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Unhappy with School

(13 Posts)
Misnomer Wed 16-Jul-14 18:52:03

My son is at the end of year 1. He's bright, articulate, creative, good at maths but he struggles with reading and got 14/40 on the phonics check. We've been meeting with the school throughout the year to request help for him. He was flagged up for extra support at the end of reception (he had a really fab teacher) but his first year 1 teacher discounted this for the first term, having not heard him read. Eventually he was put in to a booster group which proved disastrous of his confidence. The teacher was very doddery, not very on the ball and never looked at his homework. It destroyed his confidence and he stopped writing independently (he used to write little stories and lists of facts). In term 2 he got a new teacher who is incredibly disengaged and she seemed happy to let him drift along. Since then I've had to complain and seek help directly through the SENCO (who is also a year one teacher) but it's still be very slow going to get him any help and the communication from us and school is poor, not for want of trying on our part. He's lost so much confidence as he's really aware of the gap between his reading skills and his understanding and also between him and his classmates. He's the oldest child in the class - if he'd been born two days earlier he'd be year 2 going in to year 3.

Since the phonics results I've done a huge amount of web research to see if there is an alternative to phonics as I was beginning to think that he just doesn't suit it but I now think that it's more a case of the phonics not being taught well. He recognises all letters but struggles with the alternate sound spellings ie the ones not strictly phonetic. And from reading threads on here I've realised that many of the books he brought home in reception where not very well suited to beginning phonics ie with many sounds that he wouldn't have then learnt how to decode. He's on yellow books, having only just been moved up from red at our request as he was bored stupid by having to trudge over the same old stuff for so long.

I don't know what I'm asking really. I feel that he's been badly let down but not sure what's best to do. We've moved away from the area but because there are no places for him in a local school we've kept him where he is and ds2 is starting in reception at the school in September. I'd be happy to homeschool until a local place came up but my husband reacted to that suggestion as if I'd suggested a boarding school in North Korea.

proudmama2772 Wed 16-Jul-14 20:16:50

I really feel for you. My daughter just started a new school in year 2 and they gave us a list of nearly 20 phonics sounds she wasn't secure on near the end of year 2 and a pack of phonics cards and a walked us through a 6 step method for reviewing them with her. She ended up passing her phonics test and has been able to learn the sounds in a very short space of time. We also practice writing words with a common sound to solidify spelling of the phonics sounds.

I've had similar experiences with poor communication from two other highly rated primary schools.

I know there's a lot of controversy around mixed methods but sight words cards helped.

cards anything seem to work for me!

mrz Wed 16-Jul-14 20:46:25

sight words can appear a quick fix but can be a long term handicap

Misnomer Wed 16-Jul-14 21:24:09

But don't some words have to be sight read regardless of method? Like 'two'? I can't think of another word that has the same arrangement of letters in order to make that sound so there can't be a rule if there is only one example...

A couple of weeks ago I was entirely convinced that phonics wasn't as great as it's cracked up to be but I have done a huge amount of reading in the meantime so I'm completely prepared to give it a really good go to get to hopefully get my son reading but I and my peers all learnt through the previous method (I'm 40, so whatever the method was 36 years ago!) and nothing dire happened later on....maybe it was that if we came across a word we didn't know we just looked it up in the dictionary, which lists pronunciation as well as meaning...

Anywhoo, it's not really whether or not phonics should be mixed but what should I do for my child with regards to school. I've lost faith in them a bit.

Proudmamma - it would be great if the school had fed back which phonic sounds that he struggled with but all they said was that they would have a meeting about him and speak to us in September.

lolalotta Wed 16-Jul-14 21:57:29

I'm not sure what to suggest about te school TBH, but if you wanted to support him at home using a phonics scheme, we love jelly and bean, expensive but worth every penny IMO. My DD is coming on leaps and bounds with them! Good luck with you DS. xxx

Happy36 Wed 16-Jul-14 22:06:49

I would say support him at home, boost his confidence as much as you can and hope for a great teacher in September - give her a few weeks and see how your son is doing in himself thrn if you thonk it's necessary meet with her.

I would say work with the school - their methods and recommendations - rather than differently. It sounds like you can get advice from the senco and there should be one or more targets on your son's report.

Also keep reading both to him, and with him, daily. Choose exciting books so he can see how the phonics are a means to a very fun and interesting end.

Karoleann Wed 16-Jul-14 23:15:02

I'd join this over the summer


get lots of reading books and do one a day. They're very good even if you only want to do it over the summer.

