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Ds reading and spelling.School too easy, what can I do to help?

(43 Posts)
thepiedpiper Sat 03-Sep-11 09:39:15

My Ds has been reading since he started school. He loves reading and does lots of it, but I feel he is just left to choose books at school which he reads mostly at home and isn't being challenged at all.
Same with his spellings, he is working through a spelling book and can spell the words and knows what they mean instantly, surely he should be being challenged more than this?
I would like to help but what can I do? I don't want to charge into school accusing them of not doing their job properly.

ptiger Sat 03-Sep-11 14:21:21

You don't say what year he is. Don't charge, but do go in and talk to his teacher. Is he only good at literacy? They may say thats why, they aren't giving him anything else. They want to bring him up to the same level in everything. The teachers should have targets for the children once they get to know them and they should be able to tell you those by the time you have the first parents evening.

DS was the same. I just let him read whatever he wanted at home. He has an older sister so she had books around which he read and she would tell him about what she was learning at school. We went to the library and he would get out books that interested him.

See how it goes this term, but you do need to feel happy with what is going on.

blackeyedsusan Sat 03-Sep-11 15:59:13

at home you could find related spellings, ie spellings with the same pattern, or other words with a soimilar meaning.. eg, given said to spell and you also learn shouted/whispered/grumbled, etc and this will help the quality of his writing too.

lovecheese Sat 03-Sep-11 20:44:56

How about using the spellings to make interesting sentences or stories? Did this with DD2 even though it wasn't expected of her.

When you say he is working through a spelling book is it from school? hmm.

Part of me thought with DD that, yes, she was good at spelling, and should we just enjoy that and not push her on? Spelling is important - I am a bit of a stickler myself - but 'tis only a small part of the whole literacy shebang.

Re: the reading - I would go in and in a friendly way say "DS has been reading X,Y and Z at home and is not enjoying the school books..." and leave the ball in their court.

thepiedpiper Sun 04-Sep-11 09:34:40

He is in year 3 and I do ask him to make sentences with the spelling words just to make sure he understands the meanings. Yes the spelling book is one he works on at school, he just brings the list of words home to practice.

Plonker Sun 04-Sep-11 09:42:59

Why not just do the school ones as expected of him, and then provide some extension work/more difficult work yourself?

shezzle Mon 12-Sep-11 13:10:11

My 5 year old dd2 is having the same experience at school, as far as the reading goes once they can already read really well and independently I honestly do not think it matters what reading book they bring home. We just use the school as a library to borrow whatever dd2 chooses now. The main thing is to show the teacher examples of what your child is actually choosing to read at home so she can assess properly and not just on school book choices. We go to our local library once a week too to choose our real reading material, fiction, non fiction poetry whatever dd2 likes.

I do think the spellings and writing should be more challenging and dd2's teacher made sure of this after realising things were too easy for her, kids need a sense of achievement and like to move on to different levels of things. I did explain to dd2 that the reading band at school didn't matter as she has surpassed it and her teacher also said the same thing. We used to be called free readers at school if we could read independently. That's what I told my dd2 smile

wendmc Fri 16-Sep-11 12:05:06

so pleased to find this thread! My child has been identified as being gifted in literacy and they're still deciding about her mathematical ability. she came home yesterday with lists of spellings for the next half term to learn week by week. within 5 mins she knew all the spellings on the list. her reading books are also not stretching her (she's year 1 and on purple books but finding these v. easy). At home she's reading proper novels and loving them (Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl etc.). Finding it very frustrating TBH that school are not going at her ability..

blackeyedsusan Mon 26-Sep-11 18:32:59

wendmc purple books are a fair way on...compared to the flippin' red books dd has and iritate me but dd seems to enjoy

how is she with the comprehension type questions? the what do you think happens next? what are the characters feeling? why do you think the characters feel... retelling the story. these books are quite useful for these skills. <tries to be positive> you get to a point though where you need more story to discuss. does she read non fiction/poetry too?

how does the book changing thing work at you school? when did she get "identified" has the teacher told you what she needs to work on?

also, I am nosy about what she does in maths.

iggly2 Mon 26-Sep-11 19:42:51

I agree with "plonker" . Can you not find your own spellings?

I do the useful ones, eg: happy, birthday, thank, present, party, ...the calander months, days of week, seasons...etc.

I do not work to any pattern I just add 6-10 spellings that will make MY life easier if he can spell them grin.

