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Should I be worried about the issues Y1 DD has with reading and numbers - school don't seem to be? (long and detailed)

(31 Posts)
screamingeels Fri 01-Nov-13 18:21:10

DD struggles with reading and even more so with numbers. She has some deficits or errors which seem peculiar to me (ok - which scream dyslexia to me) but when I've raised them with her teachers, and the inclusion co-ordinator they've just shrugged and said some children are slower and they don't think DD is outside the norms. And whilst I know every mumsnet child starts school as a free reader, in real life I know loads that struggled and didn't get it until Y1 or Y2, so I elected to not stress about it whilst she was in reception.

So now she is in Y1 - and I am beginning to worry. As an October born, she is already 6 and one of the oldest in the class. It appears to me that she has made very little progress so far this term and has slid back in some areas.

I'd be really interested to know if anyone has had similar experiences with their DC and how it turned out. I'm wondering if I'm being over-anxious or if I should push school harder?

She can sound out about 25 phonic sounds (a sound for each letter and 'oo'; 'ee' etc.)
She can blend CVC and CVCC words (although not as well as she could do before the holidays)
Instead of blending she tends to make wild guesses based on the last letter she's sounded out so she might say "m-o-p" "pig?"; 'pat?"; "pop?"
She can't deal with decodable 2 syllables words and thinks the fact that in combination letters make different sounds is "odd!".
She cannot sight read at all - so we have hfw flashcards (I realise they are the devils work and have ditched them) but the point is that even after having them for 9 months she still sounds them out every single time; and when reading a CVC type book she will recognise the same word appears in concurrent sentences but won't know what it is, even though she has read it 4 words previously.

On numbers she can count to about 60 (she's a bit hit and miss on the 20/30/40 etc) which is the only progress she seems to have made this year.
She can do real life maths, are there enough chairs for dinner - cakes for all of us etc. but nothing in the abstract.
She cannot recognise the numbers 0 -10 reliably, she knows no number bonds.
If you ask her how old she is, she will hold up six fingers but cannot tell you 'I am six' until she has counted her fingers.

We had parents evening just before half term, and I laid out my concerns to her teacher, he just seemed really surprised and said he saw progress in her. However I'm not sure he knows anything about her at all. He didn't know what phonics she is doing as naturally because she's behind she's in a group being taught by the TA and on maths he asked if she uses the Sumdog site, I explained that we'd looked at it but as the entry level is number bonds its way beyond DD.

So am I being over-anxious and should I try and chill a bit longer, and if not what should I do? We try and do a bit of reinforcement with her every day, playing phonic and number games etc. this seems to stress her less than trying to read a book which often leads to tears. Do we just keep on going and wait for it to click?

brainonastick Fri 01-Nov-13 18:25:37

I don't know what you should do, but I didn't want to read and run, so bumping for you.

I don't think you are being over-anxious though, although my only relevant experience is also having a yr 1 child. Hope you get some helpful replies soon x

screamingeels Fri 01-Nov-13 18:34:27

thanks - its sort of useful for me just to write it down. I guess what i'm going to do is give it another 6 weeks and try teacher again.

Rowlers Fri 01-Nov-13 18:40:50

I have a Year 1 DS.
He reads quite well, so I don't have exactly the experience you are looking for.
However, I did go into school as a reading volunteer into his class last year and heard all 30 of them reading many times over the year.
There was a wide range of "ability" - not the right word I know! They were all at very different stages of development, shall we say.
There were definitely children like your DD who really struggled with the basics. By that I mean children who didn't recognise order of numbers 1-10, didn't recognise simple, high-frequency words and who didn't remember words repeated about 10 times over 5 pages.
So in that respect, your DD is not unusual.
I do remember lots of them not getting it for ages and ages and then suddenly, they'd be off.
A lot of the children who were at this stage also struggled to concentrate - is that relevent to your DD?
I would continue to engage with the teacher and TA if I were you. Ask for another meeting? Teachers at my children's school are always willing to do this.

brainonastick Fri 01-Nov-13 18:43:29

If you're really worried is paying for a private ed psych assessment a possibility (I don't even know if you can do this btw!)?

