Son given books too easy to read at school - what to do?(17 Posts)
My son is quite a good reader. When I had him tested at 3 independent schools in the UK (pending a return to UK) they said he was 18 months + ahead of his reading age. He is 7, nearly 8. I want to maintain his reading level and keep him moving forward in this.
Now the issue. The international school that he attends has had me banging my head against the wall with regards to his reading and other basics since the day he got there. During his second year there, he was given a series of books graded in a colour (lets say red books, with 3 levels within this band) and he worked his way through all of them in the year. When he went into his 3rd year the new teacher told us that they do not follow coloured/ graded books in that year and the children can pick whatever they like. He brought books home which were quite frankly a pile of crap (one about a town where everyone lost their bottoms and how they got them back ) and I decided to just do my own thing. My son loves the Usborne books about history, mythology and loves non fiction (anything to do with science, volcanoes, dinosaurs etc). Over the summer we have been reading Horrid Henry, THe Magic Treehouse and he has now started on the Cressida Cowell Dragon books.
Anyway, he has just returned to school and I see that the teacher has given him a set of books that are the same colour/ grading as when he was at the end of year 2, so basically that says he didn't move forward in a year which I do not believe as we read every night and can see that he has improved. So again, a big headache with this ongoing situation. He gets no homework whatsoever and this is the only thing he has to do. Tonights book took 2 minutes to read and he did not stumble on one word.
As a parent/ teacher, what would you do in this situation? I need to keep moving forward with things as having visited the schools in the UK I can tell you that their standards of literacy and maths are much higher and I need him to keep up because we will be posted back at some point. Do I just carry on with what I am doing and give him harder books? Honestly, I am not being a Tiger Mom here and the books I give him he can read easily and only ever comes stuck on a few words. In the past I have discussed with the teacher, but they say they are not giving him any harder. The other kids are on the same colour or lower graded books.
Need a banging head against brick wall emoticon.
To be honest even in the UK you could face this issue. If the school book is only taking 2 minutes, then I would simply let him spend the other 18 minutes reading something else - anything else. You sound as if you have no problems finding books for him, but if you did wonder, then you can always google an age-appropriate reading list (many prep school have them on their websites).
Is he showing the school that he fully understands what he is reading? There is a difference between being able to read the words and actually comprehending what is being read.
I would just keep up the reading for pleasure at home personally
The feedback from school is that he is a strong reader and has good comprehension. It's all good. The school is very touchy feely about not wanting the kids to get upset or be overwhelmed (been there over 3 years, never ever had a piece of homework despite finishing at 2pm and having all afternoon to do stuff). Personally I am quite upset though as the schools I visited in the UK told me that my son's grammar, spelling and writing were very poor, possibly because he's never ever had a spelling test or a piece of homework. On the other hand they said his maths was good (I take him to a maths lesson after school) and his reading was very good, with good understanding. I really do not want to lose this as he will have a hard time adjusting as it is when he comes back without being behind.
I have experienced this in the UK in an independent school. In hindsight the particular teacher took a dislike to my DD who was largely ignored for the entire year. I at first tried to discuss was sharply reminded that she was the teacher, so in the end we just did our own thing at home.
The next year we had a totally different experience a teacher who totally got DD who blossomed.
Regarding spelling tests these are falling out of fashion as there is evidence that children learn for the test, but then are unable to spell the words in sentences. At DD's school there is very much a the more they read the better the spelling will get.
I had this problem with my DD1 and DD3. I spoke to the school and they sorted it out! The quicker you deal with it the more enjoyable your child will find reading as well as progressing quicker!
Speaking as an English teacher, and someone who had a very mixed, itinerant education until the age of 11, you can't go wrong by just reading tonnes and tonnes of books with him. My own (bright) son enjoyed Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl etc at this age and read them avidly. For easier books, try Horrid Henry. Reading will improve by doing it a lot but you can absorb a surprising amount of grammar, spelling etc by reading. I had no formal tuition in either until much later and it made no difference. Read. Read. Read. Maybe buy him a Kindle and have one book that he reads alone, another you read "together" perhaps by reading a sentence in turn or a paragraph. Also, read to him (or audio books are good) to give him a challenge and even more difficult books.
When do you plan to return to UK? ds was similar but we just let him read whatever he liked. Came back to UK at 7 to a Prep school and was fine. Learning to read isn't linear once they have the basic skills , so he doesn't need progressively "harder" books but to develop thirst for reading and a repertoire which interests and enthuses him to write. We also found the teaching in primary years of IS frustratingly unstructured but even ds , who is dyspraxic with dyslexic tendencies, caught up once it was broken down for him . Maybe get some resources which work on those skills ?
