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Forced baby behaviour?

(440 Posts)
learnandsay Mon 22-Oct-12 10:12:04

Are simplistic phonics books good, bad or neutral? If a Reception child can already read Ladybird stories such as Three Little Pigs, Where the Wild Things Are, Dr Seuss, etc, etc, etc but they're bringing home apparently the whole ORT 1+ range comprising of nothing but CVC words which present no challenge and no learning opportunity either, is reading them:

(1) a waste of time, reading time is precious, doesn't it make more sense to spend it on reading words which present a learning opportunity?

(2) potentially leading towards reading becoming uninteresting

(3) promoting ignorance - if the child can read the names of countries already the child could be reading sentences like: The Nile is the longest river in the world, instead of sentences like Dot got a pot and Bot got Dot's pot. Pat pat pat, tap tap tap.

In summary, would the time be better spent reading something useful?

EdithWeston Mon 22-Oct-12 10:19:36

Can you give more context?

I found DD's reception to be excellent. Every child went through a phonics programme ab initio - it was new to some, revision to others, and ensured that every single child had a really good, solid foundation.

The children then had individual reading books matched to their literacy levels.

Phonics isn't inherently dull. Anything can be taught badly.

learnandsay Mon 22-Oct-12 10:36:54

Reading between the lines the ORT books are just being dished out to the whole class en-masse. (I gather some children get picture only books instead.) We've had a letter explaining that the children's reading levels will be assessed after half term. The children are also following Letters and Sounds with actions to accompany each sound. I don't know whether or not the books will become harder after the reading assessment. I don't see why they should. My daughter's teacher already knows her reading level. She listens to her at least once a week (from comments in the record) and the TA listens once or more too. Their comments are very short, usually read -book name- well, (That's it.) She's not learning anything as far as I can tell. At this rate of not learning anything I can see why they're still teaching phonics in Y6. At this rate I can imagine still reading ORT books in the nursing home.

I can understand a desire to have all children sure of basic phonics but surely you wouldn't keep teaching a child that 1+1=2 if that child already knew the sum. Or maybe (if continually explaining that 1+1=2) actually is helpful then maybe you'd do it less often and teach something else some of the time. Maybe some of the reading books should be challenging.

I don't actually think my daughter minds. She has never complained and is always eager to read. But I worry that she's spending time reading this tripe when she could be reading something worthwhile.

RosemaryandThyme Mon 22-Oct-12 11:11:59

If your sure that her phonic knowledge is sound and that she is really able to read at a more advanced level, then your role will be to increase the complexity of her reading material whilst keeping alive her love of learning.
One way would be to slip your own choice of reading book into her zippy before she opens the bag at home, praise her and have fun reading it together and just sign off the reading record box as though she had read the one school sent, no need to have a stressy confrountation with the teacher, just go your own way.

AMumInScotland Mon 22-Oct-12 11:15:23

"We've had a letter explaining that the children's reading levels will be assessed after half term... I don't know whether or not the books will become harder after the reading assessment. I don't see why they should."

They have told you they are going to assess the childrens reading levels at a certain date - the point of this will be to change what level of books they get, or why would they be bothering to assess them?

I agree it may seem a little "bureaucratic" to set a particular date for doing the assessment, but presumably they are giving all the children a chance to settle in and do the basics before they start assessing them and varying what they are given.

And as far as the simple books providing "no learning opportunity" goes, perhaps they haven't explained to you what they are trying to get children to do with the early books, which includes things like relating the words to the pictures, thinking about what might happen next, aspects of phonics like rhymes and rhythms, etc. There is plenty of learning available from even the wordless books if you look at them in these ways.

I think the problem is not what they are doing, but the fact that they haven't explained their strategy to you.

learnandsay Mon 22-Oct-12 11:27:31

My plan is to continue reading everything which comes from school, hard or easy for as long as my daughter is happy. (If she becomes unhappy it'll be different.)

