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Very concerned at 6 year old DS's reading progress

(29 Posts)
wasabipeanut Fri 06-Dec-13 09:20:13

DS is an early September baby and oldest in his school year (Y1). However his reading seems to be miles behind many (girls especially) in his year who are a Spring/Summer born. I'm not talking just a level or two either.

He has been on his current book band (yellow) for 6 months and just seems to be stuck. Whenever I ask for him to be assessed the teacher replies that he makes some silly guesses and still sounds out some words therefore is not ready to go up. I respect her decision but how in earth do I get him progressing? We have stepped up the adding at home as 10 minutes a day on a school book clearly isn't doing the job. He is eading stuff like Room on the Broom to us which is fine but I'm sure he's remembering rather than reading. The teacher isn't concerned but I can't believe that 6 months on the same level is ok. He spent months on the previous level too - this idea that itnjustbclicks and then they hop up a few levels just isn't happening.

I just want to help him and I'm getting really stressed about it all. I wanted to write to the school but DH talked me down and said al it would do is piss them off which is probably true.

Any advice much appreciated.

wasabipeanut Fri 06-Dec-13 09:21:03

Apologies for all the typos.....

wasabipeanut Fri 06-Dec-13 09:31:19

Should add that science, numeracy and general knowledge are all really good. I am often told how articulate and intelligent he is. Yet his literacy is not developing. His hand writing is atrocious too - he can write really well but from what I can see of his school work he rushes and it looks awful. He forgets to space words etc.

It's all just so frustrating.

Bakerof3pudsxx Fri 06-Dec-13 09:32:44

What's yellow in relation to ort? My ds is 6 in jan and only book band 3
His 4 yr old brother is band 2

Periwinkle007 Fri 06-Dec-13 09:37:19

I think you need to make an appointment to see his teacher and sit down and ask exactly what you can do to help him.

to be honest I think sounding words out at yellow is quite normal, my daughter is on blue and she sounds words out, I would expect her to. she does read quite fluently but she does need to sound out words she hasn't come across, she is quite quick at this and is starting to do it in her head more but naturally she has to do it.

does he had purely phonics books or ORT? if ORT then ask the school for him to have purely phonetic ones if possible to try or source some yourself. we like songbirds phonics.

PERSONALLY I would probably play word games, so ignore the actual reading of reading books in a sense (do them but then put them away and do some games rather than more reading). you could do word bingo or sound bingo so you make a base board and write on it some sounds or simple cvc words and then you make little cards to go with them. you can then play it in a few ways, he has to turn a card over, read it and then match it or you call out the word/sound on the card and he has to find it on the board. This will be more fun than reading hopefully but still practicing the same skills.

I would also write the words down and then cut them up so say path and then cut the paper into p a th so he starts to see how it is broken down into the sounds, he can then also build it back up again.

He needs to be completely confident in his sounds and needs to develop his blending skills before the reading will start to flow. The teachers should be able to offer advice on how to encourage this.

when you say you want him assessed do you mean checked whether he is ready to go up or checked whether there is potentially a dyslexia type problem? They can't test them generally until they are 7 I don't think although they are going to test my 6yr old shortly but she is a strange case anyway so I am not sure that they normally would.

Periwinkle007 Fri 06-Dec-13 09:39:01

yellow is stage 3.

interesting - if he is verbally bright but literacy isn't developing then that would ring alarm bells for me and I would be starting to consider dyslexia but I am not a teacher, I just have a lot of experience of classrooms and teaching children to read.

PM me if you want to - similar ish situation with my daughter.

wasabipeanut Fri 06-Dec-13 09:49:08

Peri thanks for this. When I ask for assessment I mean an assessment as to whether he is ready to go up. I had wondered about dyslexia but thought it might be a bit early to consider. I can't fault the school - they are very responsive and reading books are changed most days. We have a lot of reading volunteers and they have a good mix of things like Songbirds, ORT, Biff and sodding Chip etc.

I just can't understand why they aren't coming to me to discuss intervention strategies.

Will pm you in a bit.

Bakerof3pudsxx Fri 06-Dec-13 09:54:27

My ds then is on same as yours

He seems to have lost interest in reading

Teachers don't show any concerns here either

wasabipeanut Fri 06-Dec-13 10:03:20

Baker how long has he been at current level.

Bakerof3pudsxx Fri 06-Dec-13 10:21:44

Not very long

He's obviously at school ATM so can't check but he started year one on level two. I would say he probably went on to level three about mid October

His brother is 16 months younger and already on level 2, I am pretty sure he will pass ds1 and am a little worried how ds1 will take this tbh

wasabipeanut Fri 06-Dec-13 11:06:35

Yes my DD is already learning letter sounds with me at home and is getting it. I can see her overtaking her if brother in around a year. Having said that something Peri said has really made me think about doing letter and word games. It is the blending that has stalled - trying to make him read harder words won't work and will just demoralise him until we fix this. I am making up some cards tonight of sounds like "air" "ear" etc. and sounds like ch, sh etc. and will practice blending like that. Better than slogging through text when he's not day for it.