I would carry on with what you are doing at home by finding him books he enjoys. Many parents in the UK have to do this even at 'outsanding' schools.
OK, thanks everyone. I have calmed down a bit now. Lizs, I agree about the IS. I really do find it frustratingly unstructured. The children do not seem to be taught or encouraged to write properly, pay attention to grammar or spelling. I have brought these things up to the school and have been told over and over again that "we don't want to quash the passion". Meanwhile if you compare year 1/2 and 3, there is little progress in his literacy. He does not seem to have an issue with learning and when asked I am told that he is "at the top end of the class and a strong student".
Thank you for the tips, I am not a teacher but so desperately want to support him. Those are great tips about the knock on effects of reading for spelling and grammar. I don't think the teacher will change the books (but I will ask) but I will carry on with our own books and expand on the ones he is reading. I LOVE LOVE the Dinosaur Cove series. The vocab in these books is great! We do also have audio books.
I don't understand the problem. Reading is one of the few things where they develop just by doing, no active teaching required after a certain point. Find books he can enjoy reading at whatever level and he will progress.
I know exactly how you feel, in an Int'l Sch envirnoment with children from all over the world, many with English as their second or third languages, it is not really an advantage for native English speaker, especially if they are very academic. As the teacher tends to drag the standard down, so there is not a big gap within the age group.
My very able son moved from a prep Sch to Int'l Sch when he was 9, because of my DH job abroad. He was top in his class in his Prep, when he went to the Int'l Sch, he was given very easy book to read, and very basic Maths questions. Our first parent teacher meeting was hilarious! He had to write what he was good at and what he needed to improve, so he wrote he was good at everything, and he could improve his handwriting. His teacher, without thinking or really understood my DS ability, gave him a alphabet copybook( those for beginner with dotted line to write A to Z) He felt totally insulted, so he left the book behind, we left the classroom, the teacher chased after us and insisted we needed to take that copybook home.
Anyway, cutting the long story short, I started to look for boarding school option for him. And continued the level I expected him to work on. Borrowed books from school library which was right for his reading ability. And continued helping him with his Maths. He is about 2 years ahead of his peers in Maths in Int'l Sch. He did very well, got himself into a top boarding school at 13.
If you just keep up with the reading, and maths, he will be fine!
5.8 year old son also in an International School where most of the kids are non native speakers and to make matters worse they follow the American system so he has just started kindergarten.
Almost certainly top of the class academically, but there is no ranking system so can't know officially. I feel that academically most international schools are poor, or at least not good enough for the academically inclined.
My son's school does have excellent libraries which he uses after school most days. I will only let him take books home from the library if I believe they will take him at least 10 minutes to read. Not worth carrying home otherwise. The school does allocate one lesson a week in the library where the kids can take up to two books home and they can take whatever books they like. The school has made no mention of reading levels or bands as yet.
I estimate that he spends about 7 hours a week reading books outside of schooltime, half of that with me and the rest by himself. In addition to this, he does 2-3 hours per week of audio books in the car with him reading along to the CD.
When he was younger he spent quite a long time reading/reading along with ebooks on the Ipad. I thought these were great for helping to develop his reading ability.
Before starting at this school I was spending a huge amount of time and money finding suitable reading material for him, but the school library has been an absolute god send.
My son was given reading books which were too easy for him in his very highly rated UK state school. I complained and it was kindly explained to me that the teachers deliberately give reading books which are below the child's capability. This is so that when reading aloud to parents or teachers the children build confidence as not struggling over words. Also they can focus on adding intonation which shows the teacher if they really understand the text. I was sceptical but when my son transferred to a highly selective independent school, despite being an average reader in the state school he was miles ahead of all the other kids. We didn't do loads of extra reading with him so this system clearly works!
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Your sons spelling and grammar should not be poor if he is such a good reader. If he comprehends what he is reading this will include the grammar and spelling of words.
I think maybe you need to spend longer reading the book than the two minutes you are saying it is taking and go through the book talking about the words he doesn't understand and the punctuation etc.
As for him saying it is too easy, don't listen to him. It's easy to sound out a book full of words but there is far more to reading than just sounding out the words.
Dd has always had a really high reading age but we were told from very early on that this really means nothing unless it is reflected in their English comprehension and a bigger then normal vocabulary.
The theory about being given easier books for confidence sounds plausible but the important thing is that are quick and fun - not the only thing he reads. Most of his reading should be at home by now, books which he chooses and enjoys, and anything goes IMO - the Beano is great.
Be careful about electronic books at this age - there was a study about how it might hinder progress:
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