If the worst really comes to the worst, Rosemary, I will do as you suggest. (But I'd rather write nothing at all than do that.) My real problem is that I love teaching my daughter to read and I love writing in her reading record about her progress - she learned igh, sight, right, etc in two days. I'm getting ready to teach her split digraphs. My (self-created) problem is that if I comment in her reading record about the books she's getting sent home:

Dan the man can see his van. Ban too can see Dan's van.

then what I'm writing is a completely false report of what my daughter is learning in her reading. It would be better in that case to not write anything at all in the record. It's counter productive to create a completely misleading record of her development. At the moment I'm recording her development faithfully, (split digraphs and all.) The teacher has asked me to limit my comments to school books,) so I'm getting her to read the publishing blurb on the back of her books (because it's more complex than the contents) and I'm writing about that in the diary instead. So I'm literally doing what the school is asking, though clearly not in the spirit. I'm not about to curtail my daughter's learning just because the school can't keep up with us.

mintyneb Mon 22-Oct-12 11:52:58

I've seen many of your previous threads (some even before your DD started school) and I really do think you need to chill out. You've said repeatedly that you are going to teach your child to read and that you'll use school for all the extra stuff that you can't do at home. So why are you complaining about the books that she's bringing home? Are you after some kind of public recognition that she is reading purple band books whilst everyone else is struggling with pink?

for what its worth, my DD (now in year 1) was one of those children who started reception in need of daily phonics and a slow approach to reading. She started school being able to recognise her name and only write the first letter of it - nothing more from a literacy perspective.

She had zero interest in reading despite being surrounded by books at home and it is only in the last month that she has wanted to have a go at reading with any sort of enthusiasm.

School is so much more than just reading. OK DD is 1 year ahead but she's loved coming home this term telling me that Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon. She went to the park with her grandparents this weekend and told me she pushed them both on the swings. But Nana was lighter than Grandad - why? Because she didn't have to push as hard and she went higher.

This is all following on from the things that she has been learning both from us and at school. She didn't read it in a book.

I'm not sure where all your moaning is going to get you, other than more and more stressed out. You've said your DD is happy. Just let it be and let her get on with being 4 and enjoying herself with her friends at school

OatyBeatie Mon 22-Oct-12 11:54:56

If she is happy to read through the school-provided book, then whizz through it once (which will take no time at all), record the fact that you have read it and then move on to something more suitable for her. Naturally if you are actively teaching your child to read at home, then the school-provided learning is going to be out of kilter. But the experience of looking at the school-provided book can still be positive -- chat about the pictures, laugh at the rhymes, fling it aside after 50 seconds. Lots of children are way ahead of what the school is doing in relation to a specific task. So long as they get the chance to read more suitably at home, and so long as you find a way of finding some little positive thing in the task the school assigns (and avoid communicating to your daughter that she should disdain it in any way), then you and your daughter's teachers are a working partnership.

learnandsay Mon 22-Oct-12 12:06:54

No, Minty, I don't know what the other children are reading. They're not my concern. Oaty is closer to the problem. The school and I are getting out of kilter. They're asking me to comment on books which have no educational value for my daughter. (My daughter doesn't mind in the least. But then she's not the one being asked to comment.)

Oaty, I don't denigrate the school books in front of my daughter, but I do rush them because I want her to do real reading and not read stuff less complicated than the stuff she was reading as a two & 1/2 year old.

Unless the teacher starts showing some interest in what my daughter can actually read, rather than whether or not she's reading CVC words then the school and I will never be working in partnership, we will simply be tolerating each other while doing completely different things. I'm happy to entertain anything that they do unless my daughter complains. If she does that then there's clearly a chance of conflict. But at the moment the school and our family are simply growing apart, and that's a shame because it's only week 6!

OatyBeatie Mon 22-Oct-12 12:16:36

Just put down the fact that you read the book together. The reading record book isn't that important. It won't go on her CV. I think you are making problems out of nothing. You've decided to teach your daughter to read at home. So of course the at-school process of learning to read is a bit of an irrelevance for her. That's fine, since she appears to be making reading progress with no problems. But given that everything is fine, why should you expect the school to have any huge concern with that decision of yours? Just think about all the other many things the school is offering her

Lancelottie Mon 22-Oct-12 12:20:46

She's been in school, what, six weeks?

i wouldn't write the school off just yet.

mintyneb Mon 22-Oct-12 12:21:26

but learnandsay, school is so much more than reading. Don't let arrogance over one aspect of her schooling affect the next seven years of her life.

Lancelottie Mon 22-Oct-12 12:23:57

I suspect they're at least more interested in her reading than my own primary was, many years ago. It was news to them, when I was 6, that I could read at all (because I was very shy, so shortsighted I couldn't see the blackboard, and didn't realise that 'read this' meant read the book out loud blush).

wigglywoowoo Mon 22-Oct-12 12:24:17

"She's been in school, what, six weeks?

i wouldn't write the school off just yet. "

Especially as they have said they are going to assess reading after half term. Some reception classes don't even offer any books before Christmas!

