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Reading disaster (reception)

(51 Posts)
dragonknight Thu 05-Nov-15 12:20:01

DD started in Reception this year, so I know that we're only half a term in, but at the parent-teacher meeting we were told that DDs inability is concerning.

I thought we were doing okay. She can blend letters and sounds, she seems to understand how sentences work. She will answer questions about the story as we're going along, some better than others.

But it turns out that in class, DD is expected to read the book, remember the story, and re-tell it in her own words. I tried this last night with her current book, an ORT Biff and Kipper story. Instead of a page-by-page chat, I waited till the end and then asked DD to tell me what happened. She said 'Kipper swallowed his tooth'. She was right, but when I asked for more detail DD sat for what seemed like forever and said nothing. She was fine when I opened the book and asked what was going on at various points, but without the pictures and words in front of her, she seems to have no memory of the detail.

How serious is this? I was lying awake last night wondering how DD will ever learn anything at school if she can't recall any detail about things that aren't in front of her. sad We can keep hammering away at the read, remember, retell approach - will it just get better over time? Can anyone recommend any strategies and approaches to help? I don't want to make her worried about reading by being too demanding, but to be told that DD is falling well short of what is required when she's only been at school for a couple of months is thoroughly depressing. Plus we seem to be in this position because I've not been demanding enough, so I clearly need to up my game as well!

LibrariesGaveUsP0wer Thu 05-Nov-15 12:22:21

It sounds like they have shockingly high expectations of the kids tbh! I don't think the problem is with her..

Is this a school that prides itself on attainment?

eddiemairswife Thu 05-Nov-15 12:26:09

Can she remember what has happened when you tell her a story? If so, she's probably concentrating on the mechanics of reading, without taking in what she is reading about.

BertPuttocks Thu 05-Nov-15 12:26:17

I agree with Libraries.

I would be more concerned about the attitude of the school. They're expecting a lot from children who only started school a few weeks ago. shock

3point14159265359 Thu 05-Nov-15 12:31:36

No memory of the detail or no interest in reciting it back? She maybe doesn't really understand what's expected of her.

My DD hates the biff and kipper books. They're really boring compared to the ones we read her, and in Reception she had no interest in reading for herself at all.

In the end, after several tearful reading sessions, the only reading she did was the odd word in books we were reading to her. (We'd pick out ones where phonics worked well.)

Now in Y1 she's actually interested and it makes a world of difference.

Honestly, in your shoes, if you feel she's doing okay and her comprehension is okay and you've got no other concerns, I'd focus on reading with/to her and trying to sustain her interest in stories.

(But my experience is limited to DD only.)

3point14159265359 Thu 05-Nov-15 12:32:19

And what everyone else said re high expectations.

whatdoIget Thu 05-Nov-15 12:34:29

She's probably just tired after a long day at school doing the same thing and would like to relax and play a bit smile

PhilPhilConnors Thu 05-Nov-15 12:36:27

My son is in reception, he has to be coaxed to tell us what's happening in a book with no words, often he sits and looks at us blankly.
His teacher has no concerns.
Like others have said, school's expectations seem ridiculous here!

CocktailQueen Thu 05-Nov-15 12:37:49

If you read her a story at bedtime, can she tell you what it was about? If she watches something on TV, can you tell you what the programme was about? After a day out, can she tell someone what she did for the day?

If she can, then I think there's no need to worry - she's obviously concentrating so much on reading that understanding lags behind. This will catch up as she gets better at reading. But if there is a problem, it's good that the school has caught it. What has the school advised to help?

