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5 1/2 DS can't read or write, getting stressed at school....

(31 Posts)
adamantmine Tue 20-Sep-11 09:40:49

darling DS(5) started school last january, had learnt to write his name at pre-school - kind of, abam rather than adam. Not very interested in reading or writing (and we read to him a lot) but does love his Letterland book. does recognise most letters, but seems unable to track letters from one word to another, like there's a logical process missing. school is making me feel paranoid about it - he must be reading/writing by the time he's 6, but elsewhere I read that esp for boys, it can be as 'late' as 7 before they're really ready for it. DS bright, lively, was talking at 18months, full-on conversations by 2 etc, great vocabulary, sense of humour etc. Should I worry, or get a job in Morrisons to pay fees for Steiner school????

PrinceRogersNelson Tue 20-Sep-11 10:37:25

My DS is just 5 and in year 1. He can read and write sort of. Getting there slowly, but I honestly feel that he is just developmentally not there yet. He is bright and will get there when he gets there.

Seems a bit harsh of school to be putting pressure on. What do they expect you to do? And what happens if he isn't reading by 6???

I would ask for a meeting and seeing what they are going to do. But if it were my DS I would want the answer to include the words'nit putting too much pressure on him'.

WhereDidAllThePuffinsGo Tue 20-Sep-11 10:42:11

Why are the school putting pressure on you? Surely you should be putting pressure on them, if there is going to be any pressure?

Ask for a meeting. Ask if they think there is a problem, and if so, what the problem is. If they say there is a problem, ask them what they are going to do to solve it. Does he need an IEP (Individual Education Plan)? One-to-one time with a TA? I bet if you start talking like that they'll backtrack and say he is fine and some children take longer than others!

But frankly, for a summer-born boy in year 1, he sounds like he is doing fine. Ds1 is 6.5 in yr2, and just starting to get there. It took him a long time to move from recognising the letters to being able to sound out a word.

WhereDidAllThePuffinsGo Tue 20-Sep-11 10:44:44

Have you seen ? Good for learning to put the sounds together into words (and my ds likes it cos its not reading, its a computer game smile )

thisisyesterday Tue 20-Sep-11 10:53:41

ds1 took a while longer than others in his class to really recognise letters and start reading.

but i would agree with asking for a meeting with the teacher, head and SENCO.,
that way you can discuss if he is actually behind, if there is a problem, and what can be done to deal with the problem.
IF (and it's a big if) there is a problem which means he cannot learn this it's best if it's picked up sooner rather than later. but i suspect he'll just do it in his own time smile

IndigoBell Tue 20-Sep-11 10:59:10

but seems unable to track letters from one word to another - could he have an eye tracking problem? This is very common.

It just means the muscles in his eyes are a bit weak, and he needs to strengthen them with eye exercises........

The govt has a target that all kids should be 'reading' by end of Y1. But they don't mean reading war and peace. They mean getting the basics of blending and reading.

In good schools well over 90% of kids achieve this target. So there is no reason to think your son won't do so (if he is being taught well).

It's not about placing pressure on your DS. It's about teaching him well, and identifying early any problems which mean that despite good teaching he's struggling.

Be very glad your school expect him to ready by the end of Y1. It means they expect to teach him to read by then! It sounds like a good and ambitious school.

I'd be far more worried by any school that says don't worry, kids all develop in their own time, boys are later, summer borns are later, etc, etc. One excuse after the other - to excuse their bad teaching or lack of SEN identification.

bugster Tue 20-Sep-11 11:02:14

Admantmine, I think your son sounds completely normal. I live in Switzerland, and it is completely forbidden to tech akindergarten age child to read (which your son would be if he lived here). They believe children are not ready, and that they have more important things to learn, like social skills. Even when children are of primary school age (6 or 7, depending on when their birthday is) they are assessed to decide whether or not they are ready for school.

gabid Tue 20-Sep-11 11:08:32

Poor DS! Move to Sweden, Norway, Germany (in an ideal world). In most countries DCs don't start formal school until they are 6 or 7, which is considered the ideal age as many children are not developmentally ready (especially boys) to sit down and learn to read and write.

Children still learn though but more self directed (some will want to learn to read and they are taught), more like foundation stage. There was a lovely video about Kindergarten in Sweden on TeachersTV.

My DS (6, Y2) would have benefited from starting later. In Y1 he refused to do any activity he hadn't chosen himself and reading, writing and maths was and is just a chore to him. His reading is average but he will not read a word outside his reading book, he will always ask what it says.

mollymole Tue 20-Sep-11 11:10:50

perhaps you mighht take him to an optician
1 for an eye test
2 for a test for 'scotopic sensitivity'

1st test is self explanatory
the 2nd test looks at whether colour sensitivity may be obstructing his progress - this sounds odd, but it does work - the opticians where I work do a lot of this on recommends from schools and the health authorities etc - just google it if you are not sure

IndigoBell Tue 20-Sep-11 11:16:04

Molly - an optician doesn't test for eye tracking problems, and they don't normally test for scotopic sensitivity either. (Although glad to hear that your one does)

A behaviour optometrist is the correct professional to test for these types of problems.

I do have to add that I did take DD to an optician for a scotopic sensitivity test - and they got it wrong. They said she needed a yellow overlay when the behaviour optometrist found that was not the problem at all. So I really can't recommend getting a full eye test done at an optician.

gabid Tue 20-Sep-11 11:18:21

My friend in Germany told me that her DS at age 6 (and in Kindergarten) knew all his letters but could not blend them. Mum taught him the letters, so no professional teaching. When he started school there was no problem, he is 9 now and reads like any other, however, maths is his strong side.

