The Hannah Smith Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too

Flashback to 1994. I have braces, my forehead is disproportionatly large for my face, I am wearing navy culottes, I have a framed picture of Eric Stoltz in my oversized Head Bag and I am in my middle school history lesson where we are learning about American History. Mr C is making us all read in turns from a text book. It is my turn.

“during the Seven Years’ War, a 22-year-old Col-on-nel…”

An absolute guffaw comes from the front row of desks, where the best looking, the coolest and most popular boy sits. He had BURST OUT LAUGHING at my pronounciation. The horror. The shame. And then everyone else joined in. Even the teacher smirked.


Looking back now, if I was more confident I would have laughed too and sing song voice-y-like said “I pronounced it wrong! Silly me!” (or thrown the massive heavy text book at his big pretty face). But I wasn’t confident. I was a nerd. I had simply read the word as I saw it…Col.On.El… And we watched a lot of “Allo Allo” at home…

School was not my thing. I was not cool, I was the saddo. Looking back now, I wish I could tell myself 3 things.

1) your face will grow into your forehead

2) Eric Stoltz will one day read your blog. Rejoice.

3). One day you will be on a social networking site called Twitter. Twitter is a lot like school – you want to be funny and to have everyone like you. But unlike when you were at school you are now (a bit more) confident and have priorities beyond caring what other people think.

BUT. There are 2 people who still make me want to please them. Who make me want to be as cool as them and not be a nerd in front of them. My children.

Ed is beginning to want to learn to read. And you see, kids don’t learn to read like we (points at you, you, you, you, and you, there at the back) did. “John and Jane” have gone. John and Jane have got beaten up by The Alphablocks. Kids now learn by using the witchcraft of phonics.

Phonics. *cold sweat breaks out in my arm pits*. Phonics! I have no idea how this works. I am terrified of the children coming home from school with homework I can’t help them with. I don’t want to embarrass them, or fail them. I want them to radiate knowledge and confidence and not be frightened of asking their mother questions about their homework.

I want the moon on a stick. I want a miracle.

So, I enrolled in The Hannah Smith Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too. AKA the phonics course at our fab Sure Start Centre.

Before my course starts I know only one thing about phonetics. I know I sound like a deaf person when trying to speak phonetically. “Buh aaawwww leeerrrrrr”. (Ball)

But this course is changing my world. It is all (starting to, very slowly, very slowly) make actual proper sense! I am getting it. I will not fail my kids by not being able to help them learn how to read (as the schools teach it).

I have also learnt some other things;

1) Making as many rude words as I can out of my CVC (consonent vowel consenent) cubes with my new naughty friend isn’t productive use of my time. As funny as making the cubes say “TIT” and “NOB” are and sniggering about it.

2) It has a free creche attatched to it. Result.

3) Today I went in to my lesson with a stinking cold. 20 years ago I would have made that cold out to be the FLU and would have tried my hardest to skive the day off school. Today, going to school is going for a REST and a BREAK. I went in armed with lemsip, nasal spray and cough sweets. Hey, my parents were right! School DOES take your mind off being poorly!

4) Phonics are cool. I have been completly converted by the cult of it all. I got to thinking, how cool would it be to have invented the rhymes for phonics? Imagine a group of 26 people, sat about, with the job of producing the rhymes that go with phonics. Monday – nothing produced. Everyone hungover. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday would have been agog  with “down the laces and round the toe! YES! I have figured out the one for “B”!!”. Friday – its POETS (piss off early tomorrow is saturday) day. They come up with the one for K, kangaroo. Which, if you know phonics, makes little sense and is chuff.

5) I am so pleased to be doing this course. And once again, like a lot of things in my life, I owe this to my Sure Start Centre. God love ’em.

And to finish…here are 2 things –

1) In yo face At some point in time, I was right in my pronounciation!


2) not so long after this episode, my mum would walk in to that teachers classroom during a parents evening and threaten to knock his socks off if he ever upset me again.

My. Mum. Rocks.

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5 Responses to The Hannah Smith Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too

  1. Bubble says:

    I love your Mum! You were such a treasure, maybe he was helping build your resilience… lol he did scare me and ok, he was slightly evil!

    Reading how unnerving out this phonics thing can be, makes me think of the parents I work with who can’t read or write. Imagine being that helpless when your kiddies have homework…it must be tough. A Dad today told me he struggled, then proceeded to list all the jobs he’d had – well done to him! Another I know acts like a tw*t and arguably keeps himself ‘disabled’ (aka too fat to move) potentially because it’s easier than facing the world and his difficulties…
    Anyway! You have phonics down now, Han there’s no stopping you in your continuing to be the Coolest Super Mum there ever was!
    Love You & Yer Blog! xxx

  2. Auntie Kath says:

    Thank god I am 72 – I can’t keep up with these new fangled ideas. What happened to ABC!!!!
    Your blog is fun though – I so look forward to reading them. XX

  3. bonnoicroft says:

    The man was a bully and I HATE bullies .He got off lightly really , im surprised I didn,t go for the knee caps ,I was and still am the right hight for it !!
    You learning Phonics so you can help the boys is brilliant ,( Ive never understood phonics ) so I reckon Ed will be teaching me.
    But its the learning something new thats the real deal , it just reminds us how hard it is for the kiddies .
    Good one Han .xx
    P.S one of my dreams didnt happen , Im still 5ft and 1/2 inch xxxxxxxx

  4. Nisha Lucas says:

    your mum is great – to stand up to a teacher is hard!! So, do you think you can teach me phonics??

    • Hannah says:

      I am still struggling massively! Its so hard. I have some cubey toys to play with though. And a fan. Come round – it will be a HOOT! x Huh ooo ooo ta (thats phonics for Hoot)

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