Reception teacher told us not to read everyday

(347 Posts)
TeaJunky Fri 06-Dec-13 11:58:32

Ok, so dd started bringing books home. She initially brought the purple level with no words then progressed onto pink quite quickly. She reads her school reading (phonics) book to me everyday and as the reading book is changed only once a week, she began to find this boring quite quickly.

I wrongly assumed that she is perhaps ready for something more challenging and I wrote this in her reading record.

Dd's reception teacher called me in at the end of the day and proceeded to show me the whole reading scheme on the trolley and explain that it only consisted of 500 words and the whole point of it was to achieve fluency blah blah (I already know all this). She said dd had been tried out on some 'harder' books and struggled with them hence she stayed on pink.
That was fine by me, so I suggested that she perhaps needed a new book more often as she read everyday. The teacher said 'really, don't read everyday because it can get boring really quickly'.
I pointed out that it actually wasn't me pushing dd to sit down and read, it was her bringing her book bag from her room and literally dragging me onto the sofa to read - she said 'honestly, don't let her do it everyday' hmm

What ?!

The second thing that worried me about the whole conversation was the fact that the reading scheme only went up to level red, so the whole of the reading scheme was only three levels; purple (pre words), pink and red. She said that's the highest they can go in reception on the scheme.

Am I right to feel that this is a very limiting and pre-determined scheme with no room for differentiation or individual progression?

This is a highly thought of school and we are happy with everything else but the whole reading convo we had seems so bizarre.

thoughts ?

givemeaclue Fri 06-Dec-13 12:03:36

Yes you are right, that is ridiculous that she says not to read with her every day, most school encourage that. Also limiting reception reading to red??? The minimum standard they were aiming for at our school was yellow by end reception and some finished on level 9,10 etc and are now progressing to free reading in y1 having done all the levels.

Make appt with head and get other books out the library. Keep reading every day.

littleredsquirrel Fri 06-Dec-13 12:06:10

Completely ridiculous.

I'd be teaching her myself using songbird phonics books from the library or bookpeople

I agree make an appointment with the head. This just sounds like something to make the teacher's life easier, not something that's in the best interests of your DD.

Periwinkle007 Fri 06-Dec-13 12:08:52

the scheme shouldn't only consist of 500 words.

My eldest daughter started reception on book band 5 and ended on book band 11, my youngest is in reception now and is on book band 4.

I do NOT like the idea of a child being limited like that. I would try and get hold of a set of books yourself, something like songbirds phonics or read write inc stuff and do them at home, ignore the school ones if they are going to be so ridiculous.

reading every day is important IMO. far better to do 2-3 mins a day than 10 minutes once a week as it is regularly reinforcing what they are learning.

Periwinkle007 Fri 06-Dec-13 12:09:52

what scheme is it out of curiosity?

brainonastick Fri 06-Dec-13 12:10:18

That is shocking.

Dds' school let's them swap books every day, bring home more than one if they want, or the same one over and over, and go all the way up to free reading if and when ready - ie completely child led and aimed at encouraging a love of books and reading.

Anything else would make deeply concerned, and I'm sure Ofsted would be interested to hear about it.

BrianTheMole Fri 06-Dec-13 12:12:11

That sounds rubbish. My dd brought 2 books home a day in reception. She was ready for that and the teacher obliged.

LittleMissGerardPoppyButler Fri 06-Dec-13 12:14:05

Is it the Oxford reading tree? You can read Ebooks for free online.

My son in year 1 only gets his book changed twice a week but we read every day so I asked for 2 books as apparently you have to read all the books in each level before they move you up hmm

When he was in reception they only changed them once a week, but they gave all the children 3 books a week.

You could ask for more books?

domesticslattern Fri 06-Dec-13 12:15:54

My DD1 is also at an Ofsted outstanding school and we were told in reception that she would not get any reading books until Easter. "We don't want any child getting ahead" were the precise words. And when the books did come, my god they were tedious. And slow. And shit.

Rather than picking a fight, we used it as a fantastic opportunity to read all those picture books and good stories at home and the library. More time reading for enjoyment, generally sharing and loving and producing and talking about books every day- rather than obsessing about book bands and what the school provided. We picked up some phonic books at the library, but most spent time sharing picture books, reading signs around the place, playing word games etc. It all worked well. I found it was not a very good idea to try to take on the school.

Aeroaddict Fri 06-Dec-13 12:20:36

That does sound odd. I don't think I would be making a big thing of it with the school though. I would and did just get reading books out regularly from the library at the level you think she is at, and read them at home. I think often as parents we tend to get a little bit too focused on reading, and forget that there is an awful lot more for children to deal with in reception.

DS finished reception on yellow level books, although reading much harder stuff from the library. This term he has shot up through the levels, to the point that he has gone up a level several weeks in a row. His school books have now caught up with where I think he should be. I don't think it did him any harm taking it slower in reception, as they are still so young, and busy settling into school.

TeaJunky Fri 06-Dec-13 12:34:25

Wow lots of responses, thank you.

The school reading scheme is mixed, so some songbirds, some floppys phonics, some ort fiction and non fiction.

We do have the songbirds phonics at home and have just carried on reading at home everyday , although I clearly write it in her reading record which scheme/ level, and title of book.

Her teacher seemed to have this idea that I'm a pushy mum. Reading everyday is pushy? I think not.
We do have hundreds of lovely books at home which she mentioned, and said reading to the child is more important - I told her we've done that from 4 months old anyway when dd joined the library, and still do and also visit the library regularly. She just seemed to brush that off though.

Overall she IS a lovely teacher, she's very on the ball with sending extra phonics stuff home etc, and that's probably why this conversation seemed so strange to me. confused

I'm also quite reluctant to step over her and go to the head as she said I can approach her any time if I have a concern Etc.

I see little point in making a huge deal of it as we have the resources at home (some of them which are identical to schools), but it's just the whole approach that's put me off. And the fact that reading levels are restricted and words to 500 (sorry to write almost shorthand, out at the mo)

Huitre Fri 06-Dec-13 12:39:35

The reading levels being restricted would be the biggest worry for me. Red at the end of reception seems a very low target to be aiming for! To put it into context, at the start of Y1, there were only one or two children in DD's class still on red and this is not a particularly high attaining class over all. If the whole class is being restricted to the level of the lowest attainers that seems a very bad way to proceed to me. Could you ask her why they restrict levels like this? Maybe her reply might lead to an interesting conversation!

Gileswithachainsaw Fri 06-Dec-13 12:43:59

I would be intrigued to know what she does with kids who can already read when they start. Red is very low to aim for by end of reception.

Holding back and restricting the levels would worry mea hell of a lot.

brainonastick Fri 06-Dec-13 12:50:11

I wonder how the 'value added' figures are worked out? The ones that show how much the school is bringing on the children from their starting point. Maybe they are trying to get an artificially low starting point. Just a thought, might be complete rubbish. But the restricted levels seems so bonkers that I an think of another reason!

Pointeshoes Fri 06-Dec-13 12:54:14

I would just carry on with picking out books from the libary , getting other reading scheme books , and teaching her yourself. I can see her getting bored at been on the same level for that long.

TeaJunky Fri 06-Dec-13 13:04:22

It's very strange and I think I need another chat with her as much as I feel cringey about it confused

Also, the school has an overall educated, middle class intake so attainment isn't low/ language isn't an issue.

Could it be that the school isn't using the scheme per se, but purely for the fluency aspect hence the common 500 words?
Interesting point about value added.
Utterly baffling.

PastSellByDate Fri 06-Dec-13 13:06:13

Hi TeaJunky:

The teacher is oddly right - don't read the school book everyday.

Start going off plan is my advice.

Now if you're unsure and only starting out (which it sounds like for the latter at least) try something like Oxford Owl: lots of early reading advice/ ideas for parents and tons of free e-books:

They also have an early maths site (which I now see has been expanded to all of primary):


My advice is at home read the school book maybe 2-3 times a week (if she's doing well (say 85% or more of the words correct) and getting a bit bored with it. And 2-3 times a week have her chose one of her own books or do an e-book off Oxford Owl. We read once a week to our girls (a chapter from a book like Charlotte's Web, Lemony Snicket, Christmas Carol, etc...).

All in all we find the variety keeps them interested and enjoying reading.

School don't seem to mind as long as reading is occurring.

And trust me 3 weeks of Big Panda/ Little Panda (which DD2 had in Y1) would kill the joy of reading in anybody.

mistlethrush Fri 06-Dec-13 13:09:53

We have always got the reading scheme book 'out of the way' and then gone onto something else that DS enjoys reading more. It was the only way to survive R - Yr2 bookwise. It doesn't seem to have hurt DS in any way and he reads well above his age and is interested in a very wide ranges of types of books (as long as they are not the school reading scheme ones).

TeaJunky Fri 06-Dec-13 13:36:16

Hi pasta, thanks for your reply.

The reason for my surprise is not that I was told not to read the school reading book everyday - it seemed more of a general 'no need to read everyday' kind of approach, with emphasis on reading to dd everyday. Which she knows we do anyway - so it's a bit of a pointless comment to make.

Had I been in her place I think my instinctive response would be ' since dd reads every day, I'll just change the book for her more often so she doesn't get bored'. So simple really.

PastSellByDate Fri 06-Dec-13 13:54:35


I've so been there...and also don't get the teacher's attitude.

It's probably a knee-jerk reaction of a defensive teacher that's teaching by rote. Today is Tuesday it's book 3 in the scheme in book bags....

Genuinely - don't put a lot of value in the guided reading diet they send home - especially if only 1 book a week.

Go off plan. Read what you want. Read what your DD wants. Read anything and everything.

You're right to be reading daily and your DC will be the better off for it!

allyfe Fri 06-Dec-13 14:29:57

I would find it odd to limit the children to Red at the end of reception. A friend of mine's daughter started reception with a higher reading level than that. I was worried that the school was sending home books that were too easy for my dd, so we got the Usborne First reading book series from the Book People - they have reductions at the moment before Christmas, and if you catch one of the 15% ones it is only £25 for 50 books which my daughter is loving. They do get harder quite quickly (the only problem), but until we get organised enough to make regular trips to the library, they are providing us with additional reading fodder. They are also all phonics based. We are only allowed two books a week from school because they simply don't have enough otherwise. It is a bit of a shame that it has to work like that. And if a child wants to read every day, it seems madness not to encourage them.

I love that my daughter is enjoying her reading smile

DeWe Fri 06-Dec-13 14:43:29

I would interpret that as don't read the reading book every day, not don't read anything.
I was amazed when I came on here and found people were expecting to read every reading book 3-4 times. I never read it with the dc more than once, even if they hadn't done it before. There are so many books at home that there's no need to keep on at the school books.

I wonder if your dd isn't keen to read at school and has said something about "mummy making me read..." and they're just trying to get you to back off, perhaps.

When I was at school, one of the parents were told "please don't read every day because we're running out of books". (primary school, this was in year 2). Parent preened themselves thinking that their child was so good at reading that even the books suitable for year 6 were easy for their child... fast forward a couple of terms and the parent was devastated to find that they weren't, in fact there were several children in year 2 that were ahead on the reading scheme.
What the teacher had meant was that they were running out of books on that level, and the child wasn't ready to move up a level yet. Mother wasn't pfb (this was at least #3) nor particularly precious, so I think the teacher thought they would understand, unfortumately they didn't.

When dd1 was in reception they limited to top books were ORT 3. Then they went onto free reading. Year 1 was limited to ORT6. I had to point out to the teacher that Harry Potter at home, ORT6 in school, no way was it worth any of our time reading the school books. That went out of the window very quickly when a new head arrived. I didn't realise until then it was the head that kept that one. Reading between the lines with that knowledge, I don't think her reception teacher thought it was a good idea either.

mercibucket Fri 06-Dec-13 14:48:55

whats the big rush? when they can read, they can read. job done

be grateful the teacher has spared you years of ploughing through biff n chip daily. just read other stuff with her or get her to read more interesting books to you

we have to read the book every day! i have done 8 years of biff n bloody chip daily (spread over a number of children of course). if only our teacher was as kind as yours ..

buy her a special big box of chocs for xmas grin

TeaJunky Fri 06-Dec-13 15:12:16

DeWe - thanks for your speculation but it's highly unlikely dd has mentioned anything remotely along the lines of 'mummy making me read'. As I've already pointed out, dd is very eager to read everyday and goes on and on at me until I sit down to listen to her. It is always initiated by her and even her teacher said how eager she is to do everything at school.
She does love learning and reading and I don't see why I should restrict that.

It isn't a big rush, but when someone tells you 'this is the highest level reception can reach', then professional or not, something is very wrong.

mercibucket Fri 06-Dec-13 15:36:27

I don't see anything wrong tbh. they just mean their book scheme. you can read what you want at home. a lot of kids in different countries don't even learn to read til 7. they just learn quicker. you say the school does well so why worry

Gileswithachainsaw Fri 06-Dec-13 15:41:04

I think the point is that sure you can read at home but no matter how well they so at home if they are stuck on red books all year in class it's going to upset them after a while. Especially if they continue making the kid go through the books in order or whatever.

unlucky83 Fri 06-Dec-13 15:57:54

Why don't you read with your DD at home...don't have to write down in her homework book or anything.
Read a book to her and every so often if you think she will know a word ask her to read it...or when she gets a better reader ask her to read words you think she might struggle with. Or for simple text read every other sentence/paragraph/page.
Reading to children enlarges their vocabulary, which then helps them down the line. (If they are reading themselves they can be so busy decoding they don't comprehend! So harder books become meaningless)
If the school are covering the basics, don't do another reading scheme -read anything ...together.
(BTW my DD1s P1 teacher was judgey and thought I was pushy -DD1 could read fluently when she started school. First parent's evening I was questioning why she was still getting such easy reading books (was partly so she didn't feel like the odd one out) ...teacher said (pointedly) 'I find it really surprising that for such a good reader your DD doesn't spend more of her choosing time in the library' (meant I'm sure as 'you have put her off reading by pushing too much') When I asked DD she said it was because they were boring easy baby books... now why couldn't the teacher have asked her that? (And DD1 still loves reading)

unlucky83 Fri 06-Dec-13 16:00:07

read every other sentence etc - blush I mean alternate - she reads one you read one ...

Bumpsadaisie Fri 06-Dec-13 17:39:50

Im not sure what is normal but can tell you what happens for us.

