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how best to raise this with the teacher?

(13 Posts)
becstarsky Thu 20-Oct-11 11:56:20

I'm worried about the standard of teaching that DS is getting. Obv raising this with the teacher is bound to be a minefield. But not raising it and silently seething doesn't seem like a good long term strategy either. He's in Year One. My worries are:-

- DS's reading has improved dramatically after help I've given him at home (thanks to mrz, IndigoBell and others who advised me how to help him on another thread). In fact the improvement is now so dramatic that it's made me wonder what the hell was going on in school the past year and makes me a bit horrified that if I hadn't got the advice on here and stepped in with lots of extra practice he would still believe that he was incapable of reading.
- So far this term he's had the reading book in his book bag changed eight times. Of these eight, he has received one book repeatedly three times, and another one two times. So he's actually just had five different books for reading at home so far this term. When I've put a comment in reading book 'DS has had this one before twice now please can we have a new book' we get 'Not sure how this happened' but he is then given ANOTHER book that he's had before.
- Even though I've noticed an astonishing difference in his reading in the past month, he's on the same level of books - that's fine if they're just wanting to make sure that he's on solid foundations before moving him up but I can't help but suspect it's because they haven't listened to him read so far this term.
- Whenever we ask him what he did at school today, (although I know you never get a straight reliable answer from kids) he says 'played games on the computer on CBBC'. This is backed up by his now outstanding score on 'Sarah Jane Adventures' and 'Splatalot' - he didn't get that score from practising at home! If only his reading had improved at the same rate...
- He is not at all mentally tired when he comes home. I do the reading and writing practice from mrz's sheets with him and then give him a bunch of sums, then he asks for more sums and he isn't getting to that 'tired, can't concentrate' stage that I'd expect a kid to be after a day at school. I wouldn't give him any homework if he was.

So I'd like to talk to the teacher, but I want to find a way to do it without putting their back up, and to find a constructive approach. I'm worried that she'll either think 'how dare you criticize my teaching' or dismiss me as 'oh she's just a competitive mum who thinks her kid should be going up a reading level'. Any advice please?

CallMeACynicBut Thu 20-Oct-11 12:08:20

Pointless even to try. Put up with it, or move him.

redskyatnight Thu 20-Oct-11 12:17:06

I'd start with a general question about how reading is taught in Y1, how often reading books are changed, what is the process for doing this (there may be some vital step you are ommitting!).

In DD's Y1 class the children have daily phonics teaching, plus guided reading (in ability based groups) twice a week - once with TA, once with teacher.

The teacher only assesses the child during the last week of each half term unless the parent requests it is done earlier - so if your DS was at DD's school he would be being assessed this week (but wouldn't have been before). However parents have been told this, so they are aware whereas it seems like you're not sure what your school is doing.

I have access to her assessment folder so I can see what reading targets she has been marked against - you could request to see this? Then you would be able to make specific comments about specific things you weren't happy with e.g. DS has no comments, guided reading seems infrequent etc.

becstarsky Thu 20-Oct-11 12:27:41

That was my worry CallMeACynic!

Thanks redskyatnight - that's very helpful. I have a feeling that DS's teacher is shy - she's never spoken to me - when I speak to her she smiles/nods/shakes head but doesn't reply out loud. (I'm only saying things like 'hello', 'this is for the Harvest Festival', 'this is for Show and Tell' etc.) And as you so accurately say I'm not sure what the school is doing! If I knew I'd be less worried I'm sure.

Wellthen Thu 20-Oct-11 14:46:15

I don't think any of the things that concern you would be embarrassing to the teacher - its not like you're saying she can't teach, just that you have a specific issue with reading.

I would just be honest. I read so many threads on here where parents say 'how do I say this nicely?' when they should just say what they feel! I'm a teacher and honestly if you came to tell me he'd had the same book and didn't seem to be moving on I would be very pleased you'd raised this rather than leaving it and getting more angry.