It doesn't sound like her teacher is tremendously on the ball. Why not ask for another meeting to discuss her next targets and how you can help with them? Then it should be apparent whether he has a clue what she's up to, and if he hasn't then it should focus his mind, or you can take the problem to the head.

screamingeels Fri 01-Nov-13 18:48:07

thanks rowlers thats really helpful - its the difficulty of only having access to your own child's experience. I've no idea what the range of normal is and teachers just blandly say she's fine. I should try and see them again but it always seems quite a significant thing to do as i work ft and have to take time off to do it.

RiversideMum Fri 01-Nov-13 18:50:13

Her level of achievement is certainly within the bounds of normal for Y1. Does the school do non verbal reasoning tests in Y1? A high score could suggest there are barriers to learning. Are there other things that make you think she is bright but not achieving?

thegamesafoot Fri 01-Nov-13 19:01:26

I think you should trust your instincts.

Most people on here with children that are falling behind seem to say they wish they'd pushed for help earlier, I've never read about a parent that said "well I wished we'd never pushed for additional help" - after all if everything suddenly clicks any support or assessment process will stop with no harm done. Waiting while more time passes and others are progressing and maybe pulling even further ahead may cause harm, with her confidence at the very least.

screamingeels Fri 01-Nov-13 19:11:15

riverside - i haven't really thought about whather she's bright or not - bright enough. I suppose part of my concern is that we have family history of dyslexia (me) and whatever dh had - diagnosed by educ psychologist as 'being bored' but he was completely failed by schools , left with few qualifications and no self-confidence

mrz Fri 01-Nov-13 19:19:15

As a teacher I wouldn't be worried but I would be looking at why she is having difficulty with number. I suspect she hasn't been taught how to tackle words with more than one syllable and lots of young children are worried by longer words ... split the word into syllables for her so she can decode syllable by syllable until she gains more confidence.

screamingeels Fri 01-Nov-13 19:27:44

Yes mrz - i think numbers are more worrying in that she doesn't seem to get them at all. But overall maybe i should bring worrying down a notch or two. It is good to know that most people who have seen more children gp through this think its not alarming, but would be good to make some contact with teacher and TA. I've never even met TA.

screamingeels Fri 01-Nov-13 19:34:05

last bit was to gamesafoot - you are right, as long as i can keep it fairly neutral is worth keeping on top of it.

Ferguson Sat 02-Nov-13 22:38:57

Hi - I was a TA with Yr1 Yr2 classes for ten years, and also another ten years as voluntary helper, often with children who were struggling with learning.

As others have said, some children in Yr1, and even Yr2, will have these sort of difficulties, though sometimes there is an explanation for it earlier in their childhood.

Assuming you have ruled out vision and hearing problems, have there been any domestic or emotional trauma in the past? What is her speech and conversation like? Had she been to nursery or pre-schools when younger? Is she your only child? To me, these aspects could have an influence on her confidence and ability to absorb information in school.

I will add below numeracy information I often send to parents, but not all of it may be relevant as it is also aimed at older children. Meanwhile, if you like to clarify some of my queries I will come back in a few days and see how we are getting on:


Practical things are best for grasping number concepts - bricks, Lego, beads, counters, money, shapes, weights, measuring, cooking.

Do adding, taking away, multiplication (repeated addition), division (sharing), using REAL OBJECTS as just 'numbers' can be too abstract for some children.

Number Bonds of Ten forms the basis of much maths work, so try to learn them. Using Lego or something similar, use a LOT of bricks (of just TWO colours, if you have enough) lay them out so the pattern can be seen of one colour INCREASING while the other colour DECREASES. Lay them down, or build up like steps.


ten of one colour none of other
nine of one colour one of other
eight of one colour two of other
seven of one colour three of other

etc, etc

then of course, the sides are equal at 5 and 5; after which the colours 'swap over' as to increasing/decreasing.