In our school there are two groups for reading (class of 12 reception kids), a group of more and a group of less confident readers. I think for guided reading they work in these groups.

Separately, we are advised to read with them a little bit every day. My DD can read her red band books pretty fluently so we read one book each night and get it changed in the morning. I guess when she moves up to yellow after xmas we will manage a few pages of a book.

columngollum Fri 06-Dec-13 17:45:19

gileswithachainsaw, you do not want to know what reception teachers do with children who can already read before they start, trust me. You don't want to know! I think there are some who go in reading and come out unable to read. The teachers then congratulate themselves on what a brilliant job they've done!

Galena Fri 06-Dec-13 17:50:43

I'm so glad DD's school change her book whenever they've read. And they don't limit them to a particular level.

I'd be very concerned about that response from the teacher, to be honest.

freetrait Fri 06-Dec-13 18:10:52

It sounds rubbish to me. Some kids will be on red at end of Reception, but others given the chance will be flying, essentially reading fluently on those higher levels (gold/white/lime).

I would do it yourself. You can pick up phonic reading books quite cheap and/or go to the library. Encourage and enjoy. Reading is such a good skill to have and kids ready and progressing should be encouraged not discouraged.

I think we are a bit odd in this country. We start them off in YR, but many schools "play" at reading, or this is how it seems to me. I think if you are learning to read you are learning to read. Yes, go at your own pace, consolidate and enjoy, no need to rush when you are 4/5 but you still want to progress and learn to read- DS essentially learnt to read in YR and I think DD will be the same.

BrianTheMole Fri 06-Dec-13 19:07:57

gileswithachainsaw, you do not want to know what reception teachers do with children who can already read before they start, trust me. You don't want to know!

What does that mean? shock
Are you a teacher?

Galena Fri 06-Dec-13 19:38:57

DD's teachers do the following with a child who can already read:
- Check their phonic knowledge
- Put them in the correct Letters and Sounds group for phonics
- Give them books which are a little easy but which they can comprehend and begin to answer inference questions on
- Put them in a guided reading group with other similar readers - even if that group is in Y1
- Let them read whenever they want to

Fuzzymum1 Fri 06-Dec-13 19:41:55

When we send home books in school we change books once a week but for the children who are read with regularly we send home 2-3 each time.

Feenie Fri 06-Dec-13 19:55:45

gileswithachainsaw, you do not want to know what reception teachers do with children who can already read before they start, trust me. You don't want to know! I think there are some who go in reading and come out unable to read. The teachers then congratulate themselves on what a brilliant job they've done!

You 'think' wrong. What a load of absolute bollocks.

Huitre Fri 06-Dec-13 20:09:09

I think there are some who go in reading and come out unable to read.

Seriously? If a child's grasp of reading was so shaky that they could actually forget how to do it I would consider that they couldn't read. Barring catastrophic brain injury of some kind I cannot see how anyone could forget how to read.

mammadiggingdeep Fri 06-Dec-13 20:25:20

Why would reception teachers take a child who can read and make them 'unable to read'. Is this a huge survey you did across hundreds of schools (are you an ofsted inspector?) or are you making wild sweeping statements?

Op- I would Second some advice you've had...don't read the scheme book every night but make sure you read if your daughter wants to...reading for pleasure is so important, as you clearly know from your description of what you do. Your dd has a love for reading and this is fantastic. When the time comes for her to move past red level I would ask for her to use the higher bands- surely no school would make them stay on red if they were clearly beyond this...
As a teacher I say don't worry about going back to speak to the teacher. If she makes you uncomfortable ask for a meeting with the literacy co ordinator or head teacher. Good luck.

mammadiggingdeep Fri 06-Dec-13 20:28:05

Feenie...haha, bollocks is exactly the thought I had about that comment but was too polite to say it. Seeing as you did I'll say it too. "Bollocks!!!!!"

simpson Fri 06-Dec-13 21:01:04

Check out the Oxford owl website, it has loads of free (school) ebooks to read.

Another one who thinks red level at the end of reception is quite low.

DD started reception able to read at stage 5/6 level. There is no way she would have entertained a red level book.

Basically, your DD can only go up one more level?

columngollum Fri 06-Dec-13 21:07:56

You've heard of reading progress slipping back over the summer. Well, take a really good reader, give her nothing except the most dire non-books you can imagine for a year (and restrict those to the lower levels, of course) make her study and endless series of pseudo-word components while waving her arms about and then wonder why she's not ready to move onto level 3. I'd say than pretty much covers taking a reader in at reception and producing a non reader out of her.

Feenie Fri 06-Dec-13 21:11:44

That only happens in your head, collumgolumn.

nooka Fri 06-Dec-13 21:17:29

Boy I would have loved a teacher like this. Reading scheme books are dire! ds hated reading (full blown tantrum hating) so I only ever read to him, dd insisted on reading the terrible books to us, the less of that the better really grin I certainly wouldn't voluntarily have chosen to read them more than once. We had lots of books at home and read them together instead/as well. They both developed a love of books (not that the OP's dd won't - sounds like she might have already smile)

If it is a school developed scheme then might it be that there could be differentiation within the levels?

nooka Fri 06-Dec-13 21:20:17

collumgollum I could read when I started school. I hated the school scheme, but that didn't stop me reading. Why would it? I read books from home and the library. The scheme didn't stop me, I just spent as little time as I could on the school book and pulled out my own from my bag and read that instead.

UniS Fri 06-Dec-13 21:21:17

NO point reading the school book 7 times in a week. If the school policy is one book a week, fine, read non school books together on 4 or 5 nights out of 7.

This could be "scheme books " from the library, maybe not the same scheme as school. Or it could be picture books , simple, toddler ones will have some words she will be able to read and as you read together she will pick up more. Picture books designed for early readers will also work , again she may not be able to read them completely independently. But its sounds like your DD likes reading time with you on the sofa.

Record these books in reading record book, or don;t. It won't make any difference to how the school work with your DD. She will move up " bands" when the teaching staff consider her ready.

RiversideMum Fri 06-Dec-13 21:51:29

TBH I think the school needs to sort its reading resources out.

Huitre Fri 06-Dec-13 22:07:54

I thought we had established, some time ago and with some of us called other things, that your daughter could only read books she already knew on entry to Reception, collum, and hence could not actually read much at all?

Gileswithachainsaw Fri 06-Dec-13 22:26:48

Are we talking about the books in the basement thing? Te non phonic stuff

Gileswithachainsaw Fri 06-Dec-13 22:27:14

That was for huite smile

simpson Fri 06-Dec-13 22:33:41

If a child can already read before starting school, then the chances are that they have access to a range of books at home/outside of school.

Pants reading scheme books will not stop a child reading but may not enhance the love of reading unless you ignore ORT books and do your own thing

tchambers108 Fri 06-Dec-13 22:51:37

What an odd conversation with the teacher - I agree with you! I used to teach at a primary school - and would just send home extra books if the child was getting through them. Resources are a huge issue so perhaps next PTA meeting you could suggest raising funds for more books so that there's more of a range within levels.
I can't imagine any teacher recommending reading the same book everyday if the child is bored so maybe that's what she meant? As well as all the lovely things you're doing with other books etc you could also expand on the school book eg one night read it, next night-re-read and discuss favourite character/write a book review (aided of course!) etc These are higher level inference skills which will give the school books more mileage until their changed.

You're right, limiting the level is bizarre but once they reach level, surely they free read! Good luck!

Feenie Fri 06-Dec-13 23:22:46

What an odd conversation with the teacher - I agree with you! I used to teach at a primary school - and would just send home extra books if the child was getting through them


TeaJunky Fri 06-Dec-13 23:30:37

Thanks for everyone's replies and fantastic advice smile

I really like the ideas of the variety of tasks you can do with the one book and actually , dd's teacher did mention that too. She also said that doing some writing tasks (which is dd's target) would help with reading too...but dd wants to read, so we do grin

She does already pick words out of books I read to her and also reads dd2's (1 year old) baby board books to her (which dd2 loves smile).

We do word games with word cards and she has white board and pen that she likes to make sentences on.

She also makes up her own stories and rhymes which we enjoy and share together as a family smile (some of them are even quite good! wink)

I think the whole reason of my original post was with the knowledge that together with her love for learning/ reading and enthusiasm, and my effort and time I invest in her at home, the school's way of doing things in reception feel restrictive and counter-productive. I don't want anyone to curtail dd's potential, her eagerness and her excitement to just 500 words and 2 levels in the year. Dd may very well just about learn 500 the 500 words in the year. In a normal scheme, she may very well have only moved up one level. Who knows? But how do we know otherwise if the assessment at the end of the year will only be them 500 words and them two levels? Who knows just how much she can learn in a years time? And why should I or anyone curtail this, put a limit on her potential attainment and squeeze any flexibility and joy out of the equation for the sake of an ineffective school scheme?
It's not about the levels or just reading at home. It's about high expectations and excitement and limitless possibility in the classroom.

TeaJunky Fri 06-Dec-13 23:35:37

And I know I know we can and will read at home and continue all our lovely things and I will read with and to dd whenever she wants, but I just can't help feeling a little bit sad about the whole thing.

columngollum Fri 06-Dec-13 23:53:53

The sadness passes. The unbelievable anger passes and then you just get on with it. It's not a great advertisement for British schooling. But bad things happen to good people and the age of four is as good a time to learn it as any other. (And a bad book system isn't the worst thing that happens in life.)

simpson Sat 07-Dec-13 00:30:05

Tbh it would really annoy me too. Surely a child cannot be told they cannot go higher than a certain level?!

I volunteer in a reception class (not at my DC school) and the aim is to get all/most kids to yellow level. However, this academic year 4 kids have come into the class (none last academic year - I was in there then too) able to read at a basic/decent level. One kid on blue and 3 on yellow. They will not be unable to access certain books because they "belong" to the year above iyswim.

My DD is in yr1 and reads fluently and her school handle it well (on the whole). She goes into yr3 to get her books although whether she wants to read them is a whole other matter.

I also read with yr1 kids in my DC school (but not DD's class) and did the same last year (with yr1) and there were kids who started yr1 on red/yellow and finished the year on gold ie they were not held back by only being able to "get" to a certain level when their reading clicked. The majority of DD's yr1 year group are on stage 6/7 so certainly not held back last year in reception.

Huitre Sat 07-Dec-13 12:06:29

Yes, the books in the basement thing, Giles.

BertieBowtiesAreCool Sat 07-Dec-13 12:16:49

I suppose that the point is it isn't great to rush through all of the levels because it leads to a shakier foundation - better to get steady practice at the lower levels before moving up. And if the reading scheme is small then it does make sense not to keep repeating books, too, partly because it's boring, partly because the child might just start to memorise words which undermines the phonics teaching.

But, IMO, I wouldn't see any harm in getting some other same-level books outside of this particular scheme so that they can practice the level they're at before moving up. So I think that's what I'd do. Also making a list somewhere of which sounds they've covered and any "tricky" words (the, etc) that they know or should know and then you can practice writing little notes to each other or similar things.

Pie8er Sat 07-Dec-13 19:52:28

I'd have absolutely no issue with this...and agree with Bertie. If you're not careful children end up 'barking at print' rather than actually reading and understanding.

She is in Reception, she is 4/5. 'Let them be little' - I'm a Reception teacher and this is one of my greatest philosophies!

It isn't simply about rushing through a reading scheme and adding word after word to learn. Instead of going up, up, up it's about stretching them width ways (as in out).

Language comprehension, discussions about the story, characters, setting, blurb, intonation, rhyme etc.

My children get one reading book a week and that is all that's necessary in Reception - it's all about fostering a love of reading and creating secure foundations!

mammadiggingdeep Sat 07-Dec-13 20:15:44

Oh dd1 starts school next September. Hope she has a teacher with your philosophy! Fingers crossed...

Huitre Sat 07-Dec-13 20:28:43

You wouldn't have an issue with restricting children to no higher than red reading books in Reception, Pie8er? Seriously? I am so glad my daughter's teacher didn't think like you do. She was on red reading books a matter of weeks after starting in Reception and reading fluently by the spring term. When I say reading fluently, I mean able to read age appropriate chapter books, such as Dick King-Smith, and able to answer questions about what was happening, what might happen next, what the characters thought, what they wanted to happen, why it might not or might etc etc etc and give reasonable answers. She's not a genius! There were plenty of other children in her class who were at a similar level. What could have been gained by restricting them to red books at school?

ilovesmurfs Sat 07-Dec-13 20:30:23

I have say I find this obsession with dreading levels amd bands really odd.

Wit my five I have read the school books but only when the kids want to and we quickly moved onto our own boss/library books. We read a lot to trhe chodlren and with them, our house is full of books!

But I paid little attention to the reading scheme, jist read what we enjoyed and a wide variety, newspapers, magazines, cartoons, signs, mapbook, factual etc we just exposed them to a wide variety of reading material and they saw us enjoying reading and loved being read to.

My eldest didnt go to school until he was nine and ds2 was 6 when he started school, we did some phonics with them, but no 'formal'stye learning. The are 14 and 11 now and verociosu readers.

Ditto ds3 and my little two are following the same way. I want reading to be somehtign fun and enjoyable, thereading schemes are oftne anything but...fucking magic key anyone?!!

maizieD Sat 07-Dec-13 20:31:04

'd have absolutely no issue with this...and agree with Bertie. If you're not careful children end up 'barking at print' rather than actually reading and understanding.

Where, precisely, did Bertie mention children 'barking at print'?

I'd think that it was only likely that children should do anything resembling 'barking at print' if they were given books to read which contained vocabulary and concepts which were too advanced for them. Does a reading scheme book exist which contains vocabulary and concepts beyond the knowledge and understanding of a 5 -6 y old?

columngollum Sat 07-Dec-13 20:31:49

Restricting children's books makes the teacher feel in control and screws up the kids and their parents. The point of teachers doing it is because they can.

simpson Sat 07-Dec-13 20:34:00

DD started reception reading well and she certainly wasn't barking at print hmm

strruglingoldteach Sat 07-Dec-13 20:52:29

Pie8er do you think you can foster a love of reading by keeping an able reader on red level or below? Or by stopping them from reading every day when they want to, as the OP's daughter clearly does?

I agree with you about the language comprehension, discussing the setting etc... But the early levels of reading schemes are NOT the way to do that- there's precious little discussion that you can get out of the average Biff/Chip book.

