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As a parent, how would you react to this?

(104 Posts)
eflabb Thu 04-Sep-08 18:20:51

Bit of a long story, but we have just returned from abroad and started my son in Year 1. Where we lived (don't want to say the country name because of school identifying us), primary doesn't start until 7, so my husband taught my son to read, write etc at home. He is also bi-lingual. My husband is a retired ex-teacher.

He has done extraordinarily well and is reading ORT 10 books now, with little difficulty. Comprehension is excellent. He is a real little book worm. I spoke to his UK school about this before we came over and was told by one of the teachers that she personally wouldn't countenance Reception children reading above Level 5 during the Reception year. I comforted myself with the fact that she wouldn't be teaching him, and he started school this week.

On the first day, I was called in by his teacher to a meeting with her and this other teacher. To cut a long story short they wanted to take issue with me claiming that he could read level 10 books. His reading was, quote "all over the place." There were "large gaps in his reading" and "I mean (she laughed and threw her hands up in amazement) he couldn't even understand what a title was." He had, according to this woman, been "sped through the levels" by us to a very advanced level that she claimed he could not function at. And approaching unknown words by sounding them out was apparently "not appropriate" at this level. She apparently felt "sooooooo sorry for him being tested in this way."

Her tone was very dismissive and sarcastic (but lots of smiling at the same time).

Suffice to say, she would now start him on Level 6 (note her position on children only being able to reach Level 5 during Reception, so the way I see it, she is positioning him according to her set ideas as to the levels children can achieve during a particular year).

When we got home he read his school book in about 2 minutes flat and told me how great school was going to be because he can do it all.

I've had my head in my hands over this. My husband just stared at me in disbelief when I first told him and got on the net to check out other schools (which all seem to be full now).

What do we do?

Tortington Thu 04-Sep-08 18:23:56

tell her you disagree - your husband being an ex teacher should help

he should know how to better handle teachery type smarminess.

or kick her in fanjo

cornsilk Thu 04-Sep-08 18:26:03

yes kick her in the fanjo. Silly mare.

stripeymama Thu 04-Sep-08 18:32:05

Are you sure she does not have a point?

I can't see why she'd say it, backed up by another teacher, if not.

TheCrackFox Thu 04-Sep-08 18:32:28

Clutching at straws here, but perhaps your DS is only confident with reading to you or your DH.

Earlybird Thu 04-Sep-08 18:32:37

You lot are so helpful. hmm wink

Tell us more about the school, and how/why you chose it.
Was your ds assessed for entry?

harpomarx Thu 04-Sep-08 18:33:57

how on earth can they claim to know what he is capable of on the first day???

he has just moved from a different country, to a new school and already they think they know him??

I would smile and nod for a bit - if your son really can read as well as you say (not doubting you for a minute) I'm sure that will become apparent very soon and you can tackle it in a different way.

amazed at their attitude though, how bizarre that they would give you a dressing down like this...

stripeymama Thu 04-Sep-08 18:34:22

Not being snippy, just think its very odd for her to do it for any reason other than genuine concern.

Is your husband trained as a UK teacher? How long ago? Is it possible that the teaching of reading has changed since then?

eflabb Thu 04-Sep-08 18:34:58

I did tell her I disagreed, but was smarmed and smarmed at. I was very aware that my son was listening (sitting on the seat next to us), so tried to remain diplomatic! Thing is, she kept mentioning the reading that they claimed that they had listened to from him, and as I wasn't there, I couldn't really comment. I could only tell them our view of his reading. My husband's only comment was "forget that."

belgo Thu 04-Sep-08 18:36:19

that's awful, that she said all of that with your son sat next to you. I agree, I don't know how they would know so much about him after just one day at school.

herbietea Thu 04-Sep-08 18:37:20

Message withdrawn

Anna8888 Thu 04-Sep-08 18:37:47

You go with the school.

No school is perfect. No school will be able to bend itself to meet the precise needs of any one child.

Reassess at half-term, when the school and your child have really had the opportunity to get to know one another. Stay at arm's length until then.

LynetteScavo Thu 04-Sep-08 18:38:00

I've purposely not read the whole thread before replying to OP.

