum upon which the NAPLAN test is based?
The answer is a resounding yes. Our materials have long been the strongest in reading, comprehension, spelling, grammar and punctuation.
We can confirm this by referring customers to the NAPLAN results released in 2013, according to which our test-bed school* scored first in reading for the state of Victoria. (That is, 1st amongst the 1834 primary schools.) The school is entirely non-selective and all students participate in the tests.
In the previous year's NAPLAN test, our test-bed school rated first in the state for spelling, grammar and punctuation. *Fitzroy Community School
To find out more, click here for our NAPLAN page.
- How can a written test indicate how well a child reads?
Reading in the NAPLAN is tested by comprehension questions. This is valid because comprehension is the ultimate purpose of reading.
- What is the right age to begin learning?
As could be expected, the right age varies from child to child. As a general guideline, most children will be able to start with the Fitzroy Method after four years of age. By then their spoken English is usually of a sufficient level to understand the programme.
The Fitzroy Sounds our pre-reading sing-a-long programme introducing the letter sounds - is excellent preparation from 3 or 4 years of age.
But if you are considering starting your child on reading before school, he or she needs to be both mentally and psychologically ready.
Some children might find learning to read and write too difficult if they begin early, while others - who might intellectually be capable - are not emotionally ready to sit still and learn.
If your child is not ready - for whatever reason - it is best to wait a while longer. Don't let reading and writing become a negative experience for your child. It should always be approached as an exciting adventure into a wonderland of words.
- How long will the entire course take?
The entire course is designed to be completed by the end of primary school: that is, after six or seven years.
Sometimes however, the 70 Readers and their Word Skills work books are finished a year or two before completing primary. On the other hand, students who start their reading later may need the first year or two of secondary to complete the entire program.
By Reader 30, children can move on to selected wider literature. After Reader 60, they can read a vast range including Harry Potter, etc. This can take place while finishing off the Fitzroy Word Skills books 6A and 6B (that contain most of the grammatical component of the course).
- What is the best place to start?
The first step in phonic learning is for the child to learn the basic sounds of the letters. The Fitzroy Method has two main teaching materials to accomplish this task: the Fitzroy Sounds (with audio demonstration and response) and the Alphabet Book (for recognising and forming written letters).
Both of these products teach every basic letter sound, but the letters will be learnt more quickly and effectively using Fitzroy Sounds and Alphabet Book together.
It is not necessary to learn every letter before starting the early Readers. Learn the letters on a need-to-know basis - as they come up in the readers.
- What do I do if I have a new student who has never used a phonics method before?
Since every Reader in the Fitzroy Method builds on those before it (i.e. Reader 32 presupposes all the material found in the first 31 Readers), you can't skip ahead or read them out of order.
It is therefore essential that you have covered and understood the new material found in one Reader before moving on to the next.
If you have an older student, however, and don't have time to go back over all the earlier Readers (something we strongly recommend), you can at least consult the Master List (found in the Teacher's Guide). Here you can find out what new elements (new letters, new sounds and special words) have been covered in each of the Readers preceding the one you intend to start with.
Once you have the Master List, make sure your student knows the earlier sounds and special words - before proceeding with the next Reader.
If prepared in this way, the new student should be able to start reading at the level of the rest of the class.
- Why use a phonics literacy programme?
The wonderful thing about a phonics literacy programme is that as soon as you have learnt the basic letter sounds and the simple act of sounding out, you can already start to read and spell all the thousands of simple sounding words - including those you have never seen before.
- Is the Fitzroy Programme expensive?
While the Fitzroy materials are more expensive than the cheapest materials on the market, in the long run they represent very good value for money. There are two main reasons for this:
- The Fitzroy programme contains no unnecessary teaching materials. This means that you will never pay for anything that doesn't add real educational value to the programme.
- Our course is guaranteed to produce outstanding results. There is a strong argument that it is the most systematic phonics course available to primary school students in the world today. In easy, confident steps it will take your child to a high level of literacy.
Spreading the cost of our complete programme over the seven primary school years, it represents very good value for the outcomes that are achieved.
- What is the main advantage of the Fitzroy Method?
The Fitzroy Method is built on decades of experience of the abilities of the child mind. At the same time it is completely systematic. It is arguably the most systematic primary-level literacy program available in the world today.
This means that your child will always feel on top of the reading-and-writing learning process, not overwhelmed, since every step of the way is carefully calibrated. There are no surprises - that is, no words are introduced willy-nilly into the reading programme, regardless of their spelling.
The result of this is that every Reader appears easy to read. This brings a series of success experiences that boost confidence and encourage your child to continue learning.
