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Reading levels question - what level is right/ readability etc.

(28 Posts)
dragonmother Fri 10-Jun-11 20:55:49

I have a reading levels question. This much-touted thing that they should be able to read 90 or 95% of the words without help - is that decoding or understanding their meaning?

Ds breezes through his school reading books in terms of reading the words and has lovely expression but on his current level (which is quite ahead for his age) there are quite a few words he has to ask me the meaning of. He would probably get the gist of them but likes to know exactly what they mean.

So does this mean he's on the right level? The vocab doesn't challenge him at all when it comes to actually reading the word out loud.

mrz Fri 10-Jun-11 21:05:31

You've spotted the flaw in that particular method hmm which seems to much touted on MN but not in schools.

dragonmother Fri 10-Jun-11 21:22:32

So what's the answer? Does it matter if he couldn't understand every word independently even if he could generally understand the story overall and read it almost word perfectly?

mrz Fri 10-Jun-11 21:40:26

I would expect a child to be reading accurately and with good understanding and extending their vocabulary.

LawrieMarlow Fri 10-Jun-11 21:57:09

If DD can decode a word but I am pretty sure she doesn't know exactly what it means I discuss it with her. I don't think a book is wrong for her if she doesn't know the meaning of the word and depending on the type of book, there might be more words she doesn't know.

I like non-fiction books as they are more likely to help to extend her vocabulary.

dragonmother Fri 10-Jun-11 21:57:27

OK so with a child in ds' situation where the vocab was not at all stretching and he did understand the story/ could answer questions but there were words he needed to ask the meaning of - maybe one in 50 words, what would you do about their level?

mrz Fri 10-Jun-11 22:02:12

I would be looking at a much bigger picture than how a child reads home reading books and basing the level assigned on that.

dragonmother Fri 10-Jun-11 22:17:20

I guess it's hard to answer then really.

At home he reads much harder books very well but this thing about needing to know the meaning of words has thrown me!

evolucy7 Fri 10-Jun-11 22:28:21

What has thrown you about him needing to know the meaning of the words? Isn't that the whole point of reading? confused

dragonmother Fri 10-Jun-11 22:30:18

I wondered if it meant that he needed to stay on this level after all and it was part of the learning? But I guess it's not really part of learning to read, more a general vocabulary thing.

Hope I'm making sense. It's just really thrown me.

jenniec79 Fri 10-Jun-11 22:30:19

Interesting question, and not just in terms of DCs at primary. Just spent the afternoon reading through a paper for my postgrad. research proposal, and I swear if I'd understood as much as half the words I'd be happy.

Doesn't mean I can't read though - just that I have a lot of work to do!!

Same with primary school readers surely - understanding the majority of the text straight off, with a few new/tricky words to extend the vocab is the only way to get to the next level; whether that word is "dog" or "epigenetic DNA methylation" is quibbling over details (and 3 decades), and the skill to learn is how to find out - whether with a dictionary, google/wiki or by asking an expert (parent/techer/prof).

evolucy7 Fri 10-Jun-11 22:41:07

How old is he and what sort of level are we talking about?

I would class it as part of learning to read, if you can read a word but don't know what it means it is not that useful to be able to read the word in the first place is it?!

evolucy7 Fri 10-Jun-11 22:44:39

I don't think I explained that very well...I mean that if you can just read the word but not know its meaning, when at primary school learning to read, then obviously there is definitely something to be gained from this level of books as he is learning new words, the meaning of which is crucial to actually really reading the book.

blackeyedsusan Fri 10-Jun-11 22:45:00

if you come across a word that you think he doesn't know the meaning of..ask him to tell you it's meaning, or give a similar word...

look it up in the dictionary together if necessary

try to use it in a sentence later in the day.

reading to him and discussing the meaning of words will help.

<demands to know what epigenetic DNA methylation is>

dragonmother Fri 10-Jun-11 22:46:40

That makes sense Evo - he is definitely learning the meaning of new words from them and what's more enjoys the books at this level so it doesn't really matter.

He is six (May birthday) and on white level books at school but reading stuff like middling Roald Dahls well at home. The fact he enjoys them so much makes me assume he understands them and if I ask him questions he does know what's going on.

jenniec79 Fri 10-Jun-11 22:47:31

When I work it out I'll let you know Blackeyedsusan - it's all to do with looking for cell changes in early cancers, but I admit I've given up on the educational reading - friday night is for Mumsnet and chicklit!

dragonmother Fri 10-Jun-11 22:49:30

That is possibly the most highbrow thread hijack ever grin!

RoadArt Fri 10-Jun-11 22:49:30

This is the opportunity to discuss the story, ask what certain words mean, and then discuss them. Use dictionaries etc. A child retelling the story is the best way to ensure they understand what they have read

dragonmother Fri 10-Jun-11 22:50:14

So would you say he should indeed be on this level due to the vocab learning opportunities?

RoadArt Fri 10-Jun-11 22:53:25

I wouldn't worry about levels they are a guide only

jenniec79 Fri 10-Jun-11 22:53:38

Yes, Dragonmother I would say being a bit stretched is a good thing, especially if he's enjoying the stories and getting enthusiasticd about reading in general.

<sorry about the threadjack, it was relevant in my head when I started...{slopes off back to lab}smile>

dragonmother Fri 10-Jun-11 23:03:29

Thread hijack was cool - no need to apologise!

Jennie - my worry was the other way as he finds reading the words with fab expression very easy but given he's learning something and enjoying it I will stop over-thinking this.

camicaze Fri 10-Jun-11 23:11:47

Most of the time with my dd the change of levels has not been a technical decision and has more to do with reaching the end of the box or the class teacher finding a slot with her. Every time the class teacher read with her she would go up a box within the levels. It amused me that the teacher would never move her up a whole level at once but always move her up whenever dd read to her. In the end I made a policy of always sending the book back as finished each morning even if we hadn't read it. Using that method meant we finally got onto a more appropriate level for her about a term ago!
I imagine if I'd asked the class teacher why she couldn't be moved up she would have said something about comprehension - but really if your child has good understanding and is decoding the text easily then it is time to move them on...

mrz Sat 11-Jun-11 08:45:09

I don't expect children in my class to read every book in a level (since there are dozens of books for each level they would be lucky to move a level a year if that were the case) but I would keep them on a level until in my professional judgement they are ready to move (for some children this may only be a handful of books for others it may take much longer).

tiggerandpoohtoo Sat 11-Jun-11 15:53:54

My Daughter has to read every book in each level to progress sad
She gets quite bored towards the end of each level, however she has made it to Level 6 this year so far (reception). They send a couple of books home at a time. Her teacher said it is school policy, although they did let her miss out all the level 3 books but didn't explain why.

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