DS (reception) is reluctant to read

(79 Posts)
HappyAsEyeAm Tue 11-Jun-13 13:26:36

DS is nearing the end of reception. He is 5.

They do Oxford Reading Tree at school, and after a very slow start, he is nearing the end of Stage 3. He reads with his teacher every day, and we read with him at home too. He will get a new book if his teacher is happy with his reading, and now he seems to be getting a new book nearly every day. His teacher is happy with him.

We found that he only started really progressing if we read his book with him in the evening, and also again the following morning before school. Since we started doing that, he's come on very well, and is at the same level, or thereabouts, as most of his friends. So obviously, we want to continue in that vein. We (and the school) give lots of praise and encouragement for his efforts, and put emphasis on trying hard with his book when he reads to us, rather than on the result.

Lately though, I am finidng it harder and harder to actually get him to read with me. He prevaricates, throws strops, downright refuses etc. It takes forever to get him to read, despite me trying to make it fun, upbeat, doing it when he isn't too tired etc.

The only thing that seems to work is an incentive, and for him, that is usually a food treat eg a small packet of sweets, a small chocolate biscuit etc. I say that if he tries hard with his book, he can have a treat. And then he tries hard.

Am I doing the wrong thing? Obviously, I don't want to be using a food treat as an incentive forever. But non-food treats, praise, encouragement etc doesn't seem to work anymore to get him to read his book with us.

learnandsay Tue 11-Jun-13 13:45:51

I think bribery is one of the strongest tools available. Bribery that doesn't involve sugar is good too. Sounds like you're well along the right track already. Do you do family days out? If my child's reading was in short supply I'd take to writing the next treat, like a trip to an animal park, or whatever, on A4 paper (a shortish letter) with marker pen and putting it at his place at breakfast time the day before. But I'd deliberately use words which were longer than the ones that he was used to. I wouldn't do it all the time but just often enough so that every now and again he had a significantly long enough reading challenge that he wanted to complete. And if he's not already reading tricky words on a regular basis, then I'd be sure to throw in a good smattering of those in each note.

kotinka Tue 11-Jun-13 13:50:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

learnandsay Tue 11-Jun-13 13:53:16

There was a time when my daughter had a fear of dense passages and long words, but once she found out that she could read them she went pretty much overnight from wanting to read only this book or that book to wanting to read anything with pages in it.

Nagoo Tue 11-Jun-13 13:56:24

Bribery here too, he's allowed to play playstation after he's done his reading. He gets stars for certain things, and reading is one if them. If he gets enough stars he gets a skylander.

I let him play moshi monsters because he wanted to read the things that they say.

Also let him choose things to read that aren't school books, so maybe he could have a comic once a week? (the skylanders every other week worked out cheaper than a bloody comic though!)

HappyAsEyeAm Tue 11-Jun-13 13:58:57

Thanks for the replies. The stage 3 books have a sentence or two (at most) per page, with 16 pages to a book, so it isn't too dense, I don't think. I like the idea of writing the next treat out for him to read though, he would really enjoy the fun element of that.

I will continue with the bribes for now!

Its only his school reading book that he is reluctant to do. He will happily sit and listen to me reading to him, and we spot the words he might know in the text. He is also happy to do puzzles, sums, dot to dots, practice his writing etc, but all of this requires interaction with me, and that is sometimes difficult to factor in on weekdays as I work part time too and we have a baby.

I don't want to make too big a thing out of reading his school book, as he is generally well behaved, adjusted, funny and happy. But its not like it is optional. He has to do it, and that's why I was looking for suggestions as to how to get him to do it!

learnandsay Tue 11-Jun-13 14:01:47

I'd keep going over the summer holiday, without school books, otherwise you might have to go back to square one next year.

HappyAsEyeAm Tue 11-Jun-13 14:03:59

I agree, learnandsay. We are going to try and keep going at the same pace as he is going at the moment, so 5 books a week. That is our aim, anyway. It may slip a little with holidays and long days out. As I don't think the school would be able to loan so many out, I will be placing an order for the Stages 5 and 6 ORT books on amazon.

learnandsay Tue 11-Jun-13 14:07:16

simpson always recommends www.oxfordowl.co.uk

I've never used it myself, but she rates it highly.

