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Free readers starting Reception

(28 Posts)
MiaSparrow Tue 11-Aug-15 10:54:46

Hi all,

Would love to hear experiences of this. I know much of it will be play-based anyway, but if your LOs went in already reading, how did the school support them? TIA.

greenhill Tue 11-Aug-15 11:26:12

School will still do daily phonics and start them on the reading scheme, usually ORT, until they are confident that they can select their own books from age appropriate sources, with a more extensive and challenging vocabulary.

It's all very well being able to read fluently, they must also be able to get context and inference too. They'll be encouraged to read aloud daily and the teacher will be listening for expression and understanding. Don't forget they'll need to replicate in the classroom what they can do easily at home.

When your child is reading fluently (and reading in their head, rather than aloud) they may get frustrated when they have to prove that they are reading rather than just turning pages, when reading quietly to themselves, so filling in their reading diary with what they are reading at home is useful for teachers and stops frustration in early readers, who are set lower than their abilities.

ReallyTired Tue 11-Aug-15 11:40:17

I hot housed taught one of my children to read before reception and the other wasn't interested. The child who wasn't interested in learning to read learnt in the first six weeks of reception and overtook the hot housed kids. Incidently my non reader is deemed more able by the school. She was more interested in doing handstands and swimming at pre school age. At school she is a good all rounder.

In many ways reception is better for more able children as play based learning can be done at their own pace. Children develop their spoken language, imagination, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, play skills. social skills and knowledge of the world. Learning the routines of school is often more important than whether a child can read in the early days.

Learning to read with expression is important. Its not enough to for a child to be able to blend and segment accurately. They need to understand and take notice of punctuation, know when to breathe. They also have to be able to talk about the story and answer questions correctly. Talking about new vocabulary is important. A child who is sitting in a corner reading a book silently will have no one to explain what a new word means and whether their inference from text is right.

ConcreteElephant Tue 11-Aug-15 11:49:52

My experience matches what Greenhill said.

DD wasn't a totally free reader when she went into Reception last year but she was very advanced for her age. School did all the usual assessment of the class over the first few weeks to see where each child was comfortable, then worked out what differentiation was needed. A few children started on very basic phonics books but most started at a suitable point with ORT - DD and a friend were started at a slightly lower level than they were capable of but the number of books they got at each book change was higher so they moved along quickly. This was to ensure they were covering the material properly, understanding the context etc.

DD and her friend were moved into yr 1 for their literacy classes, where they were both very comfortable in terms of the demands of the work. I felt that school handled DD's enthusiasm for reading and early ability really well, she has developed her skills and is a free reader now as she goes into Yr 1. Obviously her classmates will all 'catch-up' soon and the need for differentiation will change/ disappear but I'm pleased with the school's willingness to manage all the children at the level which suits them. Friends' schools haven't been so accommodating. At DN's school, all the children have been taken up through the levels together!

DD attends a one-form entry school. I don't know if that makes it easier or more difficult to differentiate.

ConcreteElephant Tue 11-Aug-15 11:56:09

In relation to what ReallyTired says - I agree with all those points and I don't let DD read everything in her head. We sit together and she reads to me every day - she's too inexperienced a reader for me to leave her to it. I want to ensure she's getting the pronunciation right, reading with expression, seeing the punctuation etc. Otherwise it's simply decoding, not really reading. It's not a race to the finish, it's about the journey (sorry, I know that sounds wanky!)

simpson Tue 11-Aug-15 12:10:12

DD did not start reception free reading but wasn't far behind and was free reading by Xmas of her reception year.

The school handled it well and let me provide her reading books. She was listened to twice a week (121) and once a week in a small group (guided reading style - admittedly this was several stages below where DD was but she enjoyed it).

She did a more advanced phonics group with an LSA (only her and one other kid). She used to do things like read in front of the whole school in assembly etc which she loved.

She is now about to start yr3 and some of the G&T readers from DD's reception year have now been overtaken and are bang on where they should be. DD remains v strong in reading and is still probably the best in her year group but this I think comes from always having a love of reading not just being good at it iyswim.