To learn TABLES, do them in groups that have a relationship, thus:

x2, x4, x8

x3, x6, x12

5 and 10 are easy

7 and 9 are rather harder.

Starting with TWO times TABLE, I always say: "Imagine the class is lining up in pairs; each child will have a partner, if there is an EVEN number in the class. If one child is left without a partner, then the number is ODD, because an odd one is left out."

Use Lego bricks again, lay them out in a column of 2 wide to learn 2x table. Go half way down the column, and move half the bricks up, so that now the column is 4 bricks wide. That gives the start of 4x table.

Then do similar things with 3x and 6x.

With 5x, try and count in 'fives', and notice the relationship with 'ten' - they will alternate, ending in 5 then 10.

It is important to try and UNDERSTAND the relationships between numbers, and not just learn them 'by rote'.

I am sorry it seems complicated trying to explain these concepts, but using Lego or counters should make understanding easier.

An inexpensive solar powered calculator (no battery to run out!) can help learn tables by 'repeated addition'. So: enter 2+2 and press = to give 4. KEEP PRESSING = and it should add on 2 each time, giving 2 times table.

There are good web sites, which can be fun to use :


Huitre Sat 02-Nov-13 22:47:23

What weight would you give to being an only child, Ferguson? That seems an odd thing to ask about.

Tanfastic Sat 02-Nov-13 22:48:05

I have a year 1 ds who sounds very much like your dd in every respect. He has however been diagnosed (if that's the right word) with moderate learning difficulties and is on School Action Plus.

He's as bright as a button in all other respects but numeracy and literacy he's bottom of the class even though I do loads with him at home. He's made a lot of progress though so far this year but I think that's due to the big leap from free play in reception to now having to knuckle down and learn.

I am not worried. I feel confident he will catch up as he's always been a bit slow with everything since he was born from walking to talking etc.

Is she getting any one to one in class other than the TA?

adoptmama Sat 02-Nov-13 23:35:16

I wouldn't worry too much, or assess just yet as she is still within the norms and some children just take longer to get there than others, without being behind later in life at all. Keep a note of your concerns and her progress and do make an appointment to go in a discuss things with the teacher. There are lots of strategies they can use to help boost her confidence. Don't worry too much about not being able to do maths stuff in the abstract at the moment either. Children of this age do need things to be more concrete.

screamingeels Sun 03-Nov-13 17:55:49

Thanks for all the ideas Ferguson, I was wondering about doing something about number bonds, the lego is a great idea.

To answer your questions, mostly no:
She doesn't appear to have any obvious hearing or vision problems though I don't really know how to go about checking for any more subtle problems in these areas.
No domestic or emotional trauma I'm aware of.
Her speech and conversation is pretty advanced, we are a quite 'talky' family and DD is known around the school by teachers and TAs in other classes for her story-telling ability, they often remark on it.
She's been at nursery two days a week since she was one.
She isn't my only child, but she is the eldest. I can see that DS has second child advantage and already recognises some letters and numbers as we talk about them all the time.

There is however an emotional issue in that when DD fails or does something wrong she utterly blames herself and thinks it's because she is 'stupid' or 'clumsy' or 'no-one likes me'. We are working on attribution theory (I knew that degree in psychology would come in useful for something), and she is getting a bit better at identifying things as a specific - often external - issue that you learn from and move on.

Adoptmama does have it right - the problem for DD is the move from the concrete to the abstract, she can do real life maths but the fact that numbers have 'names' and a symbolic representation '1'; '2' '3' etc means nothing to her.