I'm a firm believer in exposing children to a wide range of texts from early on, letting them read as much as they want. Not pushing them, but certainly supporting them. The idea of 'you can only have one book a week and nothing past red level' makes me shudder.

OP, I would get your DD suitable reading material from elsewhere- the Oxford Owl website, or if you can afford it, maybe try reading chest. And ignore the teacher.

Feenie Sat 07-Dec-13 20:59:25

It isn't simply about rushing through a reading scheme and adding word after word to learn. Instead of going up, up, up it's about stretching them width ways (as in out).

Language comprehension, discussions about the story, characters, setting, blurb, intonation, rhyme etc.

Why not do both?

Can never see the point in limiting children - it's frustrating on all sides.

mammadiggingdeep Sat 07-Dec-13 21:03:09

The restricting thing to red band is curious- surely they have higher bands in the year 1 class and children reaching them would use those. Are you saying that the teacher said they were not allowed access to them at all??

Column I find your posts strange. You sonobuoys lu have had bad experiences at your dc's school but you make sweeping statements about if they want children to fail.

mammadiggingdeep Sat 07-Dec-13 21:03:28

* you obviously...sorry for typos!

Huitre Sat 07-Dec-13 21:08:02

I completely understand and agree with the idea that children should be fluent not only in decoding but also in discussing the story and unpicking the ideas behind it, but I totally disagree with artificially restricting the level of book that a child can have access to at school because you think that children should only be reading certain levels in a particular year. This, to me, is the way to produce children who think reading is dull. Yes, of course, on MN we mainly see parents who want the best for their children and will give them appropriate reading material at home no matter what school supplies. But there are plenty more children whose parents won't. Should it be the case that little A whose mum has bought her twenty books this year and taken her to the library on a weekly basis and who reads a wide range of interesting and exciting books at home should get to be more enthused by the excitement of reading than little B who is just as able but whose parents haven't even thought of buying her a book, don't know where the library is, and who is bored silly by red level?

There are lots of children in my daughter's class who are able and enthusiastic readers and who were reading things much harder than red level by the end of Reception. Many of them do not own a book at home (while some have lots). If you artificially restrict reading levels, you are likely to bore the children who have most to gain by becoming early, enthusiastic and proficient readers. They are the ones who will not have the slack picked up elsewhere. I am honestly shocked by pie8er's post.

AbbyR1973 Sat 07-Dec-13 21:49:14

Pie8er.... DS1 started reception last year being able to read books well beyond red band, green band was the starting point for him. He was most certainly not "barking at print." There was nothing at all particularly challenging for him in terms of comprehension in those books, indeed I think his reading ability lagged well behind his comprehension. He is now in year 1 and brings home books beyond line level but at home reads more or less what he wants. This is not due to being pushed at home or at school- like everyone else he spent most of reception playing. It would have been entirely pointless to send home a red book at any time in reception... if his teacher had done so he would have been a bit bemused by it.
DS2 is just starting reception and is also reading blue/ green book bands at this point.
Children have to be allowed to move at their own pace and interest. I hate the idea of artificial glass ceilings in year groups beyond which a child cannot go.

columngollum Sat 07-Dec-13 21:50:28

I wouldn't say that several of the teachers I've met want children to fail. But what I what I would say is that several of the teachers I've had dealing with have a wholly "it's my way or the highway" attitude. And explaining to them that your child can already read Dickens and Dahl is met with a blank stare. Offers to show them are met with "I haven't got time." And the child is duly sent home with a non-book with huge print and eight words per page. I haven't yet met a teacher who replied well then, send her in with Dickens and we'll see how we get on with it. Why not? It's only a book. What are they so afraid of? I can only conclude that they wouldn't know what to do with a 5yo who can already read Dickens and they're afraid of the idea.

Huitre Sat 07-Dec-13 22:08:43

Even this chart, link below, which I would consider to err on the lower side of what many children can deal with would say that yellow is what you'd be aiming for by the time a child is five. Red would be in the middle area of the 4-5 age band and some children will be five near the beginning of their Reception year. Last year in DD's Y1 class, there were a very few children (two or three) who were still on red band at the start of the year. It is not a privileged or particularly high attaining cohort. The children who were still on red band at the beginning of year 1 were mainly children who are still experiencing significant problems in reading at the start of Y2. Most of them were well above that level, even those who had almost no support at home.

Column, how is your DD getting on in Y1?

BertieBowtiesAreCool Sat 07-Dec-13 22:09:53

Yes I don't think it's fair to restrict children to a particular level in a year, although I stand by the point that it's not helpful to let them rush straight through to the top either.

I don't know what the colour bands are later on because I'm just using the songbirds books with DS. With these he does tend to race through the book itself which has several stories in but then we go back and read some again, talk about the pictures/story etc and I'm keeping track of what he's covered and practising it at other times too. But he is not learning to read and write at school, so I am free to do whatever I want.

BertieBowtiesAreCool Sat 07-Dec-13 22:13:18

Huitre that site looks helpful but WTF is "leopard" doing at stage 1?! confused

simpson Sat 07-Dec-13 22:13:45

I have to say, I am totally impressed with DD's teachers this year. Especially the one she has for phonics ( which she hated in reception). She adores phonics lessons despite knowing all the sounds already.

Her class teacher knows what DD reads at home with me as she tells her teacher blush however, the only niggle is the school reading books. But at least she is not made to read them and it's not the level, more the content that does not interest her.

simpson Sat 07-Dec-13 22:16:18

The reading chest is very good, I signed DD up when she was in nursery before she got books with words in (from her teacher at nursery - HT had a policy that no reading books go out till reception hmm).

mammadiggingdeep Sat 07-Dec-13 22:19:47

Column- could your child read dickens at reception then? Did she understand what she was reading? I'm absolutely sure that if your child was reading Dahl that she wouldn't have been given an 8 word book- why would a teacher do this? Really? Do you honestly believe it's because the teacher liked to be in control?? To a certain extent, with some things it does have to be the teachers way, they're are running the class and the buck stops with them, they're avcountabke and cannot take into account all parents views and preferences. However, if a teacher tells a teacher the child is more able in an area I'd like to think a teacher would say they'd reassess.

Did every teacher of your child under estimate their reading ability? Did it happen each year?

mammadiggingdeep Sat 07-Dec-13 22:20:38

* parent tells the teacher...sorry...on phone !!!!

Feenie Sat 07-Dec-13 22:27:10

Columngollum - did you used to post under a different name?

Huitre Sat 07-Dec-13 22:51:14

Do you not recognise her, Feenie?!

WTF is "leopard" doing at stage 1

Well, yes. I assume that was an ORT old-style book? Still, a lot of children, given the phonic bits of the word by an adult who can decode it, would just take it on board and go 'oh, OK, what a weird way to write it' as long as they weren't being told that it wasn't decodable and was a terribly hard way to spell this and they would be almost certain to have difficulties with it. IME.

Feenie Sat 07-Dec-13 23:02:33

Yes, have just twigged tonight - way after anyone else, it would seem smile

Huitre Sat 07-Dec-13 23:06:48

You're probably just nicer and less suspicious than the rest of us!

mammadiggingdeep Sat 07-Dec-13 23:11:13

Have I missed something??

Huitre Sat 07-Dec-13 23:18:48

No, not really. Column posted last year quite extensively about the problems she was having with her daughter's teacher and her daughter's reading books. But there was a bit of a mismatch between what column thought reading was and what everyone else thought reading was.

mammadiggingdeep Sat 07-Dec-13 23:26:24

Oh...I see..thank you smile

Feenie Sat 07-Dec-13 23:30:14

Ahhh, that's kind huitre - I would say I have just been dimmer grin

maizieD Sat 07-Dec-13 23:31:08

s long as they weren't being told that it wasn't decodable and was a terribly hard way to spell this and they would be almost certain to have difficulties with it.

Goodness, huitre. Who would possibly say a thing like that? fwink

ClayDavis Sun 08-Dec-13 01:12:43

You are not alone, Feenie. I had no idea until I read this thread. I know who she is on NM but failed to spot the name change here. Makes a lot of sense now.

Huitre Sun 08-Dec-13 08:17:18

Maybe it's just me? Maybe I'm completely wrong?

columngollum Sun 08-Dec-13 08:25:31

I've no wish to make this conversation retrospective. But anyone has the opportunity to discuss with me today what they think reading is. That's fine.

The problem that anyone has in a forum is that they cannot test a poster's child's reading and therefore their view on how the child can read are supposition. But they can explain what they think.

The OP then is perfectly entitled to disagree with their view! That's the best you can hope for in a forum.

Idespair Sun 08-Dec-13 08:28:51

How bizarre. Enrol her in reading chest, read a book every day.

columngollum Sun 08-Dec-13 08:33:24

It's not only how often you read that's the issue. It's what you read. Reading every day, by itself isn't necessarily going to help unless it's greatly enjoyed. In the beginning the child needs to gain in ability too.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 08:34:54

No Huitre you aren't wrong grin

Galena Sun 08-Dec-13 08:45:00

columngollum, I have linked to videos before of DD reading a book she has never seen before, with fluency and expression. That is reading.

If it is a book a child has read before with a parent, perhaps many times, so they have had the chance to memorise it, then it may be reading, but more likely it's just memory.

columngollum Sun 08-Dec-13 08:49:56

That problem is easily solved by asking the child to read a different book. (Not to say that memory doesn't have its uses.)

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 08:50:38

We assess reading by listening to the child read a text they have never seen before

columngollum Sun 08-Dec-13 08:57:58

Of course, if the book the child had memorised was big and relatively advanced, say the collected works of Beatrix Potter, or Hans Andersen, then, (even if it had been memorised,) it's still useful reading. If a teacher replied, yes, great party trick, and handed the child a non-reading book with huge type and eight words per page the parent would have every right to be furious.

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 09:00:40

When you're saying non-reading book, what are you referring to? What's a non-reading book in your view?

Galena Sun 08-Dec-13 09:08:09

But if the 'reading' is not transferrable then it doesn't matter whether the child has memorised Spot the Dog or War and Peace, it's still memory and not reading. If the teacher has to take them back to basics before the child is actually able to decode and properly read the book, then why would a parent be furious? Rather they should be grateful that the teacher has seen past the party trick and set about teaching a truly transferrable skill.

DD reads simpler school books than home books because they want to develop her comprehension skills further. Fine by me - she reads for pleasure at home and sometimes chooses easy books, sometimes harder ones.

rockybalboa Sun 08-Dec-13 09:15:26

Very odd. DS1's Reception teacher is constantly reminding parents how important it is to read at home and giving stats for how this improves reading ability. They also have a star reader scheme where children who read at home at least 5 days a week get a star sticker and their names on a star reader board. He is allowed to change his book every day if he wants but quite often he forgets. It's Sunday today and he's had his reading book since Wed. We've read it with him every day but he pretty much knows it off by heart. I know that repetition is good especially when it comes to learning high frequency words by sight but 4/5yo's get bored fast and one book a week would drive DS (and me!) crazy!! I bought a set of phonics books from the Book People which have several short stories in so he's reading those too and I've noted in his reading record that we're doing that.

simpson Sun 08-Dec-13 09:15:52

I read with yr1 kids and have had a few of them literally "learn" their school reading book off by heart. When they turn over 2 pages by accident, they don't realise and recite the words from the previous page.

This is not helped by the the parent writing in the reading diary that the child has " learnt" the book. But having said that, at least they write in the reading diary in the first place grin

columngollum Sun 08-Dec-13 09:17:45

Did the person who recommended one book a week say which particular book that was? I can think of several books I'd be happy with at one per week.

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 09:19:09

War and peace?

Xochiquetzal Sun 08-Dec-13 09:23:07

Limiting reception to red band seems stupid, DDs class only have up to red band stored in their classroom due to space but when children get above that the TA goes and gets books from one of the other classes or the school library, it's not like it's a lot of effort and there must be harder books in the school somewhere!

I do wish DDs teacher didn't insist they read every night though, sometimes DD is just too tired or not in the mood and the resulting tantrums are a pain.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 09:28:33

I would worry about a policy which sets a limit to progress

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 09:29:34

I think that that arrangement with the higher books stored elsewhere is probably the actual case at the ops school. It would make more sense.

My advice would be don't make your child read every night if they're tired. Use your instincts, it can be counter productive and the child should be associating reading with pleasure. Every other night would be fine. Some receptions are just 4...babies!!! They do get tired, it's a long day for them and they work and play hard.

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 09:31:31

But all your experience have you come across a teacher who would say "sorry, we don't want reception chn past red. You can't read on". I haven't! Teachers want children in their class to excell- god, we're put under enough pressure aren't we- can you imagine anybody keeping somebody at a level unnecessarily??

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 09:42:36

No mammadiggingdeep I haven't and I can't think of why anyone would think that it was a good idea to put a limit on reading (or any subject).
I also tell parents it's OK not to read if the child is obviously tired or it becomes a battle but one or two pages a night is better than reading the whole book once a week.

Galena Sun 08-Dec-13 09:50:41

Here is DD reading an unfamiliar book. It's fab reading for a 4-year old, BUT I wouldn't be impressed if school sent home books at this level at the moment. Whilst she can read it and gets the gist of the story, she hasn't got the inference and deduction skills needed to truly understand it. I'm really glad they have her on easier books so she can develop these skills.

They started her on green level and now she's on orange. They don't set a ceiling on reading, and it would really really worry me if a school truly did.

Pie8er Sun 08-Dec-13 10:24:31

mammadiggingdeep Thank you smile I often find myself saying 'he/she is 4 and he/she is absolutely fine!' They should be allowed to enjoy their early years - all the pressure and fuss starts soon enough anyway!

Huitre Did I actually say I'd restrict children? No, because I wouldn't ever restrict them. Children are all different, I would do what is appropriate for the individual child. I have children in my class that can read Roald Dahl and are able to comprehend the story - I haven't restricted these children in the slightest, I foster their love of reading.

The point I was actually making is that...the aim of the game isn't to rush through a reading scheme, reading book after book to get onto the next colour. I also find the obsession with book bands odd ilovesmurfs

maizieD I was referring to the fact that I agree with Bertie's premise that I suppose that the point is it isn't great to rush through all of the levels because it leads to a shakier foundation.