I think a lot of getting your child to read is done at home, rather than at school.

If he doesn't know his reception sight words yet, I'd also get some magnets or cards with those on too.

3bunnies Thu 17-Jul-14 09:29:57

Also most libraries run a summer reading challenge. This inspires even my reluctant daughters to read. 6 books in total, two at a time. If they don't have some v easy books then they will order them in for you. They get stickers for each book and a medal at the end.

Lots of reading is to do with practice so try to do as much as you can. I used to make up stories about things my dc liked and typed them on the computer. Lots of useful apps, websites too. Mine enjoy cbeebies alphablocks and read write inc app.

3bunnies Thu 17-Jul-14 09:43:17

My daughters also read better with a coloured overlay, it might be worth googling visual stress and see if it rings a bell.

Also reading doesn't always progress in a linear way. Dd1 was slow to start and only really clicked in yr 2. Since year 2 though she has gone up 6 sublevels in two years when expected progress is about 4. She found the mechanics of decoding a challenge however the comprehension comes more naturally to her. I also used to tell them that they only need to learn to read once and then they can do it. I think it felt to them as if they would be learning to read for ever. I said it was like learning to ride their bikes. At first it seemed impossible but now they would find it impossible not to be able to ride a bike and reading is the same.

PastSellByDate Thu 17-Jul-14 13:28:31


My advice would be to find out what phonics system the school is using.

Our school uses Jolly Phonics (for example) - and there are little workbooks ( - aside from amazon/ most big newsagents or bookstores will supply this) - these help with both how to form letters and with learning how to sound out individual letters/ groups of letters out and make whole words.

Alphablocks (a CBEEBIES programme) has some incredibly catchy tunes and we also found this really helped to visualise and 'sing' what you're doing with sounding out letters. DD1 (who was very slow to get reading - really struggling until Y4) - used to sit with DD2 in Y2 and watch this - and I could literally see the lightbulb switching on. The tv shows are still available via CBEEBIES website:

I think the mistake is to feel there is a primer out there at exactly the level your child is at. In some ways it is better to read with your child encouraging them to read the words they are able to sound out - and helping with new concepts.


I knew the cat was in the hat.

early on DD1 would be totally flummoxed by 'knew' - so I'd say that's a tricky word - let's not worry about that - but read the end of the sentence from just after that tricky word.

At first the cat was in the hat would be tricky for her - but eventually it was straightforward and we both agreed she could read I - so then we'd discuss the new 'tricky word' - 'knew' - and I'd talk about the weird silent k before n in some words like: knee, knot, knoll, knight, etc...

We started off with DD1 reading just a few words from each sentence - a kind of you try this one strategy - and then worked up to whole sentence (at first intentionally choosing easy stuff, but progressively making it more challenging) - and then worked up to alternate sentences and then whole paragraphs.

All I can say is treat this process as water on a stone- your child will get there but it takes practice/ information (so ideas on what you should do with all these letters on the page and converting them into sounds)/ time.

You've got a long summer - so my advice is do a bit each day - not overkill and remember that listening to you read (and watching your finger follow along the words you're reading on the page) will be helpful too. So keep his bit short and sweet but maybe carry on reading to him for another 10 - 15 minutes (if you're both enjoying it).

Remember that in many countries the year you turn 7 is the first year in school and the first year to learn to read. Try to keep positive and keep sending those signals that you believe your DC will get there in the end.


Ferguson Fri 18-Jul-14 19:31:19

A useful and easy to use book to help with Phonics is reviewed in the MN Book Reviews. In the section "Children's educational books and courses" you should find the Oxford Phonics Spelling Dictionary. There is a link to see sample pages from it, and you can purchase from there if you wish.

I worked over twenty years as primary TA and helper, and as others have said, plenty of practice and sympathetic support should help.

Also a technique that might help is to read harder books with him, so he points to words as he goes along, and says the word if he can. If he doesn't know it (or can't decode it) he hovers his finger there, and YOU say the word for him. Don't 'quiz' him on the words, but try to let the reading flow normally. I used to do it that way with some children, and it can help them get onto harder, more interesting books.

WhereTheWildlingsAre Fri 18-Jul-14 19:39:46

I second the summer reading chalenge at your local library. It was great for getting my reluctant reader dd reading through the summer. They have to read 6 books through the summer and get prizes along the way.

It's lovely.

WhereTheWildlingsAre Fri 18-Jul-14 19:40:06


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