HappyAsEyeAm Tue 11-Jun-13 14:35:09

Thanks - that's a great suggestion. I particularly like the free eBooks!

noramum Tue 11-Jun-13 15:03:24

For the holiday see if you local library has a reading scheme. It normally means 6 books in 6 weeks and they get a certificate and small prize at the end.

We found that this really got DD going who was ok with her school book but wasn't keen on anything else.

We also promised a treat for finishing it and she gets a new book whenever she moves up a stage. In our case she gets a book we can read to her as one of her greatest fears is that we will stop reading to her. No idea where it comes from as we all love bedtime reading.

DS (R, nearly five) hates school books and I don't blame him. The majority of early phonics books are wrist-slittingly dull.

He reads well to us and to his little brother and to himself at home. I don't push the school books because I don't want to put him off reading. I want him to value reading for its own sake (both because it is a useful skill and because it is enjoyable) and so far we have done well. His teacher is certainly quite happy with our methods. I he got a FANTASTIC against our comments in the reading folder for half term grin

learnandsay Tue 11-Jun-13 17:59:29

Well, horry, what about that! Can I have your Reception teacher, please?

maizieD Tue 11-Jun-13 18:22:04

DS (R, nearly five) hates school books and I don't blame him. The majority of early phonics books are wrist-slittingly dull.

Unless they are actually 'Floppy's Phonics' the Oxford Reading Tree aren't phonics books at all. They are Look & Say and wrist splittingly dull because they are extremely repetitive.

It could be that the OP's DS finds many of the words too difficult as they do not relate to the phonics he is being taught. If you can't read the words you're not likely to be particularly enthused by reading.

learnandsay Tue 11-Jun-13 18:26:27

Repetition isn't a sure sign of boring basalt readers, Marinarik, Seuss and the Usborne phonics readers are repetitive but brilliant. Personally I think the ORT books are wrist slitty because they've been badly written.

Owllady Tue 11-Jun-13 18:31:34

This all sounds very normal tbh. I have a boy the same age and I do not push him to read if he doesn't want to. I am a firm believer that reading should be seen as something you get enjoyment out of and if you learn to enjoy reading it is something you will carry on with forever. i did this with my 11 yr old and he reads for school and pleasure without any complaint at all. So personally I would chill

You never know, the "fantastic" could have been sarcastic and/or despairing wink and obviously Reception being non-compulsory for my 4yo means anything he achieves is a bonus.

Repetition doesn't need to be dull, I absolutely agree. And we are definitely on phonics books here, not L&S. They have guidance notes at the back about the focus phonemes.

But why why why are they aimed at imbeciles? Yes there is an art to making simple fun but plenty of "real" books we encounter throw up only one or two "tricky" words in total, and those are typically the beginner ones that appear in the Stage Two ish books anyway.

SizzleSazz Tue 11-Jun-13 18:47:51

We use 'well done' or 'fantastic' stickers which we stick in the reading record which helps motivate DD.

Stage 3 is fine for the end of Reception so i wouldn't worry too much. We also used Reading Eggs on the computer which Dd1 loved although some teachers on MN don't seem to rate it.

learnandsay Tue 11-Jun-13 19:09:12

why are they aimed at imbeciles?

Are they actually aimed at imbeciles or are the really really stupid looking ones aimed at children who can't read anything and are just learning? I remember one book which went some thing like
Sam has got a pot.
Pat pat pat.
Tap tap tap.
My daughter didn't know what it was. She'd never seen a book like that before and neither had I. But I think it came right after wordless books. I think it wasn't aimed at imbeciles but at someone who has pretty much never read a sentence before. I think the problem might be that books too low a level keep getting aimed at children who can read higher books. There's a reason for that, (the children are supposed to be doing lots of other things, not just "reading" the words.) But perhaps it's the lingering over simple books which makes the scheme look stupid. (Or maybe, on the other hand, the scheme really is stupid.)

Periwinkle007 Tue 11-Jun-13 20:50:47

I wouldn't buy any scheme books to be honest and if you do I would go with something like songbirds phonics rather than the biff chip and kipper ones. definitely read over the summer as often as you can.