Feenie It is important to do both...I just don't feel that there should be any rush to whizz through the book bands.

AbbyR1973 Some children do 'bark at print' and it's so important not to fail these children, if it not always clear that struggle with language comprehension. It's all to do with the 'simple view of reading' and the children that fall in the bottom right box. Obviously not all children have this issue, some do, some don't. Children are different, they are individuals and there should be challenge for all.

Feenie Sun 08-Dec-13 10:28:21

My children get one reading book a week and that is all that's necessary in Reception

This bit is at odds with this:

Children are different, they are individuals and there should be challenge for all.

They don't match.

Pie8er Sun 08-Dec-13 10:38:02

There is unlimited challenge in reading - extend the activity by covering up words, choosing new words that would fit the story, creating a new ending, creating character profiles, writing your own blurb etc. There doesn't need to be a constant change of text.

Also, on a more practical side...have you any idea how time consuming changing reading books is?!? There is more to Reception life than reading/changing books. I'd rather spend my time more effectively - scaffolding play, extending ideas during continuous provision, engaging in child led activities or doing focus group work. There are 17 Early Learning Goals in Reception - Reading is just 1.

Feenie Sun 08-Dec-13 10:42:32

I have an inkling, yes - I am a Literacy coordinator and primary school teacher wink. There doesn't have to be a constant change of text - but why shouldn't there be? Why can't a child do those sorts of activities with other books? Why do you think it should be with the same one?

Are you seriously suggesting - alongside your philosophy that children are individuals - that you don't change books more than weekly because you haven't time?

Have you been teaching very long, Pie8er?

Pie8er Sun 08-Dec-13 10:54:08

I don't feel I need to answer that question - it's absolutely none of your business how long I've been teaching.

I only change them once a week because I feel that is all that is necessary.

As a Reception teacher I enjoy spending my time supporting all aspects of learning, rather than spending an disproportionate amount of time focusing on reading/changing books. That doesn't go to say that I don't appreciate the importance of reading, I just feel that in EY's each area of learning is of equal value.

Feenie Sun 08-Dec-13 11:00:52

I was interested in your reasons for having 'rules' about reading books - it smacked of inexperience to me. But course you don't have to answer anything you don't wish too.

I still don't understand your reasons for limiting children to one book a week - your reasons that it's time consuming to change them or that that's all you feel is necessary aren't very good ones.

I think you need to think about why you want to put a ceiling on your children's reading - and if it really and truly is because you feel you haven't time then you need to rethink your proritities and classroom routines. I would be seriously unimpressed with any teacher in my school who told me they didn't have time.

Feenie Sun 08-Dec-13 11:01:03


Pie8er Sun 08-Dec-13 11:08:48

Thanks for your opinion on my teaching, it was greatly appreciated.

EY's take home a reading book and a story book - once a week.

Years 1-6 take home a reading book and a library book - once a week.

This happens through out the school. Our Literacy coordinator is very happy with this, it works extremely well for us and its effectiveness is evident through the data.

CanIMakeItToChristmas Sun 08-Dec-13 11:25:18

Are you sure it isn't the school's way of trying to avoid the race through the sets? Children I know have read five+ books a week (not necessarily accurately, but have "read" them to / with parents) so need to change them. By this method they have raced through all books in red, yellow, blue and green sets of home readers. The child can't read orange set independently with anything above 50% accuracy, but because they have had all the previous sets that is what parents want next.
My school does not teach reading through these sets, we teach it through guided reading, specific one-to-one activities, phonics sessions, literacy sessions, etc. these books are just home readers for reinforcement and certain assertive parents have bullied the teachers into letting their children change on to a higher set because they have finished the colour below out of competitiveness despite the teacher (not me!) explaining their child is not ready for these books and they can share more exciting library books if they want to broaden the reading experience. And before people say school should have more books, we do have budget constraints and we did need to recycle all our old books when we bought into the purely phonics approach. We spent all we could from school budget (topped up by PTA) to be awarded the match funding by the government a couple of years ago and now we have very a limited reading book budget for a few years.

Not saying this is OP and her child, but just offering a possible explanation

CanIMakeItToChristmas Sun 08-Dec-13 11:27:55

Just to clarify, we don't expect a child to read a whole set before we feel they are ready to change colour band and sometimes we jump bands if a child has made rapid progress. We assess this by comparing the home reading set with what we are doing in class and the teacher hearing a page or two from the old and then possible new sets.

Huitre Sun 08-Dec-13 12:07:58

Did I actually say I'd restrict children?

When you said 'I have absolutely no issue with this' I assumed that was what you meant, as that is what the thread is about. The OP clearly states that she is worried about two things - frequency of changing the book and the idea that children should be restricted to certain levels of book.

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 12:15:07

I think that the frequency of book changes should be an individual thing. Not a race but not set in stone either. A 'scheme' book and a story book of their choosing should probably be enough for 5 nights though shouldn't it? Especially if you take into account that we all know story books should ideally be shared frequently to embed the pattern of the story and 'story language' (notified to death though). Also taking into account pie8rrs valid point about children at reception not necessarily having the stamina to read every night.

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 12:15:50

* notified to death that should've been?! Predictive text!!

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 12:17:32

Did it again... Not milked to death...

maizieD Sun 08-Dec-13 12:32:18

maizieD I was referring to the fact that I agree with Bertie's premise that I suppose that the point is it isn't great to rush through all of the levels because it leads to a shakier foundation.

Which has nothing to do with 'barking at print'.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 12:35:03

IMVHO having a "rule" that we only change books once a week is ridiculous counterproductive. Books need to be changed in line with the child's ability to read the book not some odd policy that says "it's good enough for Y1,2,3,4,5 or 6" for one thing early reading scheme books have very few pages/words compared to books for older children. Why not allow children to work at their full potential ...

Feenie Sun 08-Dec-13 12:39:22

Exactly. Which is why I said the 'rule' doesn't match the philosophy that every child is different.

And does your 'data' measure enjoyment, pi8er?

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 12:52:25

Very true!

Pie8er Sun 08-Dec-13 13:00:43

It works for us and the children enjoy it.

We like that parents don't feel pressured into reading the scheme book every single night and they can work at it at their own pace/reading stamina of the child during the week.

These children are 4/5, they are just babies! There is enough pressure on Reception children already and a full day is often exhausting for them. I like that they have can go home and are able to switch off. Whether it be read (scheme book, story book or magazine) or do whatever they choose without added pressure from the teacher to do this, that and the other.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 13:03:29

No they can't work at their own pace! They can only work at the pace of one book per week because that is what you issue!

octopusinasantasack Sun 08-Dec-13 13:07:29

Read books from home in between and do what the teacher wants, it's easier in the end.

Gileswithachainsaw Sun 08-Dec-13 13:08:24


It's lovely that a teacher actually realises that kids get tired and the pressure is too much sometimes and the idea that they shouldn't read every night if they don't want to is a good one. I agree as homework at school is just too much IMO.

I do wondersome of your children would get bored or feel restricted with just book a week given that not every child has access to books outside if school. There must be some kids who get bored or certainly will of policy stays the same. Can I just ask what happened with kids who read other stuff at home daily and perhaps make massive jumps In between the books you issue?

But thank you for realising that the children don't need a ton of extra work on too of school. I agree there is too much smile

Feenie Sun 08-Dec-13 13:08:49

Yes - that's your pace, and partly because, by your own admission, you 'don't have time'. Not their own pace at all.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 13:12:56

Having a policy of changing books when the child is ready doesn't mean the child has to read every night it just means those children who do read more often don't have to read the same book over and over but it does depend on the school having plenty of suitable books.

Pie8er Sun 08-Dec-13 13:24:57

Thank you Giles

The children are able to change their story book as often as they wish and are able to take any book from the reading area. They are able to choose a traditional tale, picture book, decodable reader, magazine etc. The only book that stays the same is the scheme book.
We also use different books for guided reading, modeled reading and shared reading sessions.

Feenie I could change how I do things and spend more time changing reading books but I prefer to distribute my time evenly across the whole curriculum. In my many years of teaching, I have often subject coordinators like class teachers to spend a disproportionate amount of time on their subject. Just like the Maths coordinator likes lots of time focusing on maths and the writing coordinator expects a huge proportion of the timetable to be spent writing. As an EY's leader I prefer a more holistic approach.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 13:27:18


Feenie Sun 08-Dec-13 13:28:28

In my many years of teaching, I have often subject coordinators like class teachers to spend a disproportionate amount of time on their subject.

It can't be disproportionate though, can it, since reading will be necessary to access most of the curriculum.

Writing coordinator? confused

Pie8er Sun 08-Dec-13 13:35:46

Writing coordinator? Sorry if you find it confusing that we have a writing coordinator.

Yes, reading is necessary but it doesn't need to be the main focus in Reception.

ClayDavis Sun 08-Dec-13 13:42:17

This 1 scheme book a week thing is something I've only ever seen on MN. I don't think I've ever been in a school that actually does it. I can't quite get my head round it.

Pie8er have you considered changing the books once a week and sending more than one home at once. My nieces school change once a week but send home 3-6 at once depending on the level. The expectation is that they will read for 5-10mins 4 nights out of 7 but it gives them the opportunity to read more if they want. Admittedly, it does rely on having a large supply of scheme books.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 13:45:20

Has anyone suggested it should be the main focus in any year group? People are saying that a blanket policy of changing home reading books once a week is not following the EYFS ethos of personalised learning and meeting the needs of individual children.

Feenie Sun 08-Dec-13 13:47:59

This 1 scheme book a week thing is something I've only ever seen on MN. I don't think I've ever been in a school that actually does it. I can't quite get my head round it.

^^This. I can't get my head around having 'rules' about reading full stop, tbh.

No, never heard of a writing coordinator - I wouldn't see it as being so separate from reading that it needed its own person in charge.

Huitre Sun 08-Dec-13 13:48:39

My daughter liked having a few books at once at Reception age, as it meant she could pick what she fancied reading that particular evening.

As for it taking a long time to change books, I don't quite understand why. I go into school to change books and hear readers and so do lots of other parents. There is therefore an opportunity for children to change their books every day if they wish to. Because they can change them whenever they want to, it doesn't take long each time and of the two hours I spend at school in an afternoon, it typically only takes me ten to twenty minutes to facilitate book-changing for all the children who want to do so - sometimes only five or six, sometimes 18 or 20. It did take a little longer in Reception but only because children wanted me to read them the titles so that they could make an informed choice.

Pie8er Sun 08-Dec-13 13:57:58

We don't have enough ORT books for children to take home more than one a night. However, as I have stated previously, children are able to choose books from the reading area as often as they wish. This selection includes, fiction, non-fiction and older scheme books that match their phase in phonics.

We have a separate reading and writing coordinator - seen it in a few schools.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 14:00:53

How did I know your policy was going to be based on availability of books and that they were going to be using ORT books!! hmm

ClayDavis Sun 08-Dec-13 14:03:43

Are they only expected to read the book on one night, or do you expect them to read it several times?

I'm not sure anybody needs the torture of 'oh Floppy, no Floppy' being read repeatedly.

qazxc Sun 08-Dec-13 14:07:13

That just seems crazy to me OP. My dad is a teacher and is a firm believer in getting children interested in reading (whatever they are into) and letting them read as much as they want. Nurturing a love of reading is a good thing, she shouldn't be discouraged to read if she wants to.
Is taking her to library and letting her pick out books an option? It used to be a highlight of our week when we were kids.

Feenie Sun 08-Dec-13 14:08:00

Which older scheme books would match their phase in phonics?

Yes, it was entirely predictable, wasn't it, mrz?

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 14:13:54

I wish I was as certain of winning the lottery Feenie wink

Pie8er Sun 08-Dec-13 14:16:29

Yes, I don't love the books either but I didn't buy them -- so shoot me--

They aren't necessarily older - I was stuck for want of a better word.

Off the top of my head we have Phonics Bug and Project X books.

ClayDavis Sun 08-Dec-13 14:17:19

I have seen people use ORT to refer to songbirds or the Floppy's phonics books so she may not be using the older scheme.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 14:19:58

Is there any reason you don't use them as home readers?

Pie8er Sun 08-Dec-13 14:30:22

I do - use them interchangeably sometimes.

AbbyR1973 Sun 08-Dec-13 14:37:13

Actually our school only change reading books once a week and I am fine with that as a parent, because when we have read the scheme book, they can read whatever they choose, which is generally a bit more interesting for them. DS's are often given 2 books rather than 1 by their teacher though.
I think poor Pie8er is getting a bit of a hard time though. For me I'm happy as long as we're agreed that there should be no artificial restriction on children's progress or year group ceilings of the "nothing higher than red in reception" variety. As Pie8er said children individuals and need to be treated as such.
You can't stop a child picking up reading early any more than you can stop some children learning to walk at 9 months rather than the average 1 year.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 14:38:31

"as I have stated previously, children are able to choose books from the reading area as often as they wish. This selection includes, fiction, non-fiction and older scheme books that match their phase in phonics."

even though they are able to choose them from the reading area as they wish?

Clay Project X are also published by Oxford so ...

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 14:40:06

"As Pie8er said children individuals and need to be treated as such." but they aren't beinf treated as individuals when their is a restriction on how often books are changed.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 14:40:53


Pie8er Sun 08-Dec-13 14:42:02

Thanks AbbyR1973

I don't really understand what you are asking mrz

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 14:49:54

because I care about children

allyfe Sun 08-Dec-13 14:52:07

I asked for more books from our school, but was told they simply didn't have enough to be able to give more than 2 books a week. And so far, almost all of what we have had are old style ORT, which I have learned to dislike.

I have a feeling that if they had the money, the school might switch to more phonics ones, but they don't have the money to even offer more than two books a week, let alone more than two which are decodable. It is crap in a lot of schools.

I have just bought supplementary ones. In my daughters school, I would imagine a huge number of other parents have done something similar. It makes it a real shame for those children in the school who would like more books but whose parents aren't able to supplement the school's system.

Pie8er Sun 08-Dec-13 14:52:49

Referring to this...

even though they are able to choose them from the reading area as they wish?

allyfe Sun 08-Dec-13 14:54:59

That last bit sounds a bit wrong! What I mean is that I would rather give money to the school so that they can buy a whole load more books for everyone, than it be a system where by my daughter gets access to some, but others don't. I know the library is there too, but we don't get to that regularly.

allyfe Sun 08-Dec-13 15:00:47

Pie8er I hope you won't mind my just saying that a child picking up a book in book corner at school isn't quite the same as being able to sit down at home with a parent and read together. I think it is partly that which my daughter likes, the togetherness, the feeling of achievement and the praise when she does it well.

