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Reading - school stalling progress or is this best way?

(24 Posts)
Mavey9 Wed 18-Nov-15 14:36:12

Another question arising from parents evening last week. Daughter is a keen reader, can't get enough books and really happy doing it. School seem to have a set range of book bands they like to cover in year one, finishing on gold (think begin on blue maybe). She started year 1 on turquoise and now is on purple, and these seem quite straightforward for her. Teacher said they wouldn't be moving her on as they don't want her to get any further ahead, and instead want us to focus on breadth and depth.

I'm just a bit confused about that bit as she is already quite happy to discuss her books and can retell them in detail and come up with her own ideas about them. Not sure what else to do on this front? In addition, I just don't know how I'm meant to hold her back and stop her making progress? She loves reading and wants new books all the time.

The cynic in me wonders if this is just so school can show she's made progress in year 2 when she moves up, or is that unfair? Also,is it potentially because it makes things harder for the teacher in terms of guided reading? Currently the guided reading sessions she takes part in in class use books that are below the book band she's reading.

Would appreciate your thoughts thanks.

uhoh1973 Wed 18-Nov-15 15:20:57

I am also cynical on this one...
From the
it looks like she is already a year 'ahead' compared to the table. I guess it becomes tricky for the teacher if she gets further ahead?
Our experience is schools seem to focus on trying to keep the 'slower' readers moving to meet the minimum standard and this takes alot of resources so there is less resources to put into the 'best' readers.
You have already asked them to move her up, teacher has said no. So my suggestion would be to get books from the library etc and read whatever she finds interesting (fiction, non fictions, same reading level, higher reading level etc) and just keep her interest in reading going. She may have to endure the guided reading sessions in the mean time?

Greengrass1982 Wed 18-Nov-15 15:39:05

We had this in reception last year, Looking back I should have asked if she could have been given another book band .
In the end I bought my own books for home and did the higher bands with her here. This year she is whizzing through the books and the teacher has been more cooperative when I hint that she many need moving up.

Greengrass1982 Wed 18-Nov-15 15:44:42

Oh and if your child is reading extra books at home I record those in the reading diary too ... Sometimes the teachers like to know from parents how the child is getting on at home ...

onemouseplace Wed 18-Nov-15 16:56:31

I agree with uhoh - as her teacher has already said they won't be moving her up, then get books from the library to supplement - at the same level and the one above, and maybe some of the easy reader style chapter books and see how she gets on!

We did this with DD (although that wasn't the school refusing to put her up a level, just them being crap) and would read her school reading scheme books and discuss them the day she brought them home, then read our own books for the rest of the week.

Wolfie2 Wed 18-Nov-15 17:03:45

Differentiation is essential!

My school would never consider doing this. Children are always put on an appropriate reading level regardless of age. Yes the school like to make sure understanding and reading are both sound before moving up a level.

We often have a couple of extremely able readers who are free reading by the end of reception and other readers who are still on the lower levels come juniors.

Wolfie2 Wed 18-Nov-15 17:05:03

In your shoes I'd google 'reading owls' as you can read ORT books free online at your chosen level.

Also library books

NorthLondonMama Wed 18-Nov-15 17:23:01

My understanding is that for guided reading

NorthLondonMama Wed 18-Nov-15 17:31:47

... the level used is generally lower than the reading ability but maybe I've got that wrong.

I think DC was on a similar level in Yr1 last year as I recall dropping ORT after Xmas (our school uses ORT until level 10 and then it's chapter books).

Anyway, I never really worried about the kind of books DC brought home and instead saw it as an opportunity to encourage DC to read lots of other books and really develop the joy for reading that way. I think that's worked really well for DC. I also think it's good for my DC to experience various levels of books at the same time.

Mavey9 Wed 18-Nov-15 17:35:25

Do you think it's worth asking someone more senior in the school eg the head if this is the school wide approach? I feel
Like I need to know what the real justification for this is and if it's ever going to change? Surely I'm then going to face the same issue in year two etc?

Lindy2 Wed 18-Nov-15 18:07:41

I think it's all to do with Ofsted/the government saying children can't move up and do the work from the year above them if they are ahead of their own year group. They have to do their own age work but in more detail.
Clearly this doesn't really work with reading particularly well. She is already ahead and thrrefore not fitting in with the government's idea of what she should learn and when. I would say stuff the red tape and read different books at home. The Oxford Owl website is good with a massive selection of free e books colour banded like the school system. At least reading is something you can encourage and help develop at home regardless of the school system.

Geraniumred Wed 18-Nov-15 18:54:06

It does sound a little ridiculous not being allowed to be further ahead. Could you just let her scamper through the ones she brings home from school and expose her to a wide variety at home? I suppose the worry is that she may get bored in school. I'm not a fan of guided reading.

mrz Wed 18-Nov-15 19:24:12

It's nothing to do with Ofsted or the government it's simply this particular schools policy. It's not difficult for teachers to allocate appropriate books (unless school don't have resources).

mrsb26 Wed 18-Nov-15 20:17:58

Guided reading should typically focus on the book band above the one the child is reading at home.

You mention stories - how far have you explored non-fiction texts? These are equally as important. Perhaps you could then use these books to extend your dds knowledge further. As an example, an able reader in my class read an information book about making a jewellery box. She then used the book and followed the instructions to independently make her own. Could your dd perhaps research further into some of the topics she is reading about - particularly those that interest her most? Using the Internet/search engines? What about seeing if there are any children's newspapers stocked in the junior section of the library to explore?