GnarlyOldGoatDude Thu 05-Nov-15 12:39:37

Good grief!!! My 4 yo in reception can't even write his own name properly!

workatemylife Thu 05-Nov-15 12:41:46

Wow. In the time it takes to make a cup of coffee lots of comments. Thank you.
Re high expectations - I don't know! Probably not a school that it academically outstanding with a reputation to maintain. Reception class teacher started at the school in September, so I don't know her very well, but I suppose she might be keen to make a mark. Only speculation though on my part, and without good reason so I'll shut up grin
3point that's a really good question. DD is usually keen to please - she likes being 'right' and puckers up for kisses when she know's she's done well. So less likely that she can't be bothered answering. More likely that she can't remember, or that she just doesn't understand what she is meant to do. Perhaps I should demonstrate some appropriate answers. If we read tonight I'll say three or four things that mark out the points of the story to give her an idea about what to do.
whatdoIget yes indeed. Reading for school gets done after a snack and before tea. If we try it at bedtime, everyone gets tetchy! We keep bedtime stories for cuddling and giggling smile

BoboChic Thu 05-Nov-15 12:42:37

I'm really sorry, OP, but I had to laugh. Your school's expectations are extraordinary.

FWIW my DD couldn't really read until she was about 6.5 (French system) but had a reading age of 14 three years' later, in both English and French!

HeadDreamer Thu 05-Nov-15 12:47:19

How about try some guided questions? Like where did Biff and Kipper go? Have they been to the park? Did they play in the mud? You could throw in some things that's not in the book too?

HeadDreamer Thu 05-Nov-15 12:48:55

DD school is very demanding too, so I know how you feel. We got told she's behind on reading, and on maths. Apparently, she doesn't know the 'meaning' of the numbers in 1-10. As in she can't do subtraction and addition reliably. And they will be starting 10-20 in the second half of autumn term. It's quite depressing really.

workatemylife Thu 05-Nov-15 12:50:03

Thanks Phil good to know that we're not the only ones who get the blank face at times!
cocktail good ideas, thanks. I don't usually ask her those questions, although she does sometimes make announcements! Guilty mummy confession that I let the DCs have 20 mins using PC or watching TV while I cook dinner, so maybe I need to get in there with them. But DD will shout out that something has happened, or what she's done on a website. Perhaps I need to ask her what happened before and after as well to see if she gets the story.
School hasn't really said anything at the moment other than to tell us that we need to work on this at home. DDs reading (decoding?) ability is more advanced than her comprehension and we need to close the gap by getting her into the habit of re-telling stories. Of course at the back of the ORT Biff and Kipper books it says things like 'turn to page 5 and ask....' which presumably means that they expect children to still have the book in front of them when they answer questions.
Is there some statement about EYFS goals anywhere? I'd like to know whether the school is being ambitious and pushy, or whether DD actually needs to be able to do this stuff now.

irvine101 Thu 05-Nov-15 12:52:23

My ds was a good reader in reception(good decoding), but he was exactly like your dc.
He couldn't remember the details he just read. It was scary, how bad he was.
Problem was, if he wasn't interested in the book he was reading, he wasn't paying attention. Just reading words.( and also he wasn't good at comprehension as well.)

Now in yr3, he's doing ok.

Your dc is doing really well, can blend letters and sounds, knows sentence structure etc. Maybe she is concentrating more on decoding. Or book is boring her. Or she is just tired after long day.
Like others said, I think the expectation is too high for child who just started school.

workatemylife Thu 05-Nov-15 12:56:30

headdreamer i almost wonder if we're at the same school!

DD can answer the kind questions that you suggest so if I break the story down and ask 'who went to the park', 'what did Tommy play on at the part' etc that's okay. She spots if I offer a silly answer too - what did Tommy eat for breakfast, was it a slimy slug?'

I understand where you are with the maths too. DD seems to be quite good at maths (phew, something good!) but the parent-teaching meeting was basically a list of what she cannot do, some of which I'm stunned that a class of four year olds would manage (for example she coloured in 'half' of a circle, and 'one quarter' but when asked to do 'three quarters' just coloured in the third segment). I don't remember doing fractions in my first year at school, but actually I can barely recall what I had for breakfast today grin

sunnyallthetimeeverywhere Thu 05-Nov-15 12:58:11

I would remind yourself, as you try to drive your DC to read better, earlier, faster and deny them a bit of Peppa Pig while you make dinner that you are only doing it for the school's sake not your child's. It is of no benefit whatsoever for your child to read early.