That aside, schools don't always have the resources.

Pie8er Sun 08-Dec-13 15:07:04

No, not at all - I completely agree. They are able to swap and change their 'story book' with any book from the reading area. They can take the one that they choose home, alongside their 'scheme book.'

Feenie Sun 08-Dec-13 15:14:22

Can never understand this 'not enough money' business. Even a mega skint school with a budget of only £500 a year for English could have bought £2000 worth of decodable books by now using match-funding. There really is no excuse not to have a lots of decodable books.

Pie8er Sun 08-Dec-13 15:17:10

What about if they go home and never come back?

BertieBowtiesAreCool Sun 08-Dec-13 15:26:42

True Feenie but it's unlikely that would be the budget just for reception class. You also have the older levels to cater for as well, and while there hasn't been a massive shift necessitating a change of books, you still need up to date resources for science, technology etc.

Feenie Sun 08-Dec-13 15:33:38

It's a reasonably small amount for a school English budget - the books would be for Year 1 also, and the priority should have been decodable books because of the change in reading teaching.

The DfE's Year 1 phonics test leaflet to parents has stated that schools should be using decodable books for the last two years. It wasn't a surprise - schools knew this was coming and should have prioritised.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 15:40:44

I always wonder about the "these books are just for reception" and "these books are just for Y1" and "these books are just for Y2" mentality hmm

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 15:41:31

£2000 books between classes would make a big difference!

columngollum Sun 08-Dec-13 15:42:00

You can get any books you like if you make enough fuss.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 15:45:44

Pie8er Sun 08-Dec-13 14:52:49

Referring to this...

even though they are able to choose them from the reading area as they wish?

the books are in the reading corner for the child to choose if they wish but you use them as home reading books interchangeable with ORT hmm

Feenie Sun 08-Dec-13 15:46:21

It would make a massive difference - and yes, we all have kids who don't bring books back, but that's just a few and you have to either ask for the money or budget for that. It certainly isn't an excuse not to have a healthy stock of decodable reading books.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 15:46:33

You can get any book you like if you buy it or go to the library too

Pie8er Sun 08-Dec-13 15:56:12

We have lots of books that do not come back or come back in pieces.

mrz We have decodable readers that are organised for guided reading/taking home and we have decodable readers that we put in the reading area. Children can choose these to take home or read them during continuous provision - these books are rotated often.

columngollum Sun 08-Dec-13 15:56:33

The bookshop and the library don't demand written comments on all the books that you don't like.

Feenie Sun 08-Dec-13 16:00:19

grin grin

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 16:02:49

I don't think the teacher will be bothered whether you write an essay about all the books either. [rollseyes]

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 16:05:37

mrz We have decodable readers that are organised for guided reading/taking home and we have decodable readers that we put in the reading area. Children can choose these to take home or read them during continuous provision - these books are rotated often.

my question is ... why if your resources are so limited do you put reading scheme books in the CP reading area or don't you have many other books/time interact in the reading area either?

columngollum Sun 08-Dec-13 16:07:12

The problem is that to comment the child has to first read it.

If schools don't mind the comment being either she didn't read it or she read it well, (when in fact she didn't read it at all) then it wouldn't matter what they sent hope and everybody's happy.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 16:12:05

If you don't read it don't comment hmm

Pie8er Sun 08-Dec-13 16:15:16

Because we have double copies of some books/odd books that were part of a scheme but have never come back. We have some incomplete guided reading sets so we use those.

We also think it is nice that children are able to choose a book suitable for their ability that they can access during CP.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 16:19:03

Because we have double copies of some books/odd books that were part of a scheme but have never come back. We have some incomplete guided reading sets so we use those

Why does that matter?

We also think it is nice that children are able to choose a book suitable for their ability that they can access during CP. biscuit

columngollum Sun 08-Dec-13 16:22:16

I don't think that'll work, they write the title and date in, so not commenting will leave a lot of half blank pages. Moving up the reading scheme is broken but I think several tens of half empty pages in the reading diary would break the system quite a bit more. If you participate and argue your corner when necessary at least you earn the right to comment as need be. It's not a perfect system. But, (accepting the odd big bust up from time to time,) it's livable with.

Pie8er Sun 08-Dec-13 16:22:59


It appears nothing will be good enough for you.

Feenie Sun 08-Dec-13 16:26:01

Whether it's good enough for the children is what's important.

And to me none of the reasons for limiting their reading seem sound.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 16:28:00

It's a comment in a home reading record book not tablets of stone

Pie8er Sun 08-Dec-13 16:28:18

I don't feel we are limiting their reading.

FrameyMcFrame Sun 08-Dec-13 16:28:21

They'll all learn to read there is no rush.
Studies show the go slow approach achieves best results for attainment and happiness in children.

FrameyMcFrame Sun 08-Dec-13 16:32:53

Actually it's such a misconception that teaching 4 year olds to read is good for their development.

4 year olds should be playing. That's how they gain optimum development, as masses of studies show.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 16:33:04

They'll all learn to read unfortunately the statistics clearly show that isn't true

Pie8er Sun 08-Dec-13 16:36:00

Completely agree Framey

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 16:58:39

I have nothing but sympathy for the teacher who has to deal, on a daily basis with you column. Noting they do could be good enough for you, it would appear whatever they do, you think it's wrong, misguided or even done as part of some 'control' exercise. I think you'd be suited to home schooling.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 17:03:39

If I were her daughter's teacher I'd send home Beatrix Potter while making sure she was actually learning to read not just recite wink

teacherwith2kids Sun 08-Dec-13 17:04:17

I find it - as a teacher, and as the parent of a fluent pre-school reader as well as a child who became a fluent reader while in reception [and I mean fluent as in 'could read anything put in front of them', not 'could read e.g. purple levelled books fluently'] - absolutely astonishing that schools have 'capped' reading schemes for Reception or Y1 or whatever.

Even DS's first primary, though a disaster in other ways, worked tirelessly to find him suitable books - books that moved him on in terms of his reading, but were age appropriate in content and above all interesting and relevant to a 4 or 5 year old [it's all very well being able to DECODE long chapter books - but finding ones which are within a 4 or 5 year old's span of interest / life experience is a real skill].

Most schools I have been into have reading books in shared areas for exactly this reason - accessible to all, no problem for less able readers from higher classes to access the books they need to keep learning, no barrier for more able reader to access the books they need.

Equally, I find 'rationing' reading books bizarre. If you've read a book, you've read it. Unless there is some scheme for extending the life of a particular book, some kind of response to it or specific questions or a need to learn it by heard or something, then there is no neeed to keep it any longer. However, if the child wants to go back and read a book they've really enjoyed again a while later, then they should be able to do that, alongside some new books.

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 17:05:37

I would fora quiet life but I wouldn't sleep at night...poor child sad

teacherwith2kids Sun 08-Dec-13 17:06:17

(DS - marked ASD traits at that age, though much less noticeable now he is older - did have to learn to play, especially with others. It was harder for him than learning to read. But who said it was one or the other?)

FrauMoose Sun 08-Dec-13 17:10:20

I think some children do just 'put it together' quite suddenly and go up loads of stages in the space of a week or two. This happened to my daughter in Year 1, and I told the teacher that the stuff she was being sent home with wasn't a challenge for her. Nothing changed, so I think then I wrote a letter. Finally the class teacher tested her and found she was basically at the end of the Oxford Reading Tree, not somewhere near the start.

After that my daughter just got to choose books from the school reading courner and got to read them by herself for most of literacy hour. I can see this sort of thing is potentially a bit of a problem for teachers. But you can't really deal with it, by shoving the child backwards.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 17:11:09

I would justify it in the knowledge that mummy would be providing Beatrix if I didn't

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 17:11:45

and compensate with lots of age appropriate stories in class

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 17:12:48

...and dare I say a spit of fun for a change...

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 17:13:01


columngollum Sun 08-Dec-13 17:13:14

If she could recite the whole of the Potter collection and perhaps Anderson too, plus Dr Suess, I would then check her word correspondence with some other author.

teacherwith2kids Sun 08-Dec-13 17:14:42

Equally horrified, btw, by the idea that by reading lots of books and 'finishing all the books available in that band' there should be any idea that the children should move up UNLESS they are ready to. Again, it is the teacher's and school's job to ensure that that child accesses as much 'printed matter' at an appropriate level to rehearse their reading skills at that level for as long as they need to.

As soon as you embark on the 'well, since you've finished all those books then you'll have to read the next ones up' game, then you are moving away from the only justification of reading schemes, which is that they provide rehearsal material at the right level for the children to take the next steps in their reading...

Feenie Sun 08-Dec-13 17:32:59

Well quite, teacher.

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 17:35:52

'Recite'....and there it is. The word which sums up your whole belief system. 'Recite'. I can recite my ten times table...I can't recite Hamlet yet I studied it at degree level...

I say this genuinely and not to offend, I read your posts with a heavy heart because at the centre of your 'war' with the school system is a child.

columngollum Sun 08-Dec-13 17:38:32

It has nothing to do with the child. Real books would solve the problem at a stroke.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 17:41:12

does the school send home "imaginary books" hmm

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 17:42:20

It has everything to do with your child. Your child is being robbed of the opportunity to enjoy texts at her own level. She is reading for the sake of it- texts way over her understanding.

I could go on all night about our different opinions in learning to read but above all else I keep thinking you must be robbing your child of her enjoyment of school. I'm sure she aware of your ongoing battle with the school and that 'mummy knows far more than those teachers' type attitude must be quite confusing when you're 5/6 sad

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 17:43:25

That what I asked earlier mrz...what is column's idea if a non-book. If its a book, it's a book.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 17:52:32

anything that isn't Beatrix, Hans Christian or Theodor apparently hmm

columngollum Sun 08-Dec-13 17:53:06

What do you know about my child's understanding?

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 17:57:08

I know that a child of 5 cannot understand Dickens and that us what you tried to make us believe. For some reason asking your child to 'recite' centuries old literature makes you feel she's clever.

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 17:58:54

Sad that you also don't think her teacher knows anything about her understanding either. As I said upthread, you'd be much more suited to home schooling. You said earlier that you think teachers want it to 'my way or the highway''re projecting be aide it is, on fact YOU that wants it your way. Simple- teach her at home.

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 17:59:42

* because...

Huitre Sun 08-Dec-13 18:00:17

I really hope column doesn't do that. I think it would be far more damaging for her child's later happiness than these silly battles with school.

columngollum Sun 08-Dec-13 18:01:55

Then of course you know that a 5yo can't understand Shakespeare. Would you like to go on record listing what else 5yos can't understand?

Galena Sun 08-Dec-13 18:10:55

DD is a bloody good reader, If I spent time with her, she could get a basic understanding of Shakespeare. However, I wouldn't insist she read it independently. She wouldn't get anything out of it at the moment. She reads school books 'below' her reading level to develop her independent comprehension, she reads books at her reading level at home and I would happily let her try harder books if she wanted to, but she doesn't want to because she likes to enjoy what she is reading.

Galena Sun 08-Dec-13 18:12:45

Column, I'd be fascinated to read some of your old threads - you seem to have a chip on your shoulder bigger than the Eiffel Tower!

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 18:23:26

If a level students attend lessons to discuss the (adult) themes in dickens and Shakespeare then yes, I'll go on record to say I don't believe your child understands what she's reading independently. If she does, let her sit her gcse next year aged 6.

Don't infer that I belittle the achievements of 5 year olds or don't recognise how gifted children can be- I absolutely do. I just don't believe your child read dickens, fully understanding and enjoying it at 5. Neither did her own class teacher but then according to you she knew nothing either!

FrauMoose Sun 08-Dec-13 18:29:59

I think you might understand mathematical concepts - and/or play chess well - as a precocious 5 year old. But understanding of literature for adults depends on being able to access adult life experience.

teacherwith2kids Sun 08-Dec-13 18:31:53

Absolutely, Frau. It's why L6 maths in Y6 is a perfectly reasonable attainment for more able children, but L6 reading is rarer - because the ability to really comprehend / empathise with more advanced texts requires maturity and emotional engagement, not just decoding / reciting skills.

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 18:37:38

I'm not sure dickens is appropriate material for a 5 year old even if they were world's youngest genius. Take Oliver Twist, domestic violence, murder, child abandonment and child poverty to name a few themes. That's what I meant when I said you're robbing her of the opportunity to access texts she understands. You immediately went on the defence. Chip on the shoulder much??

freetrait Sun 08-Dec-13 19:28:56

In YR DS's teacher had the "we only change books once a week" rule. We just did lots at home. I spent far too much money on reading books, but I felt it important as wanted DS to keep progressing with his reading.

Then the school was OFSTEDed, had rather a lot to improve, a new head came in and hooray, hooray, books are now changed at the pace of the child. Oh yes, DD has been given books from October rather than January as well grin. Works well for DD, we tend to do two a week which is about right for her.

So.....yes, you will be holding kids back if you only give them one reading book a week- not all parents will have the funds and/or inclination to get more themselves. To get better you need to practise and should be able to practise at your own rate.

Feenie Sun 08-Dec-13 19:37:08

Hear, hear!

columngollum Sun 08-Dec-13 20:02:50

Well, I suppose teaching fyos about domestic violence, murder, destitution and hanging is one way of introducing Dickens. I suppose to do Shakespeare we could continue with the murder, add a bit of incest and drown a couple of dukes in barrels. I probably wouldn't go about it that way. But let's face it, we're all different. I play chess with my 5yo too, as a matter of fact. Funnily enough we haven't discussed any of Garry Kasparov's strategies or any of the Fischer/Spassky matches. But, hey. The night is young yet...

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 20:08:51

It's what dickens and Shakespeare is about. Have YOU read them??

columngollum Sun 08-Dec-13 20:11:12

Oh, that's right there's loads of blood and guts in A Christmas Carol and Twelfth Night! I'll come to you for lessons from now on.

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 20:11:49

Actually don't answer that. You'll be telling us that you read them aged 3 and that you played Ophelia at 6...

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 20:14:01

Well done might not like their 5 year old reading about spirits of the dead in Christmas Carol and adult relationships in Twelfth Night but something tells me if its done thing you can show off about you'll be for ing your child regardless.