NotCitrus Tue 11-Aug-15 12:18:23

Ds's Reception teacher warned that kids who know lots of phonics and can read a bit might complain they have to do phonics "all the time", which means 10-15 minutes a day. Always useful to remember that "always" and "never" from 5yos mean "at least once this did/didn't happen"...

Ds's school had reading books for practicing expression/punctuation/tricky words, but they went to the school library each week and got to choose other books too, and they talk about things they have read.

greenhill Tue 11-Aug-15 12:39:07

It's important to still read aloud with your child, even when they are a free reader, as reallytired says "a child will have no one to explain what a new word means and whether their inference from text is right" if they always read silently to themselves. I read aloud with my 8 yo and 5 yo as they get different things from the same story. The older one is interested in structure and how she'd write her own version now, the younger is interested in motivation and why characters do things.

As concreteelephant says how a school handles enthusiasm for reading and differentiates abilities is the best way to encourage all abilities. Decoding and blending isn't enough. As simpson says a love of reading is vital to progress further, later on. As notcitrus says a school library and their own choice of books keeps discussion ongoing.

A love of reading is a lifelong pleasure smile

LadyPeterWimsey Tue 11-Aug-15 13:23:51

DS started Reception reading chapter books and I said nothing. Within 48 hours the teacher had written in his reading record, asking what books he read at home so she could work with him at an appropriate level at school. Within a short time he was going to Year 1 for literacy work. She was a very good teacher and he never said he was bored because I think she managed to stretch him in the right way.

In fact all four started school free reading and generally have had good teachers who differentiated the work well. One did hate school for the first couple of years because he said it was boring but we moved area and after two days in Year 2 he started loving school - he had a teacher who just 'got' his quirkiness and he never looked back.

LittleMissGreen Tue 11-Aug-15 13:52:13

I think that what a school does depends on their definition of a free reader, as to how they treat a child who is entering as a 'free reader'. In some schools 'free reading' simply means a child can pick whichever book they want from their book band. In a lot of schools it means they have read to the end of lime band and so officially finished the KS1 school reading scheme and can choose library books. In our school they continue the reading scheme up to the end of KS2 books, and although children can choose books to bring home from the library, they never become a 'free reader' as they are always studying the reading scheme books in school to learn the higher level comprehension skills required to achieve level 4+ in the national curriculum (we are in Wales so do still have levels in KS2).
DS1 entered school with a good grasp of phonics and able to read well - Enid Blyton Faraway Tree type books, with understanding, read Harry Potter in reception. But his school which used look and say insisted on making sure he stayed with the rest of the class learning 15 words a week. About 6 weeks before the end of the summer term they 'realised' he could read and sent him home 6 books a night as school policy was he had to read them all before he could move levels. They wanted to get him past lime level...
After moving schools, DS2 learnt to read a bit when he was in the school nursery and when he joined the school proper for the first half term he had one on one lessons with the teacher then they sent him to lessons with the top group in yr 1. We are a small school and being Wales it is foundation phase learning through play to the end of yr2 so a lot of free movement by the younger children to be taught at the level that suits them.
DS3 on the other hand learnt a few phonemes in the school nursery but didn't really learn to blend/read until he started reception. When he suddenly took off the January after he started the school moved him up the book bands as appropriate, and when ready moved him to lessons with year 1.
Our school teach phonics right through to the end of year 6 (separate to reading lessons) so again a child would be moved to the appropriate group. DS3 is currently working a couple of years ahead in his phonics work but only a year ahead in his reading/inference skills.

JustRichmal Tue 11-Aug-15 20:40:43

Have you asked the school what happens when a child goes into reception able to read? This was one of the questions we asked when deciding on a school. It is rare as only one school said they had had a child able to read a couple of years back. IME some schools will not believe you. One school told me it was more likely she was memorising books.