Sadly if you send you child to school in this country you have to accept that they are going to have to "conform".

His teacher sounds like a cow, but you have to see the bigger picture here.

Be happy that you DS is only on level 6 and is skipping though his homework - this gives him much more time to read interesting books, lol!

I did my best to leave teaching my DS1 to read to the school, as I was terrified he would be bored at school other wise. He too was on level 6 at the end of year one, but could have been higher.

It wasn't untill year 3 that he was pprovided with apropriate reading material for his age by the school, but he was learning so much "other stuff" that I wasan't too bothered, adn just visited the library at lot!

I'd say if you like the school overall, and your DS is happy there, don't panic; other schools probably wont' have too much of a different attited.

Sorry about my dis jointed post, blush

am being jumped on!

dramaqueen Thu 04-Sep-08 18:38:04

There is something to be said for taking your time when developing reading. There is more to reading than just being able to read the words. Understaing grammar, sentence / paragraph construction etc all develop alongside reading, with the different levels being used to develop this understanding.

Perhaps she thinks that your ds has not grasped some of this. Maybe some of what she has to say is valid?

Romy7 Thu 04-Sep-08 18:40:43

i left it for half a term and gritted my teeth whilst they waded through ORT 1 in reception (ds1 taught himself to read before school - we would smile whilst he leafed through the 'school' reading and then listen whilst he read us a different story from the bookshelf lol) - i then just asked if they could actually sit with him and go through it all until they sorted out an appropriate level to start at - it was a bit laughable... they started him on level 5 in the end, at the beginning of the magic key series because otherwise he would miss the beginning of the stories that explained the key and adventures etc... that was fine tbh, and he just chose books from the library that he fancied. at our school they just check them off in order, so as long as you are happy and have signed off the reading book then they get the next one... not sure where he finished year r actually, but there were definitely a fair few other kids atarting at level 10 or above at the beginning of yr 1 last year, and we had a few 'free readers' at the beginning of year 2 that had exhausted the schemes, so it's not that unusual i wouldn't have thought...

maybe let it lie for a week or two and hope that she gets to know ds a little better? maybe he was a bit shy or hesitant when they were reading with him, being new and a bit nervous?

she does sound like a disagreeable old bag though - and i do agree that letting dh loose after a week or two would be the best course of action, but maybe play smiley mummy in the interim to catch her off her guard? grin

pooka Thu 04-Sep-08 18:44:11

The title thing intrigues me. DD is about to start Yr1 and she is no way reading ORT 10. I have noticed that since she started reception a fair amount of what was involved was learning the theory of books. So every book has a title. The title is on the front page. Also every book is written. Name of author on the front. About indexes for non-fiction. About looking at pictures on the page for clues about what the text will be saying. And so on.

It seems to me that the teachers are being incredibly snotty about the fact that your ds is reading at a level higher than tehy would expect, perhaps partly because he may have missed the reading theory bits.

I would say that while I knew that dd could read at a higher level and mentioned this to the teacher, her teacher at reception said that she was actually keen that all her pupils read at a level at which they were comfortable; that if dd had to sound out words frequently, then the level was pitched too high for her and that they wanted to avoid children finding reading to be a chore rather than a thing of pleasure.

I'm not suggesting that this is the case for your ds at all; simply trying to explain (though not excuse the tone or means of talking to you) the way reading seemed to be taught in reception at dd's school. Can't speak for yr 1 yet as dd not back until monday.

eflabb Thu 04-Sep-08 18:45:46

Its not only what was said, it was how it was said (and with him there). It made me worry whether or not that's how he would be spoken to at school. I was really perplexed by all the hands raised, amusement, laughing and "sooooooooooo" comments. The other teacher didn't say much at all, just kept nodding.

Yep, husband used to be a UK primary teacher.

Trafficcone Thu 04-Sep-08 18:48:59

Well she's right about there being gaps in his learning if he didn't know what a title was, so there is clearly some sense in what she is saying.
Personally I wouldn't ever send any child of mine to a school that did 'levels' on books and I worry about your insistence that your son is on a certain level.
It's not a contest! It's about a full and rounded education and that includes a child of six being able to explain how books work, chapter, title, paragraph etc than him just reading the story.
Literacy is 1 hour of a 6 hour school day and he can read what he likes at home so is it really worth falling out with the teacher over?