I see nothing wrong with bribery. I think they have patches like this where reading is a chore and they don't want to do it, they still want to enjoy books though. it is only a few weeks to the end of term so just bribe until then and enjoy other books.

learnandsay I'm talking about the later books too. They have a reasonable vocabulary but no plot at all. The storytelling is at the level one offers preverbal toddlers.

I notice more because occasionally you get one that does have an actual story, and the difference in DS's engagement in it is very noticeable.

I don't know what the intention is. I don't know if they're really aimed at children who aren't used to books at all: the children who have never been read to and consequently don't know how books work sad In which case I feel a bit churlish complaining that they're dull.

learnandsay Tue 11-Jun-13 21:18:39

horry, yes, I know. But I think it's deliberate. I've got some Treetops books at home. They're at the top of the scheme and they're still silly. Farmer Oldboots puts his cat in the well. Who put the cat in the well? Who can tell. Does it smell?

And stuff of that kind. It's not even as clever as a Beatrix Potter book. So, if the top of the scheme is basically rubbish, what does that tell you about all the lower levels?

But to be fair to the scheme I think it's trying to actively teach children to read. ie they're supposed to not be able to read in order to use it. There is a drawback in that some schools are forcing children who can already read to read this silly muck. Yes. That's a problem. But it's probably a small price to pay for general reading ability nationwide. It's hell for the family concerned. But hey, they're taking one for the nation.

maizieD Tue 11-Jun-13 21:31:04

Repetition isn't a sure sign of boring basalt readers, Marinarik, Seuss and the Usborne phonics readers are repetitive but brilliant.

Basalt readers? Are they really hard?

I think the most boring children's book I have ever seen is 'Green Eggs and Ham'.

I apologise for my previous contribution to this thread. I hadn't realised that OP's son was a brilliant reader with a highly developed sense of literary criticism. hmm

Periwinkle007 Tue 11-Jun-13 21:31:23

good grief L&S - which treetops book is that? DD1 has only brought home one treetops I think, it was about the Cocos Gold and Treasure Island and was a geography treetops or something like that. It was actually really quite difficult. I would hope that one wasn't supposed to be at a similar level

It isn't hell for us - we don't insist he read them! wink grin And that's what I'm recommending to the OP: the best way to encourage reading is to find material he actually wants to read.

learnandsay Tue 11-Jun-13 21:45:51
Periwinkle007 Tue 11-Jun-13 21:52:36

that surprises me. Mind the stage 9 all star ones are actually only book band 7.

mrz Tue 11-Jun-13 21:55:55

It's an All Stars book written for reception Perriwinkle much lower reading level than the book you mention

mrz Tue 11-Jun-13 21:56:21


learnandsay Tue 11-Jun-13 21:57:44

Thank god for that. It's utter pants.

mrz Tue 11-Jun-13 21:58:27

Dare I say I find the Usbourne phonic books boring

learnandsay Tue 11-Jun-13 22:00:42

No, you dare not! They're the one time in my life that I found phonics enjoyable!

mrz Tue 11-Jun-13 22:04:44

What on earth did you like about them?

learnandsay Tue 11-Jun-13 22:08:38

They're colourful. They rhyme. They zip along. They use a tiny vocabulary in an entertaining variety of ways. They're funny. I'm a fan of that one phonics application.

mrz Tue 11-Jun-13 22:15:09

They remind me of the old Gay Way books

damnitdamnit Tue 11-Jun-13 22:19:34

I bribe mine when needed with those sweet type vitamins.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 11-Jun-13 22:25:48

OP - DS has just been sent home with some Read Write Inc Phonics books, and they are great. I have no gripe with the ORT books, DS1 has enjoyed a lot of them, but it is nice to have a change!

learnandsay Tue 11-Jun-13 22:31:22
christinarossetti Tue 11-Jun-13 22:50:38

OP, my instinct is that getting into battles about reading twice a day is too much - I would aim to 'do his reading' once a day and think of it as a bonus if he wanted to read at other times too.

It might be worth either asking the school or going to the library to see if they have books rather than just ORT at his level. My dd found books that weren't fully decodable with the phonics she had been taught unbelievably frustrating when she was learning to read.

