George is being helped to learn reading but an array of techniques, including the mother’s use of feedback, correction and positive reinforcement. There is also evidence of the synthetics phonics teaching method which has bee used to teach the child. There has been much recent debate regarding the correct methods to teach young children to read. This is mainly due to a strong emphasis on synthetic phonics and there is evidence supporting this style of teaching showing children’ reading ability to be far greater than children taught reading by other methods.
Within the text it appears the child uses phonics. The method is also taught to George by his mother who, when he is unsure of a word, tells him to “sound it out” which George does based on the individual phonemes of the word “sandbag” (). George omits the phoneme (de) which is correct by his mother. This error, which is clearly virtuous as it will later aid his learning, occurs later in the text in which he reads “sandbags”. With his mother’s emphasis (through her intonation) on 2sand”, George corrects his error. However, it is arguable that through the use of “look and say” method this mistake may not have been made as he would have seen the letter “d”.
Another virtuous error occurs in line 17 in which George omits the plural for “houses” and merely says “house”. This is corrected by the mother saying “watch the endings”. This error could have been caused by two things, either that George is trying to read on from one line to the next too quickly and therefore misses the plural or that he is not yet fully aware pluralisation and needs to learn the rule. The speed he is reading seems likely as he make three further errors in this way such as “never” instead of “need”, “upstairs” rather than “upset” and “made” rather than “may”. This errors made by George are from seeing the first two letters of the word and pronouncing words he knows which begin with the same letters and fit into the sentence. This basis for predicting the words is shown by his mother’s statement “it looks like upstairs, doesn’t it”. However, this may be a reference to the look and say method in which George has registered that the word resembles “upstairs”. George’s error with “upstairs” may also suggest that George is reading for readings sake, rather than for meaning.
The mother’s role in the process is vital in aiding her child’s development. This is not just in form of correcting any mistakes but in the form of positive and negative reinforcement, a behaviourist approach from B. F. Skinner. George’s mother uses positive reinforcement in abundance through the use of praise word: “well done” and “good boy”. These statements encourage George to keep reading and to do so using the techniques he is already employing. Even corrections are done in a positive way shown by the elongated vowel cluster in “noooo”. It is likely her intonation would rise at this cluster, making it friendly and aiding development. Any corrections are followed by more positive reinforcement such as “that’s it” to avoid discouraging him. The mother also invites George to interact with the book by the use of interrogatives: “what do you think is happening?”. This enables her to check he understands the plot and what he has read.