Just as importantly, the systematic approach guarantees that your child - even if not initially blessed with great reading and writing talent - will nevertheless learn to read and write fluently. We have proved this over many years at our test-bed Fitzroy Community School, a non-selective school that consistently shows peak outcomes with 100% participation in external government tests.
- Is there help with writing as well as reading?
We have created the series of 8 Fitzroy Word Skills work books precisely to meet this need. Writing goes hand in hand with reading. For each pack of 10 Readers, there is a 76-page work book providing several sheets of written activities to go with each story. The highest level of the Fitzroy Readers (51-60) require two work books, 6A and 6B.
At the early levels of the Word Skills books, there is practice writing letters, recognising different fonts, labelling pictures with known words, filling in missing letters, finding known words in puzzles, topics for discussion, and topics for creative writing. At this level, the student writes directly into the Word Skills book.
At the higher levels, there are many grammatical points - introduced in small steps. There is also vocabulary development - synonyms, antonyms etc. These questions, using the known vocabulary, ensure that students comprehend what they are reading. There are exercises in English idioms and in good English expression.
- If there are 80 Readers, why is the highest number called Story 60?
In the early years of the Fitzroy Readers, teachers asked for more stories at the lower levels. They wanted their students to have more practice in basic sounding out before moving their students on to Stories 11 to 20, most of which contain new sounds.
Later, we found there was a similar need for extra support materials between Readers 11-20 and 21-30.
To squeeze in these extra sets of Readers, we called them Readers 1x-10x and Readers 11x-20x. X for eXtra!
The X Readers have the full complement of support materials - Word Skills 1x and 2x, Answer Book 1x and 2x, Audio 1x and 2x, and Software 1x and 2x. We recommend that you do not skip these levels with young or slower readers.
- Will the Fitzroy Readers work for students with learning difficulties?
The Fitzroy Method works particularly well for children with learning difficulties. In fact, over three and a half thousand Australian schools have invested in our teaching materials, many using them for remedial or special needs classes.
The main reasons our phonics program works so well for children with learning difficulties are:
Firstly, the Fitzroy Readers are logical. Students need only learn the sounds of letters and and they can read a vocabulary – including many words they have never seen.
The Fitzroy Method is gradual. This creates an environment where even slower learners readily understand what they are being taught, because no step in the learning process is ever too great. The steps are easier and more enjoyable.
- Will the Fitzroy Readers work for disadvantaged students?
The Fitzroy Method is a lifesaver for children who do not see much written English in their home environment. A phonic reading program teaches the reader to decode a word. You look at the letters and you sound them out. Success does not depend on memorising or familiarity with English text.
- Is the Fitzroy Method successful with dyslexic students?
Since phonics methods teach children to sound out words, this makes it far easier to remember the correct placement of letters in words than it is with other systems. To spell a word correctly, you just need to sound it out from left to right. The brain learns to move from left to right - not to jump around the text.
The Fitzroy Method systematically teaches all basic letter sounds, digraphs, spelling rules and special (sight) words - all that a child needs to read texts.
This means that while dyslexic students will of course take longer to learn to read and write, most will, under the Fitzroy Method, make solid, definite and faster progress. Importantly, because of their regular successes, they will grow in reading confidence.
We are confident in saying this because our materials are regularly purchased by chains of organisations that specialise in helping dyslexic children.
- Will the Fitzroy Readers work for students who are very good readers?
The Fitzroy Method is a gift for fast readers. These children, who may get bored going at the pace of the whole class, can race ahead using the Fitzroy Readers. They require little or no supervision, because the standard procedure of examining the new sound and the new special words of each Reader is well known to them from previous Readers. The method remains the same. They will learn many new sounds along the way - which to their delight, they will recognise in the wider world of words. The Readers will quickly expand their reading and writing vocabulary.
For best results, make sure the student works through the corresponding sheets of the Fitzroy Word Skills before jumping to the next Reader. We also recommend a dictation exercise - reading aloud sentences for them to write. This ensures that their writing and comprehension skills will develop along with their reading.
- Is the Fitzroy Method suitable for students for whom English is a Second Language (ESL) or a Foreign Language (EFL)?
To our surprise, the Fitzroy Readers and their support materials have been snapped up by education distributors in several Asian countries. ESL and EFL teachers and students appreciate the logical step-by-step progress in decoding a strange language. They are grateful that early readers are rescued from the disorderly array of spellings found in normal English texts.
- Is there any help with good pronunciation of the Reader stories?
