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Reading in reception

(36 Posts)
acebaby Sun 25-Nov-12 12:08:50

DS2 is in reception (may birthday, age 4.6). He is doing well with his phonics - secure with individual letters and getting the hang of diagraphs (sh, ch etc). So I am not worried in general about his progress or ability. However, he still can't recognize any words by sight (eg 'the', 'he').

My concern is that his teacher has rapidly moved him onto level 3 ort songbirds books. Ds2 can sound out most of the words individually, but he needs support to make sense of the stories. He doesnt enjoy reading them with me. I should say that he can tell the story from the pictures and also he can easily understand chapter books that I read aloud to him.

I think he finds these books too hard and he would be better sticking with much shorter and simpler books that he can both decode and understand. his teacher thinks that I underestimate his ability and that he is being a bit lazy. He rarely reads his books at school, although they do literacy everyday (eg reading sentences off the board).

Before I go back to the teacher, again, and ask for the third time for easier books and more support for him at school with his reading books, please can I have a second opinion about whether I am being unreasonable to question the teacher. Genuinely not sure

Thanks in advance!

mrz Sun 25-Nov-12 12:40:01

"However, he still can't recognize any words by sight (eg 'the', 'he')." How does he manage when he meet then in the Songbirds books?

acebaby Sun 25-Nov-12 12:58:50

I read them for him. Then I get him to point to the word and read it again. Once he has read the word this way a few times, he will start to remember, but he doesn't retain the informstion from one session to the next. I think that there is just too much for him to take in.

Mostly the songbird books seem decodable though so he manages by sounding out.

Am I doing the right thing? Not sure what else I can do

learnandsay Sun 25-Nov-12 13:06:42

If it was me I'd stick the words on paper and spread them out on the drawingroom floor and then have a game where we made silly sentences with them. But my daughter had six months or more at the paper on the floor stage. She didn't go straight from nothing to reading books. Yikes!

mrz Sun 25-Nov-12 13:14:53

He doesn't need to learn these words by sight but he does need to know how to read them - the words contain ways to spell sounds he hasn' bee taught yet so are tricky at this point but it is more useful to tell him that the letter <e> in he is a way to write the sound "ee" ...then he can read he - me- she- we- be for example ... the letter <e> in the is a little different unless you say thee as it is usually said as a "uh" sound (technically called schwa) I wouldn't focus on telling a story with the pictures as it's important he understands that the text tells the story.

acebaby Sun 25-Nov-12 13:19:25

Thanks - great idea! I think ds2 is doing really well. He wasn't even blending at the beginning of term and now he can have a good go at most decodable words - even long ones. It is the tricky words we need to work on. It is interesting that your dd didn't go straight to reading books (let alone level 3 ones!). I am not a teacher but I honestly think that a steady approach - focusing on the basics - is better in the long run. I am very worried that ds2 is not enjoying reading any more.

acebaby Sun 25-Nov-12 13:25:42

Mrz - thank you - cross posts. The scjlhool seems to have a combined tricky word/phonics approach - so 'the' is a tricky word.

I guess perhaps I should read up on phonics rules and model patterns that haven't or won't be covered when we are reading togsther. Doing point and say for some words and sounding out others is probably confusing him.

mrz Sun 25-Nov-12 14:17:06

yes "the" is a tricky word but tricky isn't the same as sight
The school should be pointing out which part is tricky which in the word "the" is the e

acebaby Sun 25-Nov-12 14:44:08

I think I am getting this all wrong. Can you point me to a basic guide to decodable vs tricky vs sight words and how they should be tackled by beginning readers?

Thank you so much!

mrz Sun 25-Nov-12 14:56:54

All words are decodable once you know the code
Some words that appear frequently in text contain parts that are "tricky" until you learn the code
Learning words by sight isn't necessary and is a very inefficient way to learn to read.

English has a complex spelling system

The basic concept is

there are 44ish sounds in English (varies slightly depending where you live) but only 26 letters in our alphabet therefore

a spoken sound can be spelt with one, two, three or even four letters

one sound can have a number of different spellings

for example the sound "ae" can be written <a> <ay> <ai> <ae> <a-e> <ea> <eigh> <ey> <aigh>

one spelling can represent different sounds

for example <ea> is the spelling for the sound "e" in head "ee" in seat and "ae" in great ..

Tgger Sun 25-Nov-12 16:21:38

Hi. He's still very young and your approach sounds the wisest to me. Maybe if you tell his teacher the books are too hard and causing upset so you won't be doing them please can you have easier ones, or re worded to be a bit more teacher friendly/supportive? THere are lots of other series apart from songbirds so he could try these- have a look on oxfordowl site if you want to try stuff at home.

