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high phonics group, low reading band

(40 Posts)
Micksy Sat 20-Dec-14 14:36:16

Reading the book band thread on here has got me thinking.
My reception dd entered school reading a little. After the first half term, she started doing phonics with year 1. In the new year she'll be moving up with the year 2s. The school uses RWI.
However for books she's brought home a mixture of red and yellow with no pattern. She's also brought home books she's already had. The last two weeks I played ping pong, sending back two books which were already in her reading log, which then got sent back to me. We've had no new books for two weeks although I realise its a very busy time.
My main problem is she was reading the songbird collection, but now only wants to read the books school send her. They seem mostly like crappy old biff and chip to me, with a fair amount of repetition and what I presume are look and say words for the level of the book.
Could it just be a case that some schools take things slowly for the first term? Or should I be concerned?

OriginalGreenGiant Sat 20-Dec-14 16:13:58

A lot of people mention phonics at year 2 which confuses me.

In ds1's yr 2 class the only structured phonics work that take place are with a group that has additional help with reading and are still on level 2/3/4 ORT. The majority of the class are on stage 7 plus and the focus is on reading (I know this includes phonics but the focus is different) and writing/spelling.

What phonics do year 2 do at your school?

OriginalGreenGiant Sat 20-Dec-14 16:15:25

I suppose my point being, in Nursery and R the classes focuses on jolly phonics...but past R there doesn't seem to be phonics work at all as they're a bit beyond it iyswim?

mrz Sat 20-Dec-14 16:56:34

I would worry if phonics ended after reception. Jolly Phonics teaches the basics (42 sounds and their most common spellings) I'm afraid that isn't enough for many children.

mrz Sat 20-Dec-14 16:57:45

Micksey I would also be concerned if the books sent home didn't match the child's current phonic knowledge.

Micksy Sat 20-Dec-14 18:35:52

I don't know what the issue is. I have a few niggling concerns about the school, but then my dd seems happy and is progressing well despite whatever they're doing. As posters always point out, in plenty of countries kids aren't even at school at her age.
She happily read a songbird book to me today, and tells me her phonics lessons are lots of fun, so I don't think there's a major problem at the moment.
Besides which, I wouldn't have a clue of how to bring this up if I did think it was an issue, without sounding like one of those mums.

mrz Sat 20-Dec-14 18:40:01

As you have the Songbirds books I would probably use these to reinforce what she is learning in her phonics lessons as it seems the school isn't following the DfE guidance

ReallyTired Sat 20-Dec-14 18:42:46

Dd is in year 1 and does phonics every morning. She has nothing but decodable books for reception. She is now reading the Oxford reading tree and on purple band. Dd could not read when she started reception.

Reading is more than just barking at print. Children need to show understanding of what they have read. Most decodable readers are dull so it makes sense for a child with strong grounding in phonics to move away from decodable books as soon as possible.

AuntieStella Sat 20-Dec-14 18:50:32

Look and say is the ultimate in 'barking at print'

To get away from this, phonics first and fast is the most reliable way.

Mashabell Sat 20-Dec-14 18:54:36

A little while ago we had the thread
Yr1 child - top phonics group but slow reader - how can this be?
and quite a few good readers manage not score well on the nonsense words in the phonics test in YR1.

Reading English is not just learning to decode, and so childlren's abilities on the two do not always match up. Reading fluency depends much on being able to recognise common words instantly, without still needed to decode, as at the beginning with 'a fat cat sat' etc.

And many of the most common English words have decoding traps:
man - many; on - only - once; here - there - were; our - four; read now - read yesterday...

ReallyTired Sat 20-Dec-14 19:03:29

There is the simple view of reading and the complex view of reading. Children need to learn to understand vocabulary, punctuation and read with expression. Phonics is the foundation of being a strong reader, but not everything.

If a child enters reception knowing their phonics inside out, but reading on a monotone voice, taking no notice of punctuation then it is not appriopiate to put a child on higher reading level. If a child has already learnt to blend and segment effectively then decodable books will offer no challenge.

Micksy Sat 20-Dec-14 19:19:50

To be honest, I just think there's a total disconnect between the books and the teaching. My daughter reads with quite a lot of feeling and can answer anything you ask her about the text.
I think the school it's just really disorganised and a bit chaotic. They do lots of things that are not Mrz approved, and I don't think it's because they have strong beliefs in a different system. I think it's just that the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing.

mrz Sat 20-Dec-14 19:22:00

Masha's post clearly shows why it's foolish to stop teaching phonics after reception

Micksy Sat 20-Dec-14 19:33:51

Sorry, that was me being tired and grumpy. I actually think they maybe don't have that many books. When I do say she is having trouble with a particular word, she seems to come back with a book with the same sound in it next time. And I think her main teacher was sick at the end of last half term. People aren't always operating under ideal conditions.

mrz Sat 20-Dec-14 19:41:54

No often teachers are working under constraints imposed by the head who perhaps hasn't invested wisely in resources

maizieD Sat 20-Dec-14 21:55:33

^ If a child has already learnt to blend and segment effectively then decodable books will offer no challenge.^

It's not a question of whether a child has learned to blend and segment effectively. The time to abandon the 'decodable' books is when the child has learned enough of the letter/sound correspondences for all books to be just about decodable (which is the objective of phonics instruction) and the child capable of 'self teaching' the odd, more rare, LSCs they may come across in their reading.

