DD(5) moved down two reading levels

(29 Posts)
Maursh Thu 01-Sep-16 05:56:12

We live overseas and DD has started Year 1 at the international school here. She is one of a minority of native English speakers in her class (about 5/20) Towards the end of last term, when she was in Reception she finished all the books in yellow book band and then was sent home with picture books - they wouldn't move her onto the next level. I didn't make any fuss about it given that it was so close to the end of the school year.

She has been back at school two weeks and sent home with a reading book for the first time - red! I should point out that we have done lots of reading over the summer so her ability has improved tremendously, particularly on high frequency words.

The particular book that she was sent home with is ORT decoding and has some long words in (12 letter words) but only about six high frequency.
Is this cause for alarm or normal at the start of year one? Red reading level in year 1 falls comfortably into the "needing support" category. I don't think that she does need support - she is well able to read, but I don't know why she is being kept back. What I am most concerned about is that she will be far behind when we move back to the UK.

All comments welcomed. I can't talk to the teacher btw because of the circumstances where we live. All communication is via email. I just sent a comment back that perhaps the book was too easy.

mrz Thu 01-Sep-16 06:17:31

"I should point out that we have done lots of reading over the summer so her ability has improved tremendously, particularly on *high frequency words*"
.
HFW are common words but the vast majority are quite simple to decode and because they are seen so often automaticity follows. I wouldn't focus too much on these words. It's much more important that children have an effective strategy for tackling new/unusual/unfamiliar words they meet in their reading.

"The particular book that she was sent home with is ORT decoding and has some long words in (12 letter words) but only about six high frequency."

Obviously I don't know which books have been sent home but it doesn't sounds as if this is one of the newer ORT decodable texts. How does she tackle the long words? Can she decode them?
Combined with the focus on HFW I wonder how reading is being taught.

Selfimproved Thu 01-Sep-16 06:21:09

We are also at an international school. The level is lower to be honest. My DS age 7 is in top set for everything, and doing really well in relation to his classmates but his SAT results had him almost precisely at the uk average.
You need to write an email requesting the correct level books and if they don't appear just ask for a meeting. I find the international school teachers much easier to talk to and understanding (probably because they aren't bogged down with crap)

Maursh Thu 01-Sep-16 06:34:37

Thanks for responding mrz
DD is a skilled decoder up to the level of sounds that she knows. Can do it in her head so she says the word in one go. In fact, I have found that there is so much emphasis on phonics in school last year that encouraging her to simply remember some smaller words has been a challenge.

The longer words in the book were not intended to be phonically "decoded" according to the inside cover. They came under the tricky sight words. In any event, they contained sound combinations that have not be covered such as "igh" - as far as I could tell she was supposed to "decode" them from the pictures - they were all nouns.

mrz Thu 01-Sep-16 06:58:47

"In fact, I have found that there is so much emphasis on phonics in school last year that encouraging her to simply remember some smaller words has been a challenge. "

Why does she need to simply remember these words? Automaticity ( being able to read a word automatically without obvious sounding out) develops naturally with exposure. So the more times a child (or adult) sees and reads a word the better. For some they will recall the word automatically after decoding once or twice for others it might take many more times ...both are normal.

The longer words in the book were not intended to be phonically "decoded" according to the inside cover."

Then how is your child meant to read the words?

The books are from the old Look and Say scheme so I imagine the school will argue they are more difficult (because of these long words) than the yellow band books given in reception.

Maursh Thu 01-Sep-16 07:16:37

"Why does she need to simply remember these words?" I am referring to HF words like "said" which defy phonics. There are some words which we just have to remember <== 6 in this sentence for example.

The longer words can be phonically decoded, but it would require phonics knowledge well above her level (and certainly above level 2). Because they are compound words, I think the idea is that they can use a combination of phonics for the first half, pictures and context / guesswork to decode the word.

Fair point on them being an older system which might not marry up to the new one. Still, the book had six or fewer words each page and was a concerning place to start.