I think you need to give them a chance!

learnandsay Mon 22-Oct-12 12:25:22

No guys, don't get me wrong. The school is uber fantastic, one of the best (if not the best) in the area. (Don't confuse this school with the one I used to write about when I first joined mumsnet.) That was our catchment school, which wasn't anything like as good.)

No, my problem is only about simple books. And the problem is really my own. My daughter loves simple books. It's just me who doesn't like them.

And I couldn't write about them in the reading record (for reasons listed above.)

learnandsay Mon 22-Oct-12 12:27:30

Oh, bless Lancelottie.

mintyneb Mon 22-Oct-12 12:29:41

then don't say anything about them. Just sign the reading diary so that you and the school both know that you've sat down with your DD and read/looked at them together. They will no doubt welcome the fact that you are supporting them in their approach for now

Lancelottie Mon 22-Oct-12 12:30:36

By Child Three, I was writing things in the reading record like 'Droned halfway through this then claimed he'd lost his voice. He says he hates Mr Yellowhat. Please send something different.'

On the whole, they took it well.

learnandsay Mon 22-Oct-12 12:33:07

Droned halfway through this then claimed he'd lost his voice! -- thinks she'll have to take reading diary writing lessons from this woman! lol

heymammy Mon 22-Oct-12 12:34:15

The school, will be doing so much more than phonics using these books.

from day 1 at my DDs' school they looked at sentence structure, punctuation, grammar, identifing connective words, using expression when reading, the order of a story I.e. beginning, middle and end etc etc etc so although both DDs could read paperback books before starting school, they were by no means learning nothing by following the same reading programme as everyone else.

Once your dd as been assessed she will undoubtedly be put in the top reading group, she may also be sent home with an extra reader, until then just go with it. If your dd can read anything she likes at home then I don't see the problem really.

AMumInScotland Mon 22-Oct-12 12:38:37

In all honesty, I think you need to get over yourself. You seem to have already decided to dismiss the way the school does things, without giving them a chance to develop their own strategy, simply because it doesn't fit the way that you have already decided to do this.

There is going to be conflict, in fact there already is conflict, because you think your daughter ought to be complaining. Before long, she will pick up on the fact that this is what you want from her, and she'll oblige. Which will reinforce your decision that you know best and the school is rubbish.

If you want school to be a partnership, then you are going to have to accept that they will make choices you don't agree with. Those may be right or wrong, but unless you believe they are actually damaging your daughter's ability to learn, then I think you need to be cautious of how and when you decide to make a fight of it.

You could very easily read the books with your daughter, and write a few words into the reading record saying "read x". The get on with starting her on War & Peace if that's what you think will do her good. It doesn't have to be a fight if you don't choose to make it one.

learnandsay Mon 22-Oct-12 12:43:42

heymammy. That's fine then. If that's what they're doing then I'm all for it. Obviously with a four year old you'd need a simple book to study all that stuff. But no-one's said anything to me about it. I can't support the school in teaching grammar and structure if I don't know what they're covering (the school is pretty active in sending home descriptions of what they're covering -- communication is pretty good.)

The comments that I've had are,

(i) it's great that you're doing so much work with her, expand her vocabulary.
(ii) please only write about school books
(iii) today we discussed reading with expression (the book was too simple to have any expression)

(so, a little contradictory and mildly confusing)

If they were covering structure and grammar I'd be 100% supportive of the simple sentences. (I'll ask the teacher tonight , but I don't think they're doing that.)

learnandsay Mon 22-Oct-12 12:49:56

No, Amumin,

I don't think my daughter should be complaining at all. I guess my problem is that I don't understand what the reading diary is for if it's not to write about her reading in. After all it's me who has to write in it.

AMumInScotland Mon 22-Oct-12 12:51:08

In the first half term of Reception, the school are unlikely to think that they need you to do anything specific to "support" their teaching of grammar and structure. What she covers in school will be plenty. You can support her literacy by introducing her to other books, by taking her to the library, by modelling "reading enjoyment" yourself, by making up silly rhymes and playing word games. You don't need to re-cover the ground that the school are covering with her in order to support her, or them.

learnandsay Mon 22-Oct-12 12:53:29

I agree, I don't think they're covering grammar either. Yes, Amumin, we love the library and our local staff are fantastic.

My problem is just commenting in the diary. It's not anything else.

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