Huitre Sun 03-Nov-13 20:38:00

the problem for DD is the move from the concrete to the abstract, she can do real life maths but the fact that numbers have 'names' and a symbolic representation '1'; '2' '3' etc means nothing to her

In that case, I would say that you probably haven't got too much to worry about with the maths stuff, though I do appreciate that it is hard not to worry when it is your child and you feel that she may not be fulfilling her potential. Y1 is the year when they do begin to move gradually from concrete maths to (slightly more) abstract maths and the school will probably give her lots of opportunities to do so. It is absolutely not unusual in any way to need objects as props to perform maths at that stage, and tons of children (most of them, I would guess) in her class will be at a similar stage. The staff will give her opportunities to move from using actual objects to using a number line etc and from there to not needing anything (though probably not in Y1 for the last bit). My DD is in Y2 and still often counts on her fingers etc (and she is considered to be fairly good at maths).

In your shoes, I would give her as many opportunities to do real world maths as possible, and not just as questions with an answer. Give her a pile of small identical objects (twenty or twenty four or thirty) and get her to count them, take one (or more) away and count them again. Maybe add some. Let her count them and divide into two equal piles - how many in each pile? Take one away or add one, do the same. See if you can still count them into two equal piles. You can't (or you can when you couldn't before). You don't have to comment that much or give the impression that it's a question that she needs to give the right answer to - just approach it as an experiment and let her find out what happens if.... You can divide into three piles or four piles if she enjoys it (not if she doesn't). It's not a question. It's just seeing how it works, and it will give her a proper sense of what number is so she can build on it later.

The objects can be edible so taking one away = eating it. Then it's REALLY gone! If they are raisins or blueberries or smarties or chocolate buttons or iced gems, taking one away is pretty enjoyable. Don't give her the answers or wait for a right answer, just keep doing it. You can help her count, though, if she doesn't mind or gets stuck. She doesn't have to be able to do any of this with big numbers. Up to twenty or thirty is plenty.

As for the reading, I do think that some children just aren't ready until a little later. I'd just be very encouraging with any small indications of success - getting the initial letter of a word she's guessed right, so, OK, try the next letter. Never say she's got it wrong. Just say 'try that one again, you were nearly right' or 'can you think about it a bit more' and give her a clue or help her do the blending. Maybe try to turn the letter or grapheme recognition into a game where she could jump on a letter when you give the sound or grab it and chuck it in a bucket (big letters on big cards). Rewards for each correct letter - stickers or something. Or smarties or whatever.

Sorry if this is what you've already been doing. I just thought it might help.

MaireadnotMermaid Sun 03-Nov-13 22:28:18

Does the classteacher teach her numeracy, or does the TA take her for numeracy?

If it is the latter, I would be asking questions. The teacher won't necessarily have much of clue how she is progressing if he does not teach her.

Ferguson Sun 03-Nov-13 23:58:08

OP - Thanks for confirmation my queries - so certainly no obvious causes there! But could she be aware of your 'psychology degree' (not exactly in itself, but be aware you are pretty clever (!?)) and that she can't imagine how she could ever match up to that?

Children can imagine or misconstrue things quite easily. When I was first a parent helper, i told a Yr1 child some nugget of information that she couldn't understand how I came to know it, and she asked: Sir, do you know EVERYTHING? When I was a child my granny used to have 'Grey Day' milk delivered. I was into my 20s or 30s before realizing it was 'Grade A'!

Another activity for letters and numbers is to have a 'washing line' and lots of clothes pegs, and letter and number cards. Child has to peg them on the washing line in the correct order. If they get some wrong, tell them to look again, or say how many they need to move. Later, they could be sequenced in a specific order: odd or even numbers; vowels and consonants; letters with 'ascenders' or 'descenders' or only the 'x'-height (I used to tell children not many people knew about those terms, and that made them feel really clever!) [x-height is a typographical term.]

Also 'data collection' and production of bar graphs, or pie charts is quite an easy and fun activity. Count traffic (cars, lorries, buses etc); birds, trees, plants etc in the park or country walk; colours of front doors; types of shop in town.