No, you wouldn't ask me any advice but then you wouldn't ask any teacher. The huge chip in your shoulder would get in your way.

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 20:14:21

* well some...

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 20:14:50

* forcing your child...

ClayDavis Sun 08-Dec-13 20:29:16

I think mrz has done Shakespeare and A Christmas Carol with Yr2, so not much older. I doubt she just gave them the full original texts and just left them to get on with it though. There wouldn't be many 6/7 year olds that could cope with that and very very few if any 5 year olds.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 20:33:41
FrauMoose Sun 08-Dec-13 20:36:14

I wonder if there's such a thing as Educational Abuse?

If adults try to use their power/position to expose children to physical/sexual experiences which they are not ready for, we call that abusive.

It might seem like I'm trying to inflame the debate even further. But
I'm interested in this because my mother did encourage me to be very precocious. For example, getting me to read the editorials in The Guardian when I was five. Putting 'Jane Eyre' and 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' in front of me when I was six. It didn't help me to fit in at school, either in terms of the work - or in terms of developing friendships with other children.

I don' think such things were important to my parents. And of course I was pleased that they were pleased with me. But I was also unhappy, without knowing why.

teacherwith2kids Sun 08-Dec-13 20:39:09

I read a Marcia Williams version of Christmas Carol to my Y3s last year, and have seen a (bowdlerised) version of Twelfth Night done as a school play - but tbh both will be much better when the children can fully access and empathise with the deeper themes - adult love / attraction, poverty, handicap, greed, redemption.

Both left me with the feeling of 'why bother?' There are so many other, better, age appropriate, interesting, dare I say it funny, texts for children to read at primary age. As an avid reader myself, the age I found the 'classics' most valuable was as an early teenager: faced with free rein in the adult section of the library, those classic 'anchors' (still a little bit too old for me, but never scarily 'unsuitable') were the mainstay of my reading matter. 'Teen' / 'Young Adult' books hadn't been invented, and with my mum at hand to rescue me from the grimmest of Dickens [and from Wuthering Heughts for a while] the classics filled the gap.

To make your child read / recite / recognise the words in Dickens or Shakespeare at an early primary age, tbh, just smacks of a total lack of imagination or knowledge of children's literature, and a rather bizarre focus on 'difficulty for the sake of difficulty'.

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 20:39:33

I can well believe you can use adapted versions with year 2. Have just read a picture book version of a Christmas carol with a group of year 3.

Somehow, and sadly I don't think column was referring to such texts, or indeed excerpts of texts.

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 20:42:11

Teacher..I think that the texts and authors .coloumn refers to does indeed show a lack of knowledge of modern children's literature.

teacherwith2kids Sun 08-Dec-13 20:43:48

I have also recently done some of the condensed Shakespeare tales illustrated by Terry Deary with my class of 9/10 year olds, alongside the Marcia Williams' illustrated versions.

They are a great early introduction to the plots,and lend themselves to extension through short sections of the original text (especially those like e.g. the Witches' Spell from Macbeth, where the sound of the words is as important for effect as their precise meaning).

Would my class be 'cleverer' or 'better educated' or 'more well read' had we read the plays in the original instead? Nope. But do they understand the plots of some of the most famous plays, and had their ears tuned to some great poetry, while still believing Shakespeare to be exciting and accessible? Yes.

simpson Sun 08-Dec-13 20:45:21

I found a few kids versions of Twelfth Night, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Hamlet (orchard classics) in a charity shop but neither of my DC are interested. I think DD would love them if she gave them a go in maybe a year or so.

teacherwith2kids Sun 08-Dec-13 20:48:16

Those are the ones I use, and they're great. If column was reading those with her child, as well as a wide range of excellent modern and traditional authors' writing for children, that would be fine. But I fear they're not - to the detriment of her daughter's genuine understanding and love of books.

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 20:51:23

If she would discuss this less defensively and actually believe that any teacher knows what they are talking about, she could get some great suggestions for age appropriate but challenging texts and authors. It's such a shame!

simpson Sun 08-Dec-13 20:53:38

They do look good and were a bargain at 10P each grin

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 20:56:33

The BBC animate tales a great for primary children

columngollum Sun 08-Dec-13 20:58:18

Well, fear away girls, fear away. Fear will do in lieu of knowledge, won't it.

FrauMoose Sun 08-Dec-13 21:00:04

I did an English degree at one of those universities, which other Mumsnet parents start support threads about. Even so I honestly don't think I understood Shakespeare properly till at least my mid-thirties. Even the comedies are about loving the wrong person, and failing to see one's own errors. The tragedies are about even more damaging obsessions and mistakes. It's only when I started gaining some insight into my own emotions and relationships, that Shakespeare made sense - as opposed to being some sort of way of demonstrating narrow intellectual 'cleverness'.

And it's very difficult to separate the drama - or plot - from the poetry. If you dilute the language, which is very very rich and complex, it isn't really Shakespeare. I am sure that gifted teachers - and visiting practitioners - can do something with KS1 and 2, to give a kind of initial taste of Shakespeare. But I am still unconvinced that giving it to children early is a good thing.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 21:00:07

as are the Shakespeare can be fun books and yes it is about the music and patterns of the language as much as it is the story

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 21:01:55

Pride comes before a fall. It's just unfortunate it potentially involves your daughters love of learning...

teacherwith2kids Sun 08-Dec-13 21:02:10


I apologise - you are right, you have never listed your daughter's favourite books (not the ones that you ask her to read, or the ones she chooses because she knows that you like them - what are her favourite books to read to her toys, to her dad, to her friends when they come round? What do you find her reading in bed first thing, or late at night when she's meant to be asleep?) and so we have to 'fill in the gaps', and we are doubtless wrong.

Which authors / books does she really enjoy reading by herself?

Dr Seuss was very popular with my 2, too - and those we genuinely can recite, still some 7 or 8 years on. What else?

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 21:03:53

I think it is very possible to access great literature at different levels and yes your understanding at 30 will be very different to your understanding at 18 or 15 or 5 but does it really matter. It isn't about being "clever".

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 21:05:31

Dare I say I hate Dr Seuss almost as much as I hate Beatrix

teacherwith2kids Sun 08-Dec-13 21:07:06


I think the main advantage of giving a taste of Shakespeare to children 'early' is that they never see it as 'too hard' - and also that so much Shakespearean language is still in our modern English it is fun for them to see the original. We do it as part of overall work on the late Tudors, and it gives a glimpse of the language and culture of that time.

It's like reading a children's Nativity story and then reading Luke or Matthew or John in the Authorised version when older. Because the plot is already known and familiar, the richness of the language strikes even more strongly. Powerful language in other sections of the Bible which I know less well - say the story of Esther, or Amos - never strike me as powerfully because I have to work to understand the story as well as the language IYSWIM.

Huitre Sun 08-Dec-13 21:08:22

I liked those Charles Lamb Shakespeare tales when I was quite little (maybe around five or six). I am pretty sure a lot of it went over my head, but I found it very heady stuff and it made me long to read the real thing. I was so delighted at 11 when I finally got to do a whole Shakespeare play at school (it was only A Midsummer Night's Dream but I loved it, every single word).

teacherwith2kids Sun 08-Dec-13 21:09:26

Mrz, mrz - oh no! We disagree!!! As a mum, I love its arcane silliness (not the stories, my children and I can do without Thidwick, the Grinch and the rest, but the truly zany ones like One Fish, Two Fish). As a teacher, I wouldn't use it as a way to learn to read.

TeaJunky Sun 08-Dec-13 21:10:06

Jesus. Can someone fill me in on what's gone on in my thread please grin

FrauMoose Sun 08-Dec-13 21:11:10

I think I am puzzling about the right ages for various kinds of literature because my daughter is currently doing AS-Level English. She is getting on very well with Oscar Wilde, and was okay with The Crucible.

I know that it took me some years to recover from doing loads and loads of set texts and it made my relationship with literature quite peculiar. It's as if I had to stop reading classic works, then find them all over again.

I think the analogy would be meeting the love of your life in the wrong place and at the wrong time.

mammadiggingdeep Sun 08-Dec-13 21:14:56

Yes- I read Wuthering Heights at A Level, we dissected it to death, wrote course work on it and was the basis for my exam. I read it 3 years ago...what a joy to read it at an older age after more life experience. Think the reading purely for pleasure made a difference too...

simpson Sun 08-Dec-13 21:19:44

DD is doing The Grinch at school and loving it.

I think its important to be led by the child in what they want to read (within reason!)

DD (5) will choose The Happy Families Series some days and SuperFudge other days.

Huitre Sun 08-Dec-13 21:22:15

it took me some years to recover from doing loads and loads of set texts and it made my relationship with literature quite peculiar

I can see what you mean here. I found sometimes as a teenager and young adult that the relationship to a set text took some of the joy out of the actual text. I do not think my relationship with Thomas Hardy can ever recover. Or Browning.

I liked your comment about the comedies of Shakespeare being full of terrible things, too. If you think about comedy, generally, as a dramatic thing, an awful lot of it is about nearly getting to disaster or the last-minute turning aside of something dreadful beyond belief. It can often be laughter born out of relief that the very worst hasn't happened. I quite like that aspect of it and think the line between comedy and tragedy can be very thin indeed.

mrz Sun 08-Dec-13 21:25:32

I don't think there is a right or wrong age to access literature for pleasure and revisiting later in life is like visiting old friends

teacherwith2kids Sun 08-Dec-13 21:27:17

As a scientist from the age of 15 (and having English teachers who believed that it was important that set texts for O-level should very definitely NOT be books that you would have loved had you read them any other time: hence Mr Polly instead of Cry the Beloved Country) despite being a voracious reader, i have a mostly unspoiled view of English classics.....

Huitre Sun 08-Dec-13 21:34:58

Yes, reading again later on is lovely and can be very surprising. Even children's literature can surprise you when you come back to it as an adult.

maizieD Sun 08-Dec-13 22:39:57

I do not think my relationship with Thomas Hardy can ever recover.

Oh, do try some time, huitre. Some of his stuff is very good.

OTH, I have never been able to face The Mill on the Floss since loathing it in Y8 (or 'Upper IVth' as it was then known)! I can manage other George Eliot novels OK...

AbbyR1973 Sun 08-Dec-13 23:23:14

Agree with mrz that there is no right or wrong age, beyond the child's ability to deal with the concepts in the book eg I wouldn't read my 6 year old The Hunger Games or The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, because I realise that even as an adult I found the subject matter of these books troubling.
However the complexity of the language per se I do not find a barrier. A year ago I read my eldest (then 5 years old) Five Children and It which has a fabulous storyline for this age group but some really quite obtuse Edwardian language. As I read it outloud to DS1, I thought it was trickier than I had remembered and would stop every so often to ask questions and check DS1 understood. Despite the difficulty of the language DS1 understood and lived it and immediately asked for it to be followed up by The Phoenix and The Carpet which was also a big hit. DS1 is not scared off by language at all and I have indeed considered reading him A Christmas Carol. I think the key thing for me when reading stories with more tricky language is to judge whether DS is actually enjoying them. If he is then complexity of language does not make them off limits.
I also think at a basic level it is fine for a child to just enjoy a book without necessarily having to dissect it in minute detail and discuss themes. Further deeper understanding can come later if necessary by re-reading a story that is already loved. I read Wuthering Height for pleasure when I was about 13/14 years old and absolutely adored it, I'm not sure the enjoyment would have been A&E great if I had had to think about every little nuance of the book at that stage by studying it for GCSE. I think people can get a bit snobbish about literature sometimes thinking there is something wrong with the just simple enjoyment of a book.

ClayDavis Sun 08-Dec-13 23:32:11

I have the same issue with the Hobbit despite having read LOTR several times. I think it's something about being made to 'study' it rather than just reading it for enjoyment.

Les Mis was a breeze in comparison and I think most people would probably put those two the other way round in terms of ease of reading.

maizieD Sun 08-Dec-13 23:55:39

^ I think it's something about being made to 'study' it rather than just reading it for enjoyment.^

I think that is what worries me about children being expected to do all sorts of textual analysis at primary school. How can they possibly learn to read for pleasure when they are expected to pull texts apart from a very early age. I read voraciously as a child but I would have absolutely hated having to have in depth inquisitions about what I was reading.

ClayDavis Mon 09-Dec-13 00:19:05

I'd agree with that completely. I think in a lot of schools, reading to children is getting pushed out slightly which isn't helping either.

The majority of schools I know do read to children daily in EYFS and KS1. Very few of them continue to do that throughout KS2. Even in KS1 most are reading picture books that can be read in one sitting. I can only think of one teacher I know that regularly reads both shorter picture books and longer chapter books to year 1 and 2 children.

simpson Mon 09-Dec-13 01:10:53

DD's teacher reads both. She reads Horrid Henry (if this counts as a longer chapter book) and shorter picture type ones.

DD absolutely adores discussing books and the use of certain words, why things are in bold, why the author has used certain words to get the message across etc but IMO it's about how you go about it. With us (DD and I) it's almost like a chat about the book, not just me barking loads of questions at her. But at the same time, we don't do this every night (although I listen to her read pretty much every night) and sometimes I just listen to her read and enjoy the story, whilst making sure she understands what she is reading & then she reads to herself of course.

mrz Mon 09-Dec-13 07:13:53

I don't think you need to do an in depth "inquisition" of a text with young children just read together for the beauty of the language and story. After all there is no better or more more enjoyable way to extend a child's vocabulary.

strruglingoldteach Mon 09-Dec-13 07:42:58

MaizieD I agree about too much textual analysis being offputting. I absolutely hate the SATs reading papers because so often they're about finding a particular 'approved' interpretation of the text. There's no room for children to give their own views, or see things in a different way.

IME children do love discussing books though, so long as it's done in a more child-led way. I'm sharing a great book with my Y6s at the moment, and it's great seeing that 'buzz' when we get to a gripping part- they immediately want to share their thoughts. For me that's part of what reading is about. But not 'what is the effect on the reader of word x and phrase y?'

maizieD Mon 09-Dec-13 10:42:34

I'm glad some people agree with me. There is clearly a world of difference between spontaneous discussion, hopefully initiated by the reader and the 'comprehension' interrogation!

simpson Mon 09-Dec-13 12:10:19

Totally agree smile and also (as a parent) I hope I know what my DD can understand/comprehend without pushing her to do something that she is not ready for, not that she would let me as she would be quite vocal about not understanding or wanting to answer questions that are too hard for her, or reading books that are too difficult to comprehend.