I will see what comes home tonight.

mrz Thu 01-Sep-16 07:26:07

"Why does she need to simply remember these words?" I am referring to HF words like "said" which defy phonics

No they don't all words are decodable if you know the code and said should be taught in the same way as sad - I assume she already knows /s/ and /d/ so the new information that the "teacher" needs to supply in order to read it is that.* "<ai> is the spelling for the sound /e/ in this word ... Can you read the word now?"*

mrz Thu 01-Sep-16 07:29:40

http://literacyblog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/more-on-high-frequency-words.html

Maursh Thu 01-Sep-16 08:11:30

Fundamentally, the child still has to remember which words with ai have an /eI/ sound and which have an /e/ which is why said is taught as a look and say word.
If it is taught phonetically at all, it is not at 5.5yrs

mrz Thu 01-Sep-16 08:17:53

The same applies to the million plus words in English ...are you suggesting they all need to be learnt as wholes?

mrz Thu 01-Sep-16 08:22:13

High Frequency words are words that appear frequently in texts hence the name. They aren't different to other words. They are common words we encounter all the time. Somehow High Frequency has taken on a mystical status that is totally undeserved ...they are common ...nothing special. High Frequency isn't a synonym for sight.

mrz Thu 01-Sep-16 08:23:33

"*If it is taught phonetically at all, it is not at 5.5yrs*"

You're correct it's normally taught earlier!

Believeitornot Thu 01-Sep-16 08:32:57

she's only two weeks in to term? Why not speak to the teacher.

My ds got put back a level or two when he started in year one and I spoke to the teacher and he soon accelerated back up. I think it can take a while for the teacher to level appropriately.

Maursh Thu 01-Sep-16 09:45:23

Mrz, you might well be, but I am not an expert on early children's literacy. I have no desire to get caught up in a debate on the merits of look and say v phonics. I am merely relaying here how things are being taught where we are: a combination of synthetic phonics and HFW by rote. I think they use the jolly phonics programme in reception where ai is set 4 and is taught as an /eI/ sound and no other (at least this was what was on a worksheet). You are suggesting the school has been neglectful in not teaching an alternative pronunciation, but I haven't anything else to back this up other than your say so.

Belieeveitornot - thank you for the feedback, this is good to know. Unfortunately I cannot speak with the teacher because of circumstances. I did send a note back with the book which suggested gently that the book was too easy.

mrz Thu 01-Sep-16 09:57:40

No Maursh the National Curriculum says that said is taught through phonics in reception nothing to do with me

Believeitornot Thu 01-Sep-16 17:04:38

I would be explicit in your comments in the reading book about why it was too easy and do that every time she gets an easy book.

If they don't adjust after a week or so, then can you drop them an email? Is that possible?

Cashewnutts Thu 01-Sep-16 17:11:34

Are the books she brings home just for practising reading/decoding?
Most schools will also use a child's reading book (particularly ORT) for comprehension skills as well. It could be that her reading is good but not necessarily her understanding of the book, hence the lower level.

Feenie Thu 01-Sep-16 18:45:50

But the NC states that children's reading books much be closely matched to their phonic ability - comprehension must be taught at that level, so schools just can't say that any more.

Cashewnutts Thu 01-Sep-16 19:02:59

The NC does say that, however, just because a child has phobic ability of a certain level, it doesn't automatically mean they understand what they are reading about.

Feenie Thu 01-Sep-16 19:07:12

But that doesn't mean that comprehension can't be taught alongside, which is specifically what the NC states.

Cashewnutts Thu 01-Sep-16 19:24:30

That still doesn't mean that all children will be able to do it at the same level/rate though. Some children will just struggle with comprehension. Some with phonics. It doesn't matter if they're taught both alongside each other.

Anyway, OP clearly says they live overseas so I'm assuming NC guidelines won't be applicable in her situation.

Maursh Thu 01-Sep-16 20:05:50

Thanks for all the messages and support.
Yes, we are overseas and the school is private so I don't know what obligation they have to adhere to the NC.
I think that the comprehension is a bit of a red herring as well: there are so few words at this level, most of the understanding comes from the pictures.
She hasn't been given a new reading book tonight and no response to my comment either. Is this unusual? If you have a DC the same age are they sent home with a different book each night?

Cashewnutts Thu 01-Sep-16 20:44:22

Hmm. Don't have dc at school age but am a teacher so only thing I can think of for why she still has the same book is that they just haven't changed them yet. Though has she had the same book for 2 weeks? That's not right.
Re book banding- perhaps the new yr1 teacher is planning on assessing reading at some point soon and so has given her a book that she can read for now and will hopefully assess and move up soon? Still, two weeks is a bit long to leave initial assessments.

Comprehension is a bit of a funny one. Done well, even a book with no words at all can be challenging! There's a lot you can ask about pictures! Test out her comp. skills when you read with her. Ask lots of why do you think.../how do you think.../what would you... type questions. They're the ones that tend to catch children who are otherwise good readers out. Particularly when they don't pay attention to subtle clues in text and pictures.

Believeitornot Thu 01-Sep-16 20:51:55

Ds got two new books a week changed on set days. The teacher would only look at his book on those two days.

Feenie Thu 01-Sep-16 21:11:20

Our children change their book daily if they need to, twice weekly if they don't.

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