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to think not aiming to progress in reading levels is unacceptable?

(26 Posts)
vvviola Wed 19-Mar-14 06:27:01

(Usual disclaimer of: not in UK so terms/academic year/systems are a bit different.)

We're about half way through first term of the school year. DD is 6.5 and in year 2. She's in a mixed year 1 and 2 class. She and her friend are in the top reading group.

Today at parent/teacher meeting (which are styled as a 'learning conversation' and the pupil is present for all of it). We were told that DD had reached the level expected for the end of the school year. But that they did not intend progressing up the levels at all this year.

I can understand that they want to work on some other reading skills (intonation, comprehension etc) and not rush up through the levels just for the sake of it, but it seems wrong that they are saying now with 9 months to go in the academic year, that they do not intend going up any levels at all.

It is only DD and her friend who are at this level and it strikes me a little as though they want to try to give the others a chance to catch up.

AIBtotallyU to find it a bit odd and to be disappointed that the teacher (who otherwise seems to be excellent, although I am a little unhappy at her being in a mixed 1 & 2 class this year as she was in a mixed class last year also) seems to be unwilling to let the two girls progress at all.

lizzzyyliveson Wed 19-Mar-14 06:39:57

What level is she reading on and do the school have enough books at that level to allow your daughter to have a new book each week for the rest of this year? Maybe they don't have any books for younger children at a higher level. I would want to talk to the teacher in charge of literacy about this to get a perspective on the school's reasons.

Bonsoir Wed 19-Mar-14 06:41:48

I think that if you are used to the concept of all DC being encouraged to progress in reading at their own individual pace it can be immensely frustrating to find your DC in a class where homogeneity of the class and taking all DC forward together is the priority.

My DD is at a French school which didn't push the DC forward individually in reading. Indeed, at some points I have had the distinct impression that DD was being asked to tread water, in both languages (bilingual school).

IMO there is no point fighting the school: you just need to ensure your DC are in a super-rich language environment at home.

FWIW my DD is now in Y5, a great reader with a huge vocabulary and doing very well indeed. This is not entirely down to the policy and actions of the school <understatement> but DC whose parents followed school policy are mostly underperforming.

Finola1step Wed 19-Mar-14 07:22:10

I think the school's position is wrong. But I doubt you will change it. There is nothing to stop you using the next few months to broaden your dd's reading experiences. Lots of trips to the library, introduce her to the children's versions of Dickens and Shakespeare. Encourage her to make her own books. Reading at school is only one part of the process and it sounds like that this year you will have to compensate for their lack of interest. But in the long run, this could be a good thing.

vvviola Wed 19-Mar-14 07:27:30

lizzzyy this is probably the best description of the level she is at now
www.minedu.govt.nz/Parents/YourChild/ProgressAndAchievement/NationalStandards/Introduction/SupportingYourChildsLearning/After2YearsAtSchool.aspx

I can't see how they wouldn't have suitable material to allow her to progres eventually (btw I have absolutely no issue with taking things slower at this level to allow work on deeper comprehension etc). She wasn't in the top reading group last year, so some of the kids in the other classes are surely at the same level or higher. And if they have material for the year 3s (some of whom were in her class last year and are only 4 or 5 months older) surely they have material suitable for her.

Bonsoir - I think what is particularly frustrating is that they make a big deal of letting every child work at their own level (particularly when I and DD's friend's mother expressed concern about them spending 2 years in a mixed class, with some very young year 1s), and then they seem to be holding them back.

NoodleOodle Wed 19-Mar-14 07:31:57

Time to get a little 'pushy parent' and try to get at least something like support from the school in what you want for your DD - progress?

YANBU

Essiebee Wed 19-Mar-14 07:33:02

What is your daughter's reading age compared to her chronological age (6.5) and what is the difference? It may be that she needs to read more at that level to develop her comprehension and fluency; it would be very unusual for a school to hold a child back deliberately if she is reading fluently. There are only four months left in the academic year; the SATs and other tests will give an indication of her progress in relation to her age and ability.