FrameyMcFrame Mon 09-Dec-13 14:19:07

All these parents teaching their children to read before reception. Do you think you're actually doing your children a favour?
It's the best schools and nurseries that prioritise play over reading every time. All the studies show that the later you start formal education the better for the child and too much too soon can cause profound damage to the self-image and learning abilities of children.

But competitive Mums and Dads aren't really interested in what is actually GOOD for their children's well being in the long term when there's an opportunity to boast about how 'clever' little Johnny can read all the reception words already... After all, who does it reflect on when your child is so bright, the parents of course!

FrameyMcFrame Mon 09-Dec-13 14:23:19

'In September 2013, 127 education experts signed a letter arguing that the government’s early years education policies are damaging children’s education, health and wellbeing. The letter appeared in the Guardian and Telegraph and prompted debate on BBC News and Newsnight. Experts demanded that children be allowed to learn through play instead of being prepared for formal lessons at such an early age. The 127 signatories included 11 Professors of Education across the UK.'

So add on your home hot housing and you're really heading for trouble.

maizieD Mon 09-Dec-13 14:42:45

^ All the studies show that the later you start formal education the better for the child and too much too soon can cause profound damage to the self-image and learning abilities of children.^

Would you like to give us some links to all these studies? (Or even some of them)

Galena Mon 09-Dec-13 15:57:21

My daughter is a fluent Reception reader. Her chosen play activity at 18 months was to put the Alphablocks tiles off the front of a magazine on top of the matching Alphablocks on a poster inside the magazine while saying the sound that she asked me to make.

At 2 years, her chosen play activity was to take those same Alphablocks tiles or magnetic letters and make words with them, saying 'c-a-t CAT!'

At 2.8 she asked me for books she could read. I bought her Songbirds and she flew through them.

At no point did I make her sit down and do anything unwillingly. Everything was child-led.

Should I have deprived her of her chosen activities because someone was going to accuse me of hot-housing her in the future?

She has just now (at 4.7yo) asked me what 6 billion is, because there are 6 billion people in the world... She loves to learn.

AbbyR1973 Mon 09-Dec-13 16:23:08

FrameyMcFrame... why do you assume children that can read before reception are being "hothoused" DS1's favourite activity is building Lego models but he has an unquenchable thirst to find out about stuff. Before he was a year old he would instinctively hold a book the right way up and loved loved loved listening to stories. He seemed to just know that letters and numbers were different and before he was 18 months old he could recognise logo's eg car badges. I think he read very earlier because he has an astonishingly good visual memory. DS2 works in a different way but insisted on reading books to me just like his big brother.
Neither of them appear particularly damaged. I have just gone along with what they were interested in and answered any questions the ask as best I can even if I think the concept is tricky.
There is always an assumption that if you have a child that can read/ is very able there must be a pushy parent behind them. In all other respects mine are normal little boys that like charging about on their bikes it's just that they seem to get things very quickly and have an innate confidence that they can do anything.

fairisleknitter Mon 09-Dec-13 16:44:24

Framey another here who read before school and have one child who did so to. No-one needed to teach us. My child read the "Tesco" at the age of two which I found a bit sad, but that was all it took - seeing a sign regularly. And I used to make a point of not using the brand name but saying shop or supermarket. I will understand if you think I am an idiot for that!

simpson Mon 09-Dec-13 17:54:17

DD taught herself to read/blend at a very basic level at 3 before she started nursery. There was no point waiting 2 years until she started school for her to learn to read properly hmm

DS on the other hand learnt at school.

We just did what other posters have said: bought the songbirds books, looked in charity shops, used the library and Oxford owl. But then my phonics knowledge is pretty good (in a way to show DD I mean).

mrz Mon 09-Dec-13 19:52:40

"The 127 signatories included 11 Professors of Education across the UK.'" would you like to guess how many of them had ever taught in an Early Years class FrameyMcFrame?

Huitre Mon 09-Dec-13 19:59:25

I don't understand where the hothousing accusation has come from in the first place. This is a thread about a child who is reading age-appropriate books and wants to read more of them. That's hardly hothousing!

FrameyMcFrame Mon 09-Dec-13 21:26:23

Age appropriate according to who?

And the whole...she asked for a reading book.... That's what they all say! smile

columngollum Mon 09-Dec-13 21:29:33

Ultimately age appropriate according to the parent. I have heard of schools giving children inappropriate material but I never did find out what happened as a result.

mrz Mon 09-Dec-13 21:34:50

My son (at age 3) didn't ask for reading books he just read the Financial Times wink

FrameyMcFrame Mon 09-Dec-13 21:39:49
FrameyMcFrame Mon 09-Dec-13 21:44:02

'' No-one needed to teach us. My child read the "Tesco" at the age of two which I found a bit sad, but that was all it took - seeing a sign regularly.''

And that's my point exactly. It's not at all hard to learn to read, all it takes is seeing that sign regularly!
So if we bombard our little ones with reading, they have less time for their REAL development, which comes through playing smile

6 and 7 year olds learn to read super fast and they have the understanding to go with it.

mrz Mon 09-Dec-13 21:48:27

importance of play as opposed to learning can you have play without the child learning from it? “Play Is The Work of the Child” Maria Montessori

Starting age ...2002 is recent?

It doesn't take into account our relatively gentle start to education compared to our European neighbours with later starting ages but much more formal structure. Also look at and read posts from parents with children in other school systems

mrz Mon 09-Dec-13 21:50:32

How many children have you not taught to read?

A fortunate few will learn to read regardless but unfortunately many other will never learn no matter how long you leave them!

FrameyMcFrame Mon 09-Dec-13 21:55:40

well I have a 12 year old bookworm who reads for pleasure. I didn't teach her to read before she started school and her school took the reading slowly.

Sorry my links were old, a cursory glance over the internet in the space of 30 seconds.

FrameyMcFrame Mon 09-Dec-13 21:56:53

And 'learning' was meant in terms of formal learning...obviously!

Galena Mon 09-Dec-13 21:59:05

And the whole...she asked for a reading book.... That's what they all say!

Well, it's what I said, because it is what happened. She now, at the age of 4, will often spend her pocket money on a book. The one she bought yesterday was 'see inside your body' and since buying it she has been telling me about neurons, red/white blood cells, platelets and so on - because it fascinates her.

Sorry you find this so hard to believe, but I haven't hot-housed her, she has done it herself.

mrz Mon 09-Dec-13 22:00:31

I have two children the eldest was reading the Financial Times at age 3 without any formal instruction and the younger who didn't learn to read until much later and then only with formal instruction (very slow) in school both read for pleasure ... not sure what that proves.

FrameyMcFrame Mon 09-Dec-13 22:06:26

Nothing. But far more children are put off by over zealous parent.

FrameyMcFrame Mon 09-Dec-13 22:07:53

Sooner isn't always better, people really find that hard to comprehend!

FrameyMcFrame Mon 09-Dec-13 22:09:00

Also, I find giving a 4 year old pocket money a bit strange!

Galena Mon 09-Dec-13 22:14:23

Jolly good. Now I'm hothousing and strange. Marvellous.

The fact that it started off as a reward for doing 2 sessions of physio each and every day without fussing need not bother you. I'm happy with our decision to give her pocket money. She is learning money sense and patience ('I want that book, I need £5 and I have £3 - so I need to wait 2 more weeks'), but of course, that's more hothousing, isn't it?

Huitre Mon 09-Dec-13 22:15:38

I have a 7 year old bookworm. She did ask for books, she asked for them often before she'd started school. Before she asked for books, she asked about letters. Her favourite game when she was about two was getting me whichever magnetic letter I'd asked for off the fridge. I only started this game as a way of getting her out from under my feet when I was cooking (the fridge was in the cupboard under the stairs at the time). And someone gave her the letters, I put them on the fridge and then she started to ask about them. For her reading and letters WAS playing. She just thought it was fun. Should we not respond to our children's sensible questions about how the world works?

Since she could talk, she's been telling stories and asking me to write them down, so one day I said 'how about you have a go at writing them too?'. Is that hothousing? I don't think so, but yes, she could make reasonable stabs at writing her thoughts down before she started school. I just helped her to do what she was interested in. She writes a story a day now, at least. Sometimes more. If she's not writing one, she's telling me another. If she's not doing that, she's asking me what's half of 57 and telling me that the world is so weird because her little mind is genuinely captivated and entranced by the idea of fractions. I don't sit her down and tell her that we are now going to talk about poems or fractions or division, it is all entirely her own idea. And I really don't think that it's a bad thing. A bad thing would be artificially restricting what she had access to.

I really can't see how a red level book is inappropriate for a child who is asking to read every day. I have no reason to believe that the OP is telling us all lies. Why on earth would she? She sounds perfectly sensible to me.

Huitre Mon 09-Dec-13 22:17:55

Actually I gave my three year old pocket money. Mainly because I was sick of the demands for CBeebies magazines. So she got £2 per week, which was enough to buy one magazine and that was it. She got the idea pretty quickly.

Huitre Mon 09-Dec-13 22:19:27

I don't think you are strange, Galena!

Galena Mon 09-Dec-13 22:22:49

Huitre, thank you. You make me feel ok about my parenting again. I've just been interested in DD and answered her questions about the world - and she has been a sponge and soaked up the information. I didn't think I was making such a big faux pas as some posters are making out!

FrameyMcFrame Mon 09-Dec-13 22:29:33

Yes you say they choose to read but it's with direction. The child can only choose from what is on offer, if it's a load of books and some magnetic letters on offer then that's what they'll play with. But if there's lots of toys that are changed regularly, or other children available then I doubt many 3 year old would choose to sit in the corner with a book.

The reason? Doing reading in the corner doesn't teach them what they need to learn about the world, about physical properties of objects, social relationships bladh-di blah...go read about it smile

ClayDavis Mon 09-Dec-13 22:30:15

You really haven't made a faux pas Galena. If it makes you feel any better the most effective way of getting my niece to do her physio was to place a book the distance you wanted her to crawl/walk to.Then she'd bring it back and we'd read it together. I'm pretty sure that's definitely hot housing.

ClayDavis Mon 09-Dec-13 22:32:20

X posts. She had plenty of toys to choose from. Nothing motivated her like looking at books though.

Huitre Mon 09-Dec-13 22:32:22

No, I really don't think you are making any kind of faux pas. And your daughter sounds lovely. Bright and interested and lucky enough to have a parent who will answer her questions in a sensible way. I can't see how this can be wrong.

fairisleknitter Mon 09-Dec-13 22:38:24

Framey I think you ought to stop jumping to conclusions about what other parents are doing with their children. Another of my children did need to "learn" reading and it didn't come easy or super fast.

I've just seen mrz has said the same thing about sibling difference!

Our 2 have followed the reading development paths of their two very different parents. Neither were well served by the school's reading programme but the slower reader would have had a lot of problems imo if we had not been big readers, whereas the early reader navigates school work well. (Just needed a library card.)

Huitre Mon 09-Dec-13 22:40:21

My daughter had and has tons of toys! She liked the letters best. She still likes writing and reading and thinking about numbers better than lego or brio or building blocks or most other things. Some children just genuinely do like thinking better than doing.

As for not learning about the physical properties of objects etc, why on earth would you think that a parent wouldn't be helping their child do that too? And why would you think that that kind of thing couldn't be brought into whatever other discussion you were having with your child about the magnetic letters? DD learnt a lot about magnetism in the Year of the Fridge Letters (you do realise that you can take them off and see which bits stick together and which don't, I hope). And she also, in addition to playing with the letters did loads of other stuff. Just because a child asks about letters doesn't mean he or she isn't also asking about baking cakes, how to make a really good sandcastle, how to hop, how to whistle, how to make wrapping paper with a picture of a cat on it or whatever.

fairisleknitter Mon 09-Dec-13 22:41:30

Galena I assumed you were joking about the supposed faux pas!
What you have done sounds a perfectly pleasant way to go about reading with a keen child.

Galena Mon 09-Dec-13 22:45:26

grin well, obviously DD only had books and letters to choose from! That's why the hospital family worker who came to help me fill in DD's DLA form walked into the house and said 'It's a toy shop! You've got enough toys here for triplets!' And yes, she would play with her trains, she would play with Duplo, she would play with her plastic animals and she would play with the free plastic tat alphablocks tiles which came free on a magazine. She still plays with them now in fact.

Not a deprived child, not a child pushed to do anything, but a child who was fascinated by letters and words.

FrameyMcFrame Mon 09-Dec-13 22:50:27

I'm not saying that books are not essential for toddlers and preschoolers! My 4 year old's bedroom is full of books but they're sharing books not reading books.

Galena Mon 09-Dec-13 22:51:11

I find it fascinating that as soon as a child is able to do something early or particularly well thenthe assumption by some posters is that the child has been pushed into it against their nature and their will.

DD, at 3, would be at playgroup and would spend a fair amount of time curled up in the book corner reading. Not because I forced her to. Not because there were no other toys or children. No, because she wanted to and enjoyed it..

Huitre Mon 09-Dec-13 22:55:15

Yup, DD also had only books and letters to choose from. Apart from the dolls house and all the furniture and little people to go with it, the hundredweight of lego/duplo, the train set, the dolls clothes and beds and actual dolls, the tea set, the stacking cups, the squirty bath toys, the trolley with masses of bricks, the wiry thing with beads to move along, the cushions and blankets to build a house with, the playdough, the building bricks, the thing where you bash pegs down, the jigsaws, the board games, the cutters for the playdough. Etc etc etc.

But she likes writing and she likes reading and stopping her from doing those things would have been really mean-spirited.

Huitre Mon 09-Dec-13 22:56:02

Your four year old, Framey, doesn't want to read, then. That's absolutely fine. Some do want to.

fairisleknitter Mon 09-Dec-13 22:58:30

Come to think of it it is the later reader I spent time with reading and plotting which book would suit and how to encourage progression. The younger reader took a lot less conscious effort! (i.e zero) I wonder if Framey would judge that I was a better parent to one than the other? My mind is boggling a bit.

minifingers Mon 09-Dec-13 23:00:58

Didn't get any of my three to read before or during their reception year. Or actually much since.