Just wanted to highlight that reading isn't just about reading and retelling simple stories.

irvine101 Wed 18-Nov-15 20:31:36

My ds started YR1 in lime and stayed in lime until end of yr2.(the school didn't allow children to go above lime in KS1)
He actually didn't have to read school books and he read his own books or library books for homework reading.
For guided reading, he read levels lower than his with other children, but didn't have any problems, since purpose of reading was different.

At home he worked more on comprehension since YR1 onwards, and just read loads of books of his choice.

Wolfie2 Wed 18-Nov-15 20:40:30

I wouldn't make a fuss because you can just read more interesting stuff at home. Read library books and online biff/chip ORT books through the reading owls website.

Mavey9 Wed 18-Nov-15 21:26:14

Ok looks like we just forge our own path for now then! Probably no point battling with school if it's their 'policy'. It's not through shortage of books I don't think, it's an 'outstanding' school. I seem to recall them saying that the DfE has advised schools to not let pupils go far ahead as they want depth of learning when I went to an info evening last year on curriculum changes. Might have a look and see if I can see anything online to back that up.

Yep she reads loads of non fiction at home, she's pretty keen on this actually and reads about Egyptians, Romans, animals, plants, space, etc and writes lists of topics she wants to research and read about. It just seems bonkers that essentially the school seems to be washing their hands of her and just leaving her to learn at home now she has reached a certain level. I feel bit unhappy about that.

Wolfie2 Wed 18-Nov-15 21:32:14

Help DD follow her interests book wise. It's the best way for her to move forward. I think often a child's relationship with books comes from home anyway.

Mashabell Thu 19-Nov-15 10:39:33

I agree with Wolfie2.
The best readers learn to read at home, not at school.

To curb a child's enthusiasm for reading would probably be one of the worst things a parent can do.

Cedar03 Thu 19-Nov-15 13:09:57

You can also do things like reading the spoken word in different tones of voice. So, if a character is cross, then talk about the different ways that might show in the voice.
Or what sort of voice would a man have, would it be deep and booming?
Does the voice match the pictures? What happens when you use a different tone of voice?

The depth of learning is about reinforcing their understanding so that a child really does understand something rather than just whizzing them through the levels (the national curriculum levels not reading levels).

I'd just get a range of different books from the library and let her explore those and not worry too much at this stage. After Christmas I might raise it though.

I used to be a volunteer helping children in Year 2 and 3 with their reading. And in fact, although some of them could read all the words in a particular book sometimes they weren't picking up the nuances of the text. One of the ORT Chip and Kipper books has a joke made by a boy about his mum being too old to remember her school days. None of my readers got that joke on the first read through of the book even though they could read all the words. And that is children with a variety of abilities. They needed me to point out the joke and ask them about it (and even then some of them were very blank!).

catkind Sat 21-Nov-15 12:33:42

OT, but just wanted to say thanks Irvine for the comprehension site links. DS really enjoying the readtheory one, and it's a much more focussed way to work on comprehension than me trying to think of questions about school's deadly dull picture books.

MrsKCastle Sat 21-Nov-15 12:56:18

I would just read appropriate books at home, but also really work on the depth that the teacher suggests. Children need to go way beyond telling the story. It's more about identifying themes and patterns, making connections with other books, exploring the way language is used. Did the writer have a particular message? What's distinctive about their style and how does it affect the reader? Of course, it is almost impossible to get that depth on a diet of Biff and Chip. Authors like Roald Dahl, Michael Morpurgo are good because you can find the links between different books.

Apologies if you're already doing all of this!

Normanpriceisnotarolemodel Sat 21-Nov-15 21:02:12

I could have written this post. Exactly the same book levels, exactly the same response from the school. I got quite arsey with them in YR when they kept sending the same books home that he had read fluently the first time 3 months previously, rather than put him up a level - what on earth was the point of that? I am still irritated about him being held back, but just get him books out from the library - he likes those chapter books which have 5 short chapters in them. I do know they differentiate for him and the other advanced readers in phonics so I just let him read what he is interested in at home.

HeiressesGiltnor Sat 21-Nov-15 21:20:13

I have always had children in my classes who are exceptional readers in many ways. They can read words way ahead of their 'age' and thus are reading levels far above the suggested year average.

However, that alone is not enough. Once a child can read it's hugely important to concentrate on their comprehension skills and get them thinking about books differently. I have had children who are just not ready for more complex books purely because they aren't really ready to understand them in the required depth. It's not that they can't read them, but that they aren't yet able to fully comprehend them. It's not usually to do with intelligence, more with real life experiences and emotional maturity.

I'm not suggesting this is the case for your daughter as obviously I don't know her smile but it has been the case for able readers whom I've taught before.

That said, if this is the case the teacher should be doing more than just keeping her on the same level of reading books. I suggest that they should be giving her simple comprehension tasks, giving you suggestions of specific areas for questioning etc. It would certainly be wrong for her to be on the same level for ages with no clear 'targets' for want of a better word.

I would encourage you to have a word with the teacher. Accept that they want to work on her 'depth' but ask what that entails and how they will go about that, so that you know how to best support her at home.

MrsCastle and Cedar have made lots of really good points, so I'd be expecting the school to say that sort of thing. If they don't, then I'd worry!

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