DewDr0p Tue 11-Jun-13 23:01:57

I think it's pretty normal for them to be a bit fed up by this stage of reception - they are quite tired by this time of year, perhaps a bit saturated.

Maybe back off the reading scheme books a little and concentrate on reading more exciting books together in the evening - DK Early Readers are brilliant and really got my stalled reader into reading. Or read picture book stories to him and get him to read a few sentences here and there (pick out ones which you think he can have a reasonable stab at)

Another technique I've seen my mum (retired teacher) use very successfully with ds was to get him to read the first 6 pages or so of the book twice rather than plough on through. Seemed to boost his confidence and the second time they talked about expression and stuff.

HTH! Both my mum and our school stress the importance of knowing when to back off a bit as well as pushing ahead (the pushing ahead bit being my natural tendency grin )

BabiesAreLikeBuses Tue 11-Jun-13 23:21:11

If the teacher reads with 30 children every da does he/she do anything else?!
Maybe 3 times reading the same book is too much. My ds prefers nonfiction so is currently reading an atlas in the car to and from school each day, then testing me on names of deserts and rivers....

NightLark Tue 11-Jun-13 23:30:03

We could only get DS to engage with non-fiction. He has no sense of narrative at all, and simply wasn't interested in stories until he was around 7 (Y2).

All fine in reception and Y1 when I would give him 'homework' credit for reading anything at all, from cereal packets to street maps, but took a bit of a dive in Y2 when the teacher refused to accept anything other than the 'standard' books as evidence of reading. Ho hum. Still can't get him to read a story book without bribery.

mrz Wed 12-Jun-13 06:44:01

Perhaps if you were more familiar with the early Gay Way books you would know learnandsay ... the name was changed and they are now called New Way


HappyAsEyeAm Wed 12-Jun-13 08:51:37

Thanks for the replies. Am I missing something? I barely post or read on the Primary education board, and from some of the replies and messages to other posters, I feel like I've walked into something. I appreciate people taking the time to reply to my OP though.

He is at a small private school. 12 or so children per class. There is a part time TA as well his teacher, and he reads with one or the other of them every day.

I was going to plough on with the ORT books, as that is the scheme the school does. So I (maybe naively) thought that if he progresses with those over the summer, he will be further on in the ORT scheme when he goes back in Autumn. Maybe I am seeing it as a priority that he progresses through the scheme, and maybe I should be thinking more broadly.

He actually enjoys the ORT books. I don't mind them either, as they're only one of X many books that we read every day. At Stage 3, they have more of a plot and a funny ending. The books I read to him vary enormously - non fiction, fairy tales, rhyming books, etc. But they're all picture books, as that's what he likes. We have a lot of books. I love reading to him, and he loves it too. We spend about 20 minutes a do with me reading to him. More at weekends.

I will definitely go to the library, think about star/reward stickers etc.

Thank you in particular DewDr0p for your reply - I have taken a lot out of it.

Periwinkle007 Wed 12-Jun-13 10:44:03

if you spent the summer doing ORT books then the school might move him up a level in september as a result but it is unlikely they would jump him up too far as they would probably want to make sure he was truly confident at that level and then he might just be rereading the same books.

I wouldn't worry too much about him moving up through the levels, obviously you want him to but there is so much more to reading. Keep doing the big variety of books you are already reading with him, encouraging him to help sound out and read the words he can in them.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Wed 12-Jun-13 12:47:06

I would get him reading something other than the main ORT stories, definitely check out the library.

I got a few Floppy's Phonics for DS1 which he liked because the characters were familiar and he felt confident, and then we've branched out into other things. Espresso Phonics is quite good, and we also like the Reading Corner books - they their own levels/banding which means you can judge roughly which ones to get.

Tubemole1 Thu 13-Jun-13 00:32:38

I say leave him be. Too much imposition on your little man! He reads before, at and after school? What are you trying to prove, to yourself, or others?

I thought my daughter didn't read enough but she has almost finished the reading scheme at her school and she's only in Year 1. I don't force or cajole her, and the only fixed book time is when she is read to before bed. She finds the school books boring, but I can only suggest the Rainbow Magic and winnie the witch books as most of the others at her reading level are not appropriate subject matter for her. She reads picture books from the library on her own, too.

