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Another reading level question. Please help.

(68 Posts)
rrbrigi Thu 13-Jun-13 10:02:56

I need some advice. My son is in blue level in the school in Reception. I had a meeting with his teacher and I asked her to move him up, because I think he is ready. She told me that he is ready, but blue is the highest level they give the children in his class (this is how the school does this every year) and there is no point to move him a lot further ahead where are the other children in his class.

But sometimes he brings home turquoise level books. They have shelves for the pink and red books in the class. But for those children who are higher up the TA brings some (10 or 12) books in to the class and they can choose from those books. I think other children from other class put the turquoise books under the blue shelves (the stickers look like light blue on turquoise) and the TA does not recognise it. So the TA shows that 10-12 books to my son and he chooses 2 from them twice a week. He chooses turquoise for himself and he reads them easily at home (his comprehension is good too).

So I started to think what the point is to keep him in blue when he is ready for the level turquoise (that is 3 levels up). I do understand that it is not a race, but this is the system in England. It is the same like the teacher tells me that I should not let my son to adding numbers between 10 and 20, because the other children don’t do it in the class, and what is the point to move him further ahead from his classmates. I would not agree with this as well.

I have two reasons why I would like him to move up. Once because probably there is a reason why the reading system developed in this way in England. We read other books at home, but it is very hard for me to choose right level of books for him, because he is not free reader yet and we are not English, so I do not know lots of children books for each reading level. It is easier for me if the school keep him in the level that is challenging for him, so I do not need to worry that he gets the right level book from me or not.
The other reason is: nearly year end and I know next year will start again with assessing the children in the first two or three month, so I won’t have a chance that the new teacher in Year1 will move him up before the first parent evening in October or November. It means he will be in this easy level in the next 4-5 month even if he is ready for the next levels.

I know that I would like to achieve that the teacher move him up, but I do not know how to approach it. He has a lovely teacher; my son likes her a lot. But in this situation my view and the teacher view is different. But I do not want the teacher to be angry with us.

Any advice? Any teacher who can give me an advice how to approach it in a nice way?

hopingforbest Thu 13-Jun-13 10:35:06

My gosh. This sounds like a policy designed for the convenience of the teacher not for the benefit of the children.

Your child should definitely not tread water so the rest of the class can reach the same level and the teacher can deal with them all at once! That goes for maths and literacy (and everything else).

I would question this policy with the early years co-ordinator. And meanwhile you could simply ignore the levelled books coming home and buy/borrow a load of ORT 7, 8, 9 books for him to read over the summer.

I can definitely forgive a teacher for putting a child on the wrong book band - but actually advising holding them back for the benefit of the class... I'd be rioting!

hopingforbest Thu 13-Jun-13 10:37:04

PS In my view there is no magic in the levelled books. They are just a guide - useful at the earliest stages, less so from ORT 5 when kids generally have the hang of the principle of reading.

rrbrigi Thu 13-Jun-13 10:49:46

My other concern is why I would like to get the right level book from the school is that the teacher or TA does not read a lot with my son. I mean they read with him probably twice since Easter. I do understand that they are busy, but it also means teach reading for him is down to me. If I do not do right at home, than no one will notice, because he is in an easy level in the school.

And also the teacher complains that my son does not follow when other children read on the guided reading section (because they do the guided reading once a week). Of course he is not because they read red and yellow books and he is bored to follow a line for minutes. He can follow the book at home when I read with a normal speed. I do not understand why she does not put him together with other children from the other class. They have one Reception class and 1 mixed class (Reception and Year 1). I know there are a few children in the other class who is also on blue level. Should not they do the guided reading together?

Can I mention this as well?

caffeinated Thu 13-Jun-13 10:51:57

Hi OP, my dc's school does this. The highest they can read in reception is level 4 Ort (not sure bookband colours) but second week of year 1 he got bumped up to level 6 for 2 weeks then onto level 7. I wouldn't worry about it at this point. They tend to not bring books home the last couple of weeks. Wait and see what next years teacher does and if you are still concerned after a few weeks go and see them.

caffeinated Thu 13-Jun-13 10:55:11

In guided reading they will all be reading the same book with the teacher. That's the point of it.

Our school guided reading is always with the ta except a few times a year with the teacher. The children never read individually with a teacher or ta. But both my first 2 children finished year 2 on level 3 for reading.

rrbrigi Thu 13-Jun-13 11:03:52

And do they have the same policy in Year1,2,3 and so on in your son's school caffeinated?

I was thinking about not to mention it to the teacher. But only for the reason because they had a teacher in my son class who is on maternity leave and she needed to leave the school earlier as they agreed and the school was able to sort out a permanent teacher for the Reception class for the next day. So the children did not get different supply teacher day by day, and I think it is nice. It happened at Easter, so I know the new teacher has lots of work and she try to do everything very hard.

