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Has it really come to this?

(13 Posts)
slowandfrumpy Thu 24-Nov-16 15:06:22

The kids and I go to a local cafe once a week for breakfast. We've been going there since they were tiny so the lady behind the counter has seen the children grow up. They normally read while we are eating (I read the newspaper, it's all very civilised).

Today she asked me if I knew where she could get a tutor.. Her child is four and a half and the school is putting pressure on her because his reading isn't up to the expected target (he can decode a few words, three in a row, but isn't reading. There is no suggestion of learning difficulty).


She is worried that he isn't up to the expected targets.


She said he loves books, or used to, until the school started making him bring home books to learn to read and now he rejects them and is going off reading, because he doesn't like having phonics thrust down his throat.

He is also bilingual, and if I remember, being bilingual sometimes corresponds to a slower pick up in language (because they are learning two...).

Her instinct is there is nothing wrong with him. But she is distressed because she is being told that he is not up to scratch and she is worried he is going to feel not up to scratch.

My advice was: Not to worry. The problem was the school targets and not her son. Definitely don't get a tutor. Let him learn in his own time. And if the school is that worried make an appointment with the head and ask him what he thinks could be done bearing in mind that it is no ones interest to force feed the poor child so he goes off reading. Make it their problem not hers. I suspect the real issue here is the schools' concern for their league tables/ofsted.

(My own kids didn't learn through formal phonic tuition, so I'm a bit biased against it anyway, but I didn't say that, only that kids learn in different ways).

Is this is what schools have come to? What else could I have said.

I feel so sorry for her. She said her child wants to play and has loads of interests, but has starting to go off school - associating it with a place of pressure.

The even sadder thing is that this is quite a liberal school (but within quite an overbearing education authority.)

creamycrackers Thu 24-Nov-16 15:19:29

That is very true about school being a place of pressure. Ds didn't start the things Dd was learning in reception until he was in yr 2. In my experience academies seem to be even worse they set the standards even higher.

I'm sure if he uses ESL(if he does) then he should get additional support at school but don't quote me on that.

CryingShame Thu 24-Nov-16 15:25:48

Yes, it has come to this. My DS would have been within a normal range of reading when I was at school but as he was graded as not reaching the standrds required in his Foundation class and failed his phonics and his SATs, he's now in Yr 3 struggling with staff who seem to be hoping he'll grow out of struggling with reading and writing, but don't actually want to help get him to their required level. DS is 7 and summer born.

I feel for your firend's little boy. DS has a boy in his class with English as a 2nd language who is really struggling. Tell her you have to be a squeaky wheel and advocate on behalf of your child. That's partially why DS' friend is struggling, his friend's parents also have poor english so can't do this. sad

ElizabethHoney Thu 24-Nov-16 15:26:05

You're right about being bilingual.

And you're right about this being totally ridiculous. Poor kid. Poor anxious parents. Daft school.

Tomorrowillbeachicken Thu 24-Nov-16 15:37:59

Not sure but some kids aren't even decoding at all yet. It's reduculous as they all learn at different speeds.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Thu 24-Nov-16 15:49:41

The thing is school can't win. If you don't tell parents, then parents will complain if in a few years time he's still behind and the school have known that since the start of Reception but haven't told them.

It is usually in the best interests of the child to identify any potential issues early so you can at least keep an eye on them to make sure they don't become bigger issues.

I think your friend probably needs to speak to the class teacher again rather than the Head.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Thu 24-Nov-16 15:51:08

Not sure but some kids aren't even decoding at all yet

Very few children will not be decoding at all by this time of the year, regardless of attainment on entry, gender or month of birth.

Slightlyperturbedowlagain Thu 24-Nov-16 15:56:11

I would imagine that phonics might be more problematic for bilingual children because of the difference in sounds different letters make between languages. One of my DCs was not great with phonics anyway (not bilingual) we spent lots of time reading picture books aloud and following the words with our finger. We tried to do one as a story every night, it really helped, so might be worth a try first -if they still have libraries round your way to borrow books from.

noramum Thu 24-Nov-16 16:17:28

Sorry, the bit about being bilingual is not 100% correct.

It depends on a lot of factors, the main language of the child, the language itself and the alphabet and if the parents actually teach the child to read/write in both.

DD is bi-lingual, English/German, English is her main language despite DH and I both German and we only speak it at home. She was in childcare since being a toddler, that is different to a child who is raised by a SAHM and only attends a bit of outside classes.
DD's skills are on par with all mono-language children. We didn't teach her to read in German until Y1 and as German is a phonetic language and phonics is very similar to English she picked it up immediately. Writing is a different matter. We read to her in German at least 2/3 compared to what we read to her in English.

A child with a cyrilic alphabet or Asian/arabic language will have more issues. But again, not necessarily if the main language is English.

I would tell your friend to take a step back, get him to choose fun books from the library and work through them together like the child reads the first word of a sentence, a speech bubble, each word he knows etc. Bit by bit it will increase.

Blossomdeary Thu 24-Nov-16 16:21:19

FFS! - "leave them kids alone!"

confuugled1 Thu 24-Nov-16 16:24:11

ds1 was a bright boy in reception but struggled with reading until he was in Y2 - it was always a battle to get him to read anything.

When he was in Y2 DH was reading out a rugby report from the n ewspaper when ds realised that there were words about rugby and if he could read, he could read them himself.

he suddenly had a reason to want to read and went from being a struggling reader to reading the rugby reports in the telegraph within a couple of weeks.

Five years down the line he is now an excellent reader but still loves non fiction much more than he enjoys most fiction.

If I was her I'd be talking to the school and telling them that they are the ones that need to pull themselves up on their approach to teaching, that they are killing any love for books and reading in her dc, that forcing him to do extra reading is having a detrimental effect and what are they going to do to stop failing her son and actually enthuse her son and teach him to read and love reading...

catkind Thu 24-Nov-16 16:43:51

I'd suggest they ditch the books for a bit if he's not enjoying them and play some phonics games instead. Books are more fun when they aren't having to think about the phonics so much. (I'd also check that the books they're sending are decodable and at a sensible level and offer to lend some of ours if not!)

Not up to targets? They've been there what 9 weeks? If he started not knowing letters/not able to decode and now he does and can, he's progressed pretty well I'd think.

Is there any possibility your friend has got the wrong end of the stick? Also in reception we've been sent a list of targets home but they're targets for EYFS, things they're expected to do by the end of the school year. The targets they wanted them to be able to do by now are things like get changed for PE, listen to a story, recognise some letters and sound out simple words. From what I understand our school also have personalised targets for the kids to see that they're making good progress depending on where they started which may be ahead of or behind the EYFS targets themselves.

yomellamoHelly Thu 24-Nov-16 16:49:43

My dd didn't get the hang of reading until she was in year 2 and she's not bilingual. Refused to put any pressure on her much to school's chagrin. Now loves books

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