Its perfectly possible that he's getting the same books by accident, different adults might be reading with him at different times and he may not remember which books he's had before or be too shy to tell them. However, it could be that he's not being read with so its worth flagging this up.

I would out and out ask her to assess him again, it does happen that children start to read better without the teacher noticing and this gives her a chance to repair the situation. A week later you can ask to see her again and ask how the assessment went. With any luck she'll notice the same improvement as you and will have moved him up.

The 'what have you been doing all day' I wouldn't worry about. Playing on the computer is probably his fave thing and so its what he remembers. In KS1 children still have free choice time and it may be that he always choses the computer at some point in this time and so he is in fact playing on it every day. At this age playing on the comp is teaching them mouse and key board skills so it is worthwhile even if it doesn't sound it.

IndigoBell Thu 20-Oct-11 15:11:27

What did you do in the end to help his reading?

dikkertjedap Thu 20-Oct-11 16:56:26

I would set up a meeting with the teacher, ask her:

- what the day roughly looks like (if guided reading, writing, spelling, numeracy are not mentioned ask when they are done and how often and for how long each week)
- to see his workbooks
-what he is working towards this year or this term
-in which subjects he is strong and in which subjects is he weak

I think that it is best to raise this asap after the holiday, as this will either put your mind at ease or if not, you can decide where to take it from there. I would not just trust the school to get your son's education right, some schools might, some might not.

mummytime Thu 20-Oct-11 17:14:36

Do you pick him up from school? Because when mine were that age, ~I would check the book and if we'd had it before I would approach the teacher and ask to swap it.

CupOfBrownJoy Thu 20-Oct-11 17:50:15

Sounds like one fo the reasons I left teaching in the UK and came abroad (and private)

It's the "learn through play" policy implemented half arsedly by crap teachers imho...

albachiara Thu 20-Oct-11 21:12:04

Dear becstarsky,

could you please tell me exactly what you did to help his reading? I am trying to improve my DS's reading, but the progress is slow (or so it seems to me). At the moment, I am concentrating more on his understanding of what he's reading rather than fluency, but it would be great if he could read more quickly/fluently, so that he could enjoy reading.

I am working with him for 20 to 50 minutes after school (on reading, Maths, writing, spellling). A lot of mums think it's too much, but if I don't do this, I don't think he has a chance to improve (btw, he's 6, and in P3 in Scotland, equivalent to Y2 in England).

Any suggestions? Thank you!

gloriahoneybum Thu 20-Oct-11 21:57:32

As per albachiara I'd also be interested to know how you have helped your ds. I've posted a thread recently about worries I have with my ds's reading and writing.

becstarsky Fri 21-Oct-11 12:57:49

I really shouldn't be here, just posted in Flouncers Corner that I won't be around til December, so apologies that I'll keep this short and then disappear. But the thread where I got all the good advice re: helping DS with reading was here
From that day back in August I figured out a daily practise schedule that incorporated all the advice I'd been given (i.e. not everything in one day, but at least three or four things from the list every single day without fail inc worksheets, especially for reversed letters which was a big problem for him (mistaking b for d etc)). I got a big diary and wrote three or four activities in for every day - mostly fun ones, but all designed to help him with reading and writing even if he didn't realise that's what he was doing. I also bought the Oxford Reading Tree 'Read At Home' box set and started DS back at the very beginning (books without words) again to build his confidence. We did daily reading, even thought it was the holidays then, and by the time he went back in September he was on simple books with words and reading them more fluently.
Hope this helps - I really must go. That thread where I got all that help and advice was amazing. I am so grateful to all those who posted.

ByTheWay1 Fri 21-Oct-11 14:11:23

Make sure you have the procedure for having books changed..

at our school, you put that this book has been finished (no "finished" word, no change),

then the child has to put the book in the change basket with the reading record (you've guessed, not there, no change)

then if the teacher has time, they will work out if the child needs to be moved on or not and which book they should go to... if no time , they will send the child out to the books to choose one from the same box that they were on. Hence lots of kids will pick a familiar one which they have seen the cover of before.

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