Mothergothel99 Wed 19-Mar-14 07:37:00

Yanbu, we have exactly the same problems with our school. Just have to bypass them and do it at home.
I do go in and ask for harder books as I find it annoying that the think they should all move at the same speed.

legspinner Wed 19-Mar-14 07:44:14

vvviola, I'd ask the teacher to explain what exactly she meant by that and why - surely the thing about composite classes (which all my DCs went through as well, including a year 2/3/4 class - nightmare for the teacher) is that there is a wide range of abilities and each reading group will have material appropriate for their level to challenge them. This seemed to work well in my DCs' primary (I am in the same country as you). If you can't get a sensible answer then I would suggest what others have done - challenge your DD's reading at home.

BTW I think that the govt's obsession with national standards is probably not helping...

vvviola Wed 19-Mar-14 07:52:34

Essiebee - her reading age is over 7 (she has reached - quite a while ago - the level aimed at for '2 years at school' and we start school the day after the 5th birthday here). So she's about 6 months ahead. That's fine, I'm pleased with that. But they are saying they won't move her ahead in reading levels for the next 9 months (which is the end of school year here), which is what I am finding a bit unreasonable.

We already do a lot of library visits and literacy work at home, not intentionally, but because I can't survive without at least one visit a week to the library, so the DC come with me, and the library is very good and welcoming to kids so they love going. And I adore reading and enjoy sharing the classics with DD (although, we've been sticking to reading Mary Poppins and Swallows and Amazons etc, I'm currently re-reading Romeo and Juliet with the help of a study guide, and am discovering so much smut in it that I'm not sure how any Shakespeare could be made suitable for a 6 year old!)

Bonsoir Wed 19-Mar-14 08:19:06

TBH fighting a school system in a country that is not your own is a losing wicket in which you will expend a great deal of energy for no result. You have to learn to distance yourself from it and fill in the gaps in your DC's education that you deem necessary.

vvviola Wed 19-Mar-14 09:36:48

Yes, I suppose you have a point Bonsoir (which reminds me I had promised to let you know about the differences between here & the Belgian system). I think what bugs me the most is that the system claims not to do this.

I really am reluctant to be a pushy parent about this. The teacher seems otherwise excellent, and I'm by nature not a confrontational person. Perhaps I'll talk to DD's friend's Mum & see what she thinks.

treadheavily Wed 19-Mar-14 09:44:23

Reading age above 7 in Year 2 is very average; I don't think she needs special attention, just continue to do the school readers, poetry etc and keep taking her to the library. If she is motivated, she will progress perfectly well.

And maybe check in again with the teacher because it doesn't sound quite right, possibly there has been a miscommunication. It is more usual for a primary class to be split into up to 6 reading groups and, at year 2, for the span to be beginner through to reading age 9.

Bonsoir Wed 19-Mar-14 09:45:11

Carry on telling me about the NZ system! Very interesting - DD's English teacher this year is from NZ and I would like to gain some insight into where she is coming from...

vvviola Wed 19-Mar-14 10:01:54

Treadheavily - I'm not asking for special attention at all, just confused as to why there would be a plan to not move her (plus the other girl) up levels if necessary.

(Are you referring to UK year 2? I think our year 2 is the equivalent of y1 in the UK as we don't have a Reception year - and both systems are alien to me, as I'm Irish)

There's no confusion. The other girls mother said the same was said to her regarding her daughter. We just didn't get a chance to discuss it further. She is definitely in the top group in her class (not necessarily the year, there are a few Y2 classes) and is already at the target for the year - which appears, I think, to be why there is no "goal" to progress.

vvviola Wed 19-Mar-14 10:11:15

Tangent alert smile ...
Bonsoir - in many ways the NZ system is great. Huge emphasis on outdoors, sport, working on fine and gross motor skills. Lots of small group work. Relatively casual but still formal enough when needed. Relatively gentle approach to academics, but also a gentle start into it as opposed to the sudden leap at the start of Primaire that we were promised.

A huge huge difference in facilities between the school here and the maternelle she was at (but admittedly it's a bit apples & oranges - city centre maternelle between one very good area and one poorer area, compared with relatively well-off suburban school).

