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Yr1 child - top phonics group but slow reader - how can this be?

(214 Posts)
sugarhoops Tue 18-Nov-14 10:59:03

Was told today by another mum that my year 1 DD is in the top group in the class for phonics, but is a little behind others for reading (this mum has a DD who, apparently, is 2nd highest reader in class, but is in a phonics group below my DD).

Putting aside for a moment how on earth this mother knows all this info confused - to be fair she helps out in class sometimes, I just wondered how this can be re: the top phonics group but lower reader level?

I had no idea where my daughter was at against others in the class - parents eve last week the teacher told me she's doing fine academically, which is good enough for me. But with this new info, I just wondered, purely out of interest, how she can be in top group for phonics, but apparently 'behind' for reading?

Molecule Tue 18-Nov-14 11:20:42

I would just relax, and not worry. They pretty much all get there in the end and 5/6 year olds are still very young. Bottom set and not getting phonics at all could be something to worry about. It sounds to me that this other mother is peeved that her child is not in the top set, and perhaps she does more reading at home and is charging through the levels.

Having said that I'd be shock that she's discussing things that happen in class with another parent (albeit the parent concerned).

sugarhoops Tue 18-Nov-14 11:28:24

I know molecule - I too am slightly shock about the mother knowing where certain kids are in the class, and sharing it with others! She's a lovely mum, great friend, so I was a little shock when she knew more about my DD's levels than me!!

Having said that, I was interested to know that her DD (who is an 'advanced' reader, so I'm reliably told wink) is in a lower phonics group than my DD, who is a slower reader (again, so i'm reliably told).....

I shan't consider it again though, deep breath and relax and pretend I never heard what she said.

catkind Tue 18-Nov-14 14:15:50

Whoah, congratulations, I think you've met your first competitive parent!
I'd take her view on her DD's reading and yours with a large pinch of salt. She shouldn't be talking about what she's found out helping in class anyway.

It is perfectly possible for phonics and reading skills to be out of phase though. They can know and use in decoding/spelling lots of phonics sounds, but if they're still needing to work out lots of words sound by sound they're unlikely to be reading fluently or following a complex story well. A child who can use just basic phonics but doesn't need to sound them out could be more fluent.

Anecdotal but one friend's son started school able to read chapter books but for phonics he was about average. Obviously that's an extreme case. He wasn't taught to do that he just picked up books and started reading them as a toddler. The school sensibly picked a reading level in between his phonics and his reading ability so he could use his word knowledge to bootstrap his phonics.

hiccupgirl Tue 18-Nov-14 14:27:49

It's perfectly possible because when no-one, even learner readers, only uses phonics to read. Children will use the picture clues, the context of the sentence and some are just very, very good at guessing words! It could be that the other girl is good at reading words in context but finds phonics tricky whereas your DD is very good phonically but finds it harder when there is more than one word at a time to tackle.

They will even out as they get older. I'd be more worried about her telling you something that she should be keeping confidential if she helps out in the class.

maizieD Tue 18-Nov-14 14:29:55

Or it could be one of those weird schools who seem to think that phonics has nothing to do with reading, so 'teach' it but use old, non-decodable, reading scheme books for actual 'reading'. In which case your dd might find the reading books quite hard as they will contain letter/sound correspondences which she doesn't yet know.

OTH, your so called 'friend' should not have told you anything about what goes on in class.

Floggingmolly Tue 18-Nov-14 14:31:41

The other mother cannot possibly have ranked the entire class in order to place her child at "second highest" hmm Ignore her; if the teacher can confirm that your child really is a little behind the others (again, how the hell would competitive mum know this??), take it from there.

nonicknameseemsavailable Tue 18-Nov-14 14:46:10

phonics groups should I would think be completely dictated by how well they know their phonics. reading level is determined by ability to decode, ability to 'guess the story accurately enough to look like you are decoding' or to have learned a lot of words by sight. but also expression and comprehension come into reading level as well. It isn't just about decoding the words.

So it is perfectly possible for the levels to be out of synch at this age.

she most definitely should not be discussing anything she has picked up on in class outside of school with anyone.

to be honest if I was you I would have a quiet word with the teacher and just in chatting say 'mrs x told me that my DC is top group for phonics but a bit behind for reading, is this the case and how can I help DC to improve with reading?' then the teacher can also have a 'quiet word' with Mrs X and 'remind' her of what she should and should not be discussing.

Mashabell Tue 18-Nov-14 15:17:17

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Mashabell Tue 18-Nov-14 15:21:28

Oh dear.
How now should not have been listed twice.
Note to self: remember to use Preview before posting!