My son is October birthday so was about your son's age in the Summer holidays before YR (he's now Y1). He'd started blending and got to about the stage your son is at, but then we had reading refusal- he found the stage 3 books too hard and it wasn't fun anymore so he didn't want to do it. We just left it as he'd started reading just at his own request anyway (learnt to blend in nursery). They then didn't get any reading books in the whole of the Autumn term YR and we didn't do any at home either. In January he brought home his first school book which was the Songbirds Stage 1. Of course he could do this very easily so I tried him on the Stage 2 and then the Stage 3 Songbirds, found he could read them easily and more importantly wanted to, often several books in one go. It had just taken time and maturity and he was quite happy to read. He then really started flying with his reading and is a fluent reader now.

So..... I completely agree not to push when they are 4. It's great that he can blend, I don't like the idea that a 4 year old is "lazy" when it comes to reading. shock.

Tgger Sun 25-Nov-12 16:26:34

I should also say that a term of phonics lesson in YR had probably helped a lot grin..

acebaby Sun 25-Nov-12 17:38:24

Thank you mrz. I was hoping you would be around to help when I first posted. I have pasted your phonics guide into an email to myself for future reference!

Tiggr thank you for the advice and encouragement. It is great to hear that your DS is now doing so well after a period of reluctance. I think that ds2 would have benefitted from a term of phonics! It is interesting that your DS also got stuck at stage 3. It does seem a big leap. I too am uncomfortable with ds2 being described as lazy. He is actually an energetic and helpful little boy, who is finding his reading books heavy going. Grrrrr.

Right. - well I will have one more go tactfully asking the teacher for easier books and then I will ditch the school reading books. ( he barely reads the, there anyway) and get a pack of stage 1 decode able books to read with him myself. Very annoying!

mrz Sun 25-Nov-12 17:47:15

Rudolphstolemycarrots Sun 25-Nov-12 23:55:45

Google high frequency words for R. My son is working through these at home and has to play memory games each day.

mrz Mon 26-Nov-12 16:18:24


mumchat Mon 26-Nov-12 21:28:15

I totally "get" the not trying to memorise high frequency words. I think decoding is great and my almost youngest in class R four year old is thrilled that she can "sound out" words.

My Q is... As a parent with a 4 yr old who has learnt the single letter sounds & 4-5 double letter sounds (ch, sh, nk, ng, th) when reading books have words that will be decidable in the future (once more code has been covered) should we try to teach that code now or just say the word for the child or try to stick to books with words using code they have learnt and move up the books as they learn more code?

They are following Read Write Inc at school but don't get RWI books. Today's book had "come, here, there, more," etc which I am never sure what to do with! Friday's b

mumchat Mon 26-Nov-12 21:31:18

Sorry phone ran ahead of me...
Friday's book had similar words plus castle and a few others I can't remember now!

Happy to try to teach new code ahead of time, tell child the words or ditch the books but need advice please :-)

Apologies for errors in previous post. Didn't get chance to preview it.

ninah Mon 26-Nov-12 21:35:24

I wanted to ask mrz a question, if I may - I think it could be relevant on this thread if not please excuse the hijack.
How often should children in R be heard to read in class each week? and as a group/individual? thanks

mrz Mon 26-Nov-12 21:37:39

I would point out the code she hasn't been taught yet so in there <ere> is the spelling for "air" but in here the same spelling represents the sound "ear" and in more <ore> is the spelling for the sound "or" and <o> is the spelling for "u" in come

Tgger Mon 26-Nov-12 21:39:30

Burn those books mumchat! grin. Sorry, but I feel passionately about this. They should be getting books they can decode pretty much all of the words not things like come, more, castle etc. Seems so silly the school teaches the phonics really well then sends home a book in a foreign language...

So... up to you, but if I was you I wouldn't want my beginner reader starting on those books. If you are more broad minded than me then you could read those words and let her read the ones she can decode. Personally I would ask the teacher for some better books- there are loads out there- if they claim not to have any then they should buy some! Rant over grin.!

Tgger Mon 26-Nov-12 21:41:42

You see mrz has an easier attitude, but how many 4 year olds who are proud of their new decoding skills really want to know all that and want/can take it all on board at that moment... (not many!). Maybe a 7 year old might just cope with some of that.

Surely it is better to stick to the sounds they have been taught with easy books.

mrz Mon 26-Nov-12 21:44:27

When I taught reception I aimed to hear children read 1-1 as often as possible, easier in the autumn when not all children had reading books but at least twice a week in the summer term.

mrz Mon 26-Nov-12 21:48:40

Tgger I would let the child say "th" and tell them the next part is "air" then they can decode there or "s" tell them "u" "m" to decode some....IMHE 4 year olds take incidental learning on board easily ...

ninah Mon 26-Nov-12 21:51:46

Thanks. I have been doing similar (1-1 as often as poss plus a weekly group session for those who can cope with it). Have been advised it should be everyone in guided reading groups daily. It seems to vary so much! am glad to be in line with what you have done.

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