When it comes to reading he does his class book read out loud (quickly) to someone then he is allowed to choose a school library book/home book etc and he reads this in his head for enjoyment.

iggly2 Mon 26-Sep-11 19:45:05

Books from school maybe for group reading and discussion so as long as there is enough there to discuss (which does not seem to be in your case Blackeyedsusan) does it matter?

blackeyedsusan Mon 26-Sep-11 23:14:42

in our case, dd went to school reading yellow band books. school had a meeting about how they would be given word games to start so they could learn a bank of words and when they knew a few they would be given a book. i casually asked how many words they needed to know before a book. (was told 5 or 6 word games, not answering the question) (dd could read the first 100 list +others 4 months previously) children are all put onto pink band books and then have to read through them all we have just had the 26th red band book today. (last on the list)

in the mean time, I have got on and taught her to read. she was rreading white band books at the end of reception, reading non fiction books, using contents etc, finding information and answering simple questions we have worked a lot on the comprehension type questions, and she is answering them reasonably enough. there is always more worrk to do on this though as they gain a greater understanding, and she is still quite young yet to work some of this out. i have also got plenty of scope to tackle reading phonetically as she is a whole word and guess wildly at something she doesn't know. it does not help that my teaching is undermined by school telling her to use the picture clues....

to me it does not matter whether her school book is hard or easy, other than I don't want her thinking school is easy. it is not so likely as she struggles with hypermobile joints, that makes holding a pencil difficult, hence writing is hard worrk.

dd was absent when the last set of words came out, so I thought.. and she wanted words for her envelope, so she got words, from flat stanley, words like approximately, summoned, recalled, startled... I was going to take them out for thursday... but words were done today...so I do not know what they thought. (probably, "one of those mothers)

maths is being collected tomorrrow, and we have extended the activity... quite a bit. (definately one of those mothers)

iggly2 Mon 26-Sep-11 23:57:54

I genuinely feel that if children want to learn spellings it will only take them a few attempts (look at all the other amazingly complex things young children are learning all the time) it will not be that much more difficult to teach them a 4 or a 9 lettered word if they find spelling interesting. Therefore all spellings will be easy, so where is the limit?

DS has a small class they differentiate maths homeworks for him..... still too easy in somecases... but, as a lot of the time I get it wrong how can I expect them to!

Is your dd unhappy at school?

Avocets Tue 27-Sep-11 18:21:04

I suspect that if children have a natural flair for literacy, in most cases spelling comes naturally too, probably simply as a product of lots of reading for enjoyment. I don't remember ever looking at a spelling list with my eldest - she just seemed to know how to spell, as if by osmosis, and the more she read, the more complex and enjoyable her writing became. When she was 12 she wrote and word processed her first "chapter book" as a Christmas present for her little sister (who by comparison slipped completely under the spelling radar as i had been lulled into a false sense of security...).

Nowadays, however, reading and writing seems to have taken a (hopefully temporary) back seat to e.g. Changing her profile picture on Facebook. Hmmm.

kistigger Fri 30-Sep-11 12:44:59

thepiedpiper - I can completely understand your frustration!

I'm in this child not being challenged stage too. DD2 is now in year 1. I had hoped that now we were out of reception we would get cracking with work her level... but nothing so far. She is finding her ORT level 8 books too easy yet they don't seem to move her on a level. Her 'guided reading' sessions are with the top children from her class, however she is at least two levels above the next highest reader so says the sessions are too easy (making them a complete waste of time). Her comprehension is generally good because her vocabulary is enormous, it's only new concepts she needs explaining (such as chauffeur and butler in her her last book)!! She knows by sight all the key words for reception, Y1/2 and Y3/4. She knows most of the phonics sounds, so although we could work on the last couple that she invariably forgets, she does work out most words she doesn't yet know, we've taken to teaching her other rules (like the sound of c when it has an e after it, and about prefixes and suffixes). She knew half of this terms spelling list already so did not have to learn them. Her last maths homework was to add 1 or 2 onto numbers up to 10 (she is beginning to work at multiplication at home). Her targets for this half term, imo, she completed months ago. DS even told DH how to change something on his iphone that he hadn't noticed and she only gets to play on the thing about once a week for about 10mins!

I know the new teachers are only just getting to know the kids and I understand that they have to have evidence for all the learning but it does get frustrating feeling like you are banging your head against a brick wall!! It's excellent when your teacher acknowledges your child needs extra work and then provides some or some suggestions, infuriating when they seem completely oblivious!!! DD still seems happy at school so at the moment that seems to be my main consolation!

blackeyedsusan Fri 30-Sep-11 22:49:44

kistigger, how quick is she at the add one/add two... can she do them as instant recall? dd has also been doing these for a while, but does benefit from practising getting quicker. try timing her. if she has to write them, time how long it takes.... and record it on the paper... <whistles innocently> may get your homework differentiated a little more anyway

comprehension is more than knowing what the words mean,(though this is good) how is she at the predicting what might happen next, talking about the setting, saying which characters are good/bad and why, saying how characters feel etc. does she read non fiction and poetry at home too? can she retell the story? these are the things that they should be practising in school. maybe the teacher thinks she needs to practise some of these skills (though they should have let you know <eyeroll> )

