How quickly should children progress through reading levels?

(17 Posts)
Primulas Sun 18-Feb-18 21:30:28

DS reads to us every night and three or four times a week to his teachers. He was on turquoise level forever and must have read at least 50 books on it, many of which were really boring. He almost never needs help reading a word and reads quite happily in his head. He has finally moved up to purple band (after we queried his level), but still never needs help with any of it and is now getting onto the 'dregs' of purple band i.e. the books on 'public art' and 'movie monsters' when he much prefers the stories. I feel like he should be progressing more quickly through the levels, particularly when his teachers agree that he has absolutely no problems with the level he is on. He gets bored and frustrated with the books he is given, but when he has a book he enjoys he will happily read all 32 pages in one sitting. Can anyone tell me what is normal in terms of progression? I don't really have any experience with this. I don't want to raise it with his teacher (again) if I'm being a complete jerk, but I don't want him to stagnate either!

OP’s posts: |
lolalotta Sun 18-Feb-18 21:34:19

I wouldn't stress about levels, just make sure he's challenged at home.

sanam2010 Sun 18-Feb-18 21:38:31

it really depends on the school and their policy. My DC's school is like that as well, they go really slow, kids read all the books available on their level and tend to err on the easy side. It upset me with DC1 and I did query it a few times, with DC2 I don't mind at all and I just read lots of other books with her at home. Don't say things like "oh this is too easy for you" or "why are you still on turquoise" or whatever, just expose them to lots of other books, just see if your child wants to have a go at reading some pages of whichever books you are reading at bedtime.
DD2 is in Reception and still on level 2 at school but she can happily read a couple of level 5 books in a row at home. She will also happily have a good at chapter books I read at night time if I help out with the occasional tricky word. I have a feeling the school wants to make sure they have very sound phonic knowledge, bright children can be very good at guessing words, so they may try to be very systematic in moving through the levels. This is my impression. So don't worry about it and just read widely with your child, go to the library, let your child choose whichever book he wants to read.

Primulas Sun 18-Feb-18 21:42:44

Thank you both. I think that is what we are going towards. He will happily read anything at home, from comic books to Roald Dahl. I suppose I worry that if we read something other than his reading book, they will think we're not doing his 'homework'...

OP’s posts: |
MrsKCastle Sun 18-Feb-18 21:43:27

All schools are different, but that does sound a little slow! It could be that they're wanting to see him improve in a specific way, say using more expression, better fluency or comprehension. Or it could be that his school or his teacher have a policy of making them read all the books on one level. This shouldn't happen but it still does occasionally.

I would speak to the teacher, saying that the books seem to be easy and asking what he needs to work on specifically. If they give helpful feedback, you can work on that. If not,and the school books are putting him off, just read other books with him.

Primulas Sun 18-Feb-18 21:46:20

Or it could be that his school or his teacher have a policy of making them read all the books on one level

They definitely do have this policy- the teacher told me- and they have dozens and dozens of books on each level, from lots of different reading schemes. A good idea about asking if there's something specific he should be working on. I will give that a go

OP’s posts: |
catkind Sun 18-Feb-18 22:00:12

There's no normal here.

From MN and what I've seen with my kids, some schools have various approaches that can slow progression. Some are "must read every book in every level". Some will drag feet about moving beyond a certain level in a certain year group because "they won't have anything to read next year", or the next level is kept in a different classroom so inconvenient to access, or they have no system to filter out age-inappropriate books from the higher levels or free-reading books (is your DS relatively young for his level by any chance?). Or they have checklists of standards for comprehension, analysis or writing before they move kids up. Or they keep all the children in a reading group on the same level.

Or they could have a genuine concern about some aspect of his actual reading, but sounds like you've already asked about that?

If you've asked once, I would tend to just opt out and do your own thing at home. You could just get him to read the school book once a week, and otherwise find things he likes better from the library or home. It's not like at the lower levels where the scheme books are using carefully restricted phonics.

After all, that's all the reward there is when they finish trekking through reading levels - getting to read their own choice. You can do that whenever you want at home anyway.

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BlackNails Mon 19-Feb-18 05:44:53

Remember it is not just about reading fluency, but also comprehension of text, being able to summarise content, make predictions based on text etc. There is plenty he can be reading as well as - not instead of - his school reader.

user789653241 Mon 19-Feb-18 06:53:26

I think if he prefers story books, reading different kinds of books for homework reading is a good thing. That's what I liked about scheme books. They give you genre of books the child normally wouldn't choose.
You can read any books he likes at home for pleasure.

Hiddeninplainsight Mon 19-Feb-18 09:27:02

I think the key is to read your own stuff at home. From my own experience and from reading mn I think many schools don’t get it right. My DS was being given a level which was clearly way too easy. The teachers gave him the comprehension test and said it was the right level (even though the teacher said he was surprised). I told them it was simply wrong, and possibly it was because it was so easy my DS was just switching off. I think they must have tested again a few days later because he suddenly got moved up three levels. I do think that because the schools must have evidence for everything there is a degree to which even teachers don’t always trust their own judgment. Add in the fact that most teachers rarely read with the children (it is almost always the TA in our case), and the result is that only evidence from a test gets taken into account. The schools do their best but given the most important thing is that your DS learns to love books, I would read less from school and more of his own stuff.