I have found that leaving books within easy reach and about her favourite subject matter is enough. She loves Moshi Monsters, fairies and animals. If she says, Mum, I'm bored! I tell her, I'll chuck all your toys and books away then, or give it to charity, as you don't need them! She then reacts by drawing a picture, playing with her toys, turning on her 3ds or reading a book! She doesn't want her stuff given away!

Ignore reading schemes etc ask your lad what he's into. Then get books from the library or Amazon around that subject. And don't force him!

Periwinkle007 Thu 13-Jun-13 09:28:13

Tubemole1 - have you tried The Magic Toy Shop series, Claude, some of the Dick King Smith, The New Adventures of the Wishing Chair, The Secret Mermaid, Laura's Star chapter books, Anna Hibiscus. I have lots more around that level I can recommend too. All perfectly suitable for a young reader (I am quite picky about what subject matter I would give to my 5 year old but these are all ok). There are a lot more out there than it appears at first look, it has taken me quite a while to find some of them though. (as an aside I am hoping to set up a blog/website about children's books to share information like this especially for young but good readers)

HappyAsEyeAm Thu 13-Jun-13 14:06:38

A bit harsh, tubemole. He reads before, at and after school, because we have found that, unless we do this with him, he doesnt make progress. And he likes the school books, and wants to progress through them, and be at the same level as his friends. So we are trying to find a way for him to get what he wants. I am not trying to prove anything to anyone.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Thu 13-Jun-13 14:25:58

Happy it does sound in that case as if he really hasn't grasped the mechanics of reading, and is simply memorising the books - which it is possible to do at this stage because the books are fairly short and repetitive.

Do the school do phonics with them? Is he able to sound out and blend?

HappyAsEyeAm Thu 13-Jun-13 17:20:58

Ali, I agree that there is an element of memorising involved. Bt he has learned lots of words in previous books that he remembers when he sees again for the first time in a new book. I don't think it is all memorising.

The school does not teach phonics. I do a bit of phonics with him at home, but I don't want to do too much for fear of confusing him, as they don't do it in school.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Thu 13-Jun-13 18:44:14

They don't do phonics?

So how are they teaching them to read then? Just by memorising individual words?

mrz Thu 13-Jun-13 18:53:57

If the school isn't teaching any phonics them I'm afraid you have a problem. Some fortunate individuals are able to work out the relationship between spoken words and letters on the page themselves, unfortunately most need to be taught as memorising 250 000 words is an impossible task.

BabiesAreLikeBuses Thu 13-Jun-13 19:29:09

How can they not be teaching phonics? And yet reading daily? That sounds confusing, i would be tempted to teach the phonics myself to help dc although i appreciate that you don't want to go against the school. Have they said what they are doing and what they want you to do?

mrz Thu 13-Jun-13 20:22:37

That is the Look & Say method BabiesAreLikeBuses. Children get lists of words to memorise then are given a book to reading which contains those words. When they have learnt the book they get another list of words to memorise ...which is fine until they meet a word that isn't on any of their lists and they don't have a clue how to begin to read it.

learnandsay Thu 13-Jun-13 20:25:22

Well, that's one way of doing it.

learnandsay Thu 13-Jun-13 20:28:46

The main look and say way of reading a word that you haven't met before is to guess what it is from its context. And, if you've had a reasonable stab at it and can't work out what it is then the person you're reading to tells you what it is. (Trying, failing and being told also happens with phonics children.)

simpson Thu 13-Jun-13 20:29:48

Is it just reading the school books that he does not like?

There are loads of phonics based books in our local library which DD loved.

You can also check out the Oxford owl website or sign up to the reading chest.

It might be worth thinking about when he reads ie is he tired. It might be worth reading in the morning instead.

Also maybe the books are too long for him (they have such a short attention span when young) so you could split the book over several days and then his recapping of the story so far could be practised.

mrz Thu 13-Jun-13 20:32:26

No learnandsay THAT is YOUR method of Look & Say!