I just read TO them, every day, without fail. At length.

At 8, 10 and 14 all three have got high reading ages and read for pleasure.

You have to make them WANT to read. Make them love literature, then the job is three quarters done, and you can leave the rest to their teachers.

(Ps, I speak as an ex English teacher and someone with an MA in children's literature).

ClayDavis Mon 09-Dec-13 23:02:53

But what if the 2 or 3 year old you are sharing a book with asks what that word says and remembers it? What if they ask what that letter is? It took her less than 3 weeks at the age of 2.5 to learn the main sound for all 26 of the magnetic letters on the fridge. I don't see how we could have stopped her tbh. What would you have done with that? We've never taught her to read really, she just has.

simpson Mon 09-Dec-13 23:05:13

Well, DD would rather curl up with a book rather than play a lot of the time.

She is in yr1 now but still 5 and finds playtime totally boring/pointless. She complains about it and says "all we do is run around, I don't want to" now give her wet play in the classroom and she loves it, loads to choose from (books and toys such as blocks, jigsaws, Lego etc).

She is G&T at school not for her ability but her drive to want to read and write. This is what makes her happy and yes she gets to roll in mud etc as should 5 yr olds do, but why should I stop her curling up with a book because she is deemed too young?

FrameyMcFrame Mon 09-Dec-13 23:06:41

He does like reading, he's already in reception so he can read, but I'm one of these weird parents who thinks there is too much too soon for 4 year olds.

In his class, we get a reading book, flash cards, and two writing exercises to do for homework each week.
We've rarely completed them all because I think it's far too much. He is in school for 30 hours per week, (far too long) he doesn't need reading and writing at home too. The school KS1 has a poor inspection report recently.

My DD went to an outstanding primary and they hardly did any reading in reception, no homework and only a book home after one term.
I know this proves nothing but it's my expirience.
DS doesn't like going to school, one of the reasons is that he has to do 'busy jobs' and he just wants to play. Fair enough.

ClayDavis Mon 09-Dec-13 23:15:09

I would agree with you that a reading book, flashcards and two pieces of written homework is too much in reception. I'd also say that books should go home once a child is able to blend to read them rather than at a specific point, be that on the first day or after one term. It should be child led based on the skills and need of the child.

But that works the other way as well. If a child is motivated and has the skills necessary and drive to learn they shouldn't be limited by the level of books, the number of books or by people thinking it isn't appropriate for their age. Children can and do learn to read before they start school and it in't always because they have been hot housed or are play-deprived.

fairisleknitter Mon 09-Dec-13 23:15:17

miifingers my early reader did it without me doing anything, it does happen as others mention here. Also not everyone loves literature, one of mine only reads non-fiction for pleasure. If I'd left it to the teachers I think i would have one kid with low-level literacy. (We have extended family in that situation, it's a family trait mitigated in my dh's case by a very involved grandparent.)

My lot could be guinea pigs for genetic underpinnings of reading I reckon!

MummytoMog Mon 09-Dec-13 23:20:40

Dd isn't even given books with words in. Her reading notes keep saying she's not engaged with the book. Which may be because she actually likes to read words. Not look at rubbish pictures. According to her school I am imagining this because obviously a speech delayed child couldn't read. It's a miracle she manages to place one tiny little foot in front of the other obviously. I should be so proud of everything she can manage and not compare her to the other children.


DD has gazillions of toys, but has always been obsessed with letters and numbers. DS couldn't give a monkey's and would rather play with his trains.

ClayDavis Mon 09-Dec-13 23:21:46

I think my whole family on my Dad's side could join you as guinea pigs. We seem to divide ourselves quite neatly into those that always have a book or 5 on the go and those that have more problems than usual with reading and writing and never pick up a book unless absolutely necessary.

fairisleknitter Mon 09-Dec-13 23:49:03

MummytoMog I am sorry, that sounds very frustrating.

Clay I may start another thread to chat about that!

It's clear children are not blank slates. I think (some?) people must have assumed I hothoused, one friend was quite sniffy about the early reading which is why I felt moved to post here I suppose!

TeaJunky Tue 10-Dec-13 10:39:57

I don't agree with this concept of hot housing at all. Actually, i really hate it.
It is a really horrible attitude to parents who only want the best for their child or who are trying to help in some way.

I find it so bizarre that these kind of parents are being judged so negatively, especially since I come from a background where education wasn't important at all. I started school at around six, completely bypassing nursery, reception and year 1. I also missed most of year seven, part of year nine and all of year ten the latter of which I had to go back one academic year and do again. But somehow, I had picked up reading by the time I got to school although no formal education and went on to study at postgraduate level at university.
I still firmly believe that I would have achieved more and done better had my parents taken my education seriously.

I believe that as parents, our parenting is mostly shaped by our own childhood experiences, mine definitely is. I know that I am more involved with dd's education because of my own childhood experiences. I follow her interests and also introduce new educational experiences that I feel she may find interesting. I always make time for reading to her and listening to her reading everyday, because I know that's what she wants and it's what I longed for as a child.

The picture is much bigger and complex than a single accusation of hothousing.

Galena Tue 10-Dec-13 10:57:40

Sorry TeaJunky - your thread has kinda moved off the issue you wanted to discuss.

I agree with various PPs - If school are going to be awkward, get hold of some songbirds books (good ol' Bob Bug!) or go to the library and see what they have, and let DD read as much as she would like.

TeaJunky Tue 10-Dec-13 14:58:47

It's ok galena, I know the nature of MN wink

Yes we have songbirds and have continued to read as and when dd wants to read (which is every day, sometimes more than once!).

She's happy and so am I smile

FrameyMcFrame Tue 10-Dec-13 22:16:00

But TeaJunky, don't you think you are what you are today BECAUSE of your experiences rather than despite them????

TeaJunky Tue 10-Dec-13 22:26:54

What do you mean, framey?

TeaJunky Tue 10-Dec-13 22:33:01

Framey, yes I did mean I am a completely interested and involved parent probably because of my own different childhood experiences.

But at the same time, I do feel that had I the support and guidance from home at the time, I could have achieved more and had some direction in what I wanted to do. So
I didn't actually mean I'd achieved despite my experiences, IYSWIM. That's why I strongly believe there is no such thing as hothousing really. It's just support in different ways, with the crucial element of it being child-friendly and the result is a happy, confident and interested child.

Galena Tue 10-Dec-13 22:36:57

I don't think you can generalise quite like that, though.

I had a childhood where my parents were very involved in my education, interested in me, nurtured my interest in life, etc. I also read before going to school. I have 2 degrees and a postgraduate qualification.

Some people with my upbringing would follow the same path with their children, others would rebel. Some people with indifferent parents become indifferent parents, some rebel.

Everybody parents the way they do because of their life experiences to that point. I'm not convinced, however, that all parenting choices can be attributed to your own childhood experiences.

nonicknameseemsavailable Tue 10-Dec-13 22:57:45

Framey - some kids are just bright and quick to pick things up. Some can manage to read a book for 10 minutes by choice and then choose to play an imaginative game they have come up with and then choose to build with lego and then choose to write a story and so on. They can manage to make these choices because they are intelligent individuals who are fascinated by the world around them and want to find things out but they are also more than capable of playing. my kids learned to read before they went to school because they taught themselves, we read a lot to them, we had suitable books around, they were keen, they started to do it so we encouraged them. I can assure you they have no shortage of toys and actually I would prefer they played with those than asked me endless questions about everything but they CHOOSE to learn...

CloverkissSparklecheeks Wed 11-Dec-13 10:31:53

Framey I completely disagree. DS1 read before he was 3, he just wanted to read and would read everything including signs, the Sky Plus planner, instructions on video games etc. He just understood how to blend, they had done the minimum pure letter sounds at pre-school and it just clicked with him. We never pushed him, we always read to him every night and never asked him to read to us, he only did if he wanted to. He had access to lots of toys and played with everything but sometimes would choose to sit in the corner with a book. We were always told not to push him with his reading and to 'stretch' him with other activities, we do this but he still loves to read.

He is very knowledgeble about the world, sociable and does very well at school (he is now 7). Reading early has not stopped him participating in lots of other activities, he is very sporty and he has always had lots of toys available to him. He doesn't always choose to read of course, he mainly reads at night time. His teacher told him he needs to read less as he is reading a 200+ page school book a night which we both agreed was too much, she told him he couldn't take a book home at the weekend and to have a break and sleep, instead he chose to read 4 junior Shakespeare books over the weekend, no one is pushing him, its what he enjoys.

DS2 couldn't read before school, he had the same access to everything but is a different child. He is in Y1 and has only just started to attempt to read things other than a school book such as stuff on the tv, signs or labels.

Back to the original post - limiting to red level is absolutely ridiculous, red is a low target for the end of YR, DS2 was on red at the end of the year and really could not read very well at all, DS1 was higher than red level at age 3. I would say it was the low side of average which is fine but to limit a child who is able is not good IMO.

CloverkissSparklecheeks Wed 11-Dec-13 10:40:33

Teajunkey there is another quite able child in DS1s class, they are pretty much the same level but there is clearly 'hothousing' going on there. I make sure DS1 does his homework and the minimum the school requires but nothing more, he has out of school activities he wants to do which take up lots of his time but to me it is important to have a variety of interests rather than just academic stuff.

The other child, who is also 7, is not allowed to do anything other than school work, he does about 2 hours a night of school work and is not allowed to go out to play with other children or go to parties etc. His siblings were treated the same and they are all always winning academic awards at school but it is clearly hothousing as although they may be naturally clever they are pushed so much.

I believe it does exist but what you are talking about with your DD is so far from it . . .

unlucky83 Wed 11-Dec-13 12:16:42

I agree hot housing does happen ...and I don't think it is a good thing!
I took my DC for a play date, left out on kitchen table was a maths workbook exactly like the ones at school except at school they were at the end of the one before the one on the table...
I think that is not doing the DCs any favours - the same as getting children into selective schools by intense tutoring - at some point it is going to catch up with them if they haven't got the natural intellectual ability to back it up. As they get older, they will spend their school life struggling to keep up, hardly a confidence boost. And at some point they are likely to fail (you can't do GSCEs for/with your DCs!)
Being academically bright or advanced is not the most important thing in life...being happy is!

CloverkissSparklecheeks Wed 11-Dec-13 14:25:52

Totally agree unlucky if ther is a choice between two children or even adults who have similar academic ability for a scholarship/place in a school or uni/job then the person who has the most rounded ability and interests will always come out on top.

TeaJunky Wed 11-Dec-13 17:56:34

Clover, that is very sad!

I've never known anyone who is like this with their children though, thank God.

TeaJunky Wed 11-Dec-13 17:57:42

Clover, that is very sad!

I've never known anyone who is like this with their children though, thank God.

TeaJunky Wed 11-Dec-13 18:27:46

Clover, that is very sad!

I've never known anyone who is like this with their children though, thank God.

TeaJunky Wed 11-Dec-13 18:28:27

Oops, I think I've made my point grin

CloverkissSparklecheeks Wed 11-Dec-13 23:40:14

grin yes it is, my son and he are close friends at school but they can never play outside of school as he's not allowed. They are the only family I know who are like it to that extreme.

mintberry Thu 12-Dec-13 00:00:30

Do your best to get her through the book scheme but get lots of books from the library/shops of your own to support it... She will get added benefits because you can give her more challenging books yourself to read.

PastSellByDate Thu 12-Dec-13 14:04:40

I'm incredibly heartened to see that reading often and anything/ everything is the general consensus. I have to admit that I haven't read all this and still don't completely understand who columngollum once was (but may have skipped something).

However, Feenie, I was really interested to hear about matched funding for early reading ('decodable' was the term you used) books. If this scheme is still going & you have information on match funding for decodable books could you PM me the info.

Although it is too late for my DDs (now Y4/ Y6) - I can at least suggest to the school that they could improve the quantity/ range of books for early readers at the school. There is a tradition at the school of Y6 having a fundraising project after SATs - and I'm beginning to think more books for KS1 might be a lovely legacy to leave the school.

Feenie Thu 12-Dec-13 14:36:59

Sorry, PSB, it ran for two years but finished in Oct this year. sad

PastSellByDate Thu 12-Dec-13 16:01:14


Still I think raising funds for books may be a good legacy for Y6 - so I'll plant that seed into DD1's head.

raynecld Wed 18-Dec-13 09:26:45

I strongly suggest you write a letter detailing this conversation and the school's policy of restricting them to making no progress beyond an arbitrary level to the school's Head, to the Governing Body of your school, to the local education authority, and to Ofsted. A policy to deliberately hold children back in this manner is unsupportable. Our school tried it briefly several years ago, saying "They didn't want to make the other Reception children feel bad," but quickly backtracked and denied they said it when I challenged the policy. Children are entitled to an appropriate, targeted education at their level, and the school is required to monitor where they are very closely.

raynecld Wed 18-Dec-13 09:28:12

PS I'm a Governor at a primary school, and I really, really encourage you to challenge this policy. It's just not appropriate. It sounds like the teacher is overwhelmed and needs more support and/or retraining in key areas if this is the message she's giving to parents.

FrameyMcFrame Wed 18-Dec-13 16:03:51

My brothers and I were hot-housed, so I know it happens!

My eldest Brother read Latin before he went to school never mind the reading books, he went on to a scholarship to a top Oxbridge college at 16 after early A levels and won exhibitions etc. My other brother similar and to the same College 2 years later. I was hot housed in a non academic direction, went to specialist boarding school and further than that I can't tell you without outing myself too much, suffice to say that lots of my life since has been spent getting over the damage done.
Unfortunately I do not believe it brings happiness to do that to a child and sadly both of my brothers have died from substance abuse related illnesses (not the same substance), so something went wrong in their lives really.
I don't resent my parents but it makes me very cautious, happiness above all is the most important thing, not achievement.

columngollum Wed 18-Dec-13 16:06:58

Framey, you could join me in a brand new thread on your subject. It's interesting.

Galena Wed 18-Dec-13 16:34:47

I'm not denying that hot-housing happens. Of course it does and it isn't healthy when it does. However, I would also say that not every child who reads early has been hot-housed.

I agree that the child's happiness is paramount. DD is happiest when she is reading. So should I stop her from reading to avoid accusations of hot-housing, or should I allow her to read, and provide reading material at her level, to allow her to be happy?

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