I think maybe they can't do as much phonics this year as they did in reception as they have so much more to cover and this might be whatvis holding DS1 back. Worth a punt anyway!

If you want a structured phonics programme you can do at home then Dancing Bears might be a good one

Both my DS are dyslexic and doing a well structured phonics programme on top of the usual school stuff does help. DS2 is 6 and in Yr2 (he was diagnosed at 6 because he is already in yr2) but he is not much different in age to your DS as he is an August birthday. He has just moved up to level 5 on the ORT books and his spelling tests are a wonder to behold wink. He does additional phonics work with the school and I also do some of the Sound Foundations stuff at home.

DS1 is 10 and in Yr6 he has been doing additional phonics work since yr1 (Toe by Toe - which is not quite as child friendly as the Sound Foundations stuff). His spelling is still 1-1.5 years behind his chronological age but his reading is now a couple of years ahead. Which you wouldn't have predicted if you had seen his performance in Yr1.

LadyintheRadiator Fri 06-Dec-13 11:21:29

This was my son 6 weeks ago. October birthday and being overtaken by the entire class it seemed. I am pretty relaxed but the lack of improvement for months is what bothered me rather than his actual level. Some days it was like he had just forgotten how to read at all and he would make guesses, not even well thought out ones just random, I tried to remain patient of course but god it was hard work.

I don't have any advice but he did improve literally overnight and has been moved up a level twice in that time - the first time was a real boost to his confidence which obviously helped. I didn't think the blue books were especially harder than the yellow, just longer, so if you think his confidence would be helped I'd ask if he can bring home a couple. Or try the library or Reading Chest though obviously that's a cost. Hang in there.

Bakerof3pudsxx Fri 06-Dec-13 11:23:11

My ds does the guessing thing, it's like he cba trying the word. He doesn't even guess words that start the same just anything he can see on the page

LydiaLunches Fri 06-Dec-13 11:28:32

Very similar to my DD2, I am starting to worry a bit as she is so articulate and creative verbally but the reading and writing is just not happening. Admittedly we had our eyes off the ball up until year 1, expecting it to just happen as with DD1 but we are now doing a solid 10-15 minutes per night and are going to start something like Dancing Bears after Christmas. It is a concern.

MrRected Fri 06-Dec-13 11:36:04

Dis' best friend was similar. A really lovely, bright, articulate boy. His spelling, writing and reading were very slow to develop. The teachers kept telling her not to worry, that he would catch up.

This wasn't the case - he was diagnosed as dyslexic in the last month of Y2.

Shamoy Fri 06-Dec-13 11:36:48

My ds is year 1 and is on the biff and chip books level 1a
I thought he was doing reasonably well, is that not the case??

wasabipeanut Fri 06-Dec-13 11:37:10

Your replies are really interesting, thank you. I must admit I had wondered about dyslexia because he sometimes reads words backwards and muddles b and d. However my instinct tells me he isn't - could be wrong though I guess. Like Radiator it isn't the level itself that worries me - more how long he has been on it. Also, if he is dyslexic would he have progressed in Reception. He didn't even know all the letter sounds when he started but made reasonably steady progress through purple, pink, red and then stopped at yellow!

Will definitely check out the Dancing Bear stuff.
And yes, Baker the cba stuff definitely rings true. I think sometimes he deliberately makes guesses or just doesn't try because he thinks I'll just go "ok you're too tired go and do something else." Semi literate he may be but stupid he is not.....

Periwinkle007 Fri 06-Dec-13 12:03:06

dyslexia is odd - it is a name covering a whole range of levels of symptoms. if I tell you my daughter is a sep birthday in yr1 (so 6) but can read chapter books then you will think how on earth could she be dyslexic but she REALLY struggles with blending, she has just got a good memory and has learned to read the whole word. if you say what sound is oa she knows in a fraction of a second, she can recognise all her phonics in a fraction of a second but she struggles to put them together. She has irlen syndrome so wears coloured glasses which stops the letters moving around but there are some very odd things and I am pretty sure she is a hidden dyslexic (which we now think I was/am).

They can't diagnose it so young because so many of the symptoms are actually perfectly normal in a child of that age but I am taking the approach that it doesn't matter if it is never diagnosed, we need to find ways to help her, luckily things which I have had to do myself seem to be helping so we are making progress.

maizieD Fri 06-Dec-13 12:45:46

We have a lot of reading volunteers and they have a good mix of things like Songbirds, ORT, Biff and sodding Chip etc.

That sounds like a thoroughly toxic mixture to me; just guaranteed to impede rather than improve progress in a child who may not have quite 'got it' in the first place.