I would say that the teacher should have a pretty good idea of their ability by now, may be fine tuning the details. if you think she has achieved her targets, ask the teacher to explain them to you so you know if she needs to do more work on them or whether you can extend her.

blackeyedsusan Fri 30-Sep-11 22:59:50

sorry, that sounds unsympathetic.... am trying to look on the positive side... it is less painful than brick walls which gets you nowhere anyway. (can you not see the dimples on my forehead? admittedly, they are fading a bit now)

positive news on dd's homework... she has come home with a sheet with her name on it which i am guessing could be for just a few of the children.. or someone has complained their child has left the homework at school and the teacher is trying to cover her back it is a step up from the first homework she received though.

Iamnotminterested Sat 01-Oct-11 09:16:53

kistigger year 3/4 key words...hmm Do they exist?

blackeyedsusan Sat 01-Oct-11 09:31:57

they were listed in the national literacy strategy, mainly to check that y3+ could spell them. next (i think) came the list of the first 100 words and the next 200 words. so yes they did exist.

Iamnotminterested Sat 01-Oct-11 09:35:06

Oh, ok, didn't think "key" words went beyond year 2. In the last term of year 2 my DD was spelling words with pre-fixes/suffixes/plurals etc.

EdithWeston Sat 01-Oct-11 09:37:08

I'd ignore the spelling - it's actually quite useful to go through a programme (even if too easy right now) as it ensures that all patterns are properly covered. But if you want to do more, then writing sentences using the words is a good exercise, especially if you ask for the set of sentences to make a narrative.

For reading, I think the only thing you can do is encourage a wider range of texts by choosing them together (from home books or your local library).

kistigger Sat 01-Oct-11 14:13:56

blackeyedsusan - she recalls fairly quickly though I'm sure you're right about speeding up being beneficial! In terms of reading she loves poetry and picks those as additional reading from school. The school now have a policy where the children have to read a selection of other books after the ORT fiction before they can complete the level, including non-fiction and poetry (and she came home with 3 non-fiction books yesterday so hoping that may mean they think she is ready to move on!!!). She understands most things, can retell the story and answer various questions about it. But I am quite aware that she doesn't always like to show the teacher she can do it, possibly because her last teacher singled her out so much and she didn't like it so now pretends she can't do things even when she can!!!

blackeyedsusan Tue 04-Oct-11 07:39:06

any news on the reading book kistigger?

I have started writing the other books she reads in the "supplementary books" section for yellow band books, starting with invisible stanley, chapter 7 sort of this is a chapter book so why is she reading yellow band books at school? it could take a while to get noticed. and even if it does it could well be ignored as the previous teacher resolutely stuck to reading through pink banda and pink band b and red band despite her home books getting harder and harder through the year.

Energumene Tue 04-Oct-11 09:50:03

Kistigger, Blackeyedsusan, we've been having the same problem with my DS and his school. He's just started Y1, but the EYU put them in sets for phonics and maths and so they'd reached the end of the pink bands by the time they finished reception.

When he started Y1, they didn't do a complete handover hmm so he got given a stage 2 book the first night. So since then I've been using his reading record to indicate how he finds the books. While they let him stagnate on the yellow books for a while, I changed strategy last week from expecting them to work out for themselves he needed an extra challenge, to simply telling them outright, so over the weekend we got a stage 7 book, and last night he brought home one of the stage 10 Jackdaws books... which he still says is too easy.

So, in essence, I have found that the only way to get more suitable material is to push and state very clearly 'DS says this book was too easy, please give him something harder'. Which I have done again this morning.

*Broke off posting to do school run, and have just been told by my son's form teacher that in light of the books he's reading, she's going to ask whether he can join Y2 for phonics. Is this something you could request?

blackeyedsusan Tue 04-Oct-11 11:20:57

i wrote all the books dd read last year in her reading diary, and the level if known. also wrote a description of how she read it, fluently, expression, using punctuation, being able to answer questions, recording her recount of the stories, EVERY. SINGLE. .PIECE. OF. EVIDENCE. NEEDED. to make a judgment on her reading ability. asked the teacher outright, apparently, she needs to get more of the story from the pictures confused I have even been in to see the head to see how we can improve her confidence to read at school given the difference in her reading material at home and school. asking the school will not work in this case. buit so what. she reads and is taught to read at home. it is the school that will look bloody stupid when ofsted comes in the near future.

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