HappyAsEyeAm Thu 13-Jun-13 20:35:22

Yes, they do look and say at school. Sorry, I am not familiar with the terminology around ways of learning to read. His teacher says that if he doesn't know a work, tell him the first letter, and let him have a stab at it, and if he doesn't know, tell him what it is. So this is what I do. He knows quite a lot of words, and this is how he has learnt them. The school isn't going to change the way it teaches children to read. I want to be consistent n the method of teaching, but I also want to help him.

simpson Thu 13-Jun-13 20:36:35

I don't get how a child is supposed to work out an unknown word by using look and say...

If they don't know it, they don't know it. Which is why the method fails so many children.

simpson Thu 13-Jun-13 20:38:16

Personally if my child was being taught the look and say way at school, I would be doing phonics at home.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Thu 13-Jun-13 20:39:04

Blimey I would be livid with a school if they were using that method! And you are paying for it...

learnandsay Thu 13-Jun-13 20:39:44

OK, mine, Louisa Moats' and about a couple of hundred thousand other people some alive and some dead.

mrz Thu 13-Jun-13 20:41:02

Unless he manages to work out the phonic code for himself then he is going to struggle once he reaches the point he can't memorise any more words I'm afraid.

HappyAsEyeAm Thu 13-Jun-13 21:01:48

I don't really know enough to debate the merits of being taught in this way over any other way. I think he is making progress. I know that the other children in his school, past and present, have all made good progress and achieve well. I have taken lots of tips from the replies, which is why I posted. I am happy with the school, and DS is happy there too. I will supplement what they are doing with some phonics at home.

simpson Thu 13-Jun-13 21:09:26

The problem with the look/say method is that problems quite often don't arise until a child is older ie yr5/6 when they cannot spell for example.

learnandsay Thu 13-Jun-13 21:11:53

Not being able to spell is a universal problem. It's not limited to one reading method. Children specifically need to be taught how to spell. It's a separate discipline.

mrz Thu 13-Jun-13 21:14:22

No it isn't decoding for reading is the opposite skill to encoding for spelling and are taught together

simpson Thu 13-Jun-13 21:18:42

Exactly, I did not realise they were 2 different things until this year (DD's reception year) but she is being taught both at the same time.

Encoding and decoding I mean....

DS always got 10/10 in spelling tests every week but totally forgot the words he had learnt when writing quickly (ie in the big write) although his spelling his pretty good.

simpson Thu 13-Jun-13 21:19:31

is blush

NutsinMay Thu 13-Jun-13 21:19:43

I may be in the minority here but I no longer try to read with my child. She is too tired after school and just not interested at the moment plus the books aren't interesting for her.

Instead I read for 15-20 minutes every night as I have always done and we talk about the books. She is only 5. I'm in no rush.(If she was in Scandinavia she wouldn't be in school yet)

She's a bright child, she'll learn in her own time.

I certainly wouldn't use bribery to get her to read. She loves books and I don't want to put her off them.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Thu 13-Jun-13 21:21:08

learnandsay I disagree completely.

DS1 is learning to spell by saying the word, sounding it out, and then writing down those sounds. Which he could not do if he wasn't being taught phonics. It is all one thing.

learnandsay Thu 13-Jun-13 21:25:55

Sure, you learn to spell each word individually by letter name and not by phoneme.

And since many sounds are spelt in different ways, and often letters are silent, knowing a words sounds does not mean that you'll know how to spell it.

BabiesAreLikeBuses Thu 13-Jun-13 21:32:59

I thought all state schools were phonics only now, i'd teach the code. I would find it too hard to watch my dc struggle if i thought that phonics would help. I'm sure that way back when i was young i learnt by l &s although i do remember having words spelt out to me too - but if we know there are ways that work better for everyone then why not do it?

BabiesAreLikeBuses Thu 13-Jun-13 21:37:32

And a work today i spent time with a y5 child who has had huge problems with spelling. He's bright and a great reader. When he was in reception they had word packs to memorise etc, not phonics. He had a eureka moment today when we were using phonics to help spell words like suddenly and remembered, has made me think we ought to do phonics boosters with y5 next year to help with spelling.

BabiesAreLikeBuses Thu 13-Jun-13 21:37:51


mrz Thu 13-Jun-13 21:39:15

The OP has said her child attends a private school

BabiesAreLikeBuses Thu 13-Jun-13 21:40:42

Sorry - missed that bit!

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