LibrariesGaveUsP0wer Thu 05-Nov-15 13:02:54

Work - Are you the OP. Did you change name part way through confused

Honestly, DD1 is in Y2 and DD2 is in reception. Your school's expectations sound bonkers. I would be really, really careful. A child who is eager to please can very easily turn into a child who is too scared to try because they don't want to get things wrong (DD1 struggles with this in non -academic things: like trying a new sport).

DD2 has so far:

- learned some of her letter sounds, but they are only part way through the alphabet
- can do the sounds of some letters. But for others will wave her arm around in the air making the shape
-has just had her first reading book with words.

Sure, there are kids a bit further along, but she's not far behind where her sister was at this point and DD2 is now reading independently in her head and well ahead of age expectations.

The idea that a child could be academically behind after 7 weeks in school is really baffling. We haven't had our first parents evening yet, but I can tell you academic work will barely be mentioned, It will be friends, personal care (loo, getting dressed, lunch), settling in, etc.

irvine101 Thu 05-Nov-15 13:02:57

These are all free reading comprehension websites.(American)

HeadDreamer Thu 05-Nov-15 13:13:12

I don't know if OP needs more book. DD is given 4 big cat and ORT books to read each week. And a story book in addition. I don't have a problem with the story book because we do bedtime books already. But I really think 4 books a week to 'read' is a lot to go through.

LibrariesGaveUsP0wer we had a first parents evening in end of september. It's a group thing where we were told how to support our children in phonics. At that meeting, we were told some children were already given books with words, and were up to 6 words in flash card. At the time DD was only on no word books and 3 flash cards. So we know already by the teacher's statement she's behind. Luckily she moved onto books with words the week after. We had a 1:1 meeting just before half term break.

MtnBikeChick Thu 05-Nov-15 13:14:50

This is ridiculous. My son is in Y1 at one of the top Prep Schools in London. The school has high expectations of the kids and prides itself on all-round, as well as academic, achievement. He was not expected to do anything like this last year. They are only now starting to really focus on comprehension. He is progressing nicely. He is a summer birthday but had literally done no phonics at all until he started reception and frankly, was not school-ready at all. He loved reception because they still spent most of their time doing structured play, with phonics and basic maths worked into that. He is so happy and I have never, ever pushed his reading because (and our school preach this) he needs to enjoy reading, not see it as a chore. Please, please don't worry about what you have been told at parents' evening. Reception is so is still Early Years. If I were you I would make an appointment to see your head of Early Years and discuss the feedback you received at parents' eve.

LibrariesGaveUsP0wer Thu 05-Nov-15 13:20:14

HeadDreamer - " At that meeting, we were told some children were already given books with words, and were up to 6 words in flash card. At the time DD was only on no word books and 3 flash cards. So we know already by the teacher's statement she's behind."

No! If some of the children are doing something 6 weeks in, it doesn't mean that the ones who aren't are behind. Not at all!! Children pick up reading at vastly different speeds and join reception at very different points. There really shouldn't be any 'should be doing x' benchmarks for reading after a half term.

stargirl1701 Thu 05-Nov-15 13:21:04

I'm a teacher in Scotland so our pupils are a year older. We would do the first 40 odd sounds in the first term Aug-Oct. Reading starts in Oct after the 2 week tattie holiday.

The children would be expected to read and retell the story. The books have 8 pages and we would hope for 4 things remembered. We would use the sequencing cards, which are pictorial, to help with visual prompts.

There are children who struggle with this.

How did your child 'play' with retelling stories as a younger child? For example, my 3 year old uses finger puppets to retell Red Riding Hood (in the simplest form imaginable). She can sing some simple nursery rhymes from memory.

It's really just an extension of these early playful explorations.

It may the context (the actual story, the school, the concept of homework, the teacher's demand) rather than the task.

Boredofthinkingofnewnames Thu 05-Nov-15 13:27:39

Sounds ridiculous - my twins are in reception and on ORT with no words in them yet. School are happy.

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