Why you think that decodables are somehow less 'challenging' than Look & Say books, with their extremely repetitive text, highly controlled vocabulary and glaringly obvious picture clues, is a mystery to me.

ReallyTired Sat 20-Dec-14 22:53:22

Maizie the child is having his phonics lessons with year 2 children. I assume that he must know all the advanced phonics. Reading simple look say books will not harm him because he already knows complex phonics.

I have no experience of look say texts before ort stage 2/3 which had simple sentences. Decodable books are very limited by every word having to be decodable. It is extremely hard to write a high quality decodable book.

catkind Sun 21-Dec-14 00:12:04

I would assume they were busy with Xmas stuff and not changing reading books for the last couple of weeks.

"A mixture of red and yellow" in old biff and chip could equate to yellow level in new reading levels. Tho I did like it when at one point DS was sent a mix of levels - some new challenge, some polishing his reading aloud. Then sounds like neither of the options are new challenge for your DD.

One thing we had in Reception was "he's reading with our top guided reading group who are on level 3" so he had to be on level 3. So it could be you're getting some variety of that. They did stretch to a point and send home some much harder non-scheme books billed as "more tricky level 3" (more like level 5-8!).

maizieD Sun 21-Dec-14 01:48:53

It is extremely hard to write a high quality decodable book.

You've tried, have you?

mrz Sun 21-Dec-14 06:36:23

ReallyTired the children who are secure with all the common
alternatives in English don't need simple Look & Say books ... why would they? They are capable of reading any age appropriate text so why give them contrived texts?
It isn't easier to give the wrong book!

Micksy Sun 21-Dec-14 08:54:27

Catkind, I think something like that is going on. The books are probably old and have been grouped together as best they can, and she's probably choosing from "the top box" for her age group.
I slacked off choosing books for her to practise on at her level, because I thought the school would do it. I'm going to do what Mrz suggests and go back to the songbird collection. She has weekly spelling tests of word groups, so I'll run alongside that.
I'd love for her to start reading some of her non scheme picture books that we do at bedtime, but she's reluctant to go off piste.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sun 21-Dec-14 09:38:05

She'll get there with going off piste. It can be a daunting task at first until she realises she can do it. Perhaps try at another time of day when she might be less tired and just get her to read a sentence rather than the whole book.

Ellle Sun 21-Dec-14 09:52:34

That sounds a bit odd, but the best thing would be to talk with the teacher and ask her in the nicest way that you only want to understand how they are allocating the books to your DD and how does this relate to the phonics she is currently doing.The teacher then can explain what her reasons are, what her plan for your DD is, etc.

My son in Y1 is also doing phonics with Y2, but his reading band is higher (lime band 11?). When he was in reception, once reading clicked for him he was always ahead of the level of books the school sent home, in terms of being able to read/decode and understanding. At one point I discovered he could read a long story of like 15 pages all by himself of a non-scheme book, but his tone/expression was kind of flat. I commented this to his reception teacher, and she agreed with me. She knew he could read books at a higher level, but then explained to me that she was choosing the school books with a level slightly easier to practise expression, following punctuation, and that she would try to increase the challenge but at the same time she wanted to be careful not to choose books too difficult that would dent his confidence.

I was happy with the explanation, and let the teacher go on with her plans. He read more advanced books for fun at home, and we worked in the expression.

Only recently in Y1 the school books he is getting match the kind of books he is reading at home. And I do know from speaking with the teacher, that while she knows he can read advanced stuff, the problem with early readers is that you need to be careful with the kind of books/topics that you choose, so that they are interesting but not contain topics beyond their age.

So, all in all, talk with the teacher when you have a chance, and keep reading to her at home. Find books that are interesting to her, at the level you think she is, and eventually she’ll make the leap from only wanting to read scheme books to reading other interesting books. If she is somehow reluctant but you know the book is at a level right for her, you could try reading alternate pages, until she is confident enough and realises she can do it all by herself.

tobysmum77 Sun 21-Dec-14 10:28:45

Hi op that sounds really weird I would ask to speak to her teacher properly so she can explain.

fwiw my dd is on turquiose books (she's year 1) and does phonics with .... year 1 smile so why a reception on yellow would be with year 2 is to me rather unfathomable!

Mashabell Sun 21-Dec-14 10:33:46

It is extremely hard to write a high quality decodable book.

Maizie: You've tried, have you?

Yes. It's very hard to write an interesting, naturally sounding story and avoid the most common English words with phonic inconsistencies like 'here - there' or 'our - your' etc.

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