Huitre: an 'only child' might have more parental attention (and possibly pressure) than one with siblings.

MM: a good TA would always be reporting back to the teacher any progress, or lack of, and there might well be a written 'check list' of progress.

lljkk Mon 04-Nov-13 13:41:06

Other than inability to recognise 0-10 she sounds exactly like DS (also yr-1).
I'm not worried, although he is obviously less academic than 3 older siblings, I have helped out enough in class to know normal range by now.
Good luck, just keep asking questions how can you support her.

screamingeels Mon 04-Nov-13 21:16:05

Thanks so much for all the advice and reassurance - its good to hear that its all well within normal bounds and we will try with some more concrete practice.

But i do think i'd feel better if i knew what was going on at school, so I will follow up - I'd quite like to actually meet TA who may be doing most of the actual teaching.

Ferguson Mon 04-Nov-13 23:14:48

If you had time, could you not do some voluntary support work in the class, or even in a different class, or bit of office work etc? That way you get more of a 'feel' for how things are done. Some teachers are not over keen on parent helpers, but the better and more confident teachers often welcome extra help. You might need a 'police check' - whatever has replaced the CRB check.

I wouldn't have thought the TA would be doing 'most' of the teaching, unless she's an HLTA, or possibly even an ex-teacher.

YukonHo Wed 06-Nov-13 19:11:32

Reding wise, I've heard the y3/4 class read in dd's school for the past two years and the difference in a priority is staggering. At least 4 y4 kids were not yet free readers last year. All y4's are this year, but I can see some kids in y3 now won't be free readers by y4 next year. (Iyswim)

If I were you I'd read to her and listen to her read every opportunity you get, as long as she is happy to. That's the best way to build ability and confidence. Always say to spot the kids in lass whose parents don't read to the and never hear them read!

ffwiw Ferguson I know that in the year 1/2 in dd/ds's school the at picks up most of the y1 work. It's not supposed to happen but it does. (I much prefer her to the teacher in that mixed class so it wasn't an issue for us, but it could be in a class where the TA is less capable!)

BogeyNights Sat 09-Nov-13 12:26:27

One of my kids had real problems with maths from the start (he's now Y6). The other is still struggling with reading in Y4. I promise you that there is hope...

The fact that you are 'on the case' is great and that you've flagged it to the school, so you know that you can keep on their case too. It's a partnership, it has to be otherwise they'll be blame flying everywhere.

This is my experience/advice...
Maths: Keep everything practical as your DD 'gets' this. Don't run before you can walk either. Just keep working on one more, one less. Get her to use her fingers to see what number bonds to 10 are (just the numbers that make 10). Get her to order numbers 1 through to 10 (start at 1-3 if necessary and work upwards). Maths is very abstract and my eldest son needed lots of practical experiences to understand the basics. His weakness in maths wasn't discovered until his KS1 SATs when he wasn't even a level 1c. So we got a tutor and she went over all the basics again with him, slowly and until he really 'got' it. If a child is solving problems correctly his/her self esteem and confidence is going to grow. Give them something too tricky too early and you'll damage that confidence.

With reading, I would just read with DD. Get her to be a word detective and see if she can spot a sight word in the book you're reading together. Don't expect her too read much at all. Encourage phonics on simple CVC words in the text for her to sound out - use the story/pictures to get her to put the blended word into context - m-o-p can't be pig, where's a pig in the story/picture? use the picture clues. Again, don't run before you can walk, there will be a time when it 'clicks' - believe me I never thought it ever would with DS!
But do this every day. Frequent and short sessions really will help. My youngest DS was lucky that his TA would also listen to him read every day without fail (she was an angel!). But he's now in Y4 and he can read, not brilliantly, but he will do it every day. His comprehension is actually very good, so he must be taking in all that information that he's reading.

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