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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?

rrbrigi Thu 13-Jun-13 12:20:43

I wish we could get more non-fiction books from school that support the curriculum they learn in the classroom. E.g.: I am just looking the webpage daftame and there are some books about lifecycles (for early reader) that my son probably can read and look alone and they are learning about lifecycles in this term.

caffeinated Thu 13-Jun-13 12:22:53

Peri, our school don't have individual reading books the guided reading book is also the individual reading book. I think a good proportion of schools share that approach.

caffeinated Thu 13-Jun-13 12:24:21

Op in year 1 my dc read a lot of non fiction books that were part of the project x Ort reading scheme. You could always sign up to the reading chest website over the summer.

Standautocorrected Thu 13-Jun-13 12:32:16

I've skimmed the thread op so sorry if I have missed something.
When my oldest child was in reception they had the same policy.
My second child is now in reception and it seems this policy has now changed.

I suggest the following:
Take him to the library regulary (different ones if you can) and take your lead from him. See what he likes.
Usborne used to have a large selection of books that might suit him. Traditional tales, early readers and factual books.

If I think of anything else I will add to my posts.

BlueStringPudding Thu 13-Jun-13 12:40:21

DS is also very good at reading - and although his school have been very good with moving him up through the Bands (no artificial limits), he did find some of the lower bands very easy, and so to supplement them we got books from where you can select books by reading Band.

He loves getting the books through the post, and tends to read those at the weekend, or during the week if his school book hasn't been changed.

I do think your school's attitude is shocking - and it would really concern me. I think it would be worth putting your concerns in writing, and getting a written response from them, and then escalating it.

TolliverGroat Thu 13-Jun-13 12:41:39

If your library has a children's librarian he or she will normally be happy to help you pick out appropriate books (in content and reading level) if you ask.

Periwinkle007 Thu 13-Jun-13 12:42:59

so caffeinated I don't understand how they can possibly be teaching each child at their own ability then. Thats fine with the guided reading book being individual reading book if it is at their level but I just don't get the idea of making the whole class all read the same level at the same time for the first few years of school. It really doesn't make sense to me.

my daughter's guided reading is still at about level 3 I think because they do it as a class (I assume, she never mentions it, she used to complain it took ages and was too easy but now has either given up or just accepted it) but her individual book is at her level, chosen by her from the relevant box and she is expected to demonstrate expression, fluency, understanding of punctuation, comprehension, prediction skills, understanding emotion etc. We haven't had too much trouble with the school books not being appropriate at her age but I think the school have probably vetted them first.

MrsMelons Thu 13-Jun-13 12:45:23

I would not be happy with this policy at all. All teachers should be able to cater for the children individually but in reality this is not always possible. We are having issues this year at school but up until now it has been amazing at differentiating.

DS1 started YR on blue level and they were happy to move him up 2 or 3 levels at a time until they found his level, he was on white level by the end of YR. They just put him in with Y1 or 2 for guided reading as there would be no point in him doing guided reading with red books.

However I do agree with DaftDame, comprehension is not just understanding the story, if this was the case DS1 would have been a free reader before starting school as could read any words and generally understand the gist of the story but there is a lot to it particularly after gold level, lots of punctuation, predicting the story, character work and lots more.

I would speak to the teacher and asked what you can do to help him move up a level as he is not finding the reading part challenging, if their answer is because we don't move them higher than that in YR then I would see the HT if I was you.

I am rubbish at going in talking to the teacher but I can see when it is really necessary.

MrsMelons Thu 13-Jun-13 12:46:39

I thought that they should be doing guided reading at a level above their individual reading book?

blueberryupsidedown Thu 13-Jun-13 12:54:33

There has been lots of answers but if I may just add, what a child can read at home under the guidance of one parent in a quiet room with no distraction is different from what they can achieve at school in a room full of children and distractions. I volunteer at the school where my children go and I observe them and know that they can do much better, but in a classroom it's different. Before moving up a level the children have to demonstrate their progress at school, and according to a number of set criteria. In year 1, DS has read about 10 Roald Dahl books and a series of ten Transformers books, and he is on his third 'diary of a whimpy kid' but at school he is just in the more advanced group, not moved to year 2 or anything like that. It doesn't matter which colour band a book is in. Doesn't matter one bit, as long as the child enjoys reading, whichever book/subject it is. The project X books are brilliant, great mix of fictonal and factual data, very interesting and great fun.

learnandsay Thu 13-Jun-13 13:03:12

I think it can be a bit of a cop-out but I've read someone's (some teacher or TA) opinion that having Reception children on the higher levels did more harm than good. She was saying that because they're so young they often can't understand what the book is about even if they can read the words. I'm sure that's true if (as someone suggested) the story is about Romans, Celts, cavemen and the like and the child doesn't know what any of those things are. But I can't believe that nobody in the whole school can find suitable reading material for a Reception child who is an advanced reader. I can find it in secondhand bookshops. It's not exactly hard. The quantity might be tricky if the books are changed several times a week. But letting the children read books from home would solve that problem too (if the parents have the books.) I can see niggles and problems but I can't see how a policy of Reception children can only read up to level x can really ever be justified.

caffeinated Thu 13-Jun-13 13:12:55

Peri classes are split into 6 ability groups of 5 children and grouped according to ability. Dc1 was always ready to move up but had to wait til everyone in the group was ready.