Niecie Thu 04-Sep-08 18:50:48

I haven't read all the other replies but I think that if your DS is a confident reader and if you give both him and the school a chance to get to know each other so an accurate assessment can be made by them, then you DS should move through the levels pretty quickly and will be up to level 10 in no time.

I appreciate that you are frustrated and I am sure your son is just as capable as you say but the teacher will be faced with several parents who will have over estimated the capabilities of their child and are trying to push them on before they are ready.

However, I do think the teacher could have handled it a bit more tactfully than she did. She sounds a bit unprofessional to me.

Give it a few weeks and if they aren't moving him forward onto the next level then speak to them again but it isn't a race and there is more to school than reading so a couple of weeks here and there won't make a difference in the long run.

pointydog Thu 04-Sep-08 18:52:17

I agree with anna

Lilymaid Thu 04-Sep-08 18:54:53

Sounds pretty standard by my experience. DS1 changed schools between reception and Y1 and new teacher was worried that his reading was in advance of his writing skills so DS1 had to read less advanced books from a new (to him) reading scheme. DS2 moved schools (yet another school) towards end of Y1 and had been on ORT 5 but was told that his reading was all wrong and that he had to start right back at the beginning with books without any words! On that occasion I decided that it would be a good idea to carry on ORT (which he enjoyed) and bought them and he read them with me at home (without any noticeable problems)whilst also going through the tatty old and incredibly dull books the school then offered.

jimjamshaslefttheyurt Thu 04-Sep-08 18:55:45

HOw weird. DS2 left reception reading at higher ORT levels. It may have been ORT 10 I can't remember, but reading just clicked for him and once he started reading he could just read. He has learned things like titles, and sentences and full stops etc, but he didn't have to know those before he moved on in his reading books.

I wouldn't be happy with this teaching approach or teacher. Children should be able to move through reading levels at a speed appropriate for them-- whether that means they leave reception on level 1 or having read all the ORT scheme. There is a huge variation at the end of reception. Some children are very good at decoding and visual memory for words and have good phonic memories, others don't. I really think a one size fits all approach doesn't work for reading.

As for what you can do about it? I don't know. It's very different from the approach ds2's school takes. How frustrating - and I'd be livid about the teacher's tone.

eflabb Thu 04-Sep-08 18:56:27

He does understand what a title is, believe me! He'll even go so far as to look for the author's name and tell us the price! She claimed that he was trying to read the book upside down and back to front??? [hmmm]

We only started on the ORT books because my husband realised that that was what they'd be reading in Reception in the UK.

Romy7 Thu 04-Sep-08 19:02:34

did she read with the right child? hmm
did they have two new boys? grin

actually we did have a similar experience with dd1 now i come to think about it - she did primary 1 (yr r) in scotland (no ort) and then started in england in yr 1. i had asked which reading scheme they used so that we could familiarise with the books for when we moved and asked what level she should be at when she started yr 1, and i was told level 1+ or level 2... i had no idea what they were so ordered a pack of level 1 and level 2 off amazon to have a look... dd1 asked me if i'd bought new books for her brother...
she was still a free reader by yr 2 despite the school's expectations, so i guess all schools work it out in the end, given time...

Twiglett Thu 04-Sep-08 19:05:33

Well if he's as good a reader as you believe him to be he will continue to read for pleasure surely .. does it matter where the school want to start him off?

They have obviously got their backs up over your insistence that DS is a certain level, when you enroll a child in a UK school you normally leave it up to teacher assessments to discover what level the child is at rather than dictate to the school that child x can do a, b and c.

You have obviously got your back up over their clumsy attempt to tell you that they believe your child is at a different level. Maybe they're wrong, maybe they're right. It really doesn't matter to be honest.

If both sides stop bristling and give the child a chance to settle down into his new school and form friendships and learn the protocols then you can talk again at the end of the half-term.

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