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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?

learnandsay Fri 14-Jun-13 10:37:34

rrbrigi, I agree with most of your list of advantages, motives and desires that a parent might have or might not have for teaching her child at home. I personally don't believe that you are all that disadvantaged in the ability to teach English to your children. Your written English is extremely good. I'm sure studying your children's curricula and examining their work will do everyone in the family good. Recapping grammar does me good these days. Personally I think education is a good thing for everybody, not just school children. (And conversely the lack of it is bad. Just look at the stats for illiterates in prison.) Yes, I agree that a parent's education and her desire are huge factors in her ability to involve herself in her child's education. But there are also famous stories about poorly educated mothers who have been the educational inspiration for their children too. (I don't know how true those famous stories are. But I'm familiar with some of them.)

Periwinkle007 Fri 14-Jun-13 10:24:46

I know you are concerned about your English or teaching him wrongly but to be honest for the majority of us in the UK, even when we HAVE been through our education system it is very different to when we went to school. Children didn't start school until after they turned 5/the term they turned 5, reading wasn't taught through phonics but through look and say, SATS didn't exist, it was all very different, even maths is taught through completely different methods now (we didn't use numberlines for example) so a lot of us are as much in the dark about it as you are.

rrbrigi Fri 14-Jun-13 10:14:12

First I would like to tell you that was a misunderstanding in my post about math. I sorry about it, it is my English. The teacher did not comment on Math I just wanted to tell, holding back from reading is the same as they would hold him back from Math. So no worry about the Math (yet).

The other comment that I would like to say is about stretch the children at home. This is very easy for someone who is a teacher (I think), still OK for a mum who went through the English education system, but believe me it is very hard for those who come from another country as an adult and raising a child here. Believe me, because I am not English I need to rely a lot on the teacher, believing in that she does a perfect job (what is very hard due to the lack of information we get from school). Also stretching a child at home it depends on lots of criteria (your ability, your ability to teach someone, your free time, how you would like to use your free time with your children, etc).

BabiesAreLikeBuses Thu 13-Jun-13 20:05:16

I think one thing that is clear is how much teaching varies. Op i am shock that they said don't do numbers over 10, in Autumn my ds's teacher called me in to say that most of the class are counting to ten and twenty but she knew my ds could do that and beyond a hundred so she worked on counting in twos. He easily did this and explained the pattern in the final digits to her (nobody had taught him this he just likes numbers and spotted it). She spoke to me to say he would not be doing maths with the class but extra stuff with a girl in the class who is similar, was that ok.... Which was fine by me. He doesn't do guided reading as nobody in the class is on the same level just heard by teacher 3x a week and i know has discussions with her afterwards. She is a great teacher and knows my son well, she is senco too which i think helps.

Op i would not be at all happy with my dc being held back. Your school's approach is not ok. I do not want my child pushed either - i just want him to be able to do things that interest him

Periwinkle007 Thu 13-Jun-13 19:26:02

some pf a scheme might be inappropriate for younger ones but on the whole from a school's point of view they should be able to restrict the children to the appropriate topics. I also agree there should be a lot more 'off scheme' reading once they get to higher levels.

daftdame Thu 13-Jun-13 18:48:02

Abby I agree but have come across scheme books with too mature content in terms of concepts for example.

Volcanoes was one that I struggled to explain very early on in terms of the physics of why they erupt and all the new scientific terms included. Even the questions at the back assume more prior knowledge in terms of discussion of narrative features of stories. The characters in the books tend to be older children with more mature interests also.

I think schools should be more prepared to go off scheme or select scheme books more carefully.

learnandsay Thu 13-Jun-13 18:44:24

Obviously the practical answer is to stretch the children at home (which is what I think most parents with this issue are doing.) These inspectors and those inspectors have been banging on about the most able children not getting stretched since the stone age and I don't think anybody has done anything about it yet.

AbbyR1973 Thu 13-Jun-13 18:41:13

DS's white band book at present is ORT The Spoilt Holiday. The content is perfectly acceptable. I haven't yet come across one with more mature themes than he could cope with so there are plenty that are suitable for the advanced early reader if school has to stick to scheme books. It also doesn't explain about the maths issue and I suspect that schools just use the content issue as an excuse. I really don't think schools can excuse this kind of behaviour. It's no different than forcing children of lower ability to do work that is too difficult for them. Children don't all have to be the same.

learnandsay Thu 13-Jun-13 18:40:50

Of course the simple answer would be to let the child read different books, even books from home if necessary, not to stick them on blue for the rest of the year.

daftdame Thu 13-Jun-13 18:35:13

Abby I think part of the problem is that many reading schemes are not developed with this in mind. Therefore you get subject matter, concepts and themes that are possibly a bit too advanced.

Obviously you don't get this with non scheme story books which vary more in language, or some of the book banding systems which acknowledge the possibility of a very young advanced reader. Its why its useful to know which schemes your school uses and what is out there.

AbbyR1973 Thu 13-Jun-13 17:54:11

This thread is very interesting given the report in today's papers that clever children are being failed by low expectations. It is entirely ridiculous to say a child can only read books of a certain level at a certain age. It is also ridiculous to pretend numbers over 10 don't exist. It would drive me spare if our school behaved like that which fortunately they don't. Surely far greater problems are caused by preventing children from progressing at their own rate than by allowing them to get ahead of their peers. Why shouldn't a child be on white band in reception if they can manage it. It's entirely insane. Grrr.

daftdame Thu 13-Jun-13 16:09:11

I don't like to think me or my son as 'problems', even if we can be sometimes! grin

learnandsay Thu 13-Jun-13 16:07:39

A few people have commented that their school does not allow Reception readers above blue ORT. If a child comes in to Reception already reading books considerably above that then you're looking at a ready-made problem.

daftdame Thu 13-Jun-13 16:02:38

I'm not sure it'd be an actual policy decision but it might persuade them to be cautious let's say. 'Conflict of interests' is the term that springs to mind, but then I can be a cynical old cow sometimes...

learnandsay Thu 13-Jun-13 15:48:02

I hadn't thought of that! If they're ignoring children's existing abilities for that reason that then it's a bit sneaky!

daftdame Thu 13-Jun-13 14:15:22

The when you read your LAs funding policy which directs more funds to school with lower prior attainment...

learnandsay Thu 13-Jun-13 14:11:47

I also think the teacher could have promoted my daughter more but found it convenient not to. She has said as much herself. Has it mattered overall? Probably not. The one time when my daughter lost some interest in reading the teacher did put her up. So, her teaching method has been OK-ish. I would have preferred my daughter to have really come along. But it hasn't been a disaster. And at least that's something to be grateful for.

daftdame Thu 13-Jun-13 14:11:39

I think all my son's teachers have been excessively cautious on some matters and not sensitive enough concerning others. grin

But then I am extremely hard to please....good job I'm forgiving!

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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 13:45:40

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

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