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should I be worried to not know any details of my children levels or what is expected progress for their ages?

(143 Posts)
educator123 Sun 17-Feb-13 16:52:43

I recently came over to this section and ever since all I've done is worry

With all the talk of levels and book bands etc.

Is it unusual for a parent to not know their child's level...keep seeing this 2a etc popping up.

The teachers assure me that the children are doing well at parent evening, but how would I know. I've always liked the school and assumed I would know if something was wrong.

Now I feel like I know nothing, and would struggle to know what is the norm, and he things are ok!?

simpson Mon 18-Feb-13 17:46:05

Suffixes and prefixes etc, I think...

She just now hates sound time sad as its "boring" <<sigh>>

Her spelling is pretty good except for two (she spells tow every time) and their as thier grin

She does still have spelling tests every week.

mrz Mon 18-Feb-13 17:55:16

She's doing really well

learnandsay Mon 18-Feb-13 18:02:25

I don't think it's pointless to teach the decoding of words that the child can't understand. Children love to hear Beatrix Potter who uses words like master, mischief, implored and so on. In the context of the story the children get the gist of what's being read without understanding precisely what some words mean. When my daughter reads Beatrix Potter I explain what some words mean after she has decoded them. When I read Beatrix Potter, unless she stops me and asks me, I don't.

mrz Mon 18-Feb-13 18:10:56

That isn't what I said learnandsay!

simpson Mon 18-Feb-13 18:17:48

Dr Suess is full of words that kids don't know what they mean too. But it doesn't mean they can't enjoy it.

learnandsay Mon 18-Feb-13 18:19:52

It's pointless teaching a child to decode words without understanding

Then the alien words in the phonics check are pointless because, by definition, they can't be understood.

simpson Mon 18-Feb-13 18:24:35

I don't agree as the first time a child encounters a word (to read) to them it's an alien word as they don't know what it means.

It's only the adult who knows the difference between a "real" word and an "alien" word.

Also the phonics checks is for phonic knowledge only not comprehension.

Feenie Mon 18-Feb-13 18:26:46

It's pointless teaching a child to decode words without understanding

Yep. That'll be why no one does it, then.

learnandsay Mon 18-Feb-13 18:30:03

I'd heard of teachers swapping lists of alien words. I think some people do do it.

mrz Mon 18-Feb-13 19:02:19

It's pointless teaching a child to decode words without understanding

Then the alien words in the phonics check are pointless because, by definition, they can't be understood.

You seem to be confusing teaching and assessing learnandsay

Phonics is taught in the context of words, sentences and texts ...children are taught the meaning of new vocabulary they meet and to understand the sentences and texts they read.

The phonics screening check uses a mixture or real and pseudo words to assess whether children have developed the skills and knowledge they need to decode any unfamiliar words they may encounter.

learnandsay Mon 18-Feb-13 19:08:13

Here is a resource for teachers to train their children to read meaningless words using flashcards. You can try to persuade me that nobody uses it if you like.

mrz Mon 18-Feb-13 19:09:41

and yes there were teachers swapping lists last year because they were worried (apparently with good reason) that their pupils hadn't been taught phonics effectively enough to decode any word they met.

mrz Mon 18-Feb-13 19:21:51

I do wonder if those teachers who were swapping lists were the ones complaining that their good readers failed hmm

kawliga Mon 18-Feb-13 19:31:13

educator - about your dd crying in the morning and reporting that she was crying at school. I find that by asking the teachers consistently about her day, her friends, whether she played, whether she cried, they eventually get that I'm more interested in her emotional wellbeing than the academic stuff and they fill me in on what was going on so I can understand dd's reports of crying. I don't think children deliberately give false reports, it's just they see the world through 5 year old eyes. I try to piece together dd's report plus the teacher's 2 cents and come up with a fuller picture of what's going on at school. Sometimes you'll never get the full picture but at least you get a good sense of the context and can judge when it's serious and when it's not.