But I am not sure this should hold me back.

DeWe Thu 13-Jun-13 11:08:10

We had that with dd1 (policy now changed).
She could only read up to ort3 in year R, ort6 in year 1, and ort 9 in year 2.

At home she was reading Famous Five in year R, Harry Potter in year 1 and Antony Horovitz (sp?) in year 2.
Actually, although she was bored with reading at school, I don't think it did any harm, and it did get her really good at thorough understanding of a book because she could concentrate on the little things rather than worrying about the actual reading of words. She also was quite popular in guided reading because she would help those who found it harder, which meant she had to think about the why and all that.

Scruffey Thu 13-Jun-13 11:19:57

I would pressure the teacher now and if she doesn't move him up, then go to the head teacher and ask for the policy to be amended. At this stage in the year, I don't think you have much to lose as you will be getting a new teacher for y1. If the books are just for him to read at home, there is no excuse for not providing the correct level IMO. Even if they have few/no books at the level it is easy enough to borrow from another class.

daftdame Thu 13-Jun-13 11:20:33

I actually think there is a huge variation in how individual teachers teach reading with reference to reading schemes, often even within the same school! Realising this(from Mumsnet partly) has actually made me more secure about my child's abilities since you realise how arbitrary the assignment of a reading scheme 'level' can be.

Doing some further reading you them find out how the reading scheme levels are compiled, you realise how problematic trying to grade books in terms of difficulty is. (Prior knowledge, regional language variations, interest levels in terms of comprehension, for example, are hugely individual components and not easily manufactured).

I don't actually think the reading scheme book tells you much about levelling at all. What you need are the teacher's assessments with reference to the National Curriculum. This at least shows what the children have demonstrated they know at school, although not their actual ability, as depends on the frequency of assessment....etc etc.

I'm not saying reading levels cannot be a guide to help you choose appropriate books for your child, just that everybody seems to have different ideas about how to use them.

How your child is responding in terms of what they can/will demonstrate is the most important factor.

Although you should watch whether there is enough stimulus provided by the reading material to demonstrate decoding at the child's level and comprehension at their level. I have found the decoding skills are usually pretty obvious, especially when considering new, previously unseen words. The comprehension can usually work on several levels with the same reading book for example an adult could do a psychological analysis on a 'child's' book and discuss cultural or moral themes etc whilst a child might take the story at face value.

rrbrigi Thu 13-Jun-13 11:24:03

But that is not right.

In one hand that I read on MN (most from teachers) that they group the children by ability and does not matter if the child is able or not in the same class, because they can cater for each child ability, because they need to look at each children individually.
And what I can experience they try to bring most of the children in the same level in the class and this is the middle level, not too hard and not too easy. And those children who are good at something, but their parents won't force the school will sink in the crowd.

So why they are saying if you would like to learn fast you go alone (when they won't let you go)?

If he already would be a free reader I would not mind his level, I just would pick up any books from library about dinosaurs, science, the body, etc... and let him explore this information. But we need to achieve "free reader" somehow.

Also when they will say the same for me in Maths? Do they tell other children not to draw a house, because other children are not able to yet?

daftdame Thu 13-Jun-13 11:25:27

^ If you think your child is demonstrating more advanced comprehension than the teacher has seen evidence of I would speak to them, asking what sort of questions they are currently tackling and compare that to the ones you have been asking at home.

daftdame Thu 13-Jun-13 11:32:01

rrbrigi I think you need to view your child's abilities as something separate to the ability groups they are placed within school.

There is only so much a child can be held back. It will all come flooding out eventually, maybe at school maybe outside of it, hopefully both. Just encourage their interests where you can. (This is what I keep telling myself, it is the only truth I can cope with.)

I place very little limits at home regarding my child's reading material ( as long as the content is appropriate!).

rrbrigi Thu 13-Jun-13 11:33:52

He is not demonstrating more advanced comprehension. The teacher thinks too that he is ready to move up, but they won't do it because he is in Reception and he reached the top level they would give to a child in Reception.

PassTheTwiglets Thu 13-Jun-13 11:42:35

I'd be changing schools if I was advised not to try and keep my child at the same level as his classmates. Every child should be challenged, whatever their level.

rrbrigi Thu 13-Jun-13 11:43:44

daftdame Reading is important for me, because we are not English family. In our country there are certain books that the children should read just because those books part of the custom (not only the curriculum). If we were in my country I would not worry that much, because I know which book he should read (because I got the education there), so I would go to the Library and get it. But here when you think it is "common sense" which books should the children read, certainly it is not "common sense" for me, because I did not go through the education system here when I was a child.