I remember being really anxious about reading when they were at school. But reading books aren't the be all and end all. They have other opportunities to read at school and endless opportunities at home. As long as school are doing a good job teaching them phonics they will gain all the skills they need to read any book. Mine certainly read more at home. I will certainly be more chilled out when dc3 starts.

daftdame Thu 13-Jun-13 13:14:57

learnandsay I agree. However arguing with a teacher over levelling or how they have assessed is a pretty difficult task. You'd have to know an awful lot, which they are not always that willing to divulge, won't always give sub-levels, discuss APP profile or QCA papers. You'd pretty much have to be there to comment.

Added to this reading schemes / banding methodologies are produced with a linear progression, usually in line with 'their' teaching programme, in mind. I don't think an awful lot of time is spent picking out individual reading books, tailored to specific individual needs. In my experience they all follow one programme or method of banding.

As a parent it is much easier to know your child's tastes and depending on how much time you spend reading with them and know the subject maybe you know more about their abilities too.

learnandsay Thu 13-Jun-13 13:27:03

I don't think it's wise to argue with the teacher, you'll just upset her and still not get the books you want. No, if the teacher won't raise the book level and can't explain why not (or gives the horny old comprehension argument) when the child can obviously answer a whole series of plot questions effortlessly, then I'd simply take the matter up with the head teacher (and beyond as necessary.) I wouldn't ever argue with a teacher but I would ask him or her to give me a good explanation of something which seemed obviously wrong. And then I'd take the matter elsewhere.

daftdame Thu 13-Jun-13 13:33:10

learnandsay But then getting the evidence together and getting them to believe it is a whole other issue. (Believe me I've tried). Hence me hoping that the 'good will out' and keeping on encouraging all I can.

learnandsay Thu 13-Jun-13 13:37:49

You're saying that you'd researched the scheme and grading methods for your child and produced evidence that your child was being graded incorrectly and the school refused to accept what you were saying?

learnandsay Thu 13-Jun-13 13:39:06

I have heard of this before (I think it's not that uncommon) and the solution I find anecdotally is that people move schools.

daftdame Thu 13-Jun-13 13:44:08

Learnadsay Pretty much (ish).

However I disagreed with the nature of the scheme in that it was unsuitable, did not match my child's reading development. Neither did the way they were grading match development (although they did not divulge all of that info, I suspect a lot was guess work). Bit of an unusual (although not unheard of) case in that could decode well before school age. They seemed scared when I described what he could do for initial parent interview.

daftdame Thu 13-Jun-13 13:45:40

learnandsay looking at the schools local to us they were all very similar.

learnandsay Thu 13-Jun-13 13:53:35

I've heard of several similar cases. So far it looks as if all of the people who have had trouble have not been part of a nursery which is attached to the school. For some reason or reasons the reception of reading children into Reception class is, anecdotally, often badly handled. Personally I suspect this is because Reception teachers feel it's better to start again from scratch than to risk educating a child with gaps in her knowledge. It's probably not that they don't believe what the mums is saying. It's just that they know the mum is not an EYFS teacher and would rather teach the child from square one based on what they've been taught in college and have experienced.

So they say thank you, mum. Take all mum's evidence and chuck it in the bin.

daftdame Thu 13-Jun-13 13:58:31

Maybe, there was no nursery attached to school. But then how far back do you go?

Mine already went to preschool, do they have to be in nursery from being babies so they have all had the same input. Even then they have different strengths and weaknesses.

daftdame Thu 13-Jun-13 14:03:14

^By the way one of my friends, who is a teacher, has had loads of arguments and is considering public school for her's. Although I'm not sure she'll be any better off.

I suspect there is a certain amount of professional pride although you'd get no where accusing them.

learnandsay Thu 13-Jun-13 14:04:35

If they went to a nursery that was attached to the school and it had EYFS teachers teaching the children in it then either the same teachers would teach the Reception children or the nursery teachers would hand over to Reception teachers. But either way the Reception teacher would know that the children had been taught according to accepted early years teaching standards. If the Reception child walks in off the street able to read the Reception teacher has no idea how she learned to read. And if it later turns out that she has some kinds of reading problems the Reception teacher will get blamed and not the mum. So, if I was a Reception teacher I would probably think right. I'm going to have to put this child through a rigorous testing regime to find out exactly what she can do and what she can't do. That presumably takes time.

learnandsay Thu 13-Jun-13 14:06:49

I think that's what has happened with my daughter. The Reception teacher is excessively cautious.

daftdame Thu 13-Jun-13 14:09:36

There were EYFS teachers at our preschool. I thought all preschools have EYFS now. Although they were private and the assessments are maybe not always agreed.

Testing does take time and is not always appropriate or accurate on school entry (so much other stuff to deal with).

This is why I think there has to be a good deal of give and take and less defensiveness all round. Not easy though.

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