LikeASoulWithoutAMind Tue 18-Nov-14 15:22:27

I wonder how one identifies the "second highest reader" - what on earth does that even mean? grin

catkind Tue 18-Nov-14 17:49:34

Yawn, this is not a phonics vs sight reading question. Even the most enthusiastic phonics advocates say reading is also about comprehension and fluency and expression, not just decoding.

maizieD Tue 18-Nov-14 18:06:53

phonics groups should I would think be completely dictated by how well they know their phonics. reading level is determined by ability to decode, ability to guess the story accurately enough to look like you are decoding or to have learned a lot of words by sight.

Ha! I think I would prefer my child to be excellent at phonics and really bad at guessing. grin

PesoPenguin Tue 18-Nov-14 18:50:32

I think I'd take it with a pinch of salt tbh...

tobysmum77 Tue 18-Nov-14 19:17:31

I reckon shes constantly hounding the teacher to move her dd up reading levels and for a quiet life the teacher has agreed. So your dd isn't behind she's just at the right level. and is better at phonics wink . 2nd best reader rofl grin

nonicknameseemsavailable Tue 18-Nov-14 22:05:48

MaizieD I know you like to assume other people aren't phonics fans but really my point should have been quite obvious.

my point was that a child who can memorise words or guess accurately can easily read the books therefore will often move up levels more quickly BUT they would still be rubbish at phonics hence the other woman's child could be on a higher reading band than their phonics ability would indicate. The lower levels have so few words in the books, especially if the school are using old books, that a child who memorises words on first reading will read those books so fluently they will move up very quickly.

maizieD Tue 18-Nov-14 22:35:41

If they are having good phonics teaching they won't be reading 'levelled' books, so that does spoil your theory a little.
However, if you look at my earlier post you'll see that I suspect 'phonics' and 'reading' being kept separate, in which case your theory could apply.

And, if it did apply, if it were my child I'd prefer a phonics whizz to a good guesser (that was meant to be a bit of reassurance for the OP - clearly I've failed sad wink)

Not altogether sure why you are bollocking me

nonicknameseemsavailable Tue 18-Nov-14 23:33:10

well it sounded like you were jumping on your high horse about my suggestion that children can guess words as a legitimate reading method which wasn't what I was saying at all.

There are many schools still using all the old books and all the old levels.

mrz Wed 19-Nov-14 06:40:33

Guessing is never a legitimate "reading" strategy I'm afraid. It's much easier to guess than to decode but you are sacrificing accuracy and meaning by doing so.

mrz Wed 19-Nov-14 06:45:31

OP I don't think you can ignore the question "how does this mother know" you are trusting that she has some knowledge you don't but why would she?

I don't know how the school organises phonics groups (personally I hare the practice) or their policy for allocating reading books. Perhaps the other mother gets her child's book changed every day so she will gallop ahead (some parents see reading as a race rather than as an important life skill that needs to be developed)
Personally I wouldn't worry if you are happy with your child's progress ... Ignore the competition!

nonicknameseemsavailable Wed 19-Nov-14 13:15:06

quite mrz but that is exactly what I was saying - it isn't a legitimate reading method but MaizieD assumed I was saying it was when I was merely pointing out that if a child is particularly good at it then they can, in many schools, move up through the levels based on this but their phonics knowledge is still poor so hence the lower phonics group.

maizieD Wed 19-Nov-14 17:31:00

but MaizieD assumed I was saying it was

No. I didn't really! It just seemed worth saying, to reassure the OP, that being good at phonics is better than being good at guessing.

Feenie Wed 19-Nov-14 17:57:14

Oh dear.
How now should not have been listed twice.

It shouldn't have been listed at all - you're not supposed to spam with your lists any more, Masha.

RiversideMum Wed 19-Nov-14 18:46:04

Phonics groups may also be made on writing ability. At this young age, you can be a good reader, but struggle with writing. Conversely, some children are very confident writers but less fluent at reading.

poppy70 Wed 19-Nov-14 22:17:48

Phonics groups are based on your ability to say the sounds when presented with them or your ability to read the word when presented with them. They are not based on writing ability although the research would argue as would I that the long term benefit of phonics is to spelling. Its long term benefit to reading, after we decode fluently and actually from then on don't decode, is in the reading of unfamiliar words but we rarely read these words out loud anyway. How many of us still use phonics to work out how to spell a word we don't know? Morphology in the long term is probably the most beneficial to reading. Breaking up bigger words to smaller more manageable words to all of us.

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