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Reception reading: is this slow going or the norm?

(31 Posts)
Catz Sun 25-Sep-11 13:01:53

DD (4.2 so one of the youngest) started reception a couple of weeks ago. We had a parents meeting on Friday to explain how they'll teach reading. This amounts to teaching two sounds a week (so this week it's 's' and 'a') and doing lots of activities around those sounds and then also learning two words ('the' and 'are' were examples they gave). They'll also read to the teacher or assistant once a week and we can change books whenever we want (but only from the 'pink' box). They are starting on pink and some children get to 'yellow' by the end of the year.

Does that sound normal, because coming from outside it sounds very slow. Quite a few of us coming out felt our children could already do more than they are aiming for by the end of reception. Almost all the children went to the preschool in the village where they've done 'letter of the week' for ages and seem very confident with letters. Most had reading books and read with the teacher at pre-school too. Glancing at the yellow box I can see books she's had from the library and reads with no problems. Obviously I've not quizzed people on their children's reading ability but a fair few have mentioned that their children are reading. In fact we were on a train with one the other day (one of the oldest, already 5) who spontaneously read out the train's customer complaints policy off a leaflet with no problems!

I'm not worried for the moment as really I'd rather she wasn't at full time school this young and am quite happy if she is confident and makes friends. However, there is a general feeling in the village that the school doesn't really get the results it could from the children given a relatively 'easy' catchment area with high parental education and involvement, so I'm slightly anxious about having made the right choice long term.


RandomMess Sun 25-Sep-11 13:06:45

Sounds normal. Mine were all still on pink books at the end of reception, finally learnt to read by term 3 in Year 1, all summer babies and 1 of them was on free readers within a year.

Remember in europe they sensible don't teach reading etc until they are 7!

belgo Sun 25-Sep-11 13:08:30

They do go very slow in the UK teaching reading. In Belgium they wait until children are 6 and then go very fast, with children reading fluently by the end of the first term.

cabbagesoup Sun 25-Sep-11 13:10:36

I think it sounds pretty normal? You are going to have some children in the class who have never picked up a book or been to pre school, so it's right that they take it easy with all of them to understand the levels of each child?

I'm guessing? Also I think at such a young age to repeat a few bits won;t harm them will just help them feel confident in the transition from pre school to school.

They have a very long time at school so reception to be a softer approach is lovely for them.

RandomMess Sun 25-Sep-11 13:11:28

Really each child should progress at their own pace, my eldest was very quick maybe a term but she is a Jan birthday, the other 3 very slow - like I said was more like the Easter time in Year 1.

CocktailQueen Sun 25-Sep-11 15:39:29

Sounds normal - just what my ds's school is doing!

IndigoBell Sun 25-Sep-11 15:54:11

It's not good to say that no kid will ever progress beyond yellow band in Reception.

But there's not much you can do about it, besides keep taking your child to the library. The teacher is very unlikely to want to hear your opinion on how she teaches children to read smile

Not to mention, it might not be her decision at all. It could be the literacy co-ordinator or somebody else's rules which she's just following.....

Just be glad that your child can already read a bit.

mrz Sun 25-Sep-11 16:39:47

It is anything but normal!!
There are 44 sounds in English so at a rate of 2 a week that is going to take most of the school year! shock Letters and Sounds suggests 4 sounds per week and Jolly Phonics 6!
belgo they do not go very slow in the UK and most children are also reading by the end of the first term.

MoaningMinnieWhingesAgain Sun 25-Sep-11 17:50:44

DD has been given 3 sounds per weeks to do at home, with actions to go with them. Has had 3 books so far, and recites them without looking at the words after 2 goes. Doesn't recognise 'the' on the 4th page in a row starting with 'the'.

She does recognise the letters for the sounds but we have had no info about how they teach reading at school - she is my pfb eldest so this is my first experience of primary since leaving school myself.

HazeOnTheHorizon Sun 25-Sep-11 18:12:28

Could it be that what they are suggesting is to be 'learnt at home' is a level behind what they are learning in school, and is just meant to be a backup of sorts?

It could be that the homework is given at a level where the parent can feel involved without having to actually 'teach' things the child hasn't already been taught at school? My DD didn't get any homework at all in Reception, apart from reading books to take home and read at her own pace.

mrz Sun 25-Sep-11 18:19:54

It is very normal for children to have a "sound book" to take home. The teacher adds each new sound as it is taught so the child can practise at home to consolidate the teaching taking place in school. I wouldn't expect it to be at a level behind rather if they are taught /s/ on Monday they take home /s/ that night on Tuesday they are taught /a/ and it is added to the book to take home ...

SamsungAndDelilah Sun 25-Sep-11 19:03:34

it's only unreasonable if they won't allow them to progress beyond yellow. My reception DS reads blue at home and I won't be impressed if he has to plough through Oh Floppy No Floppy Floppy Floppy before getting something at the appropriate level.

mrz Sun 25-Sep-11 19:27:59

My last reception class had children who were reading gold and white bands ...

teacherwith2kids Sun 25-Sep-11 19:49:43

DS arrived at school able to read fluently, and finished the 'reading scheme' books by falling off the top of the bands (it's a while back so they still had numbers - level 14+) in mid-Reception so the school then found him suitable chapter books.

