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Advice re Extension Work

(6 Posts)
wandymum Wed 15-May-13 12:13:01

My DS is in reception. He is very happy at school - which is the most important thing.

However, they don't seem to have much of a plan in place for him. Not G&T (not sure who labels them - are they tested or do schools decide?) but the school have told me that he is reading beyond the level of any of the other children there (they go up to Y3).

He had ORT books for a while to make sure he was understanding what he was reading but does seem to - reads with emotion when reading aloud, understands punctuation, can predict what might happen next, talk about how characters feel etc...

So now they just let him pick books he likes from the library and seem to have stopped monitoring his reading altogether. They never seem to listen to him read and aren't checking what books he is reading as he keeps coming home with some of his favourites again and again. When the rest of his class work in reading groups - he reads alone.

If he were only a little ahead this would be fine, but they are saying he reads better than the Y3s so we could be facing another 3 years of this - it worries me that he is being left to his own devices so much.

Also the more they just leave him to read (he tends to pick non-fiction, mainly science and history) the more the gap between him and the class is widening in terms of general knowledge too as he remembers everything he reads.

He is also good at maths but not extraordinary so, and the school deal with this better since the range of ability across the class seems to be wider so they all have slightly different work anyway. His writing is fairly scruffy but his spelling and punctuation is apparently also ahead of what they expect in YR.

They have a teacher and TA for 20 children so I appreciate they can't teach each child individually but would also like to find a way for DS to be involved with the work the others are doing but at his own level.

AlienAttack Wed 15-May-13 19:10:10

Is it a really small school? I'm really surprised that a school would say a reception child is "reading better than the Y3s". This comment suggests an assumption that all Y3s are reading at the same level and that they don't see the usual spread in reading ability in KS1 which, in my experience, most primary schools are dealing with year in year out. At my DD's school, the variation in reception reading levels was at least 3 years and they were perfectly able to cope with differentiating for each child.

FriendlyLadybird Wed 15-May-13 22:08:56

He's only in Reception. The 'gap' between his current reading level and that of most of the rest of the class will be closing rapidly, as will the general knowledge gap, if such a thing exists -- children develop different interests and therefore have different knowledge. Also, to be honest, reading doesn't take up that much of the school day. It's fine for him to be left to his own devices. You could try to suggest he reads a bit more fiction at home but, from my observation, its not uncommon for some children, particularly boys, to be more interested in non-fiction for a while. My DS only really started reading fiction for pleasure in Y4.

inthesark Thu 16-May-13 16:11:19

The levelling out may happen, but it may not. It can also go the other way, a bright child can steam ahead even faster. DD was reading fluently in Reception, but her reading age has gone up at least two years since the start of Yr 1 (as tested by school), so the gap is actually widening.

It's pretty near impossible, I think, to square the circle of him working with his classmates for reading, and getting work at his level. Given that he will still be doing a lot of stuff as part of the class, I would be very happy that the school are extending him for his reading. There will be a lot of topic work where he can add on to the classroom work - i.e. by taking a book home where other children just talk about it. DD's school would order in books for her based around what they were doing that half term and it worked really well.

wandymum Thu 16-May-13 18:39:06

Thanks. Good point about Y3 reading range. They say he has a 'reading age' of 11 not sure what they base that on though. But I assume some Y3 kids may do too.

Re the general knowledge it's partly geekiness too but he can tell you all about the big bang, history of London, how an engine works, parts of a plant, human immune system, phases of the moon, the Romans ... These are just a few examples from the books he's been reading recently.

It is a private pre-prep so quite small which is why we chose it but not sure we made the right choice.

totallyrandom Fri 17-May-13 09:59:45

Will caveat the below by saying am just a mum and not a teacher, but can tell you how my DD's independent school deals with this kind of thing. She is at nursery at a "prep" (2 1/2-11) and was labelled gifted across the curriculum by the school (to be honest I don't really know what that actually means but like your DS she reads well and has a certain level of maturity beyond her years and an outstanding memory). The school have an inclusion coordinator who liaises with the teachers to make sure each child makes progress and is challenged appropriately (that includes very able children and children with SEN). Her school although independent is Ofsted monitored and wants to keep its outstanding rating. She has made great progress at this school and is very happy.

Was your DS reading very well when he started reception or did he really take off very quickly whilst at this school? Because if it is more the latter, then I think they must be doing something right and maybe they just aren't communicating properly with you.

Have you spoken to your DS' teacher and/or the head teacher about this? Have you asked about how they deal with gifted/"highly able" children in the school? It sounds to me that they should have an individual education plan in place for your DS as he is so far ahead in some areas (like getting special books in for him as suggested by a poster above). In your position, I would have a chat with the head now to make sure Y1 teacher has a plan in place for your DS.
I think every child in reception should get some one to one reading time every week (no matter what level they are at as there is always scope for improvement). For example, with your DS they could just do a bit of one to one reading and then spend time discussing the text with him so he can write about it. My DD's teacher says that talking about the texts (eg summarising it) is invaluable for later writing skills. Doesn't he have a reading book where they write down what he is reading and put little comments in it each week? Also, don't they give him homework based on the text he is reading? e.g. write a paragraph about X machine if that is his interest. My DD's school do this from nursery. If he isn't reading any fiction, then I would have thought that they should be encouraging that once in a while too. I thought they are supposed to be reading all types of "texts". If he is reading at X level, then that is where they should be extending him just like all the other children. Surely most "independents" sell themselves as educating the individual child and being able to do so due to smaller class sizes.
In a rush, so this is a bit of a ramble...

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