Yes, if you have to start them at 4 good teaching is important, but I would hate to put a 5yo through tests and assessment to determine whether there is something wrong with him - seems premature.

Oggy Tue 20-Sep-11 11:25:22

I am shocked that the teacher is taking this approach.

We just had curriculum evening for year 1 and it was very clear from the way the teacher was talking that a significant enough portion of the class is not reading properly yet and that they consider this to be totally normal.

And in fact she also made a point about not putting pressure on because they all get there at different rates and that her own daughter wasn't reading until 7 but there was no actual problem there - they get there when they get there.

I really think it is too early to be worrying, if your son was in my son's class the teacher would be doing the oppisitte to your sons teacher and would be telling you to relax, try and have fun with books and not put pressure on your son.

gabid Tue 20-Sep-11 11:36:36

So, if it is normal that some aren't really ready to read until age 7, why do they have to sit SATS exams in English at that age where reading, I assume, is part of it. Doesn't that give a distorted picture of the teaching and learning in Y1 and Y2?

IndigoBell Tue 20-Sep-11 11:44:40

It's not normal that children aren't ready to read until 7.

Many, many schools get well over 90% or children reading chapter books by then. Some get 100%.

The national average is I think about 85% of kids able to read chapter books by the end of Y2.

The SATs grade reported at the end of Y2 is based on teacher assessment.

If a child has been at a UK school for 3 years and can't read, then mostly there is a cause for concern that should be investigated, or will already be being addressed.

Oggy Tue 20-Sep-11 11:47:54

It isn't normal (statistically) not to be reading until 7, but it can be normal in the sense that it sometimes happens and there is no underlying medical/learning issue that is causing it.

IndigoBell Tue 20-Sep-11 11:53:32

If a child isn't reading by 7, then statistically it's most likely that either they haven't been taught well, or there is an underlying problem. (either SEN or a home situation like EAL, or frequent school or moves, or neglect etc)

It is statistically less likely that 'they are not just ready yet'.

And if a child hasn't learnt to read by 8 they are statistically unlikely to ever learn to read well sad

gabid Tue 20-Sep-11 12:19:50

Hm, I know 3 boys, not in the same school, who in Y1 (age 5) could hardly blend a few letters and DS is a reluctant reader, and I don't know that many children.

crazygracieuk Tue 20-Sep-11 12:30:39

I have an August born Y1 boy and he only reads and writes because he has to. He loves listening to stories and can make up long stories when playing with toys but reading is a chore for him. With regards to writing, his letter formation is very ropey- he confuses p/q/g, b/d ,9/6 but having looked at the work on the classroom walls, it's not unusual.

I think that the school should be the ones working out how to get your son reading- they are the professionals after all. Telling you about some arbitrary target of getting him reading by 6 is not helping or supporting him at all. Did they elaborate what reading and writing by 6 means in real terms (like ORT level, number of sentences written?)

SDeuchars Tue 20-Sep-11 12:32:18

IndigoBell: And if a child hasn't learnt to read by 8 they are statistically unlikely to ever learn to read well

That is not strictly speaking true. It is, however, often true in a school environment. Home-educated children without an underlying difficulty regularly do not read competently until older than 7 but quickly get to a high level.

IndigoBell Tue 20-Sep-11 12:38:15

SDeuchars - true. I was talking about kids in the UK system. smile

Gabid - kids who can't blend at the start of Y1 are many. Kids who can't blend at the end of Y1 (which is when the school is talking about) are far fewer.

The school does not mean on his 6th birthday. They mean the end of Y1.

The school should quite rightly expect some level of reading after being in school for 2 years. You should feel like your kid is making progress, and is able to read some words after 2 years in school. (More than just CVC words)

You will know if there is a problem by then. And it won't be because of his ORT level. It will be because you are just not seeing any progress.

gabid Tue 20-Sep-11 12:39:21

A British child who does not read by 7 or 8 must have gone through hell and back being assessed, supported with extra tuition, send from doctor to opticion, with concerned and worried parents and teachers - no wonder they are put off!

IndigoBell Tue 20-Sep-11 12:51:00

gabid - no, sadly not.

The majority of kids who don't learn to read, don't go through hell and back with support or assessment. They are just out and out failed sad

Mostly what happens is school tries it's best, then if by the end of Y2 the child hasn't learn to read, the school writes them off as either dyslexic, or thick, or some variation of bad parenting.

Only a very few lucky kids are so well supported that underlying problems are detected early. And far, far fewer kids are lucky enough to actually get the help they need so that they learn to read and write properly when they have underlying problems.

maverick Tue 20-Sep-11 13:17:27

I've tutored some home educated children and those who have attended 'alternative' schools (8/9/10yrs.old). I can assure you that allowing children to 'discover 'for themselves how to read in their own time, or offering them a toxic mixture of sightwords and real books, does not always work to achieve accurate and fluent reading competency. These children did not have an underlying difficulty. When directly and systematically taught the necessary information (the alphabet code) and skills, they learnt to read reasonably quickly with no trauma involved.

BTW, I pro home education

bugster Tue 20-Sep-11 13:19:22

I wonder why it is that UK schools introduce reading so much earlier than in other countries?

gabid Tue 20-Sep-11 13:20:29

A friend's DS didn't read till age 9 and my friend said that by the end of Y2 the school washes their hands of the problem. Her DS is now in Y10 and expects to get about 10 good GCSEs, his confidence is not so good though. At age 9 he suddenly started reading Harry Potter.

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