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Home/school book band discrepancies (sorry!)

(13 Posts)
waitingforwombat Sun 21-Jan-18 21:25:17

Just looking for some advice on how much of a difference you would expect between the book coming home from school and the books your child is (independently, confidently) reading at home. Completely happy for there to be some difference - 4 year old reads in hideous monotone when reading to herself, (but better when reading to me!) and I know school are big on expression, understanding, retelling story in detail, inference etc.

I'm happy that she understands the books she is reading at home (giggles at appropriate places, gasps at surprise/suspense, stories often appear retold in pretend play), so not just decoding without understanding.

She finds books from school dull, so we dash through in less than 5 minutes (comments in reading diary are all "great reading") and move onto reading "Real" books together, so not a problem, but wondering if I should raise with her teacher, or trust the process and her expertise?!

(Blue book band school reading books, reads turquoise "read it yourself ladybird" books confidently alone, reads gold/white with some support at home - usually for words not in her vocabulary yet!)

OP’s posts: |
brilliotic Sun 21-Jan-18 23:06:49

Are the books she gets 'decodable' ones or old style 'look and say' books? I shall assume for now that they are 'decodable' ones, so practise specific PGCs rather than work with picture clues and repetition/memorisation.

In principle (by law, some would say; this is statutory I believe), the books should be matched to her phonics abilities, and from your description I surmise that your DD basically knows her phonics (explicitly or implicitly) and can decode 'anything', or she wouldn't be reading above level 6/orange (that's about as far as 'decodable' book stages go). OR she reads by sight/word memorisation and does not actually 'get' phonics properly yet.

In the latter case, her reading books might be perfectly matched to her phonics abilities. You would do well to use the books as 'phonics practice' rather than for 'reading', if reading to her basically means memorising the words on the page/drawing on her memories of the words to be able to decide what they say. Even if she has memorised so many words that she appears to be able to read well, she will run into problems sooner or later (regarding spelling for example) if she doesn't crack the phonics too. There is a limit on the number of words a person can memorise.

In the former case, if perhaps she learned to read by sight, by memorising, but has basically worked out the phonic code by herself. Or has been taught by someone outside of/before school. (So she basically 'knows' phonics and therefore can read anything.) Making that knowledge explicit/practising and consolidating it still has value, so phonics lessons at school are not a waste; but she should not need a lot of practice, so should be able to move through the levels pretty quickly.

Has she been on 'blue' for a while? (Can't have been too long seeing as she must be in reception.) If it has only been a few weeks (and the same for previous levels) then chances are, the teacher is moving her through the levels quickly and the school books will soon 'catch up' with what she reads at home. As long as she is moving through the levels quickly, I wouldn't worry too much about any discrepancy between school books/home books. E.g. if she moves on to green soon, then onto orange after maybe 3 weeks, then onto turquoise around Easter, she'd pretty much have caught up. I don't know how open-door your school's relationship with parents is, but this does not seem a battle worth fighting.

Or, sadly, it could be that the teacher just has an inflexible approach to reading levels and e.g. doesn't allow reception children to go beyond a certain book band or something. In which case you can try talking to them, but I wouldn't get my hopes up about achieving much.

And if the books she is getting are not phonics books at all, then really from what you say, they are pointless for her. So it would be worth having a chat with the teacher, especially if she is not being moved through the levels quickly. If you have a decent teacher who just happens to have to work with non-decodable books (or to be a phonics refuser), they might agree with you after having been told what your DD reads at home, and after having heard her read/assessed her themselves, and simply move her up to a more appropriate non-decodable level. If you are less fortunate, they might insist on some principle (every child must read every book, or, in reception they cannot go beyond x level) and so your efforts would probably be fruitless.

In any case, your DD has the support from home and is being given interesting and appropriate and challenging reading material (by yourself) so in the long run, it will make little difference to her. In contrast, I feel sorry for early readers that get stuck on interminable Biff Chip and Kipper but don't have access to other books/don't have support from home.

paxillin Sun 21-Jan-18 23:18:05

Kids don't do as well in school as they do 1:1 at home. We also all tend to overestimate our own kids' ability. I have never seen a thread "my child gets too high a book band from school", but have seen loads of "school books are too easy and boring".

I know this is hard, but really ignore this. It won't change her ability, she can read what she wants with you at home, school are not holding her back. Every school will also have heard this particular complaint from about 1/3 of the parents year after year.

Nobody will remember who was what colour in Jan of YR or March of Y1 once they are in Y3, promise.

brilliotic Sun 21-Jan-18 23:22:25

Just to add, in DS school in reception a note in the reading record 'DS is reading x level books at home' was enough for the teacher to take a moment to hear him read and adjust his level (to same x level). Most parents would leave a note e.g. 'DC is doing really well with these books now, can she try the next level perhaps?' and get a prompt reaction. From Y1 onwards however, the teacher hardly ever looked at the reading records, and we were explicitly asked not to write notes in there, nor to request in any other way that DC's reading level should be re-assessed (as it was causing too much stress for the teacher); at the same time a policy was introduced that every child must read every book on every level, so all requests for re-assessment would be denied on principle, instead children moved up only if they had read all books on the level.