This is just what I chose to focus on when dd started school. There isn't that much time to talk properly with teachers without becoming a nuisance so I spend it on discussing dd's general wellbeing. Obviously this will change when she's older but at age 5 I honestly don't use the time to ask what she is being taught. Having said that, I do read with her so I notice in a general way that she is learning how to read. Great. How she compares to the average child, I really don't worry about. Even if I discovered that she was far behind the average I still wouldn't worry (that's one thing I've learned from lurking on mumsnet!)

learnandsay Mon 18-Feb-13 19:35:15

I can't quite see why it's a good idea not to worry if you somehow discover that your daughter's reading is far behind the average.

mrz Mon 18-Feb-13 19:39:52

Very sensible post kawliga your daughter is lucky to have such a caring mum

simpson Mon 18-Feb-13 19:46:13

Because LandS - I would hate my child to realise reading was an issue (that they were behind).

kawliga Mon 18-Feb-13 19:49:16

Thanks mrz!

learnandsay, this is about 5 year olds. Like the poster upthread said, this is when they are little, maybe until age 10? In some countries they don't even start school until 6 or 7. Also there are so many stories on mumsnet about dc who were hopelessly behind who then pulled far ahead, and others whose proud parents boasted about how far ahead they were who then fall behind.

I do think you would notice a serious problem e.g. child not making any progress at school. In that case I would approach the teacher to ask about what I had noticed (not to ask about what reading level they are on, but to just say that she seems not to be making progress and had they noticed the same thing?)

poodletip Mon 18-Feb-13 19:55:55

My children's school didn't give out the levels when she first started there. Then when a new head teacher started she started giving the levels every term. That was when I learnt that DD who was "ahead of expectations" at the end of Y3 might well have been ahead but was actually at the very same level at the end of Y3 than she was at the start. I knew she wasn't very happy (long story) but the teacher had throughout the year assured me that she was very bright and working hard, and hadn't given any indication that she wasn't making good progress. If it weren't for the levels being given to the parents I would never have known. Fortunately in Y4 she made good progress and so far in Y5 she's making even better progress. If I was getting given this information and I could see that she was continuing to fail to progress I would be able to do something about it. If you don't know then you can't do anything.

kawliga Mon 18-Feb-13 20:06:52

Poodletip surely if your dd was at the very same level at the end of Y3 as she was at the start you would have noticed that? She made no progress for a whole year and if the teacher hadn't told you then you would never have known? I don't get how that's possible if you live in the same house. I can guess it's very possible with teenagers they are experts at keeping parents in the dark, but not younger children?

mrz Mon 18-Feb-13 20:16:33

I think it's all down to how "progress" is measured. A child can be making progress without moving levels .progress isn't a nice upward line on a graph

poodletip Mon 18-Feb-13 20:17:05

No, I had no idea until I got those numbers. How would I know? I don't sit at home doing maths with her. They don't send home maths homework so I had no real idea what she was doing at school.

learnandsay Mon 18-Feb-13 22:08:14

I'm not sure. being worried doesn't necessarily mean getting shouty, trying to force her to read all the dictionaries in the house or (giving her friends spelling tests disguised as birthday parties, as we once saw.) It might mean nothing more complicated than writing poo and wee on bits of paper and sticking them to the fridge with magnets. Everything doesn't have to be bad.

kawliga Mon 18-Feb-13 22:16:25

poodletip, great that your dd is now making progress, but I don't think it's safe to rely 100% on teachers for this information. I would never trust any teacher or school that much, no matter how fantastic they were. They have other pupils to look after, plus other classroom management issues, plus mountains of paperwork, plus families and lives of their a parent you're the only person who is absolutely focused on your own child's progress. The teacher can't do it better than you.

To be in a situation where you don't know what your dc are doing at school (except for what the teachers say) sounds very risky to me, even though for now all seems to be going well. If the school doesn't send the children with homework then there are other ways to try and find out for yourself what they're doing and see if they're enjoying it and getting better at it as time goes by. That's all. Levels and averages, OFSTED, national targets, percentages and what other children are doing don't matter one whit.

simpson Mon 18-Feb-13 22:17:12

shock at spelling tests at a kids party!!

Although nothing should shock me as I found out recently that one mother of a child in DD's class has a spread sheet on who gets the WOW/Golden Book award each week!!

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