Tomorrowillbeachicken Mon 19-Feb-18 10:38:01

Our school limits book bands per year so my son is stuck at the moment and is on book band he was on in September. The teacher has tried to get harder books but is unable to act atm and he’s already hit all the greater depth ability targets already. He’s gonna run out of books in the box he’s in by Easter though and I wanted to see what happens then as he should really be two or three levels higher.
Would like to change their system too as it will help children in future.

brilliotic Mon 19-Feb-18 13:36:41

Hi Primulas, what age/year is your DS?

At our school there is a 'read every book in every level' policy too, and they have LOTS of books, which means that by now, lots of children are on book bands well below what they can read (and do read, outside of school). Think children happily devouring Harry Potter books but stuck on gold level school books.

Parents were (collectively) told off by the headteacher, two years ago, for asking the teacher to assess their child's reading level, so very few do, now. But I have noticed that very occasionally, a child gets moved up levels despite not having 'finished' that level, and suspect that it is because that child's parents 'dared' to ask anyway. And the teachers, in general, are very reasonable and do not mind doing it.
So you could definitely put in a gentle word with the teacher, saying you've noticed your child has become very confident with reading recently, and is reading x and y at home, and would they possibly mind checking if they are on the right school book level?

If that isn't successful, your strategy depends a bit on how old your child is.
If your DS is reading turquoise+ and is in reception or Y1, I for one would just keep on with the daily reading of the school books, whilst providing them with more interesting reading material at home.
DS is summer born and was on purple at this stage in Y1. He could have read much harder books but as you move up the levels, the books become 'older' regarding their interest levels as well. So I was fairly happy for him to continue on 'easy' books rather than having to vet each school book as to age appropriateness beforehand. I didn't want him to be reading books aimed at 10-11 year olds at age 7, or so. So we just enjoyed not having to struggle with reading, and being able to use the time thus gained to explore the vast range of brilliant books for young children that is out there. Similarly, he spent ALL of Y2 on Lime books, and read all 150+ that the school own. I never pushed for him to be moved, until he was being given the same ones again.
(Even so, he is now, still 7, reading school books aimed at 10yo+. That's despite me slowing down his school reading progress rather than pushing to speed it up.)
At home, in contrast, he has been developing marvelously as a reader. The school books have not done him any harm, either; they are short, quick reads that nevertheless give him some breadth and awareness of many types of stories and lots of non-fiction topics, and keep him reading when he is in a rut between books he loves. Without ever becoming taxing and eating into his time too much.

In contrast, if your child is in Y3+ and on turquoise school books, but reading chapter books at home, I would push harder with school. And if they refuse to give him reading books that match his abilities, due to some silly 'policy', then I'd consider not making him read those books at all and providing him with appropriate reading material at home instead. Whilst explaining to school that this is what you are doing, so as that he won't get in trouble for it.

Primulas Mon 19-Feb-18 19:58:44

Thank you all for your comments - lots to think about! DS is quite young, I think, for his level. He's a summer-born Y1, so he's 5 and is on purple band. There is definitely an issue with content I think as I was a bit hmm at reading to him about zombies in one book. The problem we have now is that he much prefers what he reads at home. I think I will keep going with a little bit of the school book reading and keep him on lots of variety at home. He does like fact books too, just not so much the ones that school send home, which are generally quite weird! At least we seem to be moving slowly forwards at the moment. Just before he was moved up to purple, they went through a phase of giving him books from up to two levels below because they 'couldn't move anyone yet' but he'd finished all the turquoise! I think there's definitely an element of keeping groups of readers on the same levels together too.

OP’s posts: |
Hiddeninplainsight Mon 19-Feb-18 20:21:09

To be honest, content shouldn’t really be an issue up to lime (stage 11). Those are all KS1 levels. It is past that that the books can move to KS2. But even there, schools can buy KS1 topic books (our school did). It sounds like your school are artificially holding some kids back. You can bring it up, and just read your own stuff at home.

Maxstress3 Mon 19-Feb-18 20:26:27

Its great that he enjoys reading and can get through so many books. Do you ask him questions about the stories and talk through what may happen or the characters etc. It's just that I've a 4yr old and he too loves reading but his teachers have asked me to test his understanding and question him on the book.

Tomorrowillbeachicken Mon 19-Feb-18 21:06:20

Tbh we’ve also had some ks2 books that were non fiction and they were fine in terms of content. Well they were too me and him but the reading lady had issues with one.

Naty1 Tue 20-Feb-18 00:23:20

We are just recently onto gold in yr 1 and it dies feel slow, considering dd could read the project x brown/grey over the summer. And we have been reading chapter books at home.
I actually have no idea why they move them up. It feels like it's keep reading then we'll randomly assess.
Ive actually found a book she couldnt read it's been rebanded from brown to white but it's magic so there's loads of 'ation' endings which are new.
It may well be to do with the pace of the others in the guided reading group. If the ta/tacher thinks, ah they are reading at a similar level.
Whole thing is a bit silly as it's hard to demonstrate you can do something without being given it.
Gives us more time to do a bit of maths though where dd may be behind.
She doesnt like pages of text and wouldnt even let me read her 'enchanted wood' recently. So even if they can do something they may not be willing to.

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