From your teacher's comments it sounds to me as though she doesn't 'get it' either. Any teacher who thinks that sounding out words is indicative of poor reading skills has very little understanding of how children learn to read and how skilled readers read. (If she doesn't approve of 'sounding out' is it any wonder that he guesses instead?)

Go back to basics with him. What is is phonic knowledge like? Have a look at the 'sound' charts on the Phonics International website ( Does he know all, or any, of the more complex correspondences (though at this stage in Y1 he isn't likely to have covered everything)? Do his books have words in them that contain correspondences that he hasn't yet learned?

Buy, beg, borrow or steal some decodable books for him to practice his reading with (Keep away from ORT in any shape or form unless they are 'Floppy''s Phonics). He will be a lot more willing to read once he finds that it is not difficult (which it isn't when he has the knowledge).

Don't allow guessing (because you will know that he has the knowledge and skill needed to sound out and blend all the words), once he is really practised in sounding out and blending it becomes automatic and he won't think about guessing any more (I suspect that he only guesses words that he can't decode).

Don't worry if he has to decode and blend the same word many times; it will get into long term memory eventually, for some children it just takes longer than for others.

Don't start stressing about 'dyslexia'; in an awful lot of cases it is just poor teaching. The 'official' definitions of 'dyslexia' usually contain a phrase something like 'despite adequate teaching'; this is bit of a weasel phrase because 'adequate teaching' is never actually defined, but it is the bit that everyone misses anyway. The first suspect in cases of poor reading has always to be the instruction the child has had. If the instruction has been rigorous, structured, systematic phonics with no other strategies for word identification and no expectation that children read words which are beyond their current phonic knowledge, then start to suspect a processing problem of some kind. But look at the instruction first.

wasabipeanut Fri 06-Dec-13 13:27:27

That is very interesting MaizieD. How do high frequency words like 'one' fit into that? He has actually learned his HF words quite well. It's wierd. He seems to remember whole words better than the sounds themselves.

I wonder if he'd be better suited to learning to read by whole word recognition but obviously we have to work with the teaching system in place.

maizieD Fri 06-Dec-13 16:35:42

There are very few HFWs that are as bizarre as 'one', 'two' and 'eye'! Most of them are completely decodable but many are 'taught' before the child has reached the stage in their phonic knowledge where they would find them easy to decode! I think it's mad, but there you are..

As to whole word memorisation, yes, he might memorise a few off his own bat but don't deliberately teach him to. There is a limit to the number of whole words which can be memorised, it's about 2,000 - 2,500 words. When you consider that a standard dictionary will contain about 250,000 words and that an average reading vocabulary may be in the region of about 20,000 -30,000 words you can surely see that 2,000 words is a bit limiting. There are a very few children who seem to be able to memorise every word they see but they are rare.

To learn to read competently he will have to learn the letter/sound correspondences and decoding and blending. There are only about 160 - 180 common ones so the learning task is easier even than trying to memorise 2,000 words as wholes. I agree that the initial stages appear to be harder than just memorising 'wholes' but I hope that you can see that it is worth the effort in the long run.

I think from my previous post you will have guessed that I suspect that the school isn't helping...

wasabipeanut Fri 06-Dec-13 17:00:25

Thank you MaizieD you have really made me think. I have looked at some phonics charts and will make up done cards tonight so we can practice blending. When I think about it he seems to have stalled since sounds like "air," "ear" etc. started cropping up. It seems as if a piece of the puzzle is missing so we will retrace until we find it.

Interesting that you think the school aren't helping. A lot if kids seem to be thriving but I know a few others struggling. His teacher is a year 3 teacher on a swap scheme from the junior school. The teacher he would have had this year is teaching 7/8 year olds. I think she has been good on the whole but perhaps this is the sort of area where her inexperience of the age group might be apparent.

freetrait Fri 06-Dec-13 17:54:54

I think you have had good advice. I think you'll find he's stalled because his phonic knowledge isn't established beyond the basic letter sounds. Actually there's quite an easy fix- learn the sounds gradually and then have reading books that use them to practise.

I recommend these and the second set

You do need to know the sounds yourself to help properly, but the cards are pretty self-explanatory.

Then you need phonic reading books that build skills gradually. There are all sorts of series now-there are the Songbirds by Julia Donaldson, then there are these

He could probably start on set 2

I taught DS with these books from set 3 in YR when he was getting ahead of the class with his reading but needed good phonics grounding

I found these in the library recently for DD

you wouldn't tackle that book until you'd learnt the "ai" sound- so whatever series you try make sure you start at a level where he is secure with the sounds, then work from there, and only build one sound at a time

Sorry for lengthy message- but I help that helps. I think kids do stall sometimes, there are times when their brains need to catch up and assimilate all that they have learnt- but this presumes that they are being taught the sounds (ai, igh, ay, ow,oo, oo etc etc, split vowel diagraphs etc etc)

freetrait Fri 06-Dec-13 17:59:52

whoops, the second card set is

and don't forget oxford owl online

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