We picked a school where they split them into groups for reading in reception. Unfortunately by year 2 all differentiation into groups for English had stopped. They just kept the good readers ticking along until the others caught up. Dd was assessed at 3a at both the end of year 2 and year 4. So it is worth asking also how they will progress.

getinthesea Thu 13-Aug-15 11:52:17

As people said, Reception is so much play that it was less of an issue than Year One.

But the biggest problem we had was reading scheme books - the books that were at her comprehension level were far too advanced in terms of subject matter. But school were quite sensible, and realised that she was reading plenty enough at home, so stopped giving her any after half a term. I just used to send in a snapshot of what she was reading every holiday, so they could gauge the level.

We also tried to get her extended in other ways, rather than pushing literacy and maths further ahead. DD is borderline dyspraxia, so in her case this meant giving her more outdoor opportunities rather than extra reading.

And I do agree with Richmal's questions, it tends to be further up the school that the difficulties really start.

VirginiaTonic Thu 13-Aug-15 12:03:52

Reading isn't a skill where you can suddenly say my child is a 'free reader'. There is no such thing. It is all relative to the text they are reading. Your Reception child might well have some knowledge of books and be able to read some words and some books to a certain level, but I doubt there is nothing they still need to learn about reading. It is a progressive skill which continues to be developed throughout their school lives (and afterwards). Our Year 6 children still read reading scheme books, alongside books of their own choice, which are geared to developing their vocabulary, awareness of different genres, styles and their own analytical thinking skills when reading.

simpson Thu 13-Aug-15 13:44:07

JustRichmal - how did the school justify your DD making no progress in 2 yrs?

JustRichmal Thu 13-Aug-15 22:33:14

Simpson If a child is assessed as 3a at the end of year 2, it is only written as passing level 3. We were also concentrating more on her maths when we talked to the school, as attainment in that is much more black and white.

VirginiaTonic, I have often thought that about free reading and was never quite sure what the term meant. Surely, as well, a child who can decode any word would still need a certain amount of life knowledge to comprehend some more mature literature. I think at 8 dd could have read Jane Eyre, but I doubt she would have got much out of it other than it being a tedious story about adults having boring conversations. A child's world is, and should be, different.

GiddyOnZackHunt Thu 13-Aug-15 22:47:23

Dd's school insisted she started at the beginning of their reading scheme. Despite her reading chapter books at home with minimal help (and certainly not memorising). Her particular SN means she responds badly to direct questions so they decided that meant she couldn't read. In the course of 4 terms she was moved up 5 levels and started refusing to read at school or at home.
They'd sworn blind they could cope with a bright child but they didn't.
It is all sorted out now via diagnosis (they missed it) and a change of school and now she's off the charts in reading particularly.
Be very careful.

simpson Thu 13-Aug-15 23:50:31

Ah ok, DD has just finished yr2 and in her school report went down as a 3A. Yes I get that this won't have been reported to the LEA (the sub level) but to me it has so I will see what happens grin

I was very lucky in that the school let me provide DD's reading books (& I will continue to do so next year in yr3) to avoid dull reading scheme books that she hated.

JustRichmal Fri 14-Aug-15 07:31:34

Simpson, at least you got her level in writing somewhere. The bad news is, however, is that levels are to be scrapped, so parents in general will have no reference scale of their child's ability.

simpson Fri 14-Aug-15 14:05:19

Yes the school are replacing them with emerging, expected & exceeding but do plan to put an age in with the emerging & exceeding so if a child was exceeding at something by a year then the age would reflect that iyswim.

mrsmortis Wed 19-Aug-15 09:01:11

My DD's school stopped giving her reading scheme books just after Christmas of Reception (she was reading green/orange book band when she started reception) and a TA started to take her up to the Juniors to get the books she brought home at around easter. However, she still used to bring home easier scheme books occasionally. That was because she wanted to. She wanted to be the same as her friends. Kudos to her teachers for being that flexible and understanding the importance of her social and emotional needs.

In year one they started to put slightly more structure in her reading to ensure that her comprehension continued to improve. This mainly involved them choosing the book she brought home, instead of allowing her free choice, and planning activities for her around the book. She's just finished year one and most of the books she's had for the last term have been Sapphire book band.