Bonsoir Wed 19-Mar-14 10:13:15

In France it's the same - if you hit the target for your year group and get 20/20 in everything the teacher considers his/her job done. DC just have to sit out the year (or skip a year and move up a class).

BlackeyedSusan Wed 19-Mar-14 10:28:46

possibly put it in writing in email for asking for clarification as the information you have states that all children will be progressed.

ask what skills they will be teaching her.

BarbarianMum Wed 19-Mar-14 10:35:57

The nice thing about reading is that you can just supply the books yourselves. IME the time they actually spend reading their 'reading' books at school is tiny, compared to the general reading they do the rest of the time.

It is perfectly possible for your dd to progress by reading widely regardless of whether they put her up another book band. Progress is still progress, whether this teachers notes it or not, so don't worry about it.

Interestingly, I have just told agreed w ds1's teacher that he won't be going up any more book bands for the rest of the year cause he'd just be missing too much good stuff along the way.

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Wed 19-Mar-14 11:33:22

I've got a similar/but different issue in that our school is following RWI phonics approach, so in theory its important that they learn the phonetic skills before getting books with those skills in.

My daughter is in top-group (low ability area) in reception and hasn't yet learnt "magic e", yes I do know its not called that anymore. Yet because she is a good reader she is being sent home with a higher book band. Of course it contains phonetic skills she hasn't been taught yet.

She can do everything she's been taught fantastically, but what point is it giving her "harder" books if they've not taught those sounds yet (not on that phase of phonics even in the top group).

I'm torn between just telling her the words/teaching her myself (but love the way she's learning at school, she's flying so don't know if I want to interfere) and asking school to teach her the extra sounds...

As per op title - the rest of her term presumably will be going through "purple" RML/RWI books which she can already read. I want them to progress her in terms of teaching her more than one sound a week so that I can happily let her read at home.

I'm not up in arms about it but its on my mind, so noticed the thread title!

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Wed 19-Mar-14 11:34:20

I mean she's going through "purple" books at school but being sent home with book band 4 (so not massively high, but she's the only one in reception). BUt the bb4 books have words she's not able to decode yet!

vvviola Wed 19-Mar-14 18:46:39

BarbarianMum - yes, I think that may be the approach I need to take now that I've slept on it. We'll keep doing the library trips, introduce her to lots of different genres, keep reading to her and just let her develop her reading herself. If she starts talking about the school books being too easy, then I might have another word with the teacher.

I suppose I was just disappointed that "work at their own level" actually meant "work at their own level up as far as the target and then no further". I don't know how they would deal with truly advanced readers.

psynl Thu 20-Mar-14 00:33:57

If your daughter can read and read well I can't see why her school rated level is of any consequence really. just keep her reading and get her to read a wide source of authors.
If she finds the school work easy then good, the worst thing that'll happen is she might get some books and tasks that are below her level, and she'll probably stay ahead of the curve forever more.

vvviola Thu 20-Mar-14 02:51:54

Or, if she finds school work easy she could get bored and switch off (I know, I've been there).

She's not a completely fluent reader. She's a good reader for a 6/7 year old. But she is by no means a perfectly fluent reader. She needs challenging and encouraging just as much as the children in the class who are currently below target. Just because she has already ticked a box in their 'reached national standards' section doesn't mean she doesn't need to be challenged still.

In any case, after talking to the other mother involved, I think I'll just keep on doing what we've been doing at home and if the school books are too easy then just challenge her ourselves at home. The teacher really seems to be excellent in every other way, so I'm not going to make a fuss just yet anyway.

indigo18 Thu 20-Mar-14 09:04:14

Definitely carry on at home; loads of books for her to read and keep up your reading to her as well. She will progress even if school is not registering the improvement. She will zap through her school reader but no matter, she has more challenging stuff at home and her skills will lead to fast progress in her other subjects. Ds was a prolific reader and allowed to free read at school ( tho he rejected anything with fairies or princesses) and ended yr 2 with a reading age of 12+, so being a few months ahead of chronological age is probably average and it is surprising schoolare not encouraging her to move on.

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