What I'm saying is, if you don't know yet (being new to the school) what sort of stance your school/teacher takes on this, it can't hurt to leave a somewhat more explicit note than 'great reading' and see what happens; or to catch the teacher at pick-up and ask if DD's reading could be re-assessed seeing as she is reading x level at home. That might be all it takes.

Lifechallenges Sun 21-Jan-18 23:25:14

Agree with Pax. By Yr3 you'll have forgotten what they did in yrR and yr1... and rate of progress ebbs and flows. We just do the school books and read other stuff at home and don't worry about it...

catkind Mon 22-Jan-18 00:01:02

Some teachers will reassess if you ask them to check the level, and either move them up or explain what it is they need to be working on at current level.

If it comes to it though, I'd just read one school book once a week and get on with reading what she wants to the rest of the time. You don't want to put her off reading by making her read things that she isn't enjoying. Fluency, comprehension etc can just as well be worked on with "real books".

And yes, we've done this at times because the school books were too hard for DS not too easy. We worked our way through Songbirds with him and then he could cope with them fine. (And then next year's teacher stuck him on half the level he was confidently reading at home...)

MiaowTheCat Mon 22-Jan-18 12:36:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MiaowTheCat Mon 22-Jan-18 12:37:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

user789653241 Mon 22-Jan-18 16:59:40

I do actually worry, if school is sending home blue books when she can read turquoise fluently.
Yes children do better at home one on one, but the difference seems significant. Either the teacher hasn't assessed her recently, or she is too shy at school?

waitingforwombat Tue 23-Jan-18 21:07:43

Thanks all. Will see if I can mention it at drop off. We get a new book each day, so at least we can chug through them. Three has made me realise I don't really know what school wants us to be focusing on - because she can clearly read them v fluently. If it's a case of just having to get through them all, it would be useful to know.

Thinking back, we seemed to be on red for ages, and then quite quickly through yellow, so wonder if teacher spent some time making sure phonics basics were there rather than just sight reading brilliotic. (I think she does mostly sight read words she knows, but has a phonics approach to words she doesn't know, and a very phonetic approach to spelling.

OP’s posts: |
user789653241 Wed 24-Jan-18 05:16:54

Seems like some school make you read all the books or go through all the levels. And it may depend on teacher too.
My ds's school doesn't, they let you skip levels.
If she can use her phonics to read new words on turquoise level, I don't see why she has to stay at lower level. She can still work on other skills like comprehension or reading aloud with expression on the books that matches her decoding ability.

brilliotic Wed 24-Jan-18 11:24:57

I agree that it sounds like she uses her phonics to read. Does school differentiate phonics teaching though? Or has she been taught phonics (explicitly) outside of school?

At our school phonics was taught in the whole class, so whilst there was some differentiation (e.g. in what kind of output was expected from the children), no-one was taught e.g. stage 3 phonics by this time of reception (don't remember the phonics 'stages' exactly anymore). So my DS and other early readers, though they may have had a good understanding of phonics including upper stages, did not have an explicit, systematic knowledge of phonics apart from what they had covered at school, which was very basic at this stage of reception year.

So, provided the 'blue' books your DD is getting are 'phonics' books, she may be getting them because they match what they are covering at school right now. Reading a few sentences (and there's not much more than a few sentences in those books!) that are constructed to focus on e.g. 'a-e' split digraph won't hurt her, and will help her gain a more explicit, systematic knowledge of phonics rather than the intuitive, self-taught understanding she has now.

When talking about school books to DS teacher she wasn't happy to move him up because the higher level books would contain PGC and HFW she hadn't taught yet (in contrast to 'that he didn't know yet). I think she was reassured when she found that I was actually discussing the phonics with him, so she was happy to put him on books beyond the phonics being taught in class, knowing I would provide the 'instruction' alongside the books. Half the time we got non-phonics books however which were a pain, but that is another thread.

Also, still assuming that you are being given phonics books, they won't have more than about 20 'decodable' books (probably less) on blue, green, and orange levels. Seeing as you get 5 a week, you should get through each level in 4 weeks max. See it as systematically working through phonics rather than about 'reading'.

After orange, there is no systematic/clear phonics progression in most schemes anymore. So once she has completed the 'phonics course' is the time when you want to be discussing her being put onto a level that matches her 'reading' ability rather than her (explicit) phonics knowledge.

Meanwhile, feed her reading at home.

(And if she is getting non-phonics blue level books now, I'd definitely be asking the teacher what she is meant to be learning from them...)

user789653241 Wed 24-Jan-18 12:29:35

Yes, I do totally agree with brilliotic about proper basic knowledge/learning of phonics. I have seen the posts that parents claim the child can decode, so get bored with phonics teaching at school. I don't agree with that. My ds was able to decode any words, still the phonics teaching has strengthen his decoding, ultimately his spelling ability.

Only thing I wonder is what is the purpose of sending lower leveled books. If it matches what she is learning at the moment, you can just read it since it's easy and short. If the teacher is sending non phonic books, it's no point, for them to keep your dd in low level.

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