So just say it took me lots of time in front of the internet to find out that Julia Donaldson’s books and Dr Seuss’s books are something that children read here (I have never ever heard about them before). That is why until you say I go to the Library and pick an appropriate book for my child, I do not know which one is appropriate for him. I can pick a book that he is interested in, but I cannot be sure that he should be able to read that or not.

daftdame Thu 13-Jun-13 11:47:44

rrbrigi shocking but not entirely surprising from what I have read.

If it is any consolation my child was given more advanced books in reception (more usually given Yr2/3), because he could but then comprehension was a moot point. He could comprehend them, at his level, but some of the prior knowledge assumed meant this was more 'face value' than an older child would comprehend at.

So then comprehension was questioned. However he could comprehend what was read, that is there was no problem with understanding at face value. He just did not have the language regarding narrative features (expected with the more advanced books) because he had not been 'taught' the terms adequately / did not have enough experience with the more advanced kind of discussion. Some of the concepts and themes occasionally were way outside his experiences.

As a result he was then held back from progressing quite as fast up the reading book levels and I'm still not sure the levelling is truly representative.

rrbrigi Thu 13-Jun-13 11:49:36

I would like my son to get a good education. I would not like to change the school, because he is happy here, the school is close to us, he has some friends. He is not the one who can get friends easily, so he would struggle in a new school.

daftdame Thu 13-Jun-13 11:54:46

rrbrigi It is not obvious to me either and I am from this country.

This website gives an indication. The number a book is assigned is based on the American Grading system eg 1st Grade is Yr2 the number after the decimal is months in that grade / class. Books are also rated in terms of maturity in themes, your child would probably be in the Early Years section.

At home I just tend to choose books at his interest level, he reads some by himself, I read some to him etc.

daftdame Thu 13-Jun-13 11:56:53

^sorry that should be lower years not early years.

caffeinated Thu 13-Jun-13 12:10:33

Sorry op for not answering your question properly dc 1 went reception Ort 1-4, yr1 Ort 6-8 yr2 Ort 10-13

Dc2 reception Ort 1-3 yr1 Ort 4-7 yr2 Ort 9-12

In year 3 they are in a separate junior school and if they got a level 3 in year 2 they don't stay on a reading scheme. Both making good progress.

Couple of points; when dc2 was moved to year 1 I was disappointed they didn't skip a level or 2 like older sibling. We had daily reading practice in the summer hols so I went in to see the teacher to ask why. DC was reading and understanding the level 4 books easily. Teacher said she doesn't move them on at that stage until they master expression and so I trusted her and dc2 is so much nicer to listen to read than dc1 who flew through the levels faster but wasn't given much emphasis on expression.

I was surprised too when faster progress wasn't made in year 2 initially but the teacher told me at parents' evening that because they read as a group and dc2 wasn't keen to openly take a role in discussion (bit shy) she couldn't be sure his comprehension matched his decoding ability.

rrbrigi Thu 13-Jun-13 12:11:12

Thanks. That is a very good website. I can find a book and go to the Library to borrow it.

caffeinated Thu 13-Jun-13 12:13:10

Also I do see some wisdom in holding them back a bit in reception if they are able because the content of some later level books would have bothered dc1 in reception. A very sensitive soul.

daftdame Thu 13-Jun-13 12:13:51


Periwinkle007 Thu 13-Jun-13 12:17:31

I would not be happy with a school having a policy that a child has to read easier books in their INDIVIDUAL reading book just because they have a rule. An individual reading book is exactly that and they should be able to move up the reading books without meeting all the National Curriculum level requirements as they are different things.
in reception my daughter started on book band 5 and has moved up to 11 (well I think she is supposed to be on 10 but she keeps bringing home 11s and to be honest I don't think there is a lot of difference between the 9/10/11s in the box). I had a look at the NC info and whilst she can do many of the things required she can't possibly have the experience or educational background to do the things a yr 3 level 11 reader would be able to do.

If they were keeping him back because he needed to focus on comprehension, expression, fluency or something then fine as these are vital skills to be achieved before progressing but to just do it 'because' seems wrong.

As for not being able to know which books should be right for him I understand you are in a difficult position. My only advice here would be to just try them. If he is interested in them but they look a bit too hard then he reads the bits he can and you help with the others, if a bit easy then it doesn't matter because he will enjoy them anyway as he was interested in them. If you make some mistakes with what you pick for/with him then it doesn't matter. Also librarians are normally very happy to help, I would hope that if you went to your local library and explained (take with you something he can read to show them) then they would probably happily make suggestions.

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