We are proud to offer Audio CDs for all Reader levels. These are spoken in clear and beautiful "neutral" English by Mary O'Carroll. The same natural speech is featured in the software packages available for individual literacy support.
- What is the difference between a letter NAME and a letter SOUND?
The letter name is what we normally say when talking about a letter or spelling out a word.
For example: c, a, t (“see, ay, tee”) spells cat or t, h, e (“tee, aitch, ee”) spells the.
The letter sound is the basic sound the letter makes. For example: D! O! G! says dog.
- How do you make the BASIC SOUNDS of the letters?
Instead of reciting the name of the letter, you actually make the sound of that letter. For example:
D! is the basic sound of the letter d. To say D!, do this: begin saying dig and stop before you say ig.
O! is the basic sound of the letter o. To say O!, do this: begin saying ox and stop before you say x.
G! is the basic sound of the letter g. To say G!, do this: begin saying get and stop before you say et.
Putting these three sounds together, we can say D! O! G! says dog.
- How do you SOUND OUT a word?
We sound out a word by making the sounds of the letters in order from left to right. This is how we decode a sounding word. For example: D! O! G! says dog.
This procedure does not work with all words, but only with sounding words. Examples of sounding words: on, cat, wink, slept, wombat, sprints, fantastic, etc.
- How can we learn to read words that are not simple sounding words?
Most other words can also be read by sounding out, if we learn our new sounds. Each letter has its basic sound, but groups of letters also give us new sounds.
For example: the letters t and h, when put together, represent a new sound, th. We learn a new sound with each Fitzroy Reader. Examples of new sounds, ch, sh, or, ar, er, all, ous, tion, etc.
If we have learned the new sound sh for example, we can sound out the word shop. We can say: SH! O! P! says shop. Similarly, A! C! TION! says action.
So as we progress through the Fitzroy programme, we find that we can sound out more and more of the English language. This is how the Fitzroy Method works.
- Can every English word be sounded out?
There are some words whose spelling does not conform to rules of pronunciation - words like yacht and eye. They usually contain some phonic clues (like the s and d in said), but we call these special words so the learner understands that they must be remembered by sight. This does not mean we have gone back to the “whole word” method, in which every word is a special word! Indeed, disregarding the 50 most common special words (to, was, who, etc), only a very small percentage of words fall outside the range that phonically-educated students can easily read.
- Can the Fitzroy Method be taught at home?
The Fitzroy Method can easily be taught at home, thanks to its strong phonic base and systematic structure. There is no jargon in the materials or the instructions.
The method stays the same from beginning to end, so that once you have learnt how to approach any of our teaching materials, you will always be equipped to use them - no matter what level you reach in the programme.
Teachers, tutors and parents may be interested to read the Teacher's Guide, which explains the Fitzroy Method in plain English.
- Will my student read fluently by the end of the course?
Children who have completed our course will be able to read local newspapers, children's novels and secondary school text books.
Most children start reading wider literature while they are still on the Readers. Some branch out from the 21-30 level, more from 31-40 and most from 41-50. They can move on to Harry Potter and a vast range of other books at the conclusion of the course.
- Can I mix reading programs?
The Fitzroy Method is systematic and complete. As such, there is no need to mix it with any other programs.
If you do wish to mix it with another program - you must still make sure that you master the stages of the Fitzroy course. If you do that, then you can mix in other courses while still being confident that your child will get a complete literacy education.
Even so, there is a danger in mixing methods. The Fitzroy Method is precisely calibrated. This means that no step along the way is ever too hard for your child. This creates success experiences that encourage children. But if you use material from other courses there is no guarantee that it will be set at an appropriate reading level. Some children lose reading confidence if they encounter too many words they cannot read.
- Where can I get more information about using the Fitzroy Method teaching materials?
The best sources of information for the Fitzroy Method are:
- The teaching materials product descriptions. To view them online, simply go to the appropriate products page and follow the links.
- The Teacher's Guide to the Fitzroy Method. The Teacher's Guide not only has a full description of our teaching methodology, it also contains over 100 pages of teacher resources, such as spelling tests, entry and exit tests for each Reader level, lesson plans, and more.
- Fitzroy Method Professional Development Courses. These courses are held in Melbourne, as well as in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. To find out where the next course is, go to the training page. If demonstrations to groups are required elsewhere, please send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org : we may be able to arrange something.
- What do users say about the Fitzroy Method?
We have received much praise for our materials from teachers, tutors and parents. The Fitzroy Method is easy to understand. The results are rapid. The method has a long track record of giving struggling readers new confidence.
See some of our testimonials.