It did take a couple of weeks for the teacher to work out exactly where he was but from then on I couldn't fault her - there was absolutely not any of this 'we are only aiming for yellow' stuff, it was 'right, he needs books that move him on from where he is ... even if I have to get them from much higher up the school.

Lack of differentiation = lazy teaching = lots of children not making progress and would be something I would be extremely wary of.

teacherwith2kids Sun 25-Sep-11 19:51:02

And yes, a letter sound per day. DS had them for 'encoding' (writing) whereas DD (who didn't read until she went to school) had them for decoding (reading).

ASByatt Sun 25-Sep-11 19:53:44

This does sound too much like a recipe to plod slowly along and perhaps loose a few pupils through despair along the way!

I would be wanting to see evidence that different pupils at different points in the learning-to-read journey were given different (and appropriate) teaching and texts.

ASByatt Sun 25-Sep-11 19:55:51

'loose'?!?!?!?! blush - I mean lose, of course - I'm not suggesting that the pupils should be released into the wild or anything.....

..............although thinking about it, with such slow ploddy phonics teaching a few of them might want it!

Phonics teaching should be lively, fun, active, and well-paced.

And I should proof-read my posts!

Catz Sun 25-Sep-11 19:56:02

Thank you very much for all of your replies. The teacher was pretty clear that it is just two sounds a week. She puts them in the sounds book on a Monday, would like us to 'practice' them and that is what they will be working on in the week. Thank you mrz, it did sound to me as if they were essentially going to spend the whole of reception learning the basic sounds. Of course I understand she needs to check that all the children know them (I'm pretty sure all the children will have been to preschool and covered this already, I know all but 3 of them, but I understand that they might not all have appreciated the full significance of making a kite on 'k' day etc!) They briefly mentioned working on phonemes in yrs 1 and 2.

I'm quite happy for her to go through it again in the schools day (and don't have much choice anyway!) she's very much enjoying herself and I doubt that 10 mins of 'the snake is in the grass' is going to upset her. It's just that I am a bit concerned that it's slow and that might be indicative of the school's ethos.

mrz Sun 25-Sep-11 20:01:26

In Y1 children will be learning different ways of writing the phonemes (there are approx 160 -180 different ways of representing the 44 phonemes - think the a sound in apron, aim, pay, eight, made, straight, they, great, sundae). We teach phonics right up to Y6 but by then the focus is on spelling rather than reading.

lovingthecoast Sun 25-Sep-11 20:02:25

DD1 is very bright and is reading fairly fluently now she's just started Y1. However, in Reception they had a different sound each night. Also, they assessed upon entry and did their sounds at different times of the day so DD was in a group who started recapping 4 or 5 sounds a day until they got to the stage where they needed to be.

I would be surprised if a teacher with 30 children could just do 2 sounds a week with the whole class. There is a huge range of abilities and levels of maturity in a Reception class. Ive taught Reception, admittedly over 10yrs ago, but even then we needed to differentiate hugely to ensure all children were working at their own pace.

I think the most worrying part is that they have told you that some children may reach Yellow by the end of the year. shock Too much constraint there IMO!

Tyrionlovingyourwork Sun 25-Sep-11 20:05:49

My DS started school three weeks ago and last week did 'm' and 'a' as a basis for activities. In addition to reading these sounds they are also taught to write the letters (as evidenced in chalk throughout the floor of the playground), look at words beginning with and simple numeracy. We have had a parents evening and discussed how our son is getting on. We have been told that tasks will be linked to ability. My DS can read simple words and has been given a suitable book with sentences in. Even thought the work to do at home is really easy, I am happy with the approach.

Ask for a meeting?

beepbeep Sun 25-Sep-11 20:06:37

MY DD (also just started reception) seems to be doing 2 sounds a week, I'm a little concerned as we haven't been given any info on what they are doing, nor told what sounds/letters they are doing so we are able to help them at home.

princessglitter Sun 25-Sep-11 20:08:49

I would think it quite restrictive if they only expect some children may reach yellow level by the end of reception. dd started on green and finished on gold!

Catz Sun 25-Sep-11 20:10:03

Cross posted with lots of you as I was writing my reply. I am not suggesting DD is a prodigy (probably miles behind the average mumsnet genius!). She started to read around 3 1/2 when being neglected given opportunities for independent play when DS was small. She knew her basic letters and spent lots of time looking at books and worked out how to do it. She then suggested that she read stories to us after we'd read to her at night so that's what we've done most nights since (so for 9 months or so). We've been picking from the 'starting to read' section of the library or using books we already have rather than following a scheme. I have no idea what 'level she would be but as an example tonight she read both the parent and child sections of this book pretty fluently having not read it before. She can read more difficult books with help but that (with the parent bit, not just the child's short sentence) is probably the level that she can do without problems.

She had read with the teacher on Friday and has a reading book which says 'We can see you' on every page, nothing else. The teacher has written 'joined in with the repeated phrase' in her reading diary. DD is very compliant and unlikely to tell the teacher she can do it already.

I'm going to have to talk to the teacher aren't I. I spoke to the mother of complaints policy reading child (see OP) who said she was just going to treat the school as for fun and carry on reading with her at home but I'm not very happy with that.

neolara Sun 25-Sep-11 20:12:32

2 sounds a week is a bit rubbish. The govt guidelines used to be the teach sounds quickly e.g. 4 or 5 a week. I don't think guidelines have changed. Teach them properly and it should be fine for most kids.

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