The real problem is finding books that she is emotionally prepared for. So we have had a lot of nonfiction and poetry, because there aren't many fiction books that would be appropriate.

I don't know what would happen this year as we have moved to Germany. My job is going to be to ensure that her English doesn't stagnate in the face of the challenge of learning a new language.

Basketofchocolate Tue 15-Sep-15 13:02:05

DS was just sent to a Yr 1 class to choose a book, but had to sit through the usual literacy class. In Yr 1 he went to Yr 2 for books. Now in Yr 2, he's bringing home the same books as there are no others in the school.

Finding books is tricky though - we have the same issue in the library as mentioned above - reading ability fine and most understanding but the themes covered in older books are not often appropriate. The older they read, the earlier you have to deal with them coming out with 'fart' 'brat' and many bodily function references as most books seem to cover these we've found. Not sure if the pink ones covered in fairies and unicorns are the same...but weirdly I hope so!

As said above too - keep an eye on the school. Talk to the teacher, make appts to talk through at least once a term/half term and don't just wait until parent-teacher official chat.

Also, we found DS's school would just put in different settings without telling us, tho DS knew so some depends on how vocal your child is at the end of the school day as to how much you'll find out what's actually happening.

Iamnotminterested Thu 22-Oct-15 21:36:32

At my DCs school you become a "Free Reader " when you hit the (old) national curriculum level of 4B.

sanam2010 Mon 02-Nov-15 18:50:35

DD's school tested all the kids at the very beginning of Reception and gave each child appropriate books home according to their level. Even though she could read already, I was amazed how much better she got as soon as she started, as they taught her some good techniques and strategies. They also started on a slightly lower level to boost confidence and enthusiasm and focused on comprehension. Not sure how representative as she is at a selective girls' prep where most of the girls start Reception able to read (to varying degrees). I think in all the state schools they also test where the kids are and give them the appropriate material so it shouldn't be a problem.

Indole Mon 02-Nov-15 20:53:39

DD became a 'free reader' some time in Y1, I think. But she wasn't really a free reader. She couldn't pick up just anything and read it; though she would have been able to read the words, the understanding wouldn't have been there. She's now in Y4 and still a very good reader and recently read Oliver Twist (the proper Dickens one - they were doing a kids' version at school and she asked me if she could read the real thing). I think that's just about getting there in terms of free reading - she didn't have to ask me anything except factual historical stuff (what's a gas lamp, that kind of thing). She has also read A Midsummer Night's Dream and enjoyed it, though she found some of the language challenging and had to ask me about a few bits. I'm sure there are some perfectly intelligent adults who would need some help with Shakespearean language so I think she is pretty much there (though of course there are higher order lit crit skills associated with Shakespeare that she doesn't really know about yet).

yetanotherdeskmove Tue 10-Nov-15 16:10:48

Ds has just started reception and reads fluently with expression (he goes back and corrects his expression if he realises he has got it wrong for example), he can read to himself but he mostly still reads aloud. We have just had his first parents evening and obviously discussed it with his teacher – we hadn't mentioned to her before he started school that he was reading, partly because our school were very insistent that parents don't teach children to read before reception, but we hadn't sat down and taught him we merely answered his questions and encouraged him to work things out for himself. We are all keen to remember that he is only 5, and while his reading is ahead of his years his emotions aren't so we don’t want to go too far ahead. We agreed that she would just send home a range of different reading books and we would concentrate on discussing plot, character, story etc with him, focussing on really enjoying reading rather than pushing him ahead vocabulary wise (although to be fair there aren't many words he can't blend anyway so his reading vocabulary is excellent), or up the reading tree – he will probably just go through more books than other children.

He is still really enjoying all the normal phonics work they do as part of the class. Obviously it's really early days for us, but I hope with this approach he will carry on to have the same love of reading as I do. It's interesting to read the stories from people further down the line than we are.

It’s looking like we may have two readers before reception age judging by how his sibling is doing so it will be interesting to see in a